The Inca Trail!

Trip Start Sep 07, 2004
Trip End Aug 15, 2005

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Monday, May 9, 2005

On our 2nd day in Cusco we went to see Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sexy woman!) which is an old Inca ruin on the top of the hill overlooking Cusco, nearby is the Christo Blanco keeping guard. That evening we went to a recommended restaurant called Fallen Angel to cellebrate Aliīs forthcoming birthday. The food was amazing but best of all was the funky decor, fish tanks for tables and full on gay decor, very original and super stylish.

2 days later and we were up and away at 5.30 on Thursday morning to get on our coach to start the Inca trail from KM 82. Our group consisted of 16 trekkers, 21 porters and 2 guides. We stopped half way for breakfast at a resturant where we got stocked up on Coca leaves for energy and altitude sickness, hats and walking sticks.

DAY ONE: Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I wish the whole of the Inca trail was like this. Most of it was staight walking, some of it by the river, a little of it uphill, some down, but all very manageable and pretty. We stopped at 5.30pm at our 1st campsite where the porters had already ran ahead and set up all our tents, the dining tent and prepared a meal. These guys are amazing, they carry up to 25kg of weight and literally run with flimsy sandels on their feet to get ahead so they can get things set up and rest for a while. While we puff and pant with small rucksacks walking at a much slower pace. After a tasty 3 course meal we went to sleep at 9pm with our thermals on ready for the hardest day of the 4 day trek - the very dreaded 'DAY 2'

THE DREADED DAY 2 (and Ali's 31st bithday: This day was the reason that I had been cutting drastically down on the ciggies. After a very early 4.30 start we had breakfast and got briefed on the day ahead - basically, go slow, itīs not a race, chew coca leaves and zig zag up the moutain steps to ease the pain. Hard would be an understatement for people who've been smoking, drinking, not doing much exercise and are generally exersize-phobics. F%$#ing hard would be a bit more accurate. But myself and Ali started as we meant to go on and got properly acquainted with the 'back guide' - Efrain. If Ali and I had walked any slower I think we'd be going backwards but it was still a killer. The altitude was getting more and more apparent as we climbed the 4200 metre pass. Efrain, bless him was as patient as ever and didnīt hurry us - the slowest in the group! Rich of course was steaming ahead, putting us all to shame with his fitness (maybe the shamen gave him magic powers). Day 2 is very busy with trekkers as everyone tends to go very slow so itīs a bit like a train of people.
After replenishing ourselves with Mars bars, salted popcorn and coca tea at break 2 and a half hours later we set off again for the remaining 3 hours of our constant steep up hill climb. At the top I couldnīt help but grin from ear to ear as we had MADE IT!!! Ali, as you can see from the photo was too exhasted to smile for the camera, what a birthday! Most of the group were at the summit (Dead Womans Pass) when we got there having had at least half an hours rest! Rich waited for us so we could all walk down together.
Down down down huge steep steps were the last 2 hours of the day and this was almost as hard as going up as it gave your knees a good battering as well as adding even more blisters. The cook fixed us up with a huge 3 course meal again but this time he surpised us all with a birthday cake for Ali. It was truly amazing as nobody told the group until the 1st day that it was Aliīs birthday but the cook had whipped up the most delicious sponge cream cake in the middle of nowhere with no oven! Apparently he steamed it. Incredible. And it was one of the nicest cakes ever.
DAY 3: Day 3 was probably most peoples favourite day due to being very scenic as well as a steady up and down trek. We passed and visited a few of the Inca sites along the way. But the nicest part was the walk through the cloud forest and the views of the dramatic mountains all around you. By the end of day 3 everyone's knees were killing and most people had full on blisters and wobbly legs coming down the steps. When we got to our last camp sight of the trek we delighted to be able, for the 1st time, to have a shower and buy beer. Heaven!

DAY 4 - MACHU PICCHU DAY: Ok, the biggest day of all and guess what happens? Rich comes down with ameobic dysentery. From 1am onwards neither of us have any sleep as Rich is rushing to either spew up or shit for England at the campsite loos. By our wake up call at 3.45am, yes that's not a typing error, Rich is down with a fever and going to the loo every 5 minutes. Unfortunately there is no staying in bed as the porters have to pack the tents and go. So off we depart on our 2 hour walk in the dark to the sungate to watch the sunrise over Machu Pichu. How rich made it (10 jungle shits on route) I don't know but as soon as he was there he collapsed on the grass and slept. He was taken down by Efrain to Aguas Calientes, the nearest town, to go and get some sleep, while we had our guided tour by Oscar (our other guide). Poor Rich, all this way and he only had a glimpse of the goal. We may go on a day trip in the next week so he can see Machu Picchu properly.
Anyway, Machu Picchu was totally worth all the hard slog and was more gorgeous than I imagined. Unfortunately, because we were all totally shattered, especially me as I only had 2 hours sleep after all the walking the day before, none of us could really take in any of the info that Oscar was telling us about the place. Obviously we picked up the gist (it was a huge temple used to honour the gods and the stars) but any more than that went in one ear and out of the other.

The train journey back to Cusco took 5 hours through lovely scenary and we got home at 8.30pm and went straight to bed after a glorious hot shower - bliss! 12 hours later we woke up and went shopping!
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