Tucan Travel - Machu Picchu, Peru.

machu picchu, tucan travel500 people are allowed on the Inca trail every day (with 300 of those spots going to porters etc.) The Inca trail, is classed as a typical tourist thing to do and I have seen words such as ‘overcrowded’ being used to describe the trail. For me, the word overcrowded could not be further from the truth! It was rare I saw anyone on the trail, occasionally crossing paths with some people (or those from my own group who went at a slower pace) and only ever seeing people at rest points and at campsites. The final walk to Machu Picchu is probably when I realised how many others were on the trail. We woke up early, around 5am to be ready and waiting at the final control (which I think opened around 7am.) We were one of the first groups sat waiting in the cold and dark to be let through. I went to the toilet and one point, almost getting lost but finding my way back due to this long que of people.  

It was cold and misty, and it felt like hours before the control border opened. It was still dark and used out headtorches to guide us over a rocky, uneven path. Out of all the trail, it was here that I almost slipped several times. The last hike though, almost felt like a race, everyone competing to be the first ones to get to Machu Picchu. There were so hikers even getting aggravated by others on the trail if they overtook them or got in the way… I am not sure I saw the point in racing to get there, we were all going to see Machu Picchu despite who gets there first, but with everyone rushing it made me increase my speed. I could feel the sweat building up on my skin, followed by breathlessness and the need to have a drink (although I was so ready to drink water that did not taste like toilet water…) The fun part of this hike was the monkey steps, gaining the name because you pretty much climb the steps because they are so steep! The steps were a challenge, but lead you up to the sun gate which is or should have been our first viewing point of Machu Picchu.

Unfortunately for us, we were greeted with a cloud covered Machu Picchu. However, we did not let this get us down, we were all so proud of ourselves for completing the hike! Our group had separated along the way, we waited here for everyone to arrive, had snacks and water before heading down to Machu Picchu.



Our look around Machu Picchu was split into two parts, our guide would give us a tour around Machu Picchu pointed out points of interest, afterwards we would have to exit Machu Picchu then re-enter, so we could walk around by ourselves. Our guide was so knowledgeable on Machu Picchu, telling us so much information about Machu Picchu, most of which I cannot remember. Machu Picchu was still covered in thick, heavy cloud (which is evident in the photos) as we walked around. The temple of the sun, was one of the first sites we were shown, semi-circular construction which has been built over a rock of granite, mummies are said to have been worshipped here and it is considered a place of great energy. The temple of the Condor, was another amazing example of Inca stonemasonry, the Inca’s shaped this rock to look like a condor in flight, located on the floor is the condor’s head and neck which completes the 3D image of the condor. Under the temple a small cave was found that contained a mummy. Intihuatana, also known as the Inca sun dial is a rock which is associated with astronomy, it is aligned to sun’s position during winter solstice. Machu Picchu for me, was so much more than I expected, I did not anticipate how huge Machu Picchu was, the grand scale of the buildings, the sophisticated architecture.
machu picchu

As the time came for us to exit (picking up Machu Picchu stamps in our passports) and re-que, the clouds had disappeared, so our main objective was getting the classic photo of Machu Picchu. It took us a while to find the perfect angle, and not completely packed full of other tourists. Afterwards, we then made our way down to catch the bus into Aguas Calientes and the train and bus back to Cusco where the first thing I did was take a well needed shower.

Hiking the Inca trail and seeing Machu Picchu was such an incredible experience, and I am so grateful I got the chance to see such a beautiful site. Walking for three and a half days may seem grueling but the reward at the end was worth it, along with the incredible satisfaction feeling I got after putting my body through something I didn’t think it would be able to cope with. 
machu picchu inca trail

Tucan Travel - The Inca Trail, Peru.

When you think of Peru there are many things that come to mind, but the one everyone (or so I hope) knows is Machu Picchu. I could not go all the way to Peru and not see Machu Picchu, thankfully due to booking early I managed to get a spot on the Inca Trail hike (only a certain amount of tickets are available for each day and have to be booked months in advance.) Alternatively, you can do a one-day hike to Machu Picchu, catch a train or do a trail known as the Lares trail.

Day one.

I woke up feeling nervous but excited, the day before the company/guide who would be taken us on the trail did a talk with us, going over health and safety, giving us details on how far we would be walking, when we would be stopping, about the food and toilets etc. Everything sounded simple, so it reassured me that the trail would go smoothly. We were provided with a duffle bag to pack our items in that we would not need on the trail and would be carried by porters, I did this in the morning and made sure I had a ridiculous amount of water in my day pack. Once packed, those who were doing the Inca trail headed for the bus, on route we stopped at a local café and shop for breakfast. Next, we picked up the porters who would be doing all the hard work for us! We were then back of the bus ready to start the trail, I decided to rent walking sticks (and trust me they helped a lot) so after adjusting the sticks and buying a Machu Picchu hat to wear to protect my face from the sun I was ready to go. 

Our starting point was KM82, here we posed for photos before heading down to the check point. Here, you show your pass ports and tickets for the Inca Trail, we had a slight problem here as one of the passports details on the tickets was typed incorrectly but thankfully they were allowed on the trail. The views at the check in point were incredible with the Urabamba river and snow-capped mountains in the distance, it was a sign of wonders to come and looking back now I did not quite take half as many pictures on the Inca trail as I probably should have. I was too engaged and focusses of putting one foot in front of the other to keep getting my camera out. The hike on day one was more of a ‘gentle’ uphill slope with a few hills as far as I can recall, it felt like the perfect hike to break you in for the days to follow. Along this route, there are family homes selling drinks and snacks which should be taken advantage of to stock up on water, on day two there gets to a point where you will no longer see people selling drinks and water, and trust me drinking boiled water does not taste good… Eventually, we reached Llaqtapata a large Inca village, photographs do not quite do this place justice it was an incredible site. Here, I took of my bag for a while as it was already making my shoulders ache, sat down and enjoyed the view. Our guide, told us a brief history of Llaqtapata, what the village was used for, how it was discovered etc. 

It was not long before we were ready for lunch, we ate our first lunch in the garden of some local people, who had chickens and kittens and we sat and watched the two children play with these animals and then things got strange and they started painting on the animals… Anyway, a gazebo was put up for us to eat in, with a table with a cloth arrange for us. It exceeded all our expectations, and the food… No words, it went beyond anything I could have imagined for the Inca trail. We had a starter of soup, followed by a main and then a dessert. It was bliss, every time we had food on the trail there was always an animal made from vegetables from toucans to monkeys, it kept us all smiling on the trail wondering what animal we would have each time we sat down for food. The food on the trail was fantastic from start to end, and they accommodated any dietary requirements.

On the first day of the hike our group stayed close together, talking to each other, getting to know each other a little bit better. We had occasional rests and breathers, taking in the scenery and seeing if we could spot any wildlife, we did see a hummingbird. It was not long before we reached camp for the evening, we camped in the garden of locals who thankfully had a flushing toilet (although it ended up getting clogged up and well, not a nice story…) our tents were still being set up when we arrived, so I had a quick walk around. Guinea pig is a common food in Peru and this house had lots of them running around, which made me a little sad since I have had guinea pigs as pets throughout the whole of my childhood and know what fantastic animals they are… but it is also interesting to learn about different cultures. Once the tents were set up we grabbed our duffle bags and settled in, again we had an incredible meal before heading off to bed early (around 7pm) ready for an early start the nest day. I thought I would have the worst night sleep, but thankfully I had such a good sleep, I was expecting to be freezing but I was so warm and toasty the whole night (and not once on the trail at night was I cold.) 
Day two.
This day is meant to be the hardest day on the Inca, and for me it was. We started at around 2,800 metres above sea level and would be working our way up to 4,200m, across Dead Woman’s Pass the name itself sounds so terrifying. However, its gets its name from the fact the mountain shape looks like a woman lying down and if you look closely enough one of the mountain tops resembles a nipple. So yeah, the name might sound scary but the reason behind it not so much.

After a good night of sleep, our porters woke us up early with a basin of water to wash in and a hot cup of coca tea which was such a pleasant way to wake up. I got dressed for the day and sorted my day pack out before putting everything else I would not need in my duffle. To travel light, I pretty much worn the same clothes every day and only changing under garments, I kept a jumper and jacket in my day bag. Ready for the day, I went and had breakfast which was delicious. We then had a talk about the trail for the day and headed off.  

Today, everyone went at their own pace. Everyone on the trail is at a different level of fitness and tolerance to the altitude. For me, I just took my time, I did not want to rush it and push my body pass it limits. But today was hard, there was so many steps. The altitude made it even more difficult, I stopped several times because it was just so hard to catch your breath. Our guide showed us how to roll and crush coca leaves and ash to chew on to prevent altitude sickness, you place the leaves in your mouth chew for several seconds and repeat every now and then. I am not sure if it prevented altitude sickness, I did not get it (I had felt fine previously in Cusco,) but it did make it easier to breathe as the leaves numb your mouth and open your airways. 
It was hard to take in the surroundings at times, when you are focusing on walking and breathing but the sights were incredible. From dry and barren landscapes to walking in cloud forest streams running through. As a group we decided today that rather than stopping for lunch we would walk directly to where we would be camping for the night and have lunch on arrival, this was to mainly save time and it also benefited the porters. Reaching the peak of the pass was hard, up and up it went and as soon I you thought you were there you realised there was more steps and hill to climb. Those that had reached the point before others in the group were there waiting to cheer us as we all one by one reached the peak.  It was such as incredible moment to finally reach the top and be in awe that I climbed all that way (I was planning to, but I did little training before doing the hike) once at the top I sat down and relaxed, taking in the surroundings and having a quick snack. Half an hour later I was ready to carry on walking. 
I arrived at our camp, Pacaymayu in the afternoon. I was so ready to take of my shoes and get rid of my daypack. I made the terrible mistake of going to the toilet, which were now long drops wearing flipflops, never again!! We had lunch once everyone was at camp and spent the afternoon resting before dinner. I was exhausted and so ready to go to sleep after dinner, unlike the other night however I did not sleep well and woke up several times needing the toilet. However, going out at night was stunning. The moon was so bright I could see as if it was day.

Day three.
This was by far my favourite day on the trail and what our guide called the cultural day, as today we would come across several Inca ruins. The walk was also very scenic and not as difficult as previous days, but there was still steps to climb up and steps to climb down from! Unlike other days though, there is more of a descent on day three which can put a lot of pressure on your legs, so others struggled with this day more. I mentioned that I had hiking sticks and they really did make a difference. 

After breakfast, we were ready to go. The first site we came to was Runkuraqay a cylinder and small archeologically site. Our guide told us a brief history of the site, why it was built, which was more than likely a store/post house where people would stop and rest on their journey to Machu Picchu. Our guide went into talking about buildings, and how the Inca’s designed and built buildings in a certain way, buildings will align or face towards the sunset etc. It is really fascinating when you consider how the Inca’s may have done this and for what purpose. Today, we had two passes to cross the highest being 3.950 metres. Thankfully, it was not half as gruelling as the day before. After the first pass we came upon another site, Sayacmarca.

This was the biggest ruins we had seen so far and it was incredible, to enter the site you have to climb a one way staircase (which is a task in itself) some people might choose to skip the site but I would recommend going up! The site is split into two sections, a residential area and a temple. I’ve been told this site was not originally built by the Inca’s but was vastly improved by them, how accurate that information is I do not know. Sayacmarca is a place that would be incredible to watch the sunrise and set, due to the way the site was built and situated. Our guide gave us a good tour of this site and provided plenty of information, most of which I have forgotten because I did not write anything down!

Not long after we stopped for lunch, again the food was incredible. I can’t even begin to describe how good the food was and to consider the fact we were miles away from civilisation and being served good quality food. The beauty continued as we carried on our hike, vines entwined across the paths, flowers, the sound of birds and my favourite we went through two Inca tunnels! These are natural tunnels that occurred in the mountain but made wider for the Inca’s to use, it was really fascinating to see how the incorporated natural stone into the trails, and not to mention it is incredibly fun walking through a mysterious tunnel! We got to a point where you could see Aguas Calientes in the distance (the town where you can catch a train to Machu Picchu) not long after, the trail split in two, one route was meant to be quicker than the other, but I ended up choosing the longer route on the basis it was easier.
This route led us out to more ruins, and our reward at the end was getting to see some llamas (you could pretty much walk up to them) we spend a while trying to get a good photo before heading to camp. Our site was so far away from everything, it took us a good fifteen minutes trying to find someone from our group before we spotted a porter. We dropped our bags off before, our guide told us to follow him, he took us to the last big site before Machu Picchu, Winñay Wayna.

Rows and rows of terraces were used to harvest crops and the houses were commonly used to house people travelling to Machu Picchu. The site has small square stones waterholes that trickle water out of a spout, this water is believed to have been used for cleansing purposes before entering Machu Picchu. It wasn’t long before it started to get dark, so we headed back to camp and for our last meal! At the end of the hike it is customary to have a celebration of kind, where we are introduced to the porters who have worked incredibly hard, told their names, age, about where they are from, if they have children etc. before we shake hands and say thank you. I was so grateful to our porters, and at times I felt they go incredibly underappreciated. Honestly, I am not sure how much money they get for doing this, but I don’t believe for a second it is enough. The only advice, if you do tip, be kind and give each porter the same amount individually. We had a problem with our tip, we gave it in a lump sum and we soon discovered afterwards that it was not split evenly, with our three guides taking the majority. (Our guides were amazing though, but I was slightly upset about this!)

Anyway, we all went to bed early knowing we had to get up super early to get in line for Machu Picchu. I had a fantastic time on the trail, and I could not believe it was coming to an end so soon.


If you have any questions about the trail, feel free to ask. 

TUCAN TRAVEL - THE AMAZON RAINFOREST, PERU.

If you know me, you would know I love wildlife, nature and being outside. I love the idea of hiking through forests, the canopy closing in overhead, the wisps of sunlight creeping through the leaves, the earthy scent and the sound of animals in every direction. Visiting the Amazon rainforest has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, and visiting the Amazon and doing the Inca trail was a key seller for me on this tour (I waited to book the tour unless I knew 100% I would have a place on both.)

After doing the Rainbow mountain hike the day before and feeling ill from the altitude thankfully I woke up feeling free from the nauseous feeling. In the morning I packed up what I would need for the rainforest and ate breakfast. Our tour guide spoke to us about legends of the rainforest, one being El Chullachaqui, a guardian of the forest who in appearance is dwarf like and has goat legs (although that varies between stories.) El Chullachaqui takes the form of a loved one/or a known person and lures a person into the jungle until they are lost. The story our guide told us involves a relative who was in the army who was based in the Amazon, one day a lieutenant or along those lines from another base came and said that her relative must come to the other base its urgent, he followed this man who he knew into the jungle only for the man to start running and eventually disappear. Having grown up in the Amazon rather than look he sat down where he got lost and waited. Eventually people from his camp found him and he told them what happened, so they went to the other base and asked the lieutenant why he had run off and left him there, for him and everyone at that base to declare that he had been at camp all day and not left. Whether you believe in the idea of supernatural happenings, it’s an interesting story and I love hearing these stories when I travel.

At the airport, a few people were asking each other and me what animals they were most looking forward to seeing, honestly, I had low expectations. First, I know how unpredictable animals are, so I knew there was a chance we might not see anything! Secondly visiting the Amazon and in this area (Puerto Maldonado) I knew it was designed and developed for tourists and it would not be how you see the Amazon in documentaries e.g. thick, impregnable vegetation. I made sure I kept that in mind. The flight was forty minutes long and my first glimpse of the Amazon was out the window seeing endless amounts of green and the occasional pops of pink flowers.


We were picked up at the airport and driven to a reception area where we had to wait for a few more people to arrive, we were told half an hour and we ended up waiting for almost two. None of us were happy about this, eventually when the others arrived we got dropped off and climbed on a boat which took an hour to reach our destination that being ecoAmazonia. Honestly, the accommodation exceeded my expectations, the cabins were incredible, they had amazing facilities and the food was incredible. Since we had arrived late due to waiting for others that made us behind on our planned activities for the afternoon, so we had to rush our dinner and quickly drop our belongings off in our cabins.  

Our first activity was monkey island, prior to going I had read a lot about this island and how friendly the monkeys are for example they would take items out of your bag or sit on your shoulder. It sounded like fun and I partially expected to see similar behaviour. We took a boat to the island and quietly made our way into the jungle, our guide carried a bag of fruit with him to entice any monkeys we came across, the monkeys being used to the sound of the rustling the bag made. Our first encounters were brown/white faced capuchins who climbed down to get some bananas, after we went to a feeding station where half the food was placed. After waiting several moments more capuchins appeared, watching them was so much fun, one tried to carry a ridiculous amount of food up a tree with him and dropped half of it, another stayed on the bench eating as much as possible in one go, whilst others would take a piece and go eat in a tree away from the others. We stayed here for a while just watching them eat before we moved on to see if we could spot any spider monkeys, which we did but they were high up and none of them wanted to move. We started to make our way out of the jungle just as the sun started to set, which in the jungle looked incredible.

Back at ecoAmazonia we relaxed in our cabins before we went on our next little outing, which was looking for caimans. I didn’t take any pictures because my camera isn’t designed to take photographs (or half decent ones) in the dark. We saw a few, and they are so hard to spot. Our guide had a light which he would shine along the bank, which we catch in the caiman’s eye which shined like a coin stuck in the mud.  Once spotted, they would slip back into the water.

The next morning, we woke up early for breakfast, so we would be on time for a ‘hike’ through the jungle. Due to the location of the eco lodge a few animals had grown accustomed to humans, one being a peccary who would run around and steal items like wellies. There were also a few birds around such as a Scarlett macaw and a young toucan who would hop about it and was the cutest of things! Anyway, our first activity of the day was a walk, again we were told to be quiet as not to disturb any animals that might be close by.




Our first encounter was a giant snail slowly making its way across a log. Next, we came across some holes in the ground, not many people know that holes in the ground tend to be tarantula holes. Our guide picked up a long, thin stick and began to entice the tarantula out of the hole. Thankfully, spiders don’t scare me, so I did not mind getting to close to this enormous tarantula, I was told it was a Goliath tarantula, but I am not 100% sure. The tarantula would latch and grab onto the stick with such strength, eventually our guide got bored of prodding the tarantula, so we moved on.


I mentioned this when I went to Costa Rica, but I love learning about the plants and trees as well. Here, we were shown a tree that smelt like garlic and secondly a tree I can’t recall the name but known as the telephone tree because when you hit it with a piece of wood the sound echoes loudly throughout the forest, which could be handy if you happen to get lost… The trees although some were incredibly large, weren’t as thick or as tall as I imagined they would be but still fascinating to say the least. The scent and sounds of a jungle are my favourite, the rustling of leaves is always good indicator animals are nearby and we encountered a large group of squirrel monkeys who were running around in every direction. For me, and many others this was the highlight of the trip to the Amazon, we watched the monkeys for half an hour before they dispersed in several directions foraging for food.

We ended up at a pool of water, I can’t really say lake because it wasn’t big enough to be classed as a lake. Here, we climbed into a boat, there were so many species of birds (none of which I could identify) making an array of different sounds. There was one that had the strangest of calls, that kept repeating over and over, I find it so interesting the sounds and calls birds can make some of the calls they make don’t even sound from this world. Other than birds and butterflies, we did not see anything else. The water was also incredibly shallow, and we ended up getting stuck in the mud several times, our guide was tiny and struggled to get us out, using our brains we all started to move back and forth which shifted the boat out of the mud and we was able to start moving again. It was hilarious, and I am pretty sure it made our guides day.

The first activity of the day took around four hours, after we had walked and took a boat for half of the way back to the lodge we had most of the afternoon to ourselves. Me and a few others decided to go chill in the hammocks, where many lizards (unsure of the species) were running around. I need to get myself a hammock they are THE comfiest of things, I could spend hours in one doing nothing. After lunch, we went to a caiman lookout point. At first, we couldn’t see any, just the occasional movement of water and snapping of twigs. Then, our guide started to chuck items into the grassy area which startled a large caiman (around four metres) out into the water, it was too quick for me to get a picture off it. Our guide told us there were three different species of caiman living in this area of the Amazon, we sat and watched the water for a while with the odd eyes appearing before quickly disappearing.

It was here, I could really sense people’s disappointment in the Amazon trip. It wasn’t because we didn’t see many animals but more for the fact the trip was sold differently to how any of us expected it to be. These were the only activities we participated in, after returning from the caiman lookout we spent the evening playing card games. We left early the next morning. The trip was sold as two nights and three days whilst it was two nights and we spent roughly one day and one afternoon in the Amazon. For me, the cost I paid to do the Amazon trip did not really equal the value of what we were given. I was originally going to write a complaint about this, but I got side tracked and forgot to do so. Saying that though, having the opportunity to go the Amazon was an incredible one and one I will remember for a lifetime, I just hope one day I will be able to return and not as a tourist. 

Is the Amazon rainforest on your bucket list?

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