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Published: January 16th 2010
At the start of the Inca Trail (GEEK!)
Another big highlight of the South America part of or trip was seeing Machu Picchu and doing the Inca Trail! Its also one of the activities I was the most worried about in terms of fitness because it’s a three (and a half) day hike at very high altitude
We left Cusco on the 24th of December and went to Ollantaytambo which is a little town close to the start of the trail. That night we all put our Santa hats on, sang Christmas carols, drank hot chocolate and ate some Peruvian Christmas cake! We then went to have a quick dinner before heading to bed. The next morning we woke up early and had breakfast at the hotel. We then boarded the bus that would take us to the start of the trail. We queued to get our passports stamped and our tickets checked, unfortunately it had already started raining and we had to take the cheesy start of the line pictures in our lovely plastic ponchos!
We started walking, luckily the rain eased off! The first day was very short and a pretty easy walk because it was mainly flat, we arrived at our first campsite around 3 pm
First Inca ruins
and then had the afternoon to relax.
The most amazing part of the Inca trail has got to be the porters. These guys are incredibly fit and not only do they carry all our tents and 6 kilos worth or our change of clothes etc…they overtake us as we are walking and have the campsites all set up by the time we get there!
On our first night we had a lovely dinner before going to bed very early.
Day 2 started at 5 am this was the hardest day of the trail as we have to climb up “Dead woman’s pass” which reaches an altitude of 4200metres above sea level!!! Unfortunately my stomach started up on me and I couldn’t eat let alone keep any food in, so my strength was minimal. To make things worse it pretty much rained the entire day! By the time we made it to the summit of Dead woman’s pass we were soaked through, freezing cold, and a little grumpy! We took a very quick picture to prove we made it to the summit and then started making our way down the deep steps to the campsite. Unfortunately once at the campsite
First Inca ruins
we couldn’t get dry and warmed up because our tent was leaking…therefore everything was wet! I spent the remainder of the afternoon shivering trying to warm up! Dinner once again was really nice, even though I didn’t have much of an appetite. The chef even managed to bake a cake! How he did it in the middle of nowhere with no electricity or anything still amazes me!
We woke at 5 am again on day 3 of the hike. The day started off with nice weather which enabled us to enjoy the surroundings more, we saw lots of beautiful humming birds the area has many different kinds of them! Unfortunately it did not last long, after an hour of walking the rain started again! Along the way we stopped at some Incan ruins. We then had lunch, after lunch we saw another small incan city before running down hundreds upon hundreds stone steps to our last campsite. Once we arrived there we were surprised to see a building with a kind of bar inside. We went in and sat inside having some soda while we dried up. It was the first time where we were fully out of the
More Inca ruins
wetness and I really welcomed it! We then had our last dinner after which we gave our tip to the chefs and porters and expressed our gratitude for their great work.
Day 4 was an even earlier start…4 am! Luckily it was only a short two hour hike to get to Machu Picchu. We were really lucky because we had no rain on this last stretch of the walk and it was a beautiful walk, most of the trail is but our views were blocked due to mist and clouds. The walk was pretty much easy, the last little bit of the walk though consists of climbing these ruin steps which are so steep I had o climb it like a ladder! Once I reached the top of the steps and walked through the ruins ( desperately panting) I saw it barely peaking through the mist, the lost city. I was so overcome with exhaustion and emotion that I started crying. I had no more strength left due to not eating and I was so happy to have finally finished the walk. From there it was a very short stroll to the city. The mist started clearing and more
of the city was becoming visible, the closer we got the more I realized how bit the city is!
We arrived finally! The city is amazing, to think that only 20% has been restored the remainder of it is just the way it was when it was discovered in 1911! It is perched in the mountain peaks and was not discovered for hundreds of years! We had a guided tour around the main temples and sites of the city and then were left to wonder around and explore for ourselves for a few hours. We walked around the maze of walls trying to get lost and get the feel of what the city would have been like in its prime. The Incas already knew a lot they had a sense of the poles, following the stars and the path of the sun. The city had its own water irrigation system that is still working ( and now being used to supply water to a five start hotel) ! It is mainly built out of granite, the Incas built around the natural formations of the mountains and rocks which is why their structures are so strong. It is believed that
Along the way...
A happy (aka grumpy) Steve & Julie =p
Machu Picchu was the most important city during the Incan time which is why there are many paved passage ways leading to it (like the Inca Trail) from different cities! In general it is so advanced for that time it puts you back into place, the modern world isn’t all that special after all! Machu Picchu is not actually the official name of the city but of the mountain overlooking the city; it means “Old Mountain” the cities real name was lost a very long time ago, some researchers believe that the city was called Picchu though. We took a bunch of pictures of the area, unfortunately we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked to… After that we took a bus down to Aguas Calientes which is the little village at the bottom of the mountain, pretty much as soon as we got onto the bus it started raining but we didn’t care anymore! In Aguas Calientes we had a pizza and then we got on a train that would take us back.
The train ride was an adventure in itself, after hiking for three days and hardly sleeping in our wet tents all we
Deads Woman's Pass
Cold & Wet...dressed in my beautiful evening gown! Lovely!!!!!!
I still managed to croak a smile though!!!!
wanted to do was lay back and close our eyes, but the train staff had other plans for us. The “entertainment” consisted of the staff dressing up and dancing a “local” dance up and down the isle, and then we were treated with our own private fashion show! The staff changed in a few different outfits and walked up and down the isle! After the show they brought the samples out and for us to buy, brilliant business plan!!!
We finally after getting off the train and taking a bus arrived in Cusco and had very well deserved hot showers! The next day a doctor came to see me to find out what was wrong with my tummy; turns out I’ve been carrying a parasite around the world with me since Cambodia!!!!! Yuk!!!!
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