Muy bonito

Trip Start Jun 16, 2008
Trip End Sep 18, 2008

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Where I stayed
Luxury tent

Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, July 14, 2008

After a rigorous application of tigerbalm on legs the night before, we were surprised to not be in too much pain after the previous dayīs effort.  On the trail, they call today the "unforgettable" day and it truly was.  Although it is the longest day (about 8 hours walking), the path was "Inca flat" which means gentle up and down. We had a 45 minute hike to the first pass and first ruin of the day, Runkurakay. This is thought to be a resting place for Chasquis (Incan messengers / runners).

Next was another climb to the second pass at 3,500m.   From here they say it is the true start of the Incan trail... paved stone walkways.  Again, the guide told us the night before that we could make an offering, this time of stone, to the Andean gods.  Once at the second pass, Taj climbed a little higher to make the offering.  The views again were breathtaking! 

The next ruin of the day was called Sayacmarca. This was built over the trail and effectively was a "gate" for anyone who wanted to pass.  We then walked down and then back up towards our lunch spot.  The trail here took on a very different look.  Overhung with mossy trees and other strange and interesting plants, this part of the trail was stunning.  After arriving at our rest spot, we had another gourmet lunch which included pizza slices! 

There was beautiful scenery from here on in.  Such vibrant green amidst these huge mountains. There was even a tunnel section where the Incas widened a natural hole in the rock into a tunnel large enough to allow people and animals to pass.  It was also nice not to be so out of breath the whole time. Very pleasant walk.

We made our way to Phuyupatamarca ruin which was amazing. This place is thought to have been a cleansing place as there are many baths fed by a spring. The ruin had an incredible design and the natural filling of the baths is still working today.

We then had a short walk to Intipata ruin. We had seen these terraces from a distance and they were incredible to see close up. We had a bit of a sit down here and discussed the plan for the next day. We could see Machu Picchu mountain. Itīs hard to explain the feeling of satisfaction that we were so close to Machu Picchu and we had walked there. Very exciting stuff.

We could see our campsite below us. This is the closest campsite to Machu Picchu and has a bar and hot showers!! Hoorah!! Three days of not bathing is not so great....

Again the porters applauded us as we came in and it was quite emotional to think we were almost there.

Our final dinner was superb. The cook even baked a cake. How on earth do you do that?

On the third night it is standard practice to give the" tips" to the porters and cook as we wouldnīt be seeing them after breakfast the next day.  A girl in our group gave a short speech in Spanish to express our appreciation for all they had done for us. Not sure if we conveyed it properly here but we didnīt have to do a thing. These guys set up tents, dining tents, cooked for us, and then after we set off at our slow pace, they packed everything up, carried 20kgs worth of equipment each, and raced past us to set up tents and prepare our hot meal for when we slowly ambled into the next camp. We should have been applauding them rather than the other way around.  It is very humbling experience.

Anyway, back to the "tip" presentation. All the porters came in to the dining tent (20 of them plus the cook) and they each told us their name and where they were from. Some only spoke Quechua.  It was a very moving experience as their faces turned from confusion about these crazy gringos to excitement.  These guys were such humble, honest people.  It was a real privilege to share our first 3 days with them.

After the presentation, we were off to the bar to have a well deserved beer. It almost felt like we had achieved what we came to do and there was a party atmosphere.  But the 4am wake up call was looming so early bed for us.
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