The Trail of the Mighty Incas

Trip Start Jun 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2009

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Where I stayed
In a tent at, Llulluchapampa, Paqaymayu and Winay Wayna!

Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hi everyone, so this is the entry which is pretty much the reason we chose this beautiful country to explore! The Inca Trail!

Day one.......

We both felt like kids at Christmas the night before, we had our bags packed and tried hard to get an early night because we were being picked up at 5.20am! We were one of the first to be picked up and boarded our bus which took us to Ollantaytambo for breakfast. At breakfast we met our group. everyone seemed lovely, which was a relief! There were 16 of us in total:

Ellen, Steve, Nick and Jake which were an amazing family!
Thomas and Justine (papparazzi!), a lovely couple from USA.
Chris and Anna, a typically British couple who were hilarious!
Maxine and Sandy, two lovely australian ladies.
Paul and myself!
Niaomi and Al, who were on their honeymoon and
Nicole and Amanda, who were two girls from USA who were so funny and were our travel buddies for the trail.
Our guide Will, was the cheekiest guy we had ever met, he was absolutly lovely and knew we had chosen well. Our assistant guide was Armedao, or armadillo as we called him! Also on the trek with us were 21 incredible porters who were so inspirational. More of them later.....

After breakfaty and purchasing some walking sticks and water we made our way to the checkpoint and the offical start of the trail. We had a fantastic group picture and even got our passports stamped! So that was it, we were now officially walking the Inca Trail towards one of the 7 wonders of the world! Day one was easy going, slight hills but nothing too taxing. We both had no problems with the altitude but we were not that high yet. Half way through the day we arrrived at our first lunch stop. Nothing could have prepared us for this, The porters run ahead of you with all the camping equipment and by the time you get to the lunch stop, there is a lunch tent set up and lunch was more or less cooked and ready. You were greeted with some warm water and a glass of juice. Lunch was the best food we have eaten in Peru. First you had a gorgeous advocado salad, followed by amazing soup, then a massive main course and a cup of coca tea! Wow! We set of again while the porters packed up, then over took us again and had the camp site all ready for when we arrived!

The walk was amazing and it started settling in what we were actually doing. Both of us had such positive attitudes towards the trek, even Willīs warning that day two was the killer day didnīt daunt us! The camp site that evening was incredible, we were in the middle of the Andes surrounded by the most stunning scenery and to top it all off there was an awesome thunder storm. luckily we had got some ponchoīs and we sat watching the storm drinking a well deserved beer. Dinner was another four course meal of fulfilling energy food! We all went to bed pretty early snuggled up in our arctic sleeping bags ready for the next day!

Day two....

Will wasnīt lying about day two being a killer. We were up at 5.30am and packed up ready to leave after, surprise surprise a stunning breakfast! Today we were advised to hire a porter for the day to carry one ruck sack because we were climbing 1000m and it was going to be hard! Most of the other sensible people had hired an extra porter for the whole trek which they booked when they booked the trek. Me on the other hand thought we would be fine! never mind. We set off at about 6.30 and started our ascent. It wsanīt that bad, but I was so pleased that I didnīt have the big rucksack. Paul did have his, but we tried to empty it out a little!!!!! Today we were eating lunch untill we got to the  campsite. We trekked up and then had a little break before tackling the next section. Will said this was the hardest and it was steep steps up through beautiful forest with green sparkling waterfalls and streams which reminded us of the positive affirmation posters you get in doctors surgerys saying īFeel your power!īī

It was stuning and incredible. The beautiful scenery took your attention away from your already painful muscles! We had an amzing tea break near the summit, which was aptly named īDead Womanīs Pass!ī  When the sun reached us it warmed us up and Paul scamped around some Marshy areas with Al pretending he was in the Lord of the Rings!!! The final ascent to the top was gruelling and in the sun which made it that little bit harder! When you finally reached the summit though the views of the surrounding mountains took your breath away and you had to just stand to breathe it all in. Partly because of the altitude and partly because of the view!

Surprisingly Paul and myself were in the īfastīgroup. There was Jake(14!) Nicole, Amanda, Paul and Myself who tended to be at the same pace and the first into camp. At the summit you couldnīt stay there too long because it was too cold, and unfortunately you could see the pathway  which just went down down down down!! Lookout knees!

We quickly started the descent which hurt my knees quite a bit. The sticks were a godsend! You could see the camp site though, so it willed you on.......

Once again the camp was all ready for us, as was pop corn and hot drinks! The view was unreal!!!!! Our campsite was perfectly situated giving us panoramic views of the Andes which had clouds creeping around them. So beautiful! We felt so lucky to be here and couldnīt quite believe it still! No wonder the Spanish didnīt find Machu Pichu, it really was in the middle of nowhere! The mountains did a great job at protetcing it!
Because we had been amongst the first to arrive at camp we were treated to some extra hours to chill before dinner, which was planned for 7:30pm. During this time we were introduced to the card game called S*$t Head which was lots of fun and we have continued to play to this day!
Eventually the īstrollersī of the group arrived at the site and we all had some moments to ease our aching muscles for a while.

We had all been marvelling at the quality of food and service that had been provided, not least of which was the speed and stamina of the porters, who had to be at least part mountain goat, as they sped up the narrow ravines past us each day loaden with equipment and food. It was therefore a fantastic treat for all concerned when Will gathered us all into a circle so that each of the grinning staff members were given the opportunity to introduce themselves to the group. Each and every one of them received warm rounds of richly deserved applause and we then reciprocated by introducing ourselves to them. To round things off they danced and sang us a song. It was indeed an honour and wonderful bonding experience for us all.
Dinner was again excellent and was rounded off with more of the rude named card game.

Day three...

We had been told that day two would be the hardest, but the first part of this day was at least on a par with it as there was some more intense uphillyness to cope with and this time with a heavier pack to carry and some rather merciless sunshine beating down īpon us. As with the day before though you only had to avert your eyes to the surroundings for the merest fraction of a second and you found yourself marvelling at the Mother Nature person and the gifts she bestows.
Once we had completed the climb we were treated to varying degrees of both upness and downess through lush cloud forest. There were some Inca Ruins along the way and shortly after stopping there we reached lunch camp where we were once again treated to amazingly tasty and fitting cuisine. After lunch the cloud forest became even more green and beautiful and clouds began to hug the sides of the nearby emerald peaks. The hills, both up and down, were beginning to decrease in their intensity and along with the stunning views this made the trekking an absolute joy. We had been told by Will and Armadillo that we were ok to go at our own pace for day three campsite, so Shell, myself and our two friends Amanda and Nicole walked together at a brisk, yet easy pace as we were craving the chance to ditch our boots and sink a drink or two. When we had about 45 mins of trekking left to do the heavens decided to open and we were treated to a genuine cloud forest storm, so out came the embarrasingly bright coloured ponchos. We were very grteful for them though as they kept, not only us, but also our backpacks dry, and the last thing that we wanted was wet sleeping bags for the last night. However the rain didnīt last for too long and it wasnīt long before the rain passed by us and the sun came back out. Accompanying my old friend was the most stunning rainbow that I have ever been blessed enough to see. It was incredible! As we turned a corner in the path, there it was, brighter and closer than any rainbow I have seen before. It began in the valley before us and arched over the mountains we had been crossing only an hour or so before. We got some snaps of it and I just hope that they manage to do it some kind of justice!
We were sad to say goodbye to this colouful wonder, but as all rainbows do it had to dwindle, and our stomachs and feet were craving camp.
Being amongst the first to arrive (smug I know) we were able to indulge in some games of cards before the whole group was present. When everyone had arrived Will asked us what we thought of the service provided by the porters and the chef. Anyone who said they were less than very satisfied would have been a bare-faced liar, and so it was that we got a kitty together to show our gratitude. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, because we would be arriving at Machu Picchu for our 3 year anniversary the chef had made us a cake!!
Once the kitty had been sorted Will called the chef and poters into the dinner tent so that we could thank them personally. I had already decided that they deserved a speech, so using Will as my translator I delivered a monologue on behalf of us all that I hope conveyed our heartfelt thanks with the sincereity that was warrented. They had been so incredible and inspirational!
After dinner and maybe a game or two more of cards it was time for beddybyes, what with the most important day of our lives creeping ever closer and all...

Day Four...

So here is an account of the best day of my life!!! (Shell)

So this was it, the reason that our muscles ached, the reason that made all the hills worth it, our trek to Machu Pichu! We had a really early start as we wanted to be one of the first groups at the gates. We were woken at 3.50am, and managed a quick breakfast before heading down to the gates. There was only a couple of groups in front of us which was lucky, we played a few games of cards waiting for the gates to open at Half 5! 

Once through the pace was unreal! Suddenly you forgot that you were exhausted and you forgot that your muscles were screaming for you to stop! There was one goal, and no way we were going to miss it! Walking in the dark still we turned back to see the rest of the group, there was a sight i will never forget! Snaking down the mountain were hundreds of little lights! We all shared the same purpose and you could feel it in the air! The paths were actually quite scary, there were steep cliff edges all the way along and the stones were slippery! I guess we walked for about an hour and a half after clambering up some near vertical monkey steps, before we reached the Sun Gate,the offical entry to Machu Pichu.....I couldnīt believe that we were here. 

Thats when we saw Machu Pichu for the first time! It was in the distance and was incredible. We had the chance to rest while we waited for the rest of the group, then trekked onwards towards Machu Pichu. The nearer we got the more incredible it became. The site is huge! and it clearly was a city! Apparently it housed around 800 people in its hayday! It was cloudy unfortuantly so we didnīt get the sunrise, but that didnīt matter at all!

Sudenly it was all worth it and you really felt like you deserved the sight you were seeing. It took our breath away, it took us four days to get here and all you could see was mountains for miles surrounding. Why here? why this mountain? You could understand why, it felt sacred and you knew that the incas didnīt just pick this place out of a hat! We had great fun at the spot where you get the classic shot, the one on all the postcards! Trying to get pictures with us all jumpng in the air! I donīt know how my legs didnīt give way to be honest!

We walked down to the offical check in place and even got a stamp in our passport! Had totally had enough of steps by now though! We had a guided tour with Will and learnt more about the Incaīs, they are fascinating. After the tour we arranged a meeting time for lunch back in Aguas Calientes and were left to our own devices! An aussie couple had told us about an Inca bridge which was not far from the main site,we had taken a bottle of wine with us to celebrate our 3 year anniversay so we headed towards it (up more steps!!) Was a little stressful for me, too many Americans and not enough food and sleep! Felt really nice to be escaping it all, at times Machu Pichu looked like an anthill! We had been told how lucky we were being able to walk around the site though. Will said that in about three years there will be a lot more restrictions on it!

The walk up to the bridge took about fifteen minutes and took us through beautiful forest and small paths on not so small cliff edges!! When we got there it was amazing! It was on a sheer rock face, built up for about thirty foot, with a bridge connecting it! I think luckily you were not allowed to cross it! We took some photos then found a corner round the corner which was really tucked away, Relieved and still awestruck with where we were and what we were doing we got the wine open and chatted about how incredible this was. It really is the best thing in the world and even though we are here doing it, it still doesnt feel real sometimes! and then......

"You have changed my life...will you marry me?"

I couldnt believe it, said "Really!....YES!"

Paul stood up and went to his pocket, I thought that he was getting the bottle opener out but instead he sat back down and put a ring on my finger. It is the most beautifully perfect ring in the world.

It was so perfect, the rain, the ring, the wine, our anniversary, Machu Pichu, the bridge and the silence! we both cried.

So it was offical I was now the happiest girl on the planet and was going to marry the most beautiful man I will ever know! It was still sucha  surprise and didnīt sink in for a couple of days! Arrgghh, I couldnīt wait to tell head started going crazy with plans etc! (such a typical girl!) and I said to Paul, donīīt worry mate, you wonīt have to do a thing! haha!

Walking back down to Machu Pichu was awesome, it suddenly looked so different! We went down to get the bus to the town, telling everyone who was close enough to listen!! At the restaurant I said "notice anything different about me?" flashing the ring!! It was incredible. canīt explain the feeling but at the risk of making you feel sick I will save the rest for when i see you!!

Lunch was great and we all headed to the hot springs, these were better than the others but still a bit scummy! Great for the muscles though, still couldnt stop looking at the ring! After a fond farewell to what had now become our family, we had another 36 hours to spend in the hell hole which was Agaus calientes! I am not even going to tarnish our blog with the details...Yuk! A funny thing though, Paul celebrated our engagment by projectile vomitting in the street,he had managed to pick up food poisoning again from something funky on our pizza! All is well now though, it didnt last very long!

So there we go, the Inca Trail! It was the most awesome unforgettable experience ever. Every day had its highlights and each day bought new challenges. I dont think we will ever get bored retelling the story despite the fact you might get bored of hearing it! fortuantely for us we have about 500/600 photos of the inca trail alone!!

Still on such a high, and will be for a while I think! Thank you so much for reading, it is great being able to keep in touch this way, dont forget to post comments,always lovely to hear from loved ones! We do miss you all you know!!!

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