Leavin Cuzco behind in our tour bus we started making our way through the Andes heading towards our starting point for the inca, jungle 4 day trek. Along the way we picked up, 4 Aussies, 1 german, 1 Catalonian, 1 yank, a norweigen and a swede a right bunch that sat together quietly aniticipating what was about to unfold. Unbeknownst to any of us this group of 11 people would develop a bond over the next 4 days that was intense and would bind us together for a lifetime.
our starting point for the trek was at 1900 meters, we were handed mountain bikes protective gear and a loonie guide named Edwin, his first words were be careful, last week 2 people died!! We spent the first day riding for a total of around 5 hours and made our way down a gravel windy road (paved in places) to 1100meters.
Finishing up the day covered in mud and head to toe in dust, we enjoyed a cooked meal, warm shower (after which we swan in the river only to find a dead dog!) and hard bed for the nght.
The next morning we were up at 5 and on the road for 6am. Our trek took us on a nice unsuspecting flat across the bridge and nestled in the valley but after just 20 minutes, Edwin with a cheeky grin turned to us and pointed up. We spent the next 4 hours hiking an incline up the mountain untill we reached the summit where we were greeted by a monkey (that Dani wanted to set free) and a little further up fresh cold water and a guinee pig that was slaughtered in front of our eyes and put on the BBQ!
After tasting the guinee pig (NOT NICE) we joined the inca trail, and as we traversed the mmountain (dani at this point crying!) we faced stairs and trails no more than 2 ft wide with drops of 800 meters plus straight down to the river below. As incredible as it was, hiking that same route that the incas used to run and cart heavy goods and supplies along it was also evident that this was dangerous and in places the odd sli[p of a foot could end in disaster. by the end of the day, tired, hugry and taking a dip in the natural hotsprings we all reflected on how much admiration and respect we had for the incas and indeed one another. it was a tough day and at every turn our fantastic group was there to laugh, cry and support one another.
The next morning we set off from camp and followed the valley floor, not a hill in sight, well thats a lie but today we didnt have to cross an actual mountain. our hike mostly took us along the river in the morning and along the train tracks in the afternoon. After 9 hours of hikeing (and an overtaking of another group which we must admit were rather proud of) we finally made it to the base of Machu Pichu mountain, a small town called Aguas Caliantas. Here we ate, and basked in our last nights company with our tour guide and enjoyed our last evening together as close friends.
At 4 am the next morning alarms sounded and a weary eyed group formed in the lobby of the hostel. After a 20 minute walk we reached the bottom of the inca steps,, still pitch black we used headtorches to navigate our way up over 1300 steps. The steps werent your ordinary steps, these were around a foot and a half tall and i swear i had to use a ladder to get up one of them. Along with this they were uneven so a huge task.
It was the last slog and boy was it a slog after around 2 hours of steps we finally reached the entrance to Machu Pichu where i met Dani who had taken the bus the last way with lots of others (mainly the injured! - she had a run in with a boulder the day prior disguised as a stone!) not to be beaten however she would like me to add she walked down the steps at the end of the day which was just as hard!
Machu Pichu was everything we had drempt about and 20 times more, once entering through the admission gates, after enduring the 4 days of sweat and tears the view rolled out before us took our breath away and made the hairs on our arms stand on end. There really are no words or pictures that fully decribe the feeling or do Machu Pichu justice,
once inside we realised we had a man down, we had lost Nobert the German, there was no way any of us would allow the tour to start minus the legend that was Nobert, much to the tour guides annoyance and the other groups shock our group decided that shouting "NOBERT" through cupped hand across the mountain was the best cause of action. Unfortunatlly we were abruptly told that shouting was band and in fact bad for the ruins and we would be thrown out. Nobert would not be seen again untill 2 days later when we bumped into him leaving our hotel back in Cuzco!
After taking the tour and treking around the huge spance of land preceriously perched on a mountain top we simply sat and took in for hours one of the great wonders of the world in silence. This will be a day that we will never forget!