Well it´s a little overdue but we thought it was time to update you on Macchu Picchu and the Inca trail.
We were picked up from our hostel on 9th January at 6am (we´d been waiting since 5.15am), we were pretty much the last ones to get picked up so as soon as you get on the bus you start assessing people to see if anyone looks mega fit (as you all know I´m definitely not so this was important to me). It was hard to tell so we just sat back as it was a couple of hours drive to the start of the trail.
We stopped about an hour into the journey for breakfast and I put my ridiculously poor Spanish to the test ordering our food and we got chatting to a couple from the UK before we got back on the bus. As a lot of you will know I can be really antisocial and so when we got back on I said to Casson, ¨I´ve made my selection, I´m going to talk to that couple and no one else¨, obviously I didn´t mean it but he told me off for not giving people a chance. 20 minutes further into the journey we heard someone say "what´s your favourite timestable", "let´s play the timestable game" and "I didn´t know they grew corn on this side of the planet" .... cue Casson agreeing with my selection!
Once at the start of the trek we walked for about 30 minutes and then they stop so we could all introduce ourselves, where we´re from, ages etc. I was the last one to introduce myself and I was the bloody oldest in the group!!! I introduced myself as grandma, might as well get the old jokes out the way myself before anyone i.e. Casson gets in there first.
We walked until about 2pm and then it was lunch time, our porters had set up a food tent and had cooked the most amazing meal, guacamole and tortilla´s, soup, trout in a spicy sauce with fried rice and vegetables and peppermint tea. We couldn´t believe how nice it was, and the food pretty much remained amazing for the entire trip.
Casson has a habit of putting things down and forgetting about them or just generally misplacing things so when I saw he´d left his precious Courteeners t shirt on a rock I quickly stuffed it in my bag for future fun.
It turns out the couple I´d selected were from Blackpool and Clitheroe (Pete & Ali) so just down the road from us, they turned out to be really good fun and we spent most of the trek with them and with an Aussie bloke called Matt who swore like a trooper but was also really good fun!
About 40 minutes after leaving the lunch spot I asked Casson where his t shirt was, cue him looking really sad as he knew he´d left it, he started to look in his bag and then Pete and Ali (who were in on the joke) started making comments about how he´d see a porter running up the hill in it. To be fair he took it really well when he thought he´d lost it and as I knew how gutted he was I couldn´t keep up the joke for long ... note to Casson, STOP LEAVING THINGS BEHIND!
Day one was easy in parts and difficult in others, every time you have to go up hill it´s hard work as you struggle to breathe because of the altitude but we made it to camp and celebrated with a beer. It was here that we were introduced to all our porters and the Chef. Our oldest porter was 70 years old and he put us to shame with a) how much he carried and b) how easy he made it look. We have to say that the porters were absolutely amazing and we were all in awe of them!
Day 2 we were woke up at 5am and it was an absolute killer for pretty much the whole group bar a few people, Casson being one of them which really pee´d me off! None of us could breathe and he was like a bloody mountain goat. We climbed over 1100m that day taking us to 4150m above sea level by the time we got to the top of dead woman´s pass. What was really good was that the group was really evenly matched and so there wasn´t anyone massively in front or also lagging behind. If you´d asked either of us where we thought I would be for the entire trek we would both have said at the back of the group but actually we were either up there at the front or in the middle at varying different times so I was really proud of myself (and Casson was shocked!)
Once we reached dead womans pass it was all downhill to the campsite (as some of you will know I hate steps) and it was drizzly so they were wet and slippy but we both made it without falling and we were rewarded with a slug of the Captain´s finest dark rum as Pete and Ali had brought a bottle with them on the trek (I knew I´d chose well at the start)
Day 3 we were up at 5am again and it was LONG, in total we trekked 11 hours which at times were tough as we were climbing again but today I was the unofficial pace setter for our little group (snails pace all the way) and it worked for us, slow and steady all the way. We were rewarded at the end of the trek with some amazing terraces and a rainbow so it was totally worth it. That night the rum was out again, Captain Morgan is most definitely one of our new friends.
Day 4 we were up at 3.30am as we had to have breakfast and then queue for about an hour and half in the dark to gain entry to the trail that led to the sungate. As we trekked it got lighter and the views over the mountains were amazing and then just as you reach the sun gate you have to climb the steepest steps but the view of Machu Picchu from there was brilliant. We were really lucky as our guide said that it´s unusual to have such a clear view at this time of the year and within 10 minutes of being there the clouds rolled in and covered MP.
Finally we made it and we both thought it was pretty spectacular, it kind of takes you breath away as it feels pretty mystical, especially after 4 days hiking to get there. It made all the pain and hard work over the past few days totally worth it!
Just a few points as normal:
1) The majority of the credit for the photo´s goes to Casson as I couldn´t breathe for most of the way and so taking photo´s was the last thing I felt like doing. In fact, we´d probably have none if it wasn´t for him so thanks Prawn
2) They told us to take snacks and my god did we take snacks. Special thanks goes out to the nestle sublime choclate bars (which pretty much fed half the group in times of need) and the kendal mint cake from back home which to the Aussies and Americans was a taste sensation and to us rocket fuel!
3) Massive congratulations has to go to Pete and Ali as Pete proposed at Machu Picchu and we were involved in the plot as we carried the ring for him in case Ali stumbled across it (thank god it wasn´t the real ring though as I don´t think my nerves would have taken it, I was constantly checking to see if it was still in my bag)
4) Due to point 3 above this meant that at the end of the trek we had to go out and celebrate by having several beers and a pisco sour before our train and bus back to Cusco (the beers continued on the bus)
5) We´re glad we had the beers as the lights on our bus went out (spotted by Casson well before anyone else noticed) and yet our bus driver continued to drive for about 30 minutes until he decided it was no longer safe to drive any further. You couldn´t make this stuff up, 2 of the Aussie lads filmed their last will and testament (albeit very much tongue in cheek). The roads were pitch black, this would never have happened in the UK but to them it was normal.
All in all it was one of the best (and worse for me) things we´ve done so far.
M&V Wow that sounds amazing and to be in on the surprise brought a tear. Glad to hear that you're both well. Enjoy the rest of your journey!