Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, has been part of my bucket list for years. Upon researching different hikes, I found a lesser known path called the Lares Trek, a route taking you through indigenous communities, eight hours a day. Feeling already empowered that I was about to embark on a worldwide trip, solo, and still suffering massively from my diagnosed depression and anxiety, I thought to myself, I might as well add in an unknown hike to the itinerary.
It was the best choice ever.
A day before, I started panicking slightly about how high the altitudes were going to be, the hours I knew I’d be trekking, and the fact that hardly any fellow travellers had heard of the Lares Trek. And when I say ‘slightly’, I mean losing it completely. I’d decided that I was clearly going to suffer breathing difficulties so bad that someone would have to find a speedy alpaca and run me down the mountain to the nearest indigenous hospital. Or, what if everyone was super fit, ran up the hills and left me at the bottom, forgotten about, and I had to create a life among the tribes, walking through mud to start my new career as a llama farmer?! Either way, these were my thoughts. I was scared.
The four-day three-night hike hit altitudes of more than 4,000 metres to reach the ultimate destination of Machu Picchu. I pushed through the thoughts of falling off mountains to conquer my fears. The people living in the communities we met dressed colourfully, authentically, cheeks ruddy red from the cold and it felt like stepping into a different world. After four days, we made it!
Machu Picchu is every bit as beautiful as I’d imagined. It’s made even more sensational by the fact I climbed and pushed myself over and above my limits to reach it – and I would urge you to fight any fears and do it too. It could be the best thing you ever do!
You can read more about Emily’s travels here.