Day 4: Today we were able to sleep in (6:30) with breakfast served at 7. We needed to pack up all our belongings as we would be leaving this valley floor (warm, moist) campsite in the Santa Theresa region. We had cereal, yogurt, toast, coca tea. Today we would be saying goodbye to our cook as he had packed us lunches (in styrofoam boxes w plastic forks). We said goodbye to Juan Carlos who had taken such good care of feeding us amazingly delicious and satisfying meals throughout our trek. We tipped him generously which made him happy. At 8, we were headed by van to start of our zipline adventure. We all decided this would be better than hiking 3 hours on a dusty road.
We arrived at the Cola de Mono site which was quite lavish by our camping standards. They had a beautiful and large yard area, a large open building with foosball tables and equipment to prepare for ziplining. We signed in and paid (90 soles each, about $32) then each got outfitted with our harnesses, gloves and helmets. A briefing on land helped us know what to expect and what to do. We were going to be traversing across 6 valleys making our way from one line to another. We would have options to do some tricks like letting go of our hands and doing 360s, hanging upside down like a monkey, or flying like superman! After an uphill hike to the first line, we had our first experience. I went last and got clipped in. The guides were very patient and competent, it was good to feel trust in them and the equipment with the greatest challenge being to overcome my own fear. Jaimee clipped me in and asked if I was ready, I said yes. He gave me a small push and soon I was flying across a beautiful valley. About halfway across I decided to let go of my hands and spin. I got a bit confused then fearful as I could not get myself facing forward again. I eventually did and grabbed the clamp properly and was able to make a good brake with my leather gloved hand and ended up firmly on the landing. The adrenaline was raising through my body, I was shaking by the rush of the experience! I had to sit down and catch my breath and mind as it was a bit blown by the fun and excitement. We then went over to the next line, again I was last. Jaimee asked if I wanted to do Superman, again, yes. So he reversed my harness as I would be flying across on my belly, arms outstretched and he would be holding onto my legs. He also took my camera on video mode to capture the whole experience. Once we started flying, I relaxed and enjoyed the view. This was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I flew like a bird looking across the valley seeing the tops of trees, the river below, mountains in all directions... on landing, again the adrenaline rush was great but I was so happy by the experience (check out the video that he took). On the next one, I decided to just relax and go across in the normal way sitting down. The fifth line was a 'fast' one so we were all instructed to go across just sitting and no tricks. The last line, I did a tandem superman with a man from Lima. We each had our own cable, we lay on our bellies while hanging from our lines, our guide held us both by our legs behind us and a second guide was on a third line to video the whole thing. It was again, beautiful and amazing.
We then made our way down via a steep and narrow trail to the road back to their site. We had a short break there, using their bathrooms and getting cleaned up. Now these bathrooms must have been the most beautiful bathrooms. There were 3 of them connected, funny doors with characters and arrows to indicated open or occupied. Then open the door and there is no wall on the other side! You have a door and walls on the left and right then the facing 'wall' is completely open to the hillside and great view above. Also wild orchids and bromeliads in the foreground...such fun (reminded me of Halape).
Back in the van and a short drive to a lunch place (delicious rice with vegetables and chicken) and on to Hydroelectrica. Here would be the start of our hike, about 3 hours) along the railroad tracks to Aguas Caliente. At first it was a bit dusty and some upward walking, then a steep climb up a hillside on a very narrow trail. Then the rest of the walk was walking along the tracks, crossing bridges, stopping at a few stalls for snacks. We made great time and into AC by 4pm. This town is tucked into a small canyon and is the starting point for MP. Here you can take a train to arrive here then a bus up to MP. Instead of the train, we hiked of course but now we would check into our hostal and meet at 5:30 to get our bags, but instead Bernie brought them all to us. Dinner at 7 meant we go walk around, we spent most of our time in the market which was quite fun. Dinner was fantastic and a festive affair as we had finished a good portion of our trek and looked forward to MP the following day. After dinner we went back to our rooms and packed our things for the following day. We would be getting up at 4:30 and needed to have our bags packed to go our separate ways after our day at Machu Picchu. It took me some time but I made it to bed by 10.