Inca Trail

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 25, 2010

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Inca Trail started at 4AM on Wednesday and it took us four days to complete the pilgrimage to Machu Picchu.

Our group of 16 passed over 4200m (relatively easy compared to Huaraz, and I had some time to acclimatise in Cusco) and descended through the cloud forest to 2400m. Personally, having seen Alpamayo, I was unimpressed by Salkantay, the tallest peak in the area - although no one has ever been able to climb it. The jungle area was a spectacular distraction on the 3rd and final days, as were the Inca ruins covered in a thin mist - although these did get boring quickly. Overall, the trekking wasn't as impressive as the Santa Cruz trek, but it was a means to an end. The entrance to Machu Picchu made every single uncomfortable minute in the tent worthwhile.

There is obviously significant historical literature about Machu Picchu (and I can't say I was that interested in it), but the architecture is quite simply amazing. The Incas built anti-seismic structures so that although the area is on a fault line, the majority of the sacred site has lasted. The location also helped keep the site intact -  Machu Picchu is surrounded on all sides by mountains; it would have been impossible for the Spanish to arrive here without following the Inca Trail (the first few kilometres of which the Incas destroyed before fleeing to Vilcabamba).

Whilst the trek was interesting, the group and guides made the whole experience. I am going to recommend Llama Path to anyone reading this and thinking of going on the Inca Trail. Our porters were extremely cheerful and clapped us into each campsite. Following that we had a happy hour which consisted of popcorn and some sweets - and after I'd filled up on all the junk food, a full 3 course meal.

It's good to be back in Cusco now. First things a shower and a change of clothes. I'm at the same hostel as before and the staff here are pressuring me to go out... I don't need to be told twice. A Saturday night in Cusco is not to be missed.
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