I did the Moonstone Trek, also called Valle de la Luna, with Flavio, from Cusco to Machu Picchu. The trek took us five days, and for a while I felt like we were the only people on the planet. Hardly anybody treks this route, but I can't understand why. It's so incredibly beautiful. We started from a dirt road which follows the train tracks as they descend into the Valle Sagrado. We took a steep uphill into the sun, up to some pre-Inca ruins with a commanding view of the valley below. From there we descended into some small villages where the children ran out to greet us, and they didn't even ask for caramelos or dinero.
From there, it was a long climb up and over the only pass on the trek, and when we got there, we could see all the way from Salcantay to Ausangate to Nevado Veronica. What an amazing view. And the pass wasn't even that high, as Andean passes go, at 4400 meters. We descended to our next campground and had an incredible night under the stars. I've never seen as many stars, the Milky Way was so bright, and I could even see the Andromeda Galaxy.
From there, we took a narrow trail that hugged a cliff, a little bit scary if you don't like heights, until we started to parallel an ancient Inca aqueduct. The scale and precision of the construction was amazing. We followed that aqueduct for several kilometers until it took us to an incredible Inca construction overlooking the entire Valle Sagrado and Nevado Veronica. From there, we descended towards Ollantaytambo, visiting an amazing Inca stone quarry along the way. We saw the place where the Incas milled the stones for the Ollantaytambo ruins, and the stone ramps they used to slide the huge rectangular stones down the mountain. But the true highlight of the trek, and one of Flavio's secrets, is the cave of mummies, hidden within the quarry. There are several Inca skeletons in there, most with deformed craniums, and one that is nearly intact. It was truly humbling to be in the presence of the bones and textiles.
After visiting the Ollantaytambo ruins, we spent our 5th and last day in Machu Picchu to conclude an amazing adventure.
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