Machu Picchu, Peru (Inca Trail)
Mar 29, 2007
|March 29 - April 1, 2007
It was an early morning wake up from Ollantaytambo to get prepared for our 4 day journey across the inca trail to ultimately end up at Machu Picchu. As is the case it was pouring down with rain and we had to make use of our rain ponchos straight away. We all quickly got a photo at the entrance of the inca trail and handed our 5kg bags to the porters for them to carry (Porters carry 5x5kg bags) and kept our other backpacks for us to use during the trek. Once past the entry check point we started our journey for day 1, and as we were told it wasn't too bad, little bit up little bit down. We quickly learned to call out "PORTER" as they ran past us, those guys are absolutely amazing, some of them carrying 25kg were actually in a slow jog going past all of us. We soon appreciated the efforts of all the porters as they run to get in front of us, set up and cook lunch and have everything ready for when we get to the stop. After lunch as we started to walk again, they would pack it all up, run past us and get camp set up for the night, they were absolutely fantastic. We were also aided with a wooden walking stick, which I would highly recommend to anyone considering doing the inca trail. Along the way on our first day we would look up every few moments to catch our breath and admire the amazing views of snow capped mountains and many valleys that were in sight. After 11km for the day we called it quits and had a rest at camp for the night.
We had been told that day 2 would be the hardest day of all, and they were right. We started the day by getting up early and having a wonderful breakfast, this was followed by an introduction to all the members of the staff. There were about 18 of us tourists and about 20 staff members, each have their own purpose (eg. Chef, Gas carrier, tent carrier, Rug Sack carrier etc etc) plus our 2 guides for the trip "Alex" and "Willy" aka Big Willy. After our morning introductions it was time to get down to business, day 2 was pretty much all up hill for a total of 10km. The highest point reached for the day was at 4220m above sea level at a place known as dead womens pass, it was a great achievement getting up there as everyone would cheer you on and give you a bit of a clap once you got there. The views overlooking all the valleys again was nothing short of spectacular and it was also the point where the rest of the way to camp was mainly downhill, which was welcomed by many after some grueling hills and steps. Fair to say that most people were pretty stuffed by the time we got to camp, so it was once again an early night at camp.
Another early start in the morning started off with a 45minute walk up hill, a real fun way to start the day (not), however day 3 is the longest day being 15km and is mainly downhill, well down a lot of stairs anyway. One section of day 3 is believed to have about 3000 stairs to go down, pretty tough on the old knees. Along the way we stopped at some old inca ruins and given a bit of a history lesson from our guide. The Incan people were amazing in the way their buildings were designed, and considering their time on earth being 1200AD to 1500AD they were very advanced, not only from a building perspective, but also for farming. As you can see by many photos taken of the ruins there are terraces of different levels, this was done purposely to enable farming to occur at different temperatures. One of the places (not on the inca trail) has so many terraces built in that the temperature is something like 20 degrees more at the bottom then the top. We were also extremely fortunate to be in our group because Big Willy took us 15 minutes off the traditional inca trail to take us to some untamed inca ruins that were only discovered by archeologists 3 years ago. It was great to see this place as it wasn't visited very frequently and still had a lot of vegetation growing on it. By the end of day 3 we were able to get to camp which had some showers (we were all a bit smelly after no shower for 3 days) and also a little hall with a bar in it. As a group we all took the opportunity to thank all the staff for their hard work, we all donated some kind of gift to them and presented it in a raffle type format, and allowed all the workers to eat the afternoon tea that was prepared for us. During the evening the workers showed their thanks to us by singing a traditional song, and as is the Peruvian custom we had to return the song with one of our own. It was a hard decision having so many different nationalities in our group, but we decided to do the "hokey pokey", it went down really well and the workers got involved (oh yeah did I mention none of them speak English). After our fun night it was off to bed to get ready for our final day journey into Machu Picchu.
Our final day of the Inca trail started with a 4am wake up, but we needed to get up early to try and get to Machu Picchu as early as possible. Once again the weather was not very kind to us, it was dark and pouring down with ran so we had to make use of our torches and ponchos again. We started with a 1.5hour walk of mainly uphill to get to a place known as the "Sungate", from the sungate you can get a glimpse of Machu Picchu if the weather permits it. We were fortunate enough to be able to see Machu Picchu from the sungate, however at that altitude the cloud and fog come across very quick so it was a case of one minute you see it, next minute it has disappeared. After seeing Machu Picchu from a distance it gave us the desire to get there as quick as we could, after about another 4km of walking we finally arrived to the place that we had been waiting for over our journey on the inca trail "Machu Picchu", unfortunately there was a bit of cloud cover about but it only added to the atmosphere of this great site giving it a slight eerie feel. After taking some group photos and congratulating each other on making the journey it was time to head into the ruins of Machu Picchu with our tour guide. As you would expect the place was full of great history, and also offered some of the best scenery that you could find in the world. After our tour we had free time to walk around on our own and take it all in, Bec and I spent about another 2 hours there just exploring all of the different ruins which were once again constructed extremely well by the Incas given their resources.
To complete the inca trail was a sense of excitement combined with the relief of covering about 42km over the 4 days of up, down and winding tracks. The Inca journey was over as we boarded the train to head back to Cusco for the night.