Day 3 of the Machu Picchu trek

Trip Start Nov 15, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 3:

Wake up call with coca tea at 6am (bit of a lie in).  It was freezing last night as we were at high altitude and there was actually ice on the outside of the tent!  After breakfast, we set off at 7:30am for a 1.5 hour trek through the mountains with gorgeous snow capped mountains in the background.  Downhill was slightly painful as I've hurt my right knee with all the downhill yesterday and jumping the rocks! "Pain is failure leaving the body"!  Uphill was surprisingly easy today.  We arrived at "Phuyupatamarka" 3rd pass and had a group photo with the porters.

Another 10 minutes and we arrived at another Inca site called "Phuyupatamarka" (town over the clouds).  This place was used as an astronomical observatory.  The Incas worshiped the constellations and observed the southern cross and the milky way etc.  The constellations represented present life i.e. when they would be able to harvest and their architecture, as they were able to predict natural disasters.  The Incas were great fortune tellers, using coca leaves to predict for example where people's lost llamas were or when their loved ones would return home.  Imagine, even with all our technology nowadays, we till can't do that - what an amazing skill the Incas had!

Now for a 3 hour downhill hike ... well it actually ended up as 2 hors but the first hour was very high steps, so quite painful on the knees, then it got slightly easier and I decided to take in the scenery and take lots of photos.  Then we arrived at the "Inti Pata" terraces (terraces over the sun), used for agricultural purposes.  Overlooking the "Urubamba" river, we could see the 2 day Inca Trail trek trail and also our base camp 3.  The terraces included floating steps in order for the farmers to get down quicker.  We walked down the normal steps of the terraces, painful on the knees again, and took some photos at the bottom.
Only a 15 minute downhill walk to the lunch camp "Wiñay Wayna" (forever young).  This camp had a restaurant so I treated myself to a pre-dinner beer (well after 3 days of hardcore trekking, why not?!).  Lunch was wholesome and yummy as ever and after lunch we had a couple of hours free-time.  I was designated the task of collecting the tip money for the porters, chef and guides and then I rested my weary knees.

At 4pm we walked 10 minutes to the "Wiñay Wayna" ruins, discovered in 1942 by a Peruvian archaeologist.  He named the site Wiñay Wayna - forever young because of a pink orchid that grows around these parts.  It grows all year round in both the wet and dry season, hence the name forever young.  Wiñay Wayna is at 2600m above sea level - the perfect climate for growing potatoes.  Did you know there are over 500 different types of potato in Peru?!  The houses are made by way of a rustic construction - stone, mud, stone.  This site looks impressive to say the least - built on the side of a mountain, it boasts over 42 terraces.  Nearly all Inca sites were used for urban & religious purposes and this site was no exception.  The temple area is renowned as a fertility site.  the building has 7 windows - one for each of the colours of the rainbow as the Incas worshiped the rainbow - without rain there is no food or water!
We explored the ruins for a while and then returned to camp for Happy Hour.  After Happy Hour, we had around an hour before dinner, so having been invited by the guides to go for a beer, I politely accepted but didn't expect to be propositioned by the head guide! Wow, I didn't see that coming. Ha ha ha!

Dinner was perfect as ever - beef, chicken, egg-fried rice, vegetables, potato salad and more!  Yet another early night as tomorrow is the big day ... finally arriving at Machu Picchu!  How exciting!!!
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