Inca Trail Day 1 - Today is supposed to be 'easy'

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
In a tent somewhere on the Inca Trail

Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Last night at the 'pre-trek briefing' we got to meet the rest of our Inca Trail group – Cara and Laura, two 21 year old female vegetarians from Australia – the couple of 36 year old Brits that were meant to be joining us had had to cancel due to the extreme weather conditions in Britain (we were relying on them to be obese 60 a day smokers so we wouldn’t be the ones holding the group up – it clearly wasn’t meant to be). At the briefing we also met our guide for the next 4 days, Bill (not his Peruvian name of course) and our coordinating porter Rolando – both seemed lovely guys – they explained what we were to bring, the itinerary for the trip and things to expect over the next few days.  As Andrew and I had also requested a porter each to carry our main bags (clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags, ground mats, and copious amounts of red wine cartons he he) – we had to carry our day sacks with our coats, ponchos, snacks, water, gloves, hats, walking poles, camera etc, we were given a bag each to fill with our extra stuff overnight ready to hand to our porter in the morning.  We had been advised that this was definitely thing to do by Rorie and Emer amongst many other people so although this seemed a bit lazy we had grounds to believe that it was the right way to go.  After we had arranged to meet at 5.30am in the morning and Bill had advised us against the drinking of alcohol or any partying tonight Andrew and I promptly found the nearest Italian pizzeria and treated ourselves to a bowl of pasta (for energy) along with a very large glass of red wine each (purely medicinal of course).  We were very good and were asleep by 9am – we had a feeling this would be the best nights sleep for a while.

We woke up at 4.30am washed ourselves for maybe the last time in a couple of days (of course the baby wipes are packed in the porters bag) and checked for the last time that we had got everything that we needed (our New Years Eve wine stash unsurprisingly came at the top of this list along with two bars of very important Ritter Sport chocolate for emergencies) and made our way downstairs and in to the almost night.  After a few minutes a couple of buses slowly started to crawl up the deserted street and then disappeared leaving us a little worried.  Andrew decided to chase one and thankfully it was the right one that then came back and collected us.  We met the girls at the square near to the SAS office – our guide was nowhere to be seen.  After 15 minutes of waiting and watching all the worse for wear tourists making their way home Bill appeared and became the butt of the ‘out partying eh?’ joke.  He seemed to be amused and we were at last on our way.  We had been travelling for about an hour when the first mishap of the trip happened – we got a flat tyre.  This wouldn’t have been much of a problem only the 5 strong group of men that we had with us couldn’t get the wheel off.  After a long while, with local children looking on, and with the help of rocks and goodness knows what else the tyre was changed and again we were back on the road.  We stopped 45 minutes from ‘Kilometre 82’ – the start of the Inca Trail, at a shop cum cafe and had a light breakfast of bread, coffee and scrambled egg which we were all very grateful for – all to an 80’s soundtrack pumping in the background.  I’m not entirely sure why but 80’s and 90’s pop is so popular here it is played everywhere – still I’m not complaining.

We got to the village at the trail head at 9.30am and it was pouring with rain – great start.  Out came the hats, waterproofs, gloves etc, we used a flushable loo with toilet paper supplied for the final time and then crossed the Urubamba River to the trail start at 10am.  We were amazed by the amount of porters that we had with our group – at least 8 – with massive amounts of stuff strapped to their backs (they carry up to 25kg each) covered in sheets of plastic and wearing SANDALS!  They really put us to shame and we immediately felt guilty that we only had our little day sacks.  The Australian girls had decided to carry their own stuff so they had reasonably sized ruck-sacks – as we got to the first uphill section not long after the start I did not envy them at all, despite the cool fine rain I was roasting.  Oh god this was just the beginning.  The porters were all basically running passed us – amazing some looked almost twice our age – oh the shame.  On the first section of the trail there were loads of horses and donkeys with heavy loads passing us being lead by locals and thank goodness it wasn’t long before the path flattened out and became a lot more pleasant.  After a couple of hours in the now decent weather we came to an amazing set of ruins complete with intricate terracing that we got a great aerial view of – the guide explained that the majority of the structures had been resting houses (three walled), it was also a good excuse for a little rest. After another hour, the sun had come out and was now furiously beating down on us so we arrived hot and sweaty at a little village which was our lunch stop.  The porters had set up a lunch tent and were waiting for us, clapping us on with cool water and towels in hand.  Lunch was incredible, we couldn’t believe how much food we were presented with – soup to start then salad, pasta, beef casserole, vegetable fritters – unsurprisingly we couldn’t eat it all.  We were then able to lie down for a while on the grass in the garden in the sunshine and play with the insanely cute little puppies there.  I didn’t want to leave.  We thought about taking one with us until Bill told us a story about some people feeding a dog at one of the villages that then decided to follow them all the way to Machu Picchu where it was promptly shot dead by the wardens (dogs are not allowed) – the story obviously came to an abrupt and terrible end – we just all sat there gobsmacked.

The next part of the trek was tough – uphill all the way – who said the first day was supposed to be easy?  In his wisdom Bill decided that we would go further today than most of the other groups and camp higher up the mountain.  We climbed all the way up to ‘The Forks’ which was hard and very slow going in the heat.  On the way we were passed by a couple on horseback coming in the opposite direction – now why couldn’t we have done it that way?  All the other groups stopped and camped at a mirador (lookout) but we continued on uphill through a forest microclimate (how envious we felt when we saw people happily lazing on the grass reading books), getting our passports stamped on the way and arriving at camp at about 5pm – I think we had walked about 16kms and climbed about 800m.  Dinner was again delicious –we were given popcorn and tea followed by soup and chicken, salad, pasta, etc.   The chef and the guide were clearly in cahoots and obsessed with indigestion – the teas that they kept giving to us were already wreaking havoc with mine and Andrew’s insides.  By this time the cold had really started to come in and it became apparent how much altitude we had gained during the day – socks and flip flops I’m afraid – a very fetching look that we all shared.  Our only other companions at our camp site were Llama Path – SAS’s competitor – they soon became known as Llama Dung and owing to their seemingly ‘machine’ type stamina we instantly hated them (they were a group of perhaps 10 and seemed to be on steroids I don’t know what they were being fed on).  Anyway, we got back to our already set up tents at about 7.30pm crawled in to our sleeping bags and hoped that tomorrow wasn’t going to be as gruelling as we had been led to believe – yeah, like that was ever going to happen!
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Dad on

Those Porters and Aussie girls put you to shame Andrew!!!! Dad

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