Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
51Trip End May 25, 2009
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So after arriving in Cusco, we went to the Pachamama Explorers office and confirmed our trek - it was called Salkantay and took five days...
18th June - Day 1
The first day we woke up at our hostel in Cusco at about 4am... I had a banging headache... the result of the altitude and the lack of time we had to adjust to it! We were picked up by our guide, Alfredo and put on a bus with a lot of other sleepy tourists...
19th June - Day 2
20th June - Day 3
We set off again to get to a small town where we had lunch and had to say goodbye to Victor, our wrangler... We gave him a cigarette and as big a tip as we could afford, and then got on a mini-bus with an American family, to go to the next camp site. The bloke sitting next to me fell asleep and lost control of his upper body, meaning I had to dodge several potential headbutts!!
Anyway, after that we got back on the bus and went to the hot springs... and oh god, they were heaven! Hot water from volcanic rocks, poured into a pool, and 30 or so tired hikers soothing their aches and pains... it was brilliant!!
That night, all the different tour groups got together for a few drinks at the campsite, which is where I met Paul, Dan, Neil and Kelly... who you will, no doubt, hear more about soon :) That night Alfredo told us lots of stories about Inka and local traditions... for example, in some of the local families, when a couple get married, the groom picks his best man, and it's him that spends the wedding night with the bride... Get your head around that one!
21st June - Day 4
We had a little bit of breakfast and then Alfredo took us round Santa Teresa, the town we were staying in. He showed us everything they sell and bought some 'mana', which is like sweet popcorn, but tastes a lot like sugar puffs... You can see the ruins of old Santa Teresa, a town engulfed by a land slide, the only thing left in tact being the perfect orange and white school.
Alfredo told us about a really good mayor who built a bridge so that cars could get to the new town. Apparently he did lots of good work for the town, but he was killed a few years ago, when an opposing political party left a log in the road for his motor bike to hit. I know political parties have rivalries and want power for themselves, but I can't help but feel that it's actions like that, that keep some countries poorer than others. If those people just worked together, Santa Teresa might be progressing even more than it is now, and more of the survivors that moved away could come home... Then again, I suppose that way of thinking is probably a little naive and applies to almost every country...
On the way back from the town, just outside our campsite was a cow being slaughtered... I know it's necessary and traditional, but I had to run past - wimp - it really gets to me!
After out tour of the town, we got into a car and drove to the railway station. We had some lunch, and said goodbye to Raul, our cook, and trekked for another 3 hours along the railway tracks. It was pretty boring walking for most of it, because it was just long and straight, but Alfredo did take us down to some amazing rocks in the river... they've had water washing on them for so long that they're just perfectly smooth and beautiful.
Then... finally... we arrived in Aguas Calientes... also known as Machu Picchu town... No camping for us that night, we went straight to a nice hostel for a loooooong hot shower, and then to a restaurant for dinner... The town is built entirely around the railway track, which is really cool... You have to cross the tracks to go to the other side of the street...
After dinner we met up with other people from our trek and had a few cocktails... More pisco sours, Inka sours (which we then found out were non-alcoholic), pina coladas, mojitos and daquories... all of which were excellent and dirt cheap! We got to bed for midnight though, because the next day was the climax of the whole trek...
22nd June - Day 5
After looking around and taking it all in, we decided to do the hour and a half walk down, rather than get the bus... which was probably a mistake, because it was all down steps, but hey, a little more exercise is all good...
Then we grabbed a bite to eat and had a look around the markets before getting on a train heading for Olyantambo, where we were picked up by a lovely taxi driver, who wanted to practice his English all the way back to Cusco... which is where he dropped us, and we crashed out...
The trek itself was unbelievable and I can't reiterate enough what good care our guide took of us...
P.S. You can find all of my pics on Flickr, here: http://flickr.com/photos/discozo/collections/72157605774290284/ and all of Tom's, here: http://flickr.com/photos/discozo/collections/72157605779172881/
ciao! x x
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