Published: January 10th 2010December 2nd 2009
der offizielle Anfang,
Dean, Diana, Allison
...so after booking a month in advance and being forced to plan the trip accordingly we finaly start our trek towards Machu Picchu.
The trek is divided into four days, the first being flat and easy estimated at 4-5 hours walking, the second is 4-6 hours up hill, its not really a hill but more like a mountain with the peak being at 4200m then another 1h down. The third is supposed to be the day with the best views walking 5-6 hours downhill. Last but not least is an early start towards the sun gate, from where one can see Machu Picchu while the sun rise behind the mountains, followed by an 1 hour downhill approach.
We were 5 in our group, but two had to pull out the day before due to alltitude sickness.
Our guide told us that 500 people are only permitted to start the trail each day with aprox. 200 tourist and 300 porters. We were in low season, or rainy season so there wasnt that amount but enough to be in your way.
Thats the basic explanation.
After sorting out the payment in the morning (our credit was used up. End of the month
tours are a nightmare) we left with Alison(the reamaining tourist) and our guide Saul/Cocaman. Along with us came 5 porters to carry all we needed for the 4 days (and a lot more).
The first day was as promised very easy going. Our guide explained alot to us about the incas, or more his view on the incas, the traditions around the area, his grand father being an important shaman in the mountains and alot about Pachamama
After a grand total of 1 hours walking we had a rest at a bar. It was more of a wooden hut selling powerade and water.
When all the other tourist started leaving again he took us to the local bar round the corner. Here the porters stop for a well earned drink of Chicha
. These porters are incredible, they carry up to 25kilograms on their back, which is the maximum amount allowed by law and luckly it is controlled. After reapeating the traditional toast to Pachamama we tried this fermented beverage. (Beverage being a terrible word but communly used in all sorts of tourist orientated english) Its not bad, but nothing I would like to get drunk on. Our
guide enjoys it so we had a long break before setting of again. After 5mins of walking we were stopped again, this time for lunch. I know it said easy going on the map but this was stupid.
The porters had built up a massive canvas tent, set up a camping table surrounded with four camping chairs and started cooking using those large bottles of gas.
Waiting for the meal to be cooked we played some cards with Cocaman -ich habe uebrigens immer gewonnen-
and were told to rest and relax. The meal we had was fantastic. Beginning with vegtable soup followed by a massive portion of rice and chips, a salad and some steak(no where near argentinien standards). It was loads, the reason being is that it was meant for five people and our guide, but instead of emptying the food from the other two people they decided to carry it and serve it to us. I dont think we finished of one meal in the entire four days.
So after getting a good 1 1/2h rest we started the final part of our journey; one hour towards the campsite. On our way we passed the first inca site, Patallacta.
A large village sitting at the bottom of the valley between to meeting rivers.
The rest of the day was an easy walk along a valley. After spending the evening playing cards, being told nearly everything there is to know about coca leaves along with the traditions, inca religion and cocamans opinion regarding the spanish conquest and the enforcement of christianity we went to bed. Needing the rest for the second day.
So off we went for to climb the Deads Womens Pass
. A valley going up between two mountains, starting at around 3000m to a peek at 4200m. Not an easy walk. With lush vegetation and a slight slope the beginning was perfect. As we all had different paces going up hill we split up, me taking the lead, Diana (after her hard training in the Coca Canyon) was in the middle with Alison trailing of at the back. The path would vary between a dust track and steps built for giraffes. After an hour or so the slope started to get very steep. To keep a good pace I picked out a young porter who seemed to physicaly ignore his 25kilos on his back and was bursting
up the hill. Whatever he could do with 25kilos on his back I could surely do with 12, so of I went at a good pace making perfect progress. This was a tricky situation, the route was quoted as being a 5-6 hour uphill task, I wanted to beat that, but also I wanted to enjoy the views which were amazing. The surrounding mountains were capped with a morning halo of mist, the trees rising next to the path created a canopy of coloured flowers and provided a nice resting place for birds. But time was my motivation so head down and of I went.
The first stop I reached with ease. After resting here for ten minutes waiting for Diana, my porter left, so I had to go aswell. Sorry Diana-vergeben und vergessen du Bergziege-
. The vegetation started to decrease as we increased in altitude and after another hour or so I was at the second pass, this was starting to get hard. The temp was dropping, the air was getting thinner and the energy was running out. About 20 mins before the second pass I ganged up with some other guys walking at the same pace as mine.
We rested together for about 30min taking in some fruit and having my first cigarette I was ready to leave. Just then Diana arrived, wow she was fast. I honestly didnt expect to see her untill we were at the top -ich bin fit wie ein Turnschuh,also bitte-
. So having another 30min break and hearing the "why didnt you wait" -HA HA-
complaints we set off with the Idea to meet again at the top, even if it was raining, which it was starting to.
The long break didnt do me any good, as my leg muscles had harden making it quite a task. This last bit was by sure the hardest, the air was non-existence the wind and rain were picking up and and to make it worse there were a lot of false peeks. After reaching one and then seeing you had another 20min to go it was kind of depressing. But we made, Diana being only a good breather and a cigarette behind-YES-
. The weather had cleared up making the view amazing and the long hard walk worth while.
Together we then set off downhill for an hour towards our campsite where we enjoyed a well earned lunch
(without Alison who arrived about 2 hours later) and took a good afternoon nap.
The third day was the best day, or so we were told; the views will be magnificent and the walk easy. So we were a bit dissapointed waking up in a cloud. Of course this was a cloud forrest and we were in rainy season but we still hoped we would be lucky. Anyway of again for another 6-7hour walk. First an hour uphill, stopping in between at our first Inca village of the day. After reaching the peek it was down hill again. The steps in these places are not the normal steps one gets back home. Irregular width and heights varying from a small decent to a leap of faith. So I wasnt surprised seeing most people walking very, very slowly. Again I was inspired by the porters who where having the time of their life running down these steps as if free beer was up for grabs down below. Again anything they can do, I can do. Well nearly, after a few minor falls at the beginning I was off. Overtaking most groups I arrived at the meeting point under half the
predicted time-man kann da auch gemuetlich runterlaufen und sich mit Menschen unterhalten... jeder wie er mag.gell-
. The meeting point being another Inca town on top of a slope.
The place was wonderful, the stone work brilliant. In the wall circling the town was an aqueduct, the top stone blocks had a carved out gully supplying the town at different points with water. The fascinating thing being, the water was from the mountain behind the town. Along the rocky face the incas had carved out a trench running up the mountaing to a nearby lake. The craftsmanship these people were capable of is amazing.
After having a good explaination of this site we made our way along another path passing a smaller inca town towards our lunch camp. By this time the view was clearing on the lower altitude levels giving us some fantastic views.
After lunch Diana and I set off for the rest of the 4 hour journey. Walking back up again along an original inca path we had fascinating views of this cloud forests vegetation. After an hours walk it was then 3 hours down these ridiculously over sized steeps. Our knee was starting to serverely hurt.
and more inca ruins speckeled the way, and the clearing clouds gave way to some fantastic views of the valley below.
The last and most impressive Inca site was Intipata which was based on the slope of a mountain. This village had a few hundred terraces leading up to the few house overlooking the ground. We arrived here by pure luck, as we had left our guide behind us (he was looking after Alison) we had no clue which path we should take at a fork. We met a group and their guide explained us that oneway leads to the campsite and the other takes a detour to the ruins. Considering our knees were really painful, we weighed up the options and went for it. The ruins were rewarding.
At the campsite we meet Alison who finally opened her bottle of wine she had been carring with her all the way. After a short trip to the nearby ruins of Winay Wayna we returned for tea, and went to bed early to get up at 0400 the next day.
The final day was the shortest trek, and ended in Machu Picchu. So we got up at the crack of
dawn to make our way towards the sun gate. From here one has the first view of Machu Picchu and can see the sun rise behind it. Everybody was really eager to get there first to avoid the crowds of trekkers. We headed off with a fast, nearly jogging pace, and arrived at the sun gate a hour later full of sweat and out of breath. The view however was poor. Clouds, clouds and more clouds. We could only see about 20m infront of us. Dissapointed we slowly made our way towards the site, hoping that the view would clear up some point along the way. It didnt. Arriving at Machu Picchu after four days of hiking and seeing nothing was slighty dissapointing to say the lease.
Our guide however said that this sometime happens and if we are lucky it would clear up later. With our fingers crossed we started our tour of the ruins. Meeting up with the two who pulled out of the trek. Luckly for them they did, as I dont think they would have made it. One was a fat computer freak, and the other an overwaited-heavy-smoking-truck-driver-look-alike from america. After climbing a few steps together
they were out of breath, the computer freak aiding himself with his asthma spray.
We toured the ruins for over an hour, taking in the magnificent stonework and percise detail in the design.
Machu Picchu is well worth the hard walking 4 day tours, and to our delight it did clear up after about 3 hours. At this point Diana and I were on the verge of leaving but couldnt resist the opportunity of getting that Picture of Machu Picchu. So, tired and worn out, we forced our way back up a hill and were just stunned by how incredible the view looks from above. The site must be majestic when viewed in sun rise, but this was still....a view words can´t describe. PS: Diana would like to point out that she uploads most of the fotos which, as she saids, takes as long as writing a long blog....
...-MUCHAS GRACIAS- -ach und Entschuldigung an alle unsere braven Leser und Fans...wir wissen wir haengen ziemlich hinterher mit dem Blog...wir sind bemueht.. die Zwischenzeit war so entspannt und wir waren einfach zu faul...bis bald in diesem Theater-
There are more photos below