Cusco and the Inca Trail

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May 24th 2009
Published: November 19th 2019
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On the way to cusco we stop at a small holding where guinea pigs, alpacas and llamas were being raised - so we tried our hands at bottle feeding one of the baby alpacas, but didn't quite have the rolf harris touch.

We arrived at a bustling Cusco and made our way to our hostel, high on a hill. We ended up staying for just two of our intended five nights - it had good views but little else going for it (breakfast included, you just need to provide the food and prepare it yourself - the wafts of excrement drifting into our room weren't a big seller either.) We had to see the manager to agree what we would end up paying, which would have worked out in our favour, had it not come about that we'd be given a dodgy note from a cash machine in town, and so were down about 20 quid.

As Cusco is big on tourism, there are many establishments we hadn't seen in quite a while that deserved our attention - many of our evenings were spent in English / Irish pubs feeding up with wholesome stodgy food.

For us, Cusco was all about the preparation for the inca trail. After a bit of agonising, we decided we would go for the professional walker look and rented walking poles - they turned out to be a great investment, preventing further damage to our knees after going up and down all those steps!

The trail itself turned out to be just as hard as we were expecting - the "hardest day" with a climb of around 1200 metres was pretty tough going, then the "longest day" turned out to be pretty darn long. Our feet took a real pounding with blisters all over, but strangely going down steps turned out to be the most painful, particularly on the knees. Luckily the scenary along the way was amazing, not even taking into account the various Inca ruins dotted along the trek. We had ended up in a group consisting of just us, we then had our guide (Richard), a chef and four porters to carry all the equipment. The porters are absolutely amazing, carrying anything from 25 to 35kg (although they are supposed to be limited to 25kg), and will often finish one trail, get the train back to the start and begin all over again (we heard some had done this five times in succession).

The final morning of the tour has a rather unpleasant start, with breakfast at 4am and then a mad rush-hour like scramble (plenty of shoving and pushing) to trek the couple of hours to the Sun Gate, where you get your first view of Machu Picchu as the sun is starting to rise. Once we recovered from the initial race, we managed to find some space for ourselves heading down towards Machu Picchu and could then enjoy the show with the sun lighting up the amazing and iconic ruins.

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