Inca trail to Machu Picchu

Trip Start Feb 04, 2013
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Thursday, March 14, 2013

We started the trek with a 82km bus trip, at 4.30am, to the start of the Inca trail. The trail was a total of 45km up and down mountains, getting up to 4200m above sea level at one point. At km 82 we met our porters, got last minute supplies and basically said goodbye to the modern world for three and a half days.

The first day of the trek was like a test day for us to see how we would go on the trail. It started pretty easy with a slight uphill in the morning but by the afternoon the trail turned into steep steps. I thought it was pretty tough then being at a high altitude, I'd be out of breath pretty quickly. I saw some great scenery of the Andes along the way including the Inca ruins of Llactapata built on the river. It was a relief to get to our campsite to be greeted by the porters with everything set up and a good meal. The food I got on this trip was 5 star, 3 meals a day plus snacks which was all delicious and actually a proper meal like you would get in a restaurant. I don't know how they managed to give such good food everyday after trekking over the mountains. The only downside was that the toilets were just a hole in the ground, no seat just stand or squat, and it was going to be the same for every campsite along the way.

The second day was probably the hardest day on the trail. In the morning we walked up a lot of steep steps to dead woman's pass at 4200m above sea level, by then we were all exhausted but the views from that height were breathtaking, well worth the climb. Just as we were on our way down the other side we spotted a baby bear only about 100m from the trail which stopped and posed for photos for us before it took off. A really rare site on the trail according to our guide who'd only seen 3 in his 4 years of working on the trek. After getting down the other side of dead woman's pass our guide said we had another mountain to go over to get to our campsite. At that point I was thinking 'f@&k this shit' my legs were burning and i was out of breath but we ended up scaling that next mountain pretty quickly and it had more amazing Inca ruins, called Sayacmarca, on the other side. These ruins were set up with the sun to make calendar for Incas and also used to for studying medicine. Amazing how they built this ruin on the edge of a mountain with huge rocks carved into squares almost perfectly fitting together. I was starting to realise how clever the Inca's were. The views from this ruin over 2 valleys was great. From there the scenery had changed, it was starting to look more like a jungle and less like a baron Andes mountain. Our guide 'Will' was teaching us about the Inca history the whole way, explaining how all the ruins work together under the Inca leader Pachacutec.

The third day of the trek was basically all down hill. 3000 steps with only a few uphill bits. It was only a short day of walking. We passed through caves and the path had great jungle scenery with really cool plant life, but it rained most of the morning. We arrived at our first set of ruins for the day, Phuyupatamarra, early so we had a quick siesta on one of its supporting walls. It was built steeply on the side of a mountain and had great views of the rivers passing through the valley. You could also see the back of Machu Picchu mountain. Finally we trekked on to our last campsite which was so crowded from every other tour group trying to stay there, as its the closest campsite to Machu Picchu. We went and visited another set of ruins, Wiñay Huayna, that were close to the campsite. Also built steeply on the side of a hill but with more of a village at the bottom, sort of a hotel stopover for the Incas going to Machu Picchu and an area for farming. Really pretty site this on,e with spectacular views of the snow capped Andes in the distance. By now my shoes had pretty much worn out and were only held together with tape and string from our ponchos. But they luckily lasted till the end of the trek. That night we had a big feast with even a cake to say goodbuy and thank you to our porters and chef then off to bed for an early start, 3.30am, to get to Machu Picchu for the sun rise first.

We woke to rain in the morning and had to wait at the entree gate for an hour and a half before starting the home stretch to Machu Picchu. We reached the sun gate, Intipata, where we were to get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu but it was way too cloudy to see anything. The sun gate was built by the Inca's for the sun to shine through to a specific spot in Machu Picchu to help them tell the date and time. As we couldn't see anything there we marched on to Machu Picchu. We finally got to the bit path before getting our first view of Machu Picchu and as we turned the final corner the site was almost fully covered in cloud and couldn't really see anything, I was so disappointed. So we started our last lesson on the Inca's and how Machu Picchu was the most important site of their time with rooms for the gods that had stones so perfectly carved it looked like they used machinery. By 9 am the clouds had lifted and we had perfect weather to see the site. Then we got to see how magnificent and massive this site actually was. It was such a good feeling reaching and seeing Machu Picchu after spending 3.5 day trekking to get there and learning all about it on the way. After exploring the site which had some amazing building and engineering from what used to build it, I sat there just soaking it all in.

We left Machu Picchu back to Cusco where we all went our for one last dinner in town and it never felt so good to have a shower and use a proper toilet.
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