Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Trip Start Oct 06, 2008
Trip End Apr 18, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Monday, November 17, 2008

On the morning of the first day of our trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu it was hard to imagine the daunting task that was ahead of us. We had heard stories whilst in Manu of how physically demanding the four day trek was, and as neither myself or Iwan would describe ourselfes as being in peak physical condition, we were both quite terrified. To give a brief description of our group, the majority were already experienced hikers in South America, and two were triathletes from Norway! So as you can imagine, this did nothing to calm our nerves.

Luckily, our first day was described in the brochure as "easy", which was true for the opening 5 minute walk down to the first check point! Armed with our walking poles, and after crossing a rickety old suspension bridge, we made our way up the first of many uphill climbs. Compared to what was ahead of us, this was a walk in the park, however we were both out of breath by the time we got to the top. We continued along the path for four hours, stopping occasionally for a brief narration from the guide and to chew coca leaves. These were given in order to help with altitude sickness and as a stimulant to urge us up the final incline to the campsite. After a taster of what was ahead, our nerves turned to worry as we were both quite concerned of how we would survive the next 3 days. That night, whilst I slept soundly tucked up in my sleeping bag, Iwan was wide awake, convinced that there was a vicious puma roaming around our tent. However, the next morning (after our coca tea wake up call) we were informend that the "vicious puma" was nothing but a hungry mule, and nothing more was said on the matter!

After an early breakfast, we began our second day of hiking (judgement day) up to the highest point of our trek morbidly titled "Dead Woman┤s Pass". From the time we left the campsite to the time we arrive the summit (around 5 hours) it was nothing but an uphill struggle. We both found it extremely difficult carrying just a small rucksack, but our hearts went out to the porters, hired by our company to carry our equipment and clothes - one even carried a freezer, whilst another carried an oven! They would practically jog past us wearing nothing but sandals on their feet in order to set up camp before we arrived. With the summit finally in sight, we both took a final deep breath, and urged on by the applause from the top we struggled our way up. To celebrate our achievement we participated in an old Incan ritual as we were on sacred ground. This involved inhaling Incan "holy water" and burrying coca leaves under rocks whilst making a wish. The next two hours were spent descending to the campsite, which in fact proved trickier than the uphill climb due to our shaky legs and inconsistant steps that were very slippery in some places (we were both thankful for our poles at this stage). That afternoon we had arrived at our campsite much earlier than expected, and the night was spent listening to ghost stories that surrounded the area, which left Iwan dreading the prospect of another sleepless night!

Although our legs were tired, and we had another 20 km to walk that day it still didn┤t take away from our enjoyment. We passed through numerous ruins, all of which had watch towers for communication with other nearby fortresses, and also acted as "Incan lodges" for pilgrims on the way to Machu Picchu. After lunch, the trail dramatically changed from cold, barren land to lush cloud forest, and we were instantly reminded of our time in Manu. Walking through the scenic part of the trail was a pleasure, full of impressive views and quirky Incan tunnels. By the time we arrived at our campsite it was starting to get dark, however this (nor the promise of a hot shower) could not keep us from visiting the remarkable Incan site of Wi˝aywayna. It was an excellent taster of what to expect from Machu Picchu with the preserved buildings untouched by the Spanish invaders. On getting back to the campsite, it was time to say goodbye to the porters. After a brief introduction, we all shook hands and they sang us a traditional Peruvian song.

We awoke at 4 am on the morning of the fourth day, all eager to be first in line for the final check point before the final leg of the Inca Trail. As soon as the gate was opened, everyone charged for the entrance and the race to Machu Picchu had began! The pace was tremendous, with some people even running, so we scarcely had time to take in the views. The final climb to the Sun Gate seemed to take a lifetime, but on reaching the top it was well worth the effort. The views of Machu Picchu were undisturbed by the overhanging cloud, as the ruins reflected the early morning Sun. We were instantly made aware of how big the site actually was and wondered how we┤d last the tour with our legs being in such poor condition! An hour later, we arrived down at the bottom of the terraced agricultural region where we witnessed the magnificant postcard view of Machu Picchu. Being one of the first groups to arrive, the view was unspoilt and we watched as the clouds gradually dispersed revealing Wayna Picchu (the famous mountain backdrop). After getting our breath back we began the tour of the site. The Temple of the Sun was desgined in such a way that the Sun would shine through the main window at both Winter and Summer solstices. This was calculated due to the precise positioning of Machu Picchu having glaciers exactly to the South, East and West, which the Incas worshiped. A Sundial was also built, which exactly marked these coordinations (this was sadly damaged by the crew filming a beer commercial!). The Temple of the Three Windows housed an alter used to sacrifice children for Pachamama (Mother Earth) in times of desperation. They would carry the bodies of the children for miles in order to bury them in the glaciers. After passing many catacombs, we reached the Temple of the Condor, where the natural rock had been carved into the shape of a giant condor (symbolising the higher plane). Other interesting sites included the sacred rock, residential area and house of the high priest. At the end of the tour we were left to explore the site on our own, but after a tiring four days we decided to simply sit amongst the alpacas and admire the view!

Returning to the nearby village of Aguas Calientes, we relaxed in the thermal baths before departing on our train journey back to Cusco. Little did we know that the day┤s excitement was not yet over. The train journey was full of entertainment including a jester, fashion show and a sighting of who Iwan thought was Freddie Star! On returning to Cusco, we checked into a more luxurious hotel and treated ourselfes to a few days of rest!  

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iwanllyrevans on

Awdur newydd...
Fel y gweloch, mae yna awdur newydd yn ein plith! I ddweud y gwir, mae Catrin wedi bod wrth fy yml yn fy helpu i ysgrifennu pob blog, a dim ond hanner mor dda y buasent hebddi hi - felly am y blog diweddaraf yma, mi ydani wedi newid cadeiriau, a hi ydi awdures y blog Machu Picchu yma (un da ydio hefyd de?!).

Mi fydd y llyniau i fynnu foru, felly daliwch eich hetiau!

alisonl on

Hiya chi'ch dau
Jyst wedi darllen popeth chi wedi bod yn wneud y mis diwethaf hyn ac mae gyd yn swndio ffantastig ! Mor falch chi'n cael amser gret(a dal sut gymaint o flaen chi)! Wow ! Ni gyd yn iawn fan hyn yn plodo mlaen gyda bywydau bach brysur ni.Edrych mlaen i Nadolig a gwario gormod o arian hyn o fryd yn prynnu anrhegion, ond dim ots, 'life's for living ' !!!!
Joiwch a meddwl amdanoch lots
Cariad mawr wrth Alison, Wyn, Mari Wyn, Io's ac Elis xxx

naintaid on

Wedi mwynhau hanes Machu Picchu yn fawr,edrych ymlaen am y lluniau.Mae Catrin yn dipyn o awdures hefyd.'Roedd eisieu tipyn o stamina i wneud be wnaethoch.Roeddwn yn hoffi hanes y puma,methu a deall pam na fuaset yn deffro Catrin iw hel o i ffwrdd.Balch o glywed dy lais rwan a deall eich bod yn dal i fwynhau, biti am dy anwyd gobeithio y cei wared o honno yn fuan, 'rwyn darllen y blog sawl gwaith ac yn ei fwynhau.Gobeithio y cewch amser da yn Bolivia. Hwyl fawr a chariad mawr atoch eich dau
Nain a Taid

mamabruno on

hola cabinieros
Hello Iwan a Catrin,
I really enjoyed the last 2 blogs with the pictures of the jungle and Inca trails. Your camera takes really good pictures. Some of the bug life by night were brilliant as well as those of Machu Picchu with the sacred mountain behind. No doubt that the both of you are gonna come back fit as fiddles. I don't think we'll get Nia near one of those toilets in the jungle. If we follow in your tracks one day, we'll give the jungle a miss, by doctor's orders. Machu Picchu is definitely worth the climb. Some pictures of local food you ingest would be cool as well, like the Guinea pigs, but may be more conventional. Anyway, you seem to have a whale of a time, you lucky brigands (I was told not to swear). Nice one. keep up your spirit and good luck for the Bolivia stretch. See your trip through your eyes soon. bisous . Bruno XX XX

mamabruno on

Be' nesa'?!
Blog bendigedig arall - da iawn Catrin y tro hwn! Dwn i ddim sut bod ganddoch chi nerth ar ol i 'sgwennu blog wedi'r ffasiwn daith! Ar ol gweld y lluniau dw i'n deall pam eich bod wedi blino gymaint! Ond am olygfeydd! Rydach chi'n cael un profiad gwych ar ol y llall. Gobeithio y bydd Bolivia hefyd llawn mor ddifyr. Mae'r lluniau'n anhygoel ac yn rhoi lot fawr o bleser i mi wrth edrych drwyddynt dro ar ol thro.
Hwyl fawr i chi ar y cam nesaf o'r daith. Cawn sgwrs yn fuan - edrych 'mlaen.
Cariad mawr,

janice60 on

Breath taking and life changing
Not quite sure what's happened over the last few weeks Cats but before you left there were screams from your bedroom asking one of us to come and remove a money spider or small moth and the 200m trek from the house to Ystrad Square was a hop in the car! And now its taking photographs of massive spiders and poisonous frogs and a 4 days trek up the side of an almost vertical mountain! What next guinea pig instead of the chicken? The views are breathtaking and the experience is obviously life changing. Going to show the photographs to the pupils in school as they are looking at rain forests at the moment. Look after yourselves and make sure the guinea pig is dead and well done! Love Dad xxxxxxxxxx

naintaid on

Lluniau Machu Picchu
Mae y lluniau yma eto fel y lleill yn werth iw gweld
a rhaid dweud fod y ddau ohonoch yn cael hwyl efo'r camera,golygfeudd rhagorol,a lluniau da ohonoch chi eich dau.
Rwyf wedi dysgu mwy o ddaearyriaeth a hanes ers pan ydach chi yn teithio nag a wnes yn yr ysgol,rwyf yn mwynhau yn fawr eich dilyn a darllen hanes y llefydd ydach chi yn ymweld a nhw, dwn ni ddim be fydd gennyf iw wneud ar ol i chi orffen teithio,dwi,n mwynhau bod efo chi.
Edrych ymlaen am y nesa,mwynhewch a byddwch ofalus,
Llawer o gariad nain a Taid XXXXXXXXXXXXX

janice60 on

I nainataid
Rwy'n cytuno 'da chi Ken! Rwyf innau wedi dysgu llawer am Dde America a wedi gwella fy sgiliau ar y cyfrifiadur o bell ffordd ers iddynt 'madael! Does dim byd yn well na chymhelliad i ddysgu nag oes? Ma'r blog hyn werth y byd a rwy'n siwr ein bod ni i gyd yn treulio oriau arno! Rwy'n trio ngore i berswadio fy nhad i brynu laptop - truenu nag ydych yn byw yn agosach er mwyn rhoi gwersi iddo!
Cofion cynnes,
Janice x

janice60 on

Lluniau a blog gwych arall!
Wedi darllen y blog diweddara sawl gwaith - teilmlo fel mod i wedi bod 'na gyda chi. Lluniau ffantastig hefyd! Rwyn browd iawn ohonoch - rydych chin cael profiadau rhyfeddol un ar ol y llall.
Gobeithio bod dy annwyd yn well Iwan. Edrych 'mlaen i glywed am La paz cyn bo hir.
Gofalwch am eich gilydd,
Cariad mawr,
Mam xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

moomoo-poos on

ha, typical iwan, peoni! (pumpa)
llynia amazing! heb di gal chance i ddarllan bob un entry on wedi gal golwg bach sydyn. ma'n edrych yn amazing, dwi'n deutha chi rwan , dachi ddim yn methu llawar yn yr UK eblaw am recession a struggle am pres, felly dachi'n lwcus! dwi'n genfigenus. fedrai'm disgwl trafeilio :)
bechod bo ti'm adra dolig iwan, ond obviously byddi di'n brysur yn mwynhau dy hun eniwe xxxxx


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