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South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu
February 17th 2008
Published: February 17th 2008
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Hey! How bold and lazy have I been??!!! Well it kinda difficult to remeber all the details now but will try to give you the main jist of things. Went to the Inca Trail briefing at 6pm.... shop locked up with massive padlock and no sight or sound of anyone.... oh oh.... why did we book the first company we saw.... anyway, the ever so kind guy in the hostel (the hostel and the travel agents are in the same courtyard) called a mobile number, got somebody and finally after half six a guy arrived.... mad long hair and seemed to be in a huge hurry (another oh oh feeling creeping up), sat us down and went through the map and´plan again (hey Mister, we have already paid in full for this... a bit late to be be going over this with us now... was getting really worried. Every question we asked him he answered it with "don´t worry about that, you´re on holidays..... ". When I reconfirmed the time we were to meet in the morning, again he said "don´t worry chica"..... and the time was 6.30 not the 4am everyone else we met had talked about....). Anyway, what could we do at this stage... the next day was the last possible Inca Trail until March as it closes for the entire month of Feb for maintenance.
Woke up bright and early, packed up our stuff (we were leaving the majority of it at the hostel and just taking what we needed (the bulk of out luggage was Snickers bars, Twix, nuts, and other goodies - had met a few different people that said they were starving on the trail as the food was not good. Needless to say we were very concerned with our company due to their "don´t worry" attitude.) All ready to go at 6.30am..... not a sinner or saint to be seen at 6.45am.... or 7am.... (yes Lisa was having a serious freak out in a calm way.... annoyed at being kept waiting but half secretly thinking well if I´m not meant to do the Inca Trail so be it!!!!! Anyway "no worries Walter" showed up at 7.10 with a " hey guys, vamos!!"
Right to cut a long story short, bus to the start of the trail was lovely, 15 others in our group - all from Argentina with excellent English. Nice bunch. Have no idea why other companies start so early as when we got to the entrance to the trail there was a huge queue from the other groups (go figure!). Walter decided we should have lunch rather than stand in line. So in as quick as a flash the darling porters and cooks had the dining tent up, gorgeous lunch cooked and serving. Soup to start, chicken and rice and then fruit for dessert. Yummy.
So off we went, day one was a nice hike, weather was nice after the initial downpour we got walking to the trail entrance. A few difficult climbs but for the majority a very pleasant five hour hike. The trail is so narrow in places with crazy drops to one side.... not a place to lose your balance. Arrived at camp site and the rain started. There was an old abandoned shed there so we all went into that and the porters set up the big long table and chairs, candlelight and brought out tea, coffee, hot chocolate, popcorn and cookies. Very cosy! Started playing cards and having a laugh with the others. After about half and hour I mentioned to J about what time dinner would be at. He said what??? This is dinner..... I almost fell on the dirty dark ground in horror..... I would be starving and I did not fancy a load of chocolate to disturb my sleep prior to day two which by everyones accounts is sheer hell. Thankfully he was kidding and an hour later, more yummy soup, then fresh grilled trout with potatoes and rice and veg. Yummy. All I wanted to do then was skip it off to bed!
5.30am..... Coca té, coca té?????? What, no way - day two has already arrived..... Anyway, will not dwell too much on it..... started off flying.... I seriously really mean almost flying and this is pure sheer climbing with practically no oxygen in the air..... after only one hour (seven hour hike that day in total) I started having a breathing attack (the harder I found it take a breath, the more panicy I became, I was balling crying, strangers were stopping to see how I was and saying oxygen was on the way), it was one of the scariest moments of my life. If there was any way in the world that I could have been airlifted to anywhere else I would have paid any amount.... however, J calmed me down and once I sat down for five mins I was fine. Anyway the lesson I learned here is that the Inca Trail is not a race (I was passing our left, right and centre prior to this!). So once I got a nice pace going it was no bother. A few other things that may have made me react this way was I was dreading Day Two so much that my body and mind were expecting something terrible. Also I had an absess on my tooth (or something like that, was sore!) and I was on strong antibiotics.... who knows!
I actually found the rest of Day Two hike really enjoyable, Dead Woman´s Pass did not bother me at all, I was really into the pace and my breathing was perfectly in control. (met some of the people that had seen me in my hysterical state here and I think they nearly fell off the mountain to see me there! All gave great words of encouragement. ) It was a very cloudy and misty day so no view from the top of the pass (five hours of climbing to get here! Then two hours of very steep downhill on very slippery rocks (sometimes walking through a stream) down to base camp for night two.
Oh forgot to mention earlier - tents, mattresses and sleeping bags were all top notch and no wetness or cold at all (this had also been a worry as so many we met had been socked and cold at night).
Day three..... very long day of hiking but nothing extreme like the day before. However, the legs were really feeling it at this stage so it was a hard day. Weather was ok. Have photos but right now can{t remember a lot about it..... oh apart from another "Lisa incident". The porters are the most amazing people ever, they are carrying all the equipment, the gas cyclinders, the food, etc and are bounding up the trail. Not they are doing some serious sweating and are also mad out of breath at times but my god it would break your heart to see how hard they are working. Anyway the rule is to stand aside to let the porters pass whenever one is behind you. Anyway I stopped when I heard one behind me, called to J in front of me to stand in (we were both at a complete stop) and what did I do (I´m not sure) but I somehow managed to step into thin air and feel off the path down the side..... had only fallen a couple of feet in a summersault type of way head over heels (this is according to eye witness accounts later) when the porter and J reached out to grab me, they both missed (well the rain poncho was really slippy) and I went down a bit further. Anyway, I finally reacted and grabbed on for dear life until I was pulled up. No major injuries apart from cut fingers and bruised pride (again!). Was fine. Got to camp site and this is the one with the bar and hot showers! Luxury. Grabbed our towels and ran to the showers... huge queue. No Worries Walter was at the end of the queue so I sat beside him while J went in to buy the tokens.... Walter told me this is the boys queue (about 20 guys in line) and that the girls was over there. Over where I asked, there is nobody there. Exactly! No girl queue! For once eh ladies?!
Kinda went OTT on the wine that night as a celebration that the worst of the hiking was over..... silly people, four am came around very quickly and we were hauled out of our tents..... two hour hike to the Suin Gate and our first view of Machu Pichu.... was the most amazing morning.... no clouds, blue sky and sun shining.... the first day like this in weeks. How lucky were we. It such a fantastic feeling to get there. Wandering around Machu Pichu was great and the tour was so interesting but my goodness were my legs aching and the sun was so so hot..... So and we were so hyper the night before and spent money left right and centre, we had practically none left for the last day and our train back to Cusco was not until 6pm. Thankfully we had some Snickers left but boy was it a long boring day without money.
Highly recommend the hike and also the company we used. They were only $255 including a great North Face sleeping bag. We were never wet at night or in the mornings. Never hungry (actually think I put on weight!) and the food was great. Some of the other companies that are so expensive have some horror stories! So lucky us for getting quality at such a bargain price. Will get around to doing the photos sometime...... Lx

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