Published: November 30th -0001September 27th 2010
We had an early start to be picked up by our tour group for the Inca Trail. We´d had it planned for about 6 months as there are limited numbers allowed on the trail every day and it´s really popular so it was rather surreal that we were finally about to do it. So at 5.30am when it was still dark we met up with the rest of our group and set off. To begin with we had about a 2 hour drive to the start of the trail. When we got there we were issued with our rather massive sleeping bags and roll mats and off we set, first posing for a famiy photo under the Inca Trail sign. We finally set off on what was supposed to be an easy day of walking but soon realised that when our guide said "flat" he actually meant "Inca flat." This invloved several steep hills that left us out of breath and sweating. After the first hill it was too much for one couple who decided to turn back.
After a few more hours walking we arrived at our lunch stop. Now, 3000m above sea level and a chef with basic
cooking equipment we weren´t expecting much but we were served with a 3 course meal that was possiby the best we had experienced since arriving in Peru. How he did it we don´t know but the guy was a genuis and would love to put him in a master chef kitchen and see what he could do. So, with full tummies we set off on the last leg of our walk for the day. When we arrived at camp 1 the camp had already been set up by the 20 porters that supported us throughout the Inca trail. These guys should be in the Olympics. The average height of a porter was 5ft and they carried all the cooking equipment, tents and food for 4 people in enormous backpacks ( around 25kg) all the way along the trail. Every time they would run past us on the trail as we were struggling with the hills and altitude. After yet another amazing feed we all headed to bed as we had another early start at 5.30am for the hardest day of walking on the trail.
The next morning we were wakened by the porters bringing us tea in our tents
before we got up for breakfast. After breakfast we set off. On the second day we climbed almost 1200m to 4200m. Climbing to 4200m took us to dead womans pass and they were not kidding when they told us that is was a hard day of walking. We were litterally taking 2 steps and having to stop for breath. This was a mixture of walking at altitude and climbing extremely steep steps to finally reach the top. The view at the top was definately worth it and again we posed for a ´family´picture. The one bad thing about climbing to 4200m is that you then have to walk back down. Our camp for the night was at 3600m so off we set down hill all the way, which is not as easy as it sounds as it was all steps. We all had extremely sore knees by the end. After some time relaxing we gathered in the dining tent for dinner for a history lesson on the Chaskys ( porters) that were supporting us. Our history lesson was ended with us all having to introduce ourseves to them in Spanish. This really tested our very basic Spanish and basically involved
us just saying the odd word and the guide translating. Very embarrassing as most of the others could speak a fair bit of Spanish.
Our third morning started even earlier with us up at 5am. We set off at 6.30am and had about 8 hours walking visiting several Inca sites on the way to camp 3. The climate on the third day was competely different from the rest of the trail which had been very dry. We walked through the cloud forest with vines and lichen hanging from the trees. The third day of walking was much easier than the second although it might have been made easier by the promise of a hot shower and beer at the end. So we arrived at the last camp, which was much better equiped than any of the others, for our last night in tents. The chef made an extra special meal with pizza and amazingly a full size sponge cake with intricate icing on it which somehow he had cooked in camp. After our meal, which also included really nice sweet mulled wine, we had another little ceremony with the porters. The priciple point was to give the porters their
tip, which makes up their pay. We also were forced to sing a song to them which we had made up (a version of Macho Macho man, all very embarrassing) and give a speech which was naturally handed to one of the native Spanish speakers in our group. The porters sang us a song before we all said our good nights and headed to our tents.
The next morning was very early indeed, 3.30am with the intention of getting to the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu before sunrise, about an hour´s walk away. So we got up and queued up at the control gate, which you´re not allowed to pass until 5.30am. We walked at a brisk pace to finally arrive at the Sun Gate from where Machu Picchu would be seen from, to see....clouds. There was no sunrise and no Machu Picchu so we set off down the hill hoping it would appear out of the clouds. Eventually we were suddenly upon it and the view that everyone recognises was before us. We spent some time taking photos, not quite able to believe that we had finally made it there before our guide took us on a tour
of the ruins. It was pretty fascniating but we were all exhausted and could barely keep our eyes open. We then had some time to ourselves before we could get the bus down the hill at our own leisure.
It has been a brilliant four days, we had a really good group and we had seen some amazing sights but we were all looking forward to a proper bed. We all met in a restaurant in the town below which didn´t meet up to the high standards of our chef but that was a high standard. Unfortunately Kat fell ill that afternoon whilst we were waiting for our train back to Cusco so we spent a night there before heading back the next day. The train back was rather surreal with a fashion show and a clown dancing down the aisle all performed by the staff, an odd end to a great few days. We got back to our hostel in Cusco later that day, looking forward to some comfort and a nice shower. Unfortunatey that was not to be as the hostel had had no water for two days. So we quickly checked out and looked forward to
There are more photos below