We arrived at kilometre 82, the start of the trek about lunchtime. We knew it was lunchtime cause our porters had already cooked it and we were brought to the kitchen tent to eat it before we began the trek. It became obvious that food was a higher priority than safety for the most part. Food being a priority is not a problem to Conor. Off we went after lunch with our hiking sticks, guide, Shanelle, Malik and two tired heads but we were just happy to be there after the fiasco with the Passports.
Our guide explained to us the description of the 4 days ahead of us. He broke them down as follows: Day 1, the easy day - Day 2, the hardest day - Day 3, the beautiful day and Day 4 the unforgetable day. He wasnt far off the mark at all as we found out over the 4 days. Day one was easy. A nice stroll along the banks of the Urubamba river to our first camp. The trek was easy as the guide had said and he gave us lots of info on the local flora and fauna. Funniest thing to see though was that even at 3,500 metres above sea level in such a remote area there was still a small football pitch high on the edge of the mountain. Now when I say football pitch I mean a small uneven surface the size of most estate houses front lawn with a goalpost either end. Bagsy not going for the ball if someone toe ended it over the side. First camp was nice and dinner was very surpirsingly nice too. Amazing what the cook can come up with with such limited tools. At least four courses was the average at every meal including breakie every day. Camp was comfy that night but we got our first glimpse of the hole in the floor toilets. And when the torch was turned off for bedtime the darkness was blinding. We havent been in a place that dark in years. Thankfully the sleep took over and morning came soon enough.
Day 2 we awoke to a knock (scrape) on the tent with the porters offering us Coca Tea
. Coca tea is real nice. Very earthy but super for altitudes. I think we must have drank about 90 cups in the run up. We opened our tent to see an enormous cloud passing our tent door. Crazy. Day 2 was by far the hardest although I still reckon it is deffo easier climbing than descending. Added to that the fact that the Incas had probably the smallest feet in the world which made slippery vertical descents near impossible. We ascended 1,200 metres over 6 kilometres approx to Dead Womans Pass. We made it though and we had a few hours before sundown to stretch out and read or snooze before tea at 5 and then dinner at 7.30. Camp for the third night was nestled between the loudest stream and a raging waterfall. They were literally 3 feet either side of us. Some deer came to drink from the stream before dinner but were soon off again as soon as any of us took any interest. Of course Conor set about making a clothes line with his leatherman tool (thanks del and linda) only to be out done by big fluffy clouds which did not allow the damn clothes to dry.
Day 3 we awoke again at 6 to Coca Tea and a full breakie before heading off for the second pass. The views all along the trail throughout the entire trek were magnificent. The trek is so narrow in some parts with a rock face one side of you and a 1000 foot drop the other side. We were told to keep to the rock face at all times whn the porters rushed pass because apparantly people have been knocked off by the porters big back packs in the past while standing to close to the edge
. In some parts the trail was as narrow as 5 feet with almost vertical steps down. We saw some ruins along the way and our guide Raul was very knowledgable of each place we visited. He took particular pride in the use of his walking stick as a tool for drawing maps and icons in the dirt. Something Conor mimicked at the top of Pass 2 to his amusement..... or at least we hope he was laughing. Camp 3 was even crazier than Camp 2. If you rolled over twice from the front of our tent you were gone for a long drop down about a 2000 feet into rainforest. There was a restaraunt here though (four walls a roof and some tables and chairs) and a small museum which had all sorts of enormous insects on display that had been caught from the jungle around us. A lavish last dinner, a small ceremony for the porters and a game of shithead saw us to bed about 9.30 absolutely wrecked. About 2 in the morn a large crack of thunder rang out and woke everyone in the campsite except Lou the night owl suprisingly! At this height the flash and noise was amazing but it left us worried about the last trek early in the morn.
Day 4 we were awake at 4 am for our short trek to the sun gate to see Machu Pichu in all its glory. Of course being Paddys on the side of a mountain we were treated to a tropical downpour. It didnt let off till at least midday. Shortly after the sun gate we could see Machhu Pichu through some low cloud
. Such a beautiful place and much bigger than we expected. Theres no point me harping on about it. You gotta see it to enjoy it. No pictures can give you the right perspective and no description of the trek can do it justice. We spent a few hours exploring and listening to Raul our guide before getting the bus to Aguas Calientes to wait on our train back. On the train there was some bird with one crazy looking toe. Lou called it the Hammer toe. You would need a few protactors and a set square to measure this girl up for shoes. We got back to Cusco about 6 that evening for a long awaited shower and met up with Edd, Paul and Connie again for some gorgeous food in Paddy O Flahertys. There are alternative inca treks these days but I reckon the original is still the best. Its a genuine step back in time in places and takes your breath away due to the sights sounds and the altitude.
And we must give a big shout out to the porters and chef. These guys would put most people to shame with the workload they get through. Carrying that load on your back over some of the trerrain we were on with just a pair of sandals on made of old tyres is a jaw dropping sight.
On to Puno and Lake Titticaca....
The start of the trek to Machu Pichu is about 2 miles outside a town called Ollantaytambo. It normally takes a bus about two and a half hours to get there but due to the cock up with our passports we had to employ the services of the fastest taxi driver in Peru. Two and a half hours became 1 hour and 5 minutes. The seatbelts in the back did not work either.