Week 5 with The Nomad MBA was one I had been especially looking forward to. It was time for our next Remarkable Experience, the Fitness Bootcamp. Although I wouldn’t usually be the biggest fan of that, this was different. Because in our case, Fitness Bootcamp included not just workouts but Downhill Cycling, hiking the Inca Trail and then last but definitely not least exploring Machu Picchu.
Gone with the Wind
We left Cusco early on Monday morning and headed out into the Sacred Valley. Further and further up the mountains we went, through clouds and mist with a spectacular scenery just outside our bus windows. I was totally thrown back to driving up to Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand a couple of months back. Once we had reached the top of Abra Malaga Mountain, we got all geared up for our Downhill Cycling Adventure. Because ‘Safety first’! And the outfits looked absolutely badass too, by the way. 😉
After some brief security instructions and a quick warm-up we got on our bikes and off we went. Or more accurately: down we went. All the way down the road with its countless hairpin turns, puddles and potholes. I absolutely loved every second of it! And turns out I’m a natural. I got really into it, going super fast by pedalling like crazy and making myself as aerodynamically as possible. Going down the mountain like a madwoman gave me a huge adrenaline rush and a proper workout too. Seems like I found a new hobby of mine. 🙂
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
We spent the night in the quaint town of Santa Maria. From there, we set off by foot the next morning for an 8-hour hike on the famous Inca Trail. It took us along the Urubamba River to Quellomayo and then on to Santa Teresa. This part of the Bootcamp was without a doubt the most challenging but at the same time most rewarding one. The views weren’t the only thing taking our breaths away. The steady incline ensured that we were getting a proper workout. And my sore legs from the biking the day before didn’t make it any easier.
However, I decided to cut the hike short and accompany one of my fellow tribe members to the doctor. The poor soul had been feasted on by mosquitos the night before and was now suffering from an allergic reaction to the bites all over her body. Since I can’t see anyone hurting and not feeling well without wanting to take care of them, that was a no-brainer. Even if it meant missing out on the second part of the trek and the Hot Springs awaiting at the end. Wouldn’t do it any differently the next time.
Especially since the next day brought – can you guess? – some more TREKKING. Compared to the day before, this one was a piece of cake though. We took the scenic route along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes, base camp for going to Machu Picchu. And we already caught our first glimpse of this mystical place as we made our way. I couldn’t wait to see and explore it up close the next day.
That meant sacrificing some sleep though. In order to catch one of the first buses up the mountain to the gates of Machu Picchu, we had to get up at 4 am. And even then we still waited in line for an hour or two to actually get on a bus. Trust me, it was totally worth it! Seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World alone is more than enough. But as we arrived quite early, we were able to see Machu Picchu in the morning fog and clouds. This made the place seem even more eerie and mystical. After getting some of the obligatory tourist shots, we then had a guided tour through the Lost City of the Incas. I highly recommend doing one of these since it gives you plenty of background information and facts about the place.
But make sure you also set off exploring by yourself. The premises are huge and there is so much to discover. Insider tip: stay for as long as you can and experience Machu Picchu without all the tourist crowds that flood the place in the morning. Last entry is at 4 pm, but you can stay for another hour after that. If you are up for a bit more walking and hiking, definitely go and see the Sun Gate and the Inca Bridge. This takes you away from the masses and gives you a better idea of how life once must have been in this sacred space. I also recommend taking your shoes off and walking around barefoot a bit. Feel the energy that is in the ground flowing through your body.
And who knows, maybe an out-of-this-world experience finds you during that, just like it happened to us. We were on our way up to the Sun Gate when we saw a nice and slightly secluded open space that was just perfect for a meditation. There were only two other people there with us but they seemed to be wrapping up their conversation anyway. We sat down in a circle and were about to begin the meditation when one of the persons approached us. He said he felt a strong energy coming from us and asked if he might join and talk to us. Well, that’s not something you say no to. Turned out the guy was a Spiritual Guide and teacher local to Peru and he went on to tell us about some of the local beliefs with a focus on Pachamama, Mother Earth.
The air around our group felt supercharged and I could feel the energy buzzing all around us. Before he left, the Guide sent us off on a quest around Machu Picchu. He told us to go to three of the main temples on the premises – the Temple of the Sun, Intihuatana and the Temple of the Condor – and meditate there. They symbolise the past, the present and the future, and that was what we were to meditate on. So exciting! I totally felt like a little kid on a paper chase.
We continued our hike up to the Sun Gate and then went to complete our mission. With a bit of luck and sneaking around we were able to meditate in all of the three places. The experience was obviously different for everyone, but in general really intense and powerful. There were big realizations, tears, hugs and smiles but the overlying feeling was one of pure happiness and bliss. What we experienced that day was truly unique and magical and I’m convinced it couldn’t have happened anywhere else. Machu Picchu will always have a very dear place in my heart. Not just because it’s the first of the Seven Wonders for me and therefore special but because I believe the energy there that day changed me and hence will forever stay with me.