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  • Writer's pictureLisa

Mountains, Mountains, Mountains

In Nasca I start the mountain ride towards Cusco After only a few kilometers I know, that this stretch won't be easy. The first 100 km are non-stop uphill, through absolute nomansland. In two days I climb from 560 msnm to over 4.100 msnm. After 140km first signs of civilization. A tiny village, a few people sitting along the road, looking at me, as if I was from outa space.

After an exhausting week I reach Cusco and instantly feel the cultureshock. From absolute wasteland to tourism-wonderland. People, tourists, supermarkets, vegan food, Souvenirshops and Machu Picchu on the doorstep. But my body is screaming for a tiny pause, before heading to the world famous Inca city.

Early in the morning, Ole and I head towards Machu Picchu. I met Ole on the last mountain before Cusco. He is only 18 years old and has been cycling for one month now. A Colectivo drives us along stomache-turning curves towards "Hydrolectica", a waterwork in the middle of nowhere. From there we start a 12 km hike along the train tracks - Machu Picchu low budget. Along with people, that are either equipped with hiking sticks and hightech functional wear, or look like they are walking towards a super hip electro festival, we walk to the tiny town of Agua Calientes.

Agua Calientes, also called Machu Picchu village, is 100% touristic. Every few meters people wave menus in your face, there are kitchy souvenirs on each corner and every three minutes somebody yells "Massage! Massage!"

At 4.30 the next morning, Ole and I sit in front of our Hostelbreakfast, still half asleep. And then the Machu-Picchu-process begins. 5.30 queue for the busses that take you up the hill (we decided to skip walking up 2.000 stairs, we can be lazy too!), 6:00 queue for the gates to open, 6:15 wait for everybody to take their selfies, to get the first glimpse of the breathtaking Inca city. Pretty much everybody knows Machu Picchu. I have seen so many photos and now I am actually really standing here... Unbelievable!

We walk around and try to avoid the masses, but it is nearly impossible. "I need proof, that I have been here!", a young woman says, while putting away her (absolutely unnecessary) hiking sticks and her (absolutely way too packed) backpack, to strike several poses. Do it for the gram!

After several hours of walking and being amazed, Ole and I head back. The place is getting more and more crowded by the minute and at some point it is impossible to enjoy the view.

We run down the 2.000 steps and walk back to the waterwork. After the seven hour busride I am back in Cusco and am really happy to fall into my bed.

Machu Picchu is breathtaking and amazing, but unfortunately it also shows the dark side of mass tourism.

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