The Inca Trial!
Trip Start Apr 03, 2006
18Trip End May 29, 2006
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Well, we did it! 43km / 26 miles of absolutely stunning trails combining Inca ruins, magnificent mountains, exotic vegetation and animals. Basically you trek over three mountain passes with breathtaking views, causing the trial to range in altitude from 2400m to 4200m later and we are here to tell the tail, arriving in Machu Picchu (the lost city of the Incas)! The four day trek lived up to our high expectations with stunning scenery including Inca Ruins and numerous mountain ranges. Not to mention a great group of 12 tourists, 2 guides (Marcello and Ceasar), a cook and 20 (yes 20!!) Porters. We had hired a third of a porter each to carry sleeping bag, mattress, and some clothes leaving us with day packs of essentials and room for the all important Snickers bars. To cap it all off, the weather was fantastic for the first three days and we had to play "spot the cloud"
A note of background on our route: The Lost City of Machu Picchu is the most recognizable symbol of Inca Civilization. "The Inca Trail", as it is known now, was the Royal Highway that led pilgrims and officials of the Empire to the Sacred City of the Incas. The Inca Trail is part of a 30,000 kilometre highway system, that integrated the vast Inca Empire of Tawantinsuyo (The Four Ways), running from southern Colombia to central Chile passing through the cities of Quito in Ecuador; Cajamarca, Huanuco, Jauja, Huamanga and Cusco in Peru; La Paz and Cochabamba in Bolivia; and finishing in Salta and Tucuman in Argentina. (Yes, copied straight from the internet John!)
Day 1 - Cusco to Wayllabamba (12km)
We started the trek at a passport control point at a place simply named, "Km82". The first day was fairly easy and we all enjoyed the walk through the valleys whilst getting to know each other. We were a group of 12 - John, Amber, Will & Gina from UK, Erin, Carlos & Ceci from USA and Gina, Natalie, Dirk, Ken and Joy from Canada. A mixture of ages and experiences making up a fine team
Day 2 - Wayllabamba to Pacamaya
The trek itself was very challenging at times, especially on the second day where we had to climb 1100m starting from a height of 3100m or about 10000 feet, a height you would normally sky dive from! The first half of the climb was in shadow and both John and Amber managed it well... then the sun came! Amber pushed ahead to the to the top of the first pass known as Abra de Huarmihuanusca or Dead Womans Pass, arriving second to super-fit Ken, in 3 hours 15 and earned the new nickname, John's little Mountain Goat!
We enjoyed interacting with the Porters who were all up for a joke and generally jovial in spite of the huge packs on their backs. One Porter especially was worth a mention. His name was unpronounceable but he told us to call him Barney... just the icebreaker John needed (John is also called Barney by his Nieces and Nephews due to his "Barney the Dinosaur" impression... its a long story). He carried both of our packs as part of his load and every time he saw us on the trial he would be running past us with a smile and a Vamos! or Hola! Talking with him was challenging with his limited English but John took to sing a South American Folk Song every time he saw him, which earned him the name John Travolta with all of the Porters and Amber happily chatted in Spanish.
Day 3 - Pacamaya to Chachabamba (18km)
A very early start as so much ground to cover, after an hour breaking to take in the Runkuracary ruins then straight into the challenge of the second pass, Abra de Runkuracary (4000m)
We managed to trek the 18km in good time, including the 950m rapid descent down Inca steps after lunch, and ended up at Chachabamba by the urubamba River, one hour's walk from Machu Picchu town, more commonly known as Aguas Calientes. The walk from the second pass to the third on the morning of the third day was widely regarded as the most picturesque of the trip. We all agreed that with the climbs from the first and second pass behind us, together with the stunning scenery (see the pictures!) made this a highlight of the trek, ending up at the top of the third pass for lunch and a promise of "its all down hill from here" from Marcello, our guide. The usual way into the ruins, via the gate of the sun is closed due to an avalanche which was a shame but as we know no different it wasn't going to spoil the experience only enhance. Instead, day 4 involves a short bus ride from Aguas Calientes to the ruins. day.
Day 4 - Machu Picchu
We got up to the ruins by about 7am
Hope you all enjoy the pictures!
We are flying to Arequipa on Saturday to begin the trek up the coast to Lima.
Until the next update,
John and Amber
P.s. Many thanks to all of those who kept Amber up to date on Nobby's little crash in Lima, Shall be having words with him when we arrive there on 26 May!