Cusco and the Inca Trail
Trip Start Apr 09, 2009
6Trip End May 10, 2009
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We arrived in Quito, Ecuador this afternoon after quite a week - Cusco and the Inca Trail!
Cusco was fantastic - very touristy but still very interesting. The first challenge was acclimatising to the altitude- 3300m above sea level - to make it all the more difficult, our hostel was on a hill, up a steep flight of stairs and we were both breathless every time we made the trip from town back to the hostel. Having said that, the hostel was excellent- it was a converted family home and each room was named after a family member. For the first few nights our room backed onto a street with amazing views of Cusco. We spent the first couple of days wandering around Cusco, fending off the touts and feeling very light headed and breathless - which unfortunately meant no pisco sours (but plenty of coca tea)!! It was good to get a bit of a feel for Peru - even though there are so many tourists in Cusco, the locals seem to go about their own business happily enough and were incredibly friendly.
On Saturday night we had a pre hike briefing at the agency and met our guides and fellow travelers - a couple from England, 2 sisters from Scotland and 2 American couples. Our guide Marco had an arsenal of one liners - some hit the mark, some not so much - but he was a great guide and very passionate about the Incas. Marco assured us we'd be like one big family by the end of the 4 days.
We started out early the next morning - 5.15a.m- and being of the 'not a morning person' type it was a bit tricky but luckily Greg has had some experience with 5.00a.m:) We met our porters - unbelievable guys who carry 25kgs on their back up the Andes for an absolute pittance and barely break a sweat - what's more amazing is that for the most part they do it with a smile.
After a quick breakfast stop at the end of a 2 hour bus ride, our 4 day hike began - we had no idea what we were in for. The first day was pretty good - we kept a steady pace and chatted amongst the group, investigated ruins and took in the scenery. We made it to camp by 5.00p.m (the porters were there well ahead of us and had set up completely and cooked dinner!). We were all pretty exhausted but managed to stay up for a bit and let Marco entertain us - dinner was fabulous!
The next bit of the trip was not so good. Of course if anyone was going to get altitude sickness it was going to be me and it was going to be in the middle of the night, in a tent, in the middle of the Andes. Let's just say, neither of us got much sleep that night and by the time we were due to set out the next day - I was empty.
Not to worry, we kept going and despite a few 'hiccups' along the way we reached the highest point of the trek in one piece.
I wont cover the next few days - needless to say it was an amazing trip and despite getting sick we had a great time. On the last night we said goodbye the the amazing porters and chef and prepared for an early (3.45a.m) morning in order to beat the crowds at Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu really is incredible (it was pouring rain when we got there but cleared up pretty quickly). We arrived back to Cusco exhausted but very content.
We spent yesterday wandering through the Cusco Cathedral and Inca museum, eating lunch in the highest Irish pub in the world and browsing the night markets.
So that's the Peru leg of our journey - we're off to Otavalo markets in the morning and then onto the Galapagos on Sunday - will write more when we get back next week!
Anna and Greg