Posts Tagged With: machu picchu

Quest of the Gods – Day 9, Inca Trail ·Day 4 (Machu Picchu!)

To say that I was excited about this day would be a huge understatement.  Machu Picchu is somewhere which has fascinated me for years, and especially since I booked the trip – deciding to fly half way around the world to visit a ruin isn’t something I do every week!

I woke in the tent around 3am, well ahead of a 3:30am wake up “call”… I was so excited, I really couldn’t sleep much but that didn’t matter – today we would see Machu Picchu!  I was dressed and packed by 3:15am, and as soon as I stepped out of my tent the porters set about dismantling it!  I guess they were eager not to miss their train!

I had an awkward (cold) wait around whilst the rest of the group were woken and got ready for breakfast at 4am.  Breakfast was quite quick – some brioche/cake and tea – since we needed to get out of there ASAP, and we were given snack packs with cheese sandwiches and a juice box to keep us going due to the early start.

By 4:15 we were on our way, but Israel announced we would be making a surprise visit, rather than joining the queue of other tours.  Normally at this point the tours all head down to queue at the checkpoint, waiting for the 5:30am opening time before making their way to Machu Picchu as quickly as possible in an attempt to see the haze rise above the mountains.  Instead, Israel planned to take us to Intipata – the ruin which we skipped yesterday due to the rain!  It was fantastic being there before sunrise and we got to see the day lighten up as the sun rose on the horizon and the ruin revealed itself to us.

The moon at Intipata

The moon at Intipata

Pre sunrise

Pre sunrise

Sunrise selfie

Sunrise selfie

More arty photos

More arty photos

Llama!

Llama!

Llama again!

Llama again!

After sunrise

After sunrise

More ruin

More ruin

Intipata

Intipata

Group shot at Intipata

Group shot at Intipata

It was amazing watching the llamas wake up and the cloud rise from below us to above us, and truly magical to be the only group there at that time of day.  Once day break happened we headed towards the checkpoint, which opened at 5:30, and were able to walk almost straight through – we hadn’t lost any time however, as we quickly caught up and overtook groups on the trail.

After the checkpoint it was just a short 1 1/2 hour hike to the “sun gate”, and our first view of Machu Picchu!

More stairs

More stairs

Arriving at the sun gate

Arriving at the sun gate

First view of Machu Picchu

First view of Machu Picchu

Me and Machu Picchu

Me and Machu Picchu

The horizon from the Sun Gate

The horizon from the Sun Gate

Close up of Machu Picchu

Close up of Machu Picchu

It was such an incredible feeling to see the view that i’d been lusting after since booking the trip, and I can’t put into words the feeling.  It was overwhelming and magical to see the site, and to know that we had made it.  We rested for 15 minutes at the Sun Gate before beginning our descent to Machu Picchu and on to the end of the Inca trail, which officially finishes on a large rock at the edge of Machu Picchu.  We were so lucky with the weather, which was almost a cloudless sky.  Perfect Machu Picchu weather – we had been warned along the trail that there is always a chance of a rainy day or cloud cover which can ruin the whole experience.

Along the descent we stopped at a couple of viewing points before finally reaching the “end of the inca trail” and posing for our obligatory photos from the typical spot!

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Me at Machu Picchu

Me at Machu Picchu

The photos took a while since we had to queue, but it was worth it to get that iconic shot (which inevitably will be a Facebook profile photo at some point!), and as soon as these were over we headed quickly down to the entrance gate and the promise of “real” toilets, which were definitely a welcome sight after 3 days on the trail!  Spending 1 sol on the toilet was possibly the best sol I spent whilst in Peru!

We had a reunion with Harold at a cafe outside the Machu Picchu gate, and were able to chill out before heading back into Machu Picchu.  This time is important because you’re not allowed to take walking poles around Machu Picchu (for fear of damaging the ruin), so Harold had to stay outside with our stuff!

Once we had all rejuvenated and consumed our packed snack, we headed into Machu Picchu for a guided tour by Israel.  It was fascinating to learn all about the discovery of MP and in particular Hiram Bingham, who is critical to the discovery story.

After the tour we were given free time to explore, and we went on a hunt for Llamas and photo opportunities.  The site really is incredible and below is a small selection of the huge number of photos I took.  I’ve tried to caption them appropriately, but the history is way larger than I can tell in a blog entry!

Machu Picchu from near the top

Machu Picchu from near the top

Steffi on the terraces

Steffi on the terraces

Recreated thatched roof

Recreated thatched roof

A view of Wainapicchu

A view of Wainapicchu

Inca stairs, and modern stairs

Inca stairs, and modern stairs

Israel showing us an important building

Israel showing us an important building

More stairs!

More stairs!

More of Wainapicchu

More of Wainapicchu

The Quarry area

The Quarry area

How the Incas split the rocks

How the Incas split the rocks

A pretty flower

A pretty flower

The main temple

The main temple

Israel showing his Inca Cross

Israel showing his Inca Cross

Amazing tessellation

Amazing tessellation

Al, boyband style

Al, boyband style

Israel, boyband style

Israel, boyband style

Asfia

Asfia

MP selfie

MP selfie

Llama!

Llama!

Llama!

Llama!

Llama, 3rd angle projection

Llama, 3rd angle projection

Me with a llama!

Me with a llama!

After we finished exploring, we headed out of the exit gate and were able to complete our passport page, with the final Machu Picchu stamp.  Once the stamp is in there, it means the hike is officially over!

Fourth stamp!

Fourth stamp!

What an amazing journey it had been!

We took a 30 minute windy bus ride down the hill to the town of Machu Picchu, which is clearly a tourist down and set up for us – full of markets selling trinkets, and we were able to meet with Harold and our duffle bags from the tents (which had magically been transported there!)

Machupicchu town

Machupicchu town

I bought a t-shirt (“I survived the Inca trail”) and some postcards, and then we regrouped for lunch in a restaurant.  It was a big group, with the original 7 of us together with 5 from another tour (which Mark, Katie and Simone were part of).  Steffi and I shared some Nachos and then I had Veggie Burritos, before we made a presentation to Israel and passed over our appreciation to him as well.  This was the last time we would see him, and it was really heartfelt to say goodbye after him guiding us through 4 amazing days of lives!

Once lunch was over we headed to the train station and caught a train back to Ollantaytambo.  We have to take the tourist train, since the local train is not available unless you have Peruvian IDs.  The train took an hour and a half and was really bumpy, but we were given drinks and snacks (Inca Cola, of course!).  Most people slept through the journey, whilst I just took selfies!

Train selfie

Train selfie

Asfia...zzz

Asfia…zzz

Steffi...zzz

Steffi…zzz

I spent a lot of the journey chatting with Mike and Kirsten about how they had enjoyed the Lares trek, which sounds incredible and very different to the Inca trail – much more cultural and they spent time in houses filled with Guineapigs, and met hundreds of local children.

After the bumpy train ride, we switched to a bus ride for a bumpy 90 minute ride around windy streets to get back to Cusco.  Our mini bus got pulled over in the main square in Cusco for driving there after dark – which apparently was a law which came into force just 3 days ago!  Hardly fair, and our driver protested but ended up paying a hefty fine!

Bus selfie

Bus selfie, Mike Photobombs!

Once we got to the hotel, we showered and met again for a traditional post-trail evening – Peruvian pizza and wine in the hotel and then out on the town to enjoy the celebratory feeling of completing the trail!

Harold had arranged honeymoon gifts in the rooms of Al & Asfia and Mike & Kirsten, and the feeling throughout the group was one of elation as we headed first to the “Museo del Pisco” – which isn’t actually a museum, just a bar that serves amazing Peruvian cocktails.

Museo del Pisco

Museo del Pisco

Needless to say the cocktails went down well after the trail and the night became gradually more blurry, as Steffi and I decided to meet up with Harold in a club he had recommended…

Club photo

Club photo

Blurry night

Blurry night

After lots of dancing and drinking, we finally managed to complete the 24 hour challenge – at 3:30am, we had officially been up for 24 hours (although Steffi slept on the train, so she cheated!).  An amazing feeling… Inca trail: done!

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Quest of the Gods – Day 8, Inca Trail ·Day 3

In contrast to yesterdays “challenge”, today is known as “the beautiful day”.  Certainly the view from the campsite at the start of the day had read the memo:

Morning view

Morning view

Breakfast today was toast with butter and jam, and then a kind of quesadilla which was tasty and a welcome start to the day.  Unfortunately the day started with news that both Ruth and Simone were suffering from some sort of stomach issues – probably due to the altitude adjustments yesterday.  Both agreed to soldier on through the day, although Simone had to have her pack carried for her at various points.

Having walked down hill for 2 hours yesterday, the last thing we wanted to see in the morning was an uphill section but that is exactly what presented us – 2 hours uphill to start the day off nicely!  After 2 hours, we reached the “second pass”, which was pretty spectacular as it was bordered by two higher peaks – which we had the option to climb (and I did).

Steffi and Katie on a typical section of uphill path, being overtaken by running porters

Steffi and Katie on a typical section of uphill path, being overtaken by running porters

Stunning views... again!

Stunning views… again!

At the second pass

At the second pass

After the pass we headed down through the cloud forest to another inca remain, which the Incas kindly placed at the top of 100 steps – just incase we hadn’t had enough of going downhill to go back up hill!  This remain was really impressive, with some clever mechanisms for door locking, and it acted as a great lookout point to spot the others coming down the hillside.

Steffi and I made it to the ruin first

Steffi and I made it to the ruin first

The stairs were steep!

The stairs were steep!

Amazing view!

Amazing view!

On a ruin

On a ruin

Door locking

Door locking

Door locking

Door locking

Arty photo

Arty photo

We spent around 20 minutes at the ruin and then headed to another break point (during which time I spotted a beautiful butterfly visiting something dead):

Butterfly

Butterfly

The pathway at this point really was incredibly beautiful, passing through cloud forest and along the edge of some hills and mountains before occasionally plunging into tunnels carved right out of the rock.

Beautiful pathway

Beautiful pathway

Steffi and a tunnel

Steffi and a tunnel

Our lunch break was at the “third pass”, another peak and as it was our final lunch with the porters (who will depart before 5am tomorrow), they went all out to impress!  Lunch was served buffet style, and included stuffed tomatoes, a noodle and broccoli bake and some fried rice balls which were divine if insanely filling.  Everything was really yummy!

A spot of lunch

A spot of lunch

After the main food was over, the chef joined us and presented Al & Asfia with a honeymoon cake. Let me write that again.  The chef baked a cake on the mountain.  And decorated it. On the fricking mountain.  I have no idea how you would even go about starting to bake a cake without an oven!

Honeymoon cake!

Honeymoon cake!

Happy Honeymooners!

Happy Honeymooners!

This was such a sweet moment and left Al and Asfia really speechless.  The rest of us were quickly speechless too, stuffing our mouths with cake!  The icing tasted like bubblegum, which was a little strange, but it was such an amazing gesture! Even trying to refill our bodies with calories, we were only able to demolish half of the cake so gave the other half to our porters, who I am sure really appreciated it!

During the lunch break Israel advised us that the lunch toilet might be a little “unconventional”, since the site we had been allocated for lunch didn’t have a toilet block.  Instead, we were to use a tent toilet.  It was, literally, a tent with a toilet inside it.  Upon enquiry, we found out that one of our porters has the cr*p job of carrying this toilet the whole length of the inca trail… including any deposits we make!  I think we all took pity on him and left the solid problems till later!

After lunch Israel briefed us on the rest of the trail for the day, with the cheerful phrase that we had “only 3 hours downhill” to go!  The pace was good and we stopped at more ruins on the way, so the time passed pretty quickly (and thankfully, my blisters from yesterday had all but gone!)

Arty photo from a ruin

Arty photo from a ruin

Ruin

Ruin

Guinea pig rock

Guinea pig rock

There were (my notebook says) “lots and lots and lots of stairs!”… nothing was impossible, we paced ourselves well and somehow I managed to stick in the front half of the group the whole way down.  After about 2 hours of downhill, we were treated to our first bout of rain since starting the trail.  Ponchos out, we soldiered on, although some short bouts of thunder and lightning quickly had us cowering under an overhanging cliff for a while.

Collectively, we decided that we would take the “porter shortcut” to the next camp site, cutting off 30 minutes of trek but avoiding one of the most spectacular ruins on the trial.  In the rain, the ruin is all but insivible anyway, so it wasn’t a hugely challenging decision – plus I really needed the bathroom!

I arrived at the camp site first, and the porters were still setting up the tents!  They scrabbled to give me a round of applause, which whilst cute was thoroughly necessary when all I wanted was to take my poncho off and use the toilet!  After a quick trip to the bathroom, I returned to the camp site and was awarded another round of applause… I never thought someone would applaud my toilet usage!

Once the others arrived, just a few minutes behind, we cracked out the camomile tea and packs of playing cards to start up some more games of Shithead.  I lost one of them, which was the first time i’d been “Shithead” since we learned the game!

Quietly whilst playing cards, we passed around envelopes to fill with tips for the porters, Javier and Israel.  I find that part of the process pretty awkward, but of course it’s important to reward the good service.  And the service really had been amazing!

Dinner was next, with asparagus soup, mash potato, sweet potato, sauce, rice, roast potato (triple carbs today!), broccoli, mange tout, and jelly for dessert – yet another feast!

Dinner

Dinner

After dinner it was time to thank our porters.   They worked incredibly hard, and Al made a short presentation (with Israel translating) before handing over our envelope to the chef – he distributes the tips to the porters.  The porters have to leave the camp site before 5am in order to catch the only train of the day back to their base… if they miss the train, its a 6 hour hike, which i’m sure none of them wanted.  But their 5am departure time means that we had to be up at 3:30, take breakfast at 4am, and depart by 4:15, to give the porters time to pack up after we were gone!  That concept didn’t appeal too much!

Thanking the porters

Thanking the porters

So, even though the day had been beautiful and we were all full of anticipation for tomorrow, it was bedtime by 7pm.  It was much warmer at night, with an elevation of 2700m, which meant I was able to leave my hat, gloves, etc. packed away – a welcome change after last night! I charged my camera using my battery and prepared myself for a full day of photos tomorrow at the main event – Machu Picchu!

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Quest of the Gods – Day 6, Inca Trail ·Day 1

I woke up at 5am due to an uncovered skylight in the room I was staying in, but that was fine since the nervous and excited energy would easily carry me through the day.  Psyching myself up in the room before breakfast, I reminded myself that day one is the easy one – just 11km and a 300m elevation change to cope with.  All I could think was “Can we go yet?!”, but I waited patiently for breakfast.

Selfie before breakfast

Selfie before breakfast

Breakfast was the relatively usual combination now – Scrambled eggs, mango, pineapple, and coca tea (to stem off any altitude sickness).  After breakfast we were given a few minutes to repack our duffles and hand over any unnecessary possessions to Harold (who would not be joining us on the trail) for safekeeping whilst we hiked.

Frustratingly the bus was running on Peruvian timing and arrived a few minutes late – those minutes went by so slowly though!  After picking us up, the bus drove into Ollantayatambo and collected the three new people joining our group for the Inca trail – Mark, Katie and Simone.  Mark and Katie had been travelling for 5 months around the world and this was their last stop before heading home to London, whilst Simone is a german doctor (our third doctor in the group!) – no risk of any health issues on the trail!

The hotel that Katie, Mark and Simone had been staying in was right next to the Kwik-e-mart!

Kwik-e-mart

Kwik-e-mart

After picking up the rest of the group we drove to the famous km82 – the start point of the Inca trail!

We did a final check of our bags, and were passed over our rented items (sleeping bags, sleeping mattresses, walking poles, etc.) -and then a final weight check was carried out.  The only person with a problem on the bag weight was Simone, who had somehow managed to bring 9kg instead of 6kg… it was easily resolved by transferring items into her day pack though, so we were ready to go!

Final bag checks

Final bag checks

Our snack packs were handed out, and this morning they contained a banana, some apple flavoured boiled sweets and a pack of biscuits.  It’s important to keep snacking on the trail since the meal times are quite far apart and the calorie burn is high. And the snacks were yummy.

Last selfie before the start

Last selfie before the start

Km82 - the start!

Km82 – the start!

After the obligatory group photos by the KM82 sign, we joined the long queue to pass through the official checkpoint and begin the trail.  There are actually two checkpoints – one for porters, and one for hikers.  As we queued, Israel and Javier (our second guide) gave us a briefing on what to expect in the morning – essentially a few steep up and downhill sections but relatively easily.  At each checkpoint we were able to stamp our passports to indicate we had passed that point, and it was a great feeling to mark the first one into my passport as we officially began the trail!

My passport, waiting for the first stamp

My passport, waiting for the first stamp

Bridge, marking the start of the trail

Bridge, marking the start of the trail

The porters got off to a running start

The porters got off to a running start

The weather was stunning for the stat of the trail – really beautifully hot and sunny and the scenery looked spectacular in the daylight.  Within what felt like minutes we already reached an amazing view point, and of course stopped for plenty of photos!

Me at the first viewpoint

Me at the first viewpoint

The first viewpoint

The first viewpoint

The pace of the hike was good – gentle, with lots of stops for explanations, but not too slow as to get frustrating.  We began hiking around 10am and hiked for around 2-3 hours before lunch, passing through some tiny villages and amazing hills and scenery.  I didn’t post all the photos, because quite frankly – you’d get bored despite how beautiful the hills were!

Once we stopped for lunch, we were all hungry (despite having demolished our snacks), but none of us were expecting what was waiting for us.  On arrival at the rest point, the porters had lined up and applauded us as we walked into the site – such a strange feeling being applauded!  The porters had set out two tents at a small rest point, and the chef had kicked into action and whipped us up an amazing lunch.

Corn soup

Corn soup with garlic bread

The kitchen and lunch tents

The kitchen and lunch tents

Lunch - vegetables and rice

Lunch – vegetables and rice

There was dessert too, but honestly – it didn’t last long enough to be photographed.  It was a purple syrupy dessert which is famous in Peru – it’s made from purple corn and spices, and apparently school kids beg for it for their birthday parties, so we were lucky to have it.  My google-fu tells me it is probably Mazamorra Morada.

After lunch, we were given a 40 minute ‘siesta’ break during which time I read some of my book in the shade and topped up my water from the freshly boiled water the porters had arranged.  The weather was so hot, i’d already drank 1.5 litres and it was only 2pm!

Israel informed us that we had already completed more than 6km in the morning, leaving just 5km to do for the rest of the day, or as I calculated it, just 39km to Machu Picchu!

Trail map at the second checkpoint

Trail map at the second checkpoint

Second checkpoint

Second checkpoint

Selfie, at the second checkpoint

Selfie, at the second checkpoint

Day one stamps!

Day one stamps!

The afternoon proceeded in much the same way – beautiful views, stops for explanations of the area we were in, and photo opportunities.  Our camp site on the first night was actually past the ‘second day’ checkpoint, so we passed through that at the end of day one instead of the start of day two, which was equally as exciting as getting the KM82 stamp at the start of the day.  My passport now had two Inca trail stamps on it, and all i’d gone is gently hiked 11km!

Popcorn!

Popcorn!

Arriving at the camp for the night, we rapidly went into Tea Time mode, which they take very seriously – fresh batches of popcorn appeared, along with a selection of teas and coca leaves for us to drink.  We sat around and were taught the rules to Shithead – two games later and Al continued his losing streak at card games!

After tea time we had an introduction meeting with our porters.  For our group of 8 hikers (Me, Al, Asfia, Steffi, Ruth, Mark, Katie and Simone) we had 19 porters on the trail, plus two guides!  Gadventures look after the porters really well, providing them with the necessary equipment and limiting their weights to just 20kg.  Some of the other operators we saw had obviously flouted the rules about maximum weights, and some porters were even hiking barefoot!

Our group

Our group

It was great to meet our porters, and most of them introduced themselves in Quechua, which is the local language in the Andes.  Quechua is an onomatopoeic language, and we learned that the word for Baby is “wah wah” whilst the word for Guineapig is “Cuy”.

After tea time and the meeting were over, it was quickly time for dinner – another feast prepared by our chef including a vegetable soup, eggplant, potato and noodles… they like giving us double carbs, but quite frankly my body was appreciating it!

Once the light faded and dinner was over, it was time for a relatively early night… sleep is important on the trail, and we would be receiving our wake up call at 5am.  I was really excited to be sleeping under the stars for the first time in years!

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Quest of the Gods – Day 4, Jungle to Cusco

Thunder and lightning kept me awake from 4am, which was a mixture of terrifying and awesome.  Being so close to nature, you never quite know what’s going to happen, and it really emphasised just how close we were to nature!  Waking up and heading to the bathroom, I realised that the bats who were living in the roof of the cabin had been a little scared of the lightning, and had left me presents all over the shower floor…. luckily it washed off easily enough!

I was packed and ready to go by 6:30am, despite the morning call time being 7:30, which I thought would give me an hour of alone time, but once I headed to the bar almost everyone else was there already!  Seems we’re a group of early risers, or maybe the thunder and lightning just kept us up – certainly Kirsten and Mike had been kept awake by the giant spider in their mosquito net (not a perfect honeymoon bed!)

Breakfast at 7:30 was scrambled eggs, fried plantain and the most amazing mango I ever tasted.

We quickly headed to the boat and were whisked on a 90 minute river trip to the port, during which time we raced a couple of the other lodges (everyone heads at the same time because there are only a few flights a day from Puerto Maldonado).

Racing on the river

Racing on the river

During the trip we did a bit of bird spotting, but everyone was generally subdued to be leaving the jungle so quickly after we arrived.  It would have been amazing to stay there a few more days, but i’m pretty sure even if you stayed there 2 years you would still be discovering new things!

After a 45 minute bumpy van ride to the office, we repacked our bags/suitcases from the duffles we took into the jungle and then headed to the airport.  We stopped at a little snack store and I bought some brazil nut and tomato cookies which were really good, even if the taste was a little strange.

Repacking our bags

Repacking our bags

At the airport, G Adventures have an agreement with Avianca to use their executive check-in lines, which made us all feel very important – particularly as all the other tours have to use the ‘normal’ checkin.

Airport selfie

Airport selfie

The airport is tiny in Puerto Maldonado and we were warned that the checkin process might be unusual – rather than owning a bag scanner and scanning the bags after check-in, the airport opts for a more hands-on approach – opening bags and scanning them with hands before they go through check in.  The process was kind of ridiculous, with hands probing around to find god knows what in our bags.  After promising I didn’t have anything dodgy in my bag, and a pair of gloved hands finding nothing, I was free to check in as normal and from then we had a short wait whilst Harold obtained the check-in ladies number (although he insists he was just getting a number to check his air miles).  We continued to tease him about this the whole trip!

The flight itself was uneventful, and the airline provided a USB port at our seats which was great for recharging my camera!

Plane selfie - Puerto Maldonado to Cusco

Plane selfie – Puerto Maldonado to Cusco

After we arrived in Cusco, the centre of the Inca empire, we were whisked to our hotel (5 minutes by private bus) and checked in.  Harold gave us a guided tour of the city and we tried the free Coca Tea (good for relieving altitude sickness, since Cusco is at 3400m from sea level).

True to form, Harold had booked us a table at an amazing little restaurant (Aguaymanto) for lunch which had the most incredible menu of Peruvian dishes and catered well to the needs of G Adventures guests.  It was really hidden up a back alley and a staircase but worth exploring to find it!

Group shot at the restaurant

Group shot at the restaurant

We shared some Nachos as a starter and then I had a thai green curry as a main, followed by a shared Mango Flambé for dessert.   It was awesome, and we all left feeling great about Cusco.  Nobody was really feeling the altitude, which we were all thankful of since we had been warned it could be a tough evening.

After dinner a short recognition walk showed us more of the area including the central square which featured a rather excited looking Inca on a fountain.  My google-fu tells me he is Pachacuti – the main Inca who built Cusco and Machu Picchu into the places they are today.

Cusco central square

Cusco central square

On the way back to the hotel, the girls were acosted by some Andean women holding cute lambs who forced them to have photos taken with the lambs and then demanded payment (as much as S20, $7) for the photos.

Once back at the hotel we freshened up before our briefing about the inca trial at 19:00.

During the briefing, we met our guide (Israel) and he talked us through the plan for the trip, packing and essentials.  We have a 6kg limit for personal items which will be carried by the porters – which gets reduced by 2.5kg for our sleeping bag and 1kg for our air mattress, leaving just 2.5kg for our personal stuff!

Israels recommended packing list for those 2.5kgs:

  • 3 t-shirts
  • 3 pairs of hiking socks
  • 3 sets of underwear
  • Thermals to sleep in
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Spare pair of hiking pants
  • Sandals
  • Warm jacket
  • Towel
  • Toiletries

I don’t know which lightweight shop he goes to, but when I put all that in my duffle it came to 4kg!  A quick rationalisation and I was back to 2.5kg – phew!

Israel talked us through the timeline of the 4 days

  • Day one – Gentle start – Pickup at 7:15, bus to the km82 start point, starting at 2700m, hike for 11km/6 hours, starting at 9:30.  Climb is only 300m, so we sleep at 3000m
  • Day two – Challenge day – Starting at 3000m, hike for 12km/8 hours, starting at 6:30.  Climb is 1200m, descent about 600m, sleeping at 3600m
  • Day three – Culture day – Starting at 3600m, hike for 16km/10 hours, starting at 6:30.
  • Day four – Machu Picchu – Starting at 3:30am, hike for 6km/2 hours, Gate to Machu Picchu opens at 5:30am.  After MP, take a bus/train/bus back to Cusco

We would have another 3 people joining us for the trail, and Mike and Kirsten would be doing the Lares Trek which is an alternative trek for those who are unable to get Inca Trail passes (only 500 passes are issued a day).  For our group of 8 hikers, we would have 19 porters!

Most important thing, which they kept reminding us, was to bring our passports!  Clearly that has burned them in the past!

In our day packs, we were told to pack:

  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito repellent & sunscreen (question: why don’t they make sunscreen which is mosquito repellent as well?)
  • Water bottle / camelbak
  • Toilet paper / baby wipes
  • Rain gear / Poncho
  • Snacks
  • Passport (must not forget this)
  • First aid kit / medication
  • Headtorch and spare batteries
  • Camera
  • Cash (S300 – S400)

Before the trail started, we had a tour day visiting the Sacred Valley, which is a chance for us to get prepared for the trail and also test our gear.  Our big bags would stay in Cusco whilst we toured the Sacred Valley and did the Inca Trail, so we would need to take everything with us tomorrow ready for the trail.  Exciting times!

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Everything is awesome!

I have so much to write, so many memories to share.  I just logged onto a computer for the first time in 14 days and will be travelling back to Sweden shortly.  I just wanted to share this: everything is awesome.

Photo from the official end of the Inca Trail, where we visited Machu Picchu.  4 days without a shower and I was still smiling!

Photo from the official end of the Inca Trail, where we visited Machu Picchu. 4 days without a shower and I was still smiling!

 

Much more writing to come in the next few weeks.

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The excitement builds!

Gadventures, the travel company i’ve booked the trip to Peru with, have been posting featured pictures of Peru and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu on their Facebook page all week and they just published a summary post in their blog!

Check it out… so much amazing stuff to come in the next 3 weeks of my life!

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Elevation!

There’s no getting away from it, the Inca trail is going to be a challenge.  I’m not afraid of long hikes, but no matter how hard I try to train, the altitude is going to be a something to get used to on-site.  The trail starts at 8000ft, which is roughly the same altitude as the pressure in the cabin of a commercial airline.  I figure that could actually work to my benefit, since I spend a lot of time on aircrafts anyway.  Then it climbs, steeply, to 13,796ft – which is basically the height that small airplanes fly at…. it seems unnatural to think of being at the height, brought there only by my feet!  I’ve been reading a few blogs and things which talk about the biggest problem being a psychological one, and I can see why.

Continue reading

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