The Inca Trail

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April 25th 2008
Published: April 25th 2008
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"I´m still Alive, must have been a miracle, it´s been a hell of a ride, destination still unknown... It´s a long way down from the top of the world"

Ow, legs still sore. Made it though. Yipee

Day 1, Gentle Introduction
Wonderful gentle walk up into the mountains, following a beautiful valley up in to the heart of the Andes. Large Inca city opened out below us to welcome us to the trail. Enormous mountains on all sides. Easy trail tostart, wide paths, only little bits of uphill that failed to break a sweat. This is going to be so easy. Yeah right.
Had to really slum it at lunch time. I was expecting to be greeted with a pack of sarnies and hopefully a drink. The Porters had run along the trail in front of us and had put up a large dinner tent, served us a 2 course meal of soup and Rice, Chips and Fish (Trout a layer of cheese in the middle, heavenly) As we reached every lunch stop and campsite the Porters clapped us in, gave us a drink and fed us like we were kings. Superb food, much better than anything we´d had at countless resturants throughout Peru. By the end of the trip the cook, Boris, was our hero, and had numerous marriage proposals, including from the huge Kiwi bloke. A cup of tea arrived around 5 then a 3 course banquet around 7.
The tents were all put up before we arrived so all we had to do was collect the duffel bags containing most of our personal belongings that those wonderful porters had carried for us. Colapse into the tent and wait for the next meal. The first night, we got to the campsite about 3 so had a few hours to kill. Having spent a massive 2 minutes setting up my bed (self inflating matress) we opted for card games. A fun game called 'Shit Head' involved lots of muttering and scowling at people that got you into trouble, So lots of laughing. We then tried 'Spoons´ which got progressively more dangerous. It involved collecting up 4 of the same card then grabbing a spoon (well a coin because we didn´t have spoons) from the centre of the circle. Gentle enough, and good fun. Inevitably, it got violent. It was upgraded to 'Contact Spoons' where we had to run for a shoe. Really dumb idea as we were playing with one big bloke who enjoyed rugby tackling anyone who got in his way. Softish grass to land on but several people ended up with a few bruises to take up the mountains. Last few games involved sitting in a circle and trying to hug each other, or stop someone hugging someone else. Sounds really odd, (and very dodgy) and it was. Great fun though, hours of rolling about on the grass laughing. We even got our guide involved who looked really bemused that we should want to injure ourselves before the toughest walk we´d ever done.
Having recovered from the dumb games, we got introduced to the porters and even had a little dance. Freindly atmosphere and superb introduction to the Inca Trail.

Day 2, Dead Womans Pass
Tried very hard to live up to it´s name. Ow ow ow.
1200 metre climb split into 3 parts. Part 1 was Gentle ish up, stunning views back down the valley. Took plenty of time to stop and enjoy the view. Getting breath back and stopping heart pounding also important. I walked the whole day with another girl Sarah (sweet Cornish girl), her boyfriend Rob (7ft Kiwi) and at least one of the guides. We paced it quite nicely so neither of us, Sarah or myself, passed out from exhaustion. Got very close though.
Part 2 was frighteningly steep steps, for hours and hours and hours. Mostly in the rainforests with occasional great views all around. Little bits of gentle rain helpful in cooling us down. Did wonder if it would ever end. I´d go round a corner and more, even steeper steps would greet me and the heart would instantly sink.
Part 3 was also frighteningly steep, though a few less steps, and we could see the finish line. Few people on the top gradually got bigger and bigger.
Up to the top of Dead Womans Pass only actually took about 6 hours, felt much longer. Heart instantly lifted when we reached the top in the now pouring rain and part of our group had waited at the top for 30 minutes to clap us in. A pyramid of walking sticks to walk through made me close to tears with joy at the top.
The walk down was very slow. Rain got progressively worse and I got more and more nervous about knee giving in, or slipping off the side of the very steep cliff. 90 minutes steep downhill almost more unpleasant than previous 6 hours. Long day. Very happy to see porter waiting in the rain at the bottom to show us into camp.

Day 3, Walk like a Llama
Short uphill stint afforded stunning views and an enormous sense of relief that the worst was over. Rest of the day was largely downhill. The best adive we were given for downhill was to Walk like a Llama on the balls of our feet. I can now practically sprint downhill without injuring myself. I walk like a baby Alpaca. Much sweeter than a Llama, but still unsteady on feet.
Spectacular scenery got progressively more wonderful. The mountains surrounding us on all sides got bigger and even more imposing. Walking in an around the also beauf¡tiful cloudforest, I was in paradise. I´ve probably said that a lot over the last 3 months, but it just keeps getting better and better. Wow.
Today we were even treated toa few Inca ruins. Interesting explanations of crumblies were a nice blast from the past. Couldn´t help thinking my Dad should be there to see it with me. Though we may have spent even longer at every crumbly and wouldn´t have had time to sunbathe at lunchtime.
As the day wore on, we were treated to view of Machu Picchu Mountain. A tantalising glimpse of what´s to come. Machu Picchu itself is well hidden. Saves the best views till later.
Stayed at slightly posher toilet with normal toilets (rest were those manky holes in the ground that you always feel slightly dirty just going near let alone squatting near. ick) and a shower. Blisteringly cold shower, but still nice to feel clean for the first time in 3 days.

Day 4, Machu Picchu
Woken us, as usual, with cup of tea and bowl of hot water. Even if it was 4am, yawn, couldnt help my heart fluttering at what´s to come. Half hour wait for the control gate to open before pratically running up to the sun gate. Should have taken us 2 hours but I kept pace with the leaders of our group and made it in an hour. Caught breath and settled down to wait for the show. Machu Picchu nestled on top of the mountain in front of us, the sun slowly climbing behind us. Watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu is one of those things everyone should experience. Even more amazing that you could imagine. Watching the temple catch the sun first and gradually the rest of the city is illuminated in the brilliant light of the morning.
We walked along the side of the mountain before the guide muttered into my ear, you´re here. This is Machu Picchu. Walking along the Terraces, we were soon made to shut our eyes before another scary walk holding onto each other shoulders. Edge wasn´t that far away and some idiot at the front started running.
Lined up on the terrace, we all opened our eyes to be greeted with the picture postcard view of Machu Picchu from above. Hard to describe, 4 days walking, 6 months planning for this moment. Well worth it. The city is enormous, perched precariously on top of the mountain, surrounded on all sides by more spectuacular mountains. We had a proper guided tour of the city, in and out of little houses, temples and tiny holes. Fascinating. All happened during the Elizabethan era. On the surface, we were far more advance, the Inca´s were living off the land, buliding seemingly simple stone houses. But apart from Stone Henge, we haven´t come close to anything so amazing. Puts it in to clear perpective how much variety of life there is on this fabulous planet. Such amazing history all around us. And for once it wasn´t the English who spoiled it all. Although the guide did make a quip about the Spanish stealing all the Inca gold then the English arriving and stealing it off them.

The whole experience has been amazing. Tiring, my calves are feeling the affects of bouncing down steep steps for hours and running up hill for an hour. I always worried that having built up the Inca trail in my head so much, it would be a bit of a let down. Scenery was more spectacular than anything I´ve seen before (New Zealand demoted, sorry) and the end result of Machu Picchu exceeded all expectations and litterally took my breath away.


26th April 2008

This was the bit I was most looking forward to reading about. Sounds twice as amazing as it had any right to be, and made all the better by your brilliant description. I can only imagine what the sunrise was like. Although the hugging game is a bit dubious ;) But anyway, well done for making it there. Look forward to the photos!
26th April 2008

Fantastic. Moving and inspiring
27th April 2008

City of Gold
Sounds like Machu Picchu will take some beating!! You know how we link every historic landmark to a film or bizarre TV series - this one for me is linked to the rather strange cartoon 'The City of Gold' on TV at some unearthly hour when we were kids....Don't know if you remember it? The description of the real thing sounds much more impressive though. I want directions on how to run like a llama when I see you next. Lol Samantha xx
28th April 2008

Wow, the Inca trail sounds pretty amazing, well done for surviving! Must seem like a different world to back home. Thanks for the birthday presents by the way, more sick books for me to work my way through, yey. Take care, k x
28th April 2008

Lucky Thing
You are so lucky. It sounds absolutely amazing, I am so envious. You've given us all the buzz to go and see it now. Glad you've got in with a nice group of people. Cannot wait to see your photos of Machu Pichu and make sure you're in one of them. We're forgetting what you look like. Love Nicola
29th April 2008

Thanks Sam, for proving that I'm not the only one who associates the Incas and Mayans with 'Mysterious Cities of Gold'! Clearly the realy thing will be more impressive, but the cartoon only costs £40 on DVD ;)
30th April 2008

We are all very envious. Now you have done it once will you be able to carry Grandma up there next time you go. Brilliant account of it all and can't wait to see the photos. Well done you and thank you for my birthday card.
30th April 2008

I am amazed at the enormity of what you have achieved and delighted that you are now in suchpleasant company.
the group with whom you are travelling seem so cheerful and such fun it must be so enjoyable to be able to laugh with them. And you are being well fed and cared for!! Oh! frabjous day. Hooray. Hooray1

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