The Royal Inca Trail

Trip Start Oct 01, 2009
Trip End Oct 27, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Friday, October 23, 2009

This is the last day of trekking, we have been on the go for 7 days, slept in a tent for 6 nights and finally we would reach a hotel tonight and sleep in a bed...  Not only that but today is the day we hit the Royal Inca trail, part of the well known Inca trail, we would see the Sun Gate and the sacred ruins of Machu Picchu, all the training, all the hard work would be rewarded on this final trek.

I woke up this morning around 5am, I could hear the sound of rain on my tent as I lay there, it was strangely theraputic.  I opened the tent to find a heavy cloud covering on the mountains and visibility was poor, I figured that this would be a good thing as we had a steep uphill climb, according to the guides one of the steepest climbs of the trek.

Following breakfast we headed off towards the local village some of us had visited the day before, this is where we would catch a train for a short journey to the start of our trail.  We had been advised that this was not a normal stop for the train and therefore we would have only 2 minutes to get on before it would set off again, 2 minutes may sound like a fair amount of time but there were 30 of us, including guides, we all had large bags and there was no platform.

The train arrived and all of us did make it on the train within our alloted 120 seconds, we found that the carriages were clean and relatively spacious, in fact I would argue that they were slightly better than most of the UK trains that I have travelled on, but this would not be difficult.

After about 40 minutes the train came to a stop in the middle of nowhere, again no platform, no station, just a river and another suspension bridge, this was our stop, we were here, the start of todays trek.  The landscape had changed dramatically in the short distance we had travelled, we had gone from relatively arrid mountains to the humid green rain forest, I was amazed with just how diverse this area of the world was.

We all made our way across the bridge to the first check point, we were told that we had 2 1/2 hours to make it up to the next check point, a task that should not be a problem.  It soon became apparent that the humid weather, the steep path and the heat would make this part of the trek very difficult, the entire group felt the burn as we climbed higher and higher, we needed to make stops every 5 to 10 minutes to take in some air and cool down.  It was tough work, but this was why we were here, the trip was about challenging ourselves and we were taking on the final challenge.

We made it up to the next check point just in time to have a bit of lunch and take a look around some more ruins (Wi˝aywayna).  We sat and ate lunch on the Inca terraces, looking down the valley and across the remains of the old buildings, it was a very special moment, we were now halfway through our final trek, we were eating lunch amongst some of the most beautiful ruins in the world and we had achieved so much.  There were a million reasons to smile and at that point no reason whats so ever to feel down.

After lunch we had some time out, a short period where individuals could reflect on their surroundings, sit in silence and just enjoy the peace, I took this time to look around Wi˝aywayna, it was hard to believe these ruins were so old, they looked clean and fresh, they had been lost for hundreds of years and now I was fortunate enough to be walking amongst them.

We continued on with our trek passing people on the trail, this was new to us, it had been days since we had seen any tourists, travellers, this was the beauty of our route, it was remote and unknown, now we were back on the tourist path but one that was historical, magical and full of wonder, even if we did have to share it with others.

After a few minutes of walking I started to realise that something was not quite right, my stomach was starting to hurt and I figured that I must have over eaten or started exercising too soon after lunch, I slowed my pace down and eventually came to a stop.  The group was fairly fragmented at this time so a few people overtook asking if I was ok, at this point I thought that I was so just said yes.  I continued with the walk, it was fairly flat at this time and a sign read Sun Gate 6km, this was encouraging, I knew that I would make it there without a problem.

Another couple of minutes past and bang my stomach began to attack me, I felt sick, dizzy and fairly unwell, I stopped and lent over a rock, I wasn't sure what was up but realised that it was more than over eating, my energy seemed to be draining, as if someone had opened a valve and it was rushing from me.  Ruth and Ben, the 2 medics caught up with me and asked if I was ok, I gave a very quick response "NO", by now I didn't know if I was going to be sick, pass out or cramp over in pain.  I explained how I was feeling and Ben pulled some anti-sickness tablets out of his bag, "these should help" he said.  I knew that I had to get to the sun gate so I moved on, slowly but too fast for Ruth's liking, she kept telling me to slow down, I should have listened, the next thing I know is that I am being sick, violently, I could not breath, acid had burnt my nose and eyes (not nice I know), I wanted at this point to fall in to a ball and stay there.  My bag was taken off my back and I was told that I would not be carrying it anymore, I was instructed to sit and rest for a minute and recover, I did this without any objections, I was shattered, my emotions were running all over the place, I had been well just 20 minutes ago, I didn't understand.  Thankfully I had packed my toothpaste in my bag for the arrival at our hotel so I was able to wash my mouth out, to me I regain some dignity, at least my breath wouldn't smell.

After a short rest it was time to move on, Ben went ahead to join the rest of the group whilst Max, Ruth and one of the porters stayed with me.  I struggled not to be sick as we continued on, every step felt like 10, every gulp of air felt like I was being deprived of oxygen, I was sick again, "why" I kept thinking, "I am nearly there, I have nearly finished and now I fall ill".

I heard the group ahead call down to Ruth on the radio to say that they were waiting to go through the sun gate, I quickly said please tell them to go through, I got a quick response back to say that they wanted to wait, they felt we should all go through together.  This group was great and I really felt the emotions, I was so appreciative of their gesture, it drove me on.

Ruth was still concerned at this point about my walking pace and had taken place in front of me so that I could not go any faster than her.  We arrived at some very steep steps, apprently the record for climbing them was 9 seconds, Ruth wanted to challenge this and ran up the steps in 12 seconds, very impressive and a great distraction from how I was feeling, I took my turn at climbing the steps and must have achieved a record breaking 60 seconds.

Finally we caught up with the rest of the group, I was not feeling good and I was holding back the tears, tears of pain, frustration and overwhelming emotion.  They asked me to go up front, to go through first, I couldn't do it, I wanted to stay at the back, I felt so rough I did not want the attention but again I very much appreciated the sentiment.

We all filed through the sun gate and with the guides, medics and porters standing either side, clapping and cheering, I reached Jenny, looked at her, grabbed her and sobbed, I felt so rough but I had made it.

After walking through I fell against a wall, broke down with the emotion, and took a quick rest.  In the distance the group could see Machu Picchu, unfortunately my eyes were too blurry and I could only see colour variations.  I asked how much further did we have to go, I was told 40 minutes, great, I would be able to make a 40 minute walk down hill, WRONG, I was just about to face the real challenge.

We set off again, this time all down hill, I was walking with Dee, it only took a few steps and my pain was disabling me, my stomach was cramping and I had a constant need to be sick.  I slowed a few times and Dee continued to stay with me.  Again I was sick, I took a seat on a rock and stayed there for a few minutes, Ruth was with me again, I was becoming iller as every minute went by.  I struggled down the mountain, the rest of the group had reached the bottom, but Dee and I were still at the top, I just couldn't move, my legs were shaking, I had no energy, I was using my poles so much my hands were bruised from the pressure.  I heard the radio go, it was Jenny, she was telling Ruth that the last bus would be going at 5:45, we had left the sungate at 3:15, the 40 minute walk was turning in to a marathon, this is the last I can really remember until we got closer to the bottom.

We finally arrived at Machu Picchu some 2 1/2 hours later, I was swaying, I was trying not to pass out, Dee had been by myside all the way and I will forever be grateful for that.  I could see the buses and I knew that all I needed to do was get to the rest of the group, I don't know how I managed it but I found the last piece of energy and got to the bus stop, I passed group members but cannot remember seeing them, I was in pieces, I could not stop crying, I just wanted to sleep.  I heard others saying well done but could not respond.  At this point I don't remember much more until I was at the hotel.

Finally the hotel.  Dee and I were taken quickly with Ruth to the hotel as I needed to get to a bed for further treatment.  I remember not being able to speak clearly at this point, I was confused and felt lost, I was taken to a room and Ruth put me on a drip, I know that I had a few injections but cannot remember exactly what they were for.  I am so thankful for the support I was given that day, Dee, Ruth and the rest of the group were brilliant.  I would not have completed the trek had they not have given me the strength and encouragement.

After I had received some treatment from Ruth, the group all went out on the celebratory gala meal, they all had a great time, I am pleased that they did.  Me, I stayed in bed, called home, and fell asleep.

I don't remember arriving at Machu Picchu and I don't remember finishing the trek but I can say that I do remember that friendship, encouragement from others and working together got me through.  Peru has been the adventure of a lifetime and although the final day of the trek had not gone to plan, it was most definately all worth it.

I still had a couple of days in Peru to enjoy and tomorrow I would go back to Machu Picchu and this time I would remember it.

Thank you guys for the support!!!! You are the best!!!
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Andy M on

This sounds like one hell of an adventure... Thanks for sharing!
I have always wanted to do the Inca trail and after reading your blog I want to even more. Well done and fantastic pictures

Dee Chapman on

Thank you babe! Was only doing what any friend would do.
Considering how you were feeling and how ill you were you did a sterling job and completed the trek ( I never doubted for a second that you wouldnt!) I am so proud of you x x

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