South America (Part 6): Machu Picchu Trip Day 1 – Mountain Biking and Stitches!

We’d booked our tour to Machu Picchu months before our trip, through UK based STA travel (http://www.statravel.co.uk), who link in with Peruvian tour operator Reserv Travel. Trips to Machu Picchu need to be booked well in advance of your travel, due to the limitations on the daily numbers of tourists allowed on the ancient site.

There are various trips and routes available to choose from, and we finally opted for the Inca Jungle Tour. For £250 each, we got a 4 day, 3 night tour which included all accommodation, meals, an experienced guide, treking on the Inca trail, visiting local communities, mountain biking, zip lining, hot springs, and entry into Machu Picchu​! 

After getting picked up from our hostel early in the morning, we had a 3 hour drive from Cusco to Mount Veronica. There was just the 4 of us on our tour which meant it was more personable, some other tours had 15-20 people. In our group we had Adrianna from Portugal and Dan from Israel.  

The amazing views on our drive

The views during the drive were incredible, although it was pretty nerve wracking as we were climbing all the time, and there were sheer drops at the side of us. 

We arrived at Mount Veronica around 10am, and after getting our biking equipment on, we were ready to descend. 

The 50km bike ride down Mount Veronica to Santa Maria had the most breathe taking scenery I’ve ever seen. The journey was mostly downhill around winding roads, and even cycling through narrow streams at some points. It all went fairly smoothly, well until the last 200 metres or so that is!

Half-way down Mount Veronica 

Whilst taking in these stunning views my bike chain came off, I lost my balance, and over into the concrete gutter I went! Going through my mind during the split second falling were thoughts about breaking bones, needing emergency treatment in a remote part of the Andes, being unable to complete the Machu Pichu hike and, will my medical insurance cover what is about to happen?! 

There were to be a few fortunates that helped my situation. Firstly, I was wearing excellent body protection and the helmet took the force of the impact of my head hitting the embankment. Secondly, the fall was at the bottom of the mountain on a flat stretch of road, and finally, we were only a mile away from Santa Maria which has a Medical Centre. 

It was only my lower left left leg that felt any pain initially when I picked myself back up. Then Adrianna pulled up next to me a few minutes later and calmly told me that I had blood rushing down my face. It became apparent that my sunglasses had smashed upon impact, which caused a cut in my right eyebrow! 

Taking my helmet off, our van pulled up and I took a seat in it, with the shock starting to kick in. Compressing my head injury it was agreed that I probably needed stitches. 

Santa Maria’s medical centre was small but it looked clean. After just a 10 minute wait, a Nurse came into the room and simply said “No anaesthetic” to me, and then proceeded inserting a needle and thread into my right eyebrow! After a few seconds of pain, the stitches were finished and covered up, at a cost of around two British pounds! 

The new look post stitches! 

From here we headed to our accommodation which was just round the corner from the medical centre. It was lovely little hostel and we had the place to ourselves. 

The others headed out water rafting that afternoon. I was concerned about my leg, as I was struggling to walk on it, so I rested with my leg elevated and with lots of ice and painkillers to hand. 

Inside our hostel in Santa Maria

The view from our hostel balcony 

That evening we had food in a local restaurant just round the corner from where we were staying. After a soup starter, we had beef Lomo Saltado (Peruvian stir fry) which was again delicious. We were up at 6am the next day for a full day of hiking, so we had an early night following a quick game of pool and a beer! To be continued….    

The group enjoying our evening meal in Santa Maria

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