Lares Trek Day 1:
We woke in our hostel around 7am again (these GAP people love their early starts) and got some breakfast there. Over here hostel breakfasts usually consist of these bun things with butter and Jam, and thats pretty much what this was. Not the hearty hike fuelling breakfast we we´re hoping for! I did however foolishly take a huge swig of this papaya ´juice´that they have over here which is more like jelly. eugh.
We then got in a coach and left about 8, here we met the rest of our fellow hikers two lovely English girls who we´re now following about. it was great as the whole of our group spoke English and everyone was up for a laugh so we got on well. First stop on the bus was to a market so that we could stock up on supplies. Turl and I went with johan to get some altitude sickness pills as i was already feeling rough as houses. Not sure they were the best quility of medicine, the packed was open and you paid for individual pills. This was the only stuff we could find after 3 pharmacies so we went with it. Also at the market we all went out to buy toys for the children that we would meet on the trek. Turl and I bought some toy cars, water pistols, dolls, and a mirror. It was only later that we inspected one of the dolls to find out she was the cheapest most demented, sacary thing you´ve ever seen. Much to the amusement of everyone else with their perfect looking dolls.
The next stop was the beggining of our journey into the pits of hell. We started around 11, and we were already prepared that today was 4 hours completley up hill and then two hours down. We met our mules and horses who were to carry all our stuff bless them, and then we began. First bit seemed ok as it was very steep that was for all of 3 minutes until we turned round a corner and saw the stupidly steep path we had to take. The problem was, that I started walking it as if i were back home which was not a good idea! I soon realised that i couldn´t breath at this stupid altitude! Luckily i wasn´t the only one, as Jaques was also suffering and we were to become close walking companions from then on! Turlough was absolutley fine though and sped ahead leaving his poor suffering girlfriend at the back. Luckily it wasn´t too long (about a frigging hour) until we had a 2 minute flat bit and then a stop for lunch.
Lunch was great we had a little tent set up by the edge of a beautiful lake! Once i´d stopped hyperventalating it was really nice to see! Lunch was surprisingly really good! We started with soup of corrinader (which turl and i had a secret snigger at because we´d heard that all the food tasted of corriander) but then we had chicken, veg and pasta which was really good! This was all washed down with coca tea of course! (this is a local leaf that is used for everything basically, and it is everywhere!) You´re supposed to chew on the leaves as you´re hiking to give you energy and open your lung but it tates absolutley foul!!
After lunch i was the first to visit our little camp loo thing. We named this the Tardis, iroinically a blue tardis looking shape about the size of the rim of the toilet seat and no more. I was nearly certain i was going over in it. Inside was a little plastic toilet seat with a plastic carrier bag hanging of it! EUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH. Thank GOD i was the first to use it! God knows what the poor porters did with it afterwards! I darn´t think! After devouring a two course meal we had absolutley no time (other than my tardis visit) to digest our lunch before starting the most gruelling and steep climb so far. This was to take us up to 4200meters! Safe to say it was pure hell, and i could only walk about 5 steps without stopping to try and catch anyform of oxygen! When we FINALLY reached the top ( i was about 30mintues after Turlough) it was raining and we had a group photo done.. i obviously look just great and not look on the edge of death at all.
After this hell, thank god it was two hours pure downhill!!! YES! This was amazing! Everystep you took got you closer to more oxygen. It was really steep at the first bit though, and part of the alitltude sickness makes you dizzy so i nearly plumeted to my death several times! Never actually fell over though! Despite feeling like death the views were absolutley spectacular and we could see just how far we had acutally climbed! Part of this wonderful downhill part took us across a HUGE waterfall aswell as seeing some wild chinchillas that looked more like rabbits over here! I also nearly got spat on by a LLama! Obviously knowing me i went up to one of the many llamas that we past. Safe to say he gave me a funny look, and Pedro the guide who was rocking it at the back with me a jacques was like CAREFULL! Apparently they spit directly into your face the second that you open your mouth! hahaha! close call. Turlough says that at this point he was miles ahead just walking, with nothing going on. ( the back was so the place to be)
The second that we arrived at camp Turlough bought himself a beer and me a water (great.) We had familes who lived in the mud huts around come and selll us drinks and woven goods. I bought some more socks (as it was freezing!) and a braclet as i felt i had earnt it! We suddenly realized just how high up we were when the view at the back of our camp was of a snow capped moutain! We had arrived at camp at six and it got dark REALLY quickly! first of all we watched as the cloud suddenly engulfed us, which was really freaky, and then the darkness came. We had a little cement house at this camp where we had our dinner. I barely touched anything however as i was feeling like i was going to vom. We had soup to start again which was great as it warmed us up, followed by trout and some potoatoe thing. We went to bed pretty much straight away as i was feeling so rough (about 19:30!! hahah), and luckily managed to get warm pretty quickly, and slept really well despite Turlough pushing me off my air bed. He didn´t sleep so well however, as he was freezing cold and kept sliding down the tent (we were on a hill)
We were woken up about 6:30am with a bowl of hot water and a mug of you know it COCA TEA! I was DESPERATE for the loo and had the choice of the tardis or at this camp a toilet consisting of a hole in the floor. I went with the hole in the floor as there was more room and sight of anyone elses disgards. Breakfast was great as we had hot chocolate! This went down a storm! The usual bread and Jam and a pancake thingy, but I couldn´t really stomach that. Turl obviously did, even though he was being a fussy fool about everything before!
This hike started with an uphill as ever, but lukily this one wasn´t so steep. We stopped off early on to visit some families and see how they lived! This was great, as we got to see how these incan decents still followed old traditions, and we couldn´t belive how they actually lived! The houses were made from mud bricks with hay roofs, and were about the size of a garden shed. They usually housed families of 5 to 7 people. We went inside one and there was only one single bed and guinea pigs living on the floor! (Just like us, except these guineas were for eating!) Aparently there were 3 sleeping in the single bed and 3 in the hay roof on a makeshift bed! The kicthen consisted of a little stove in the corner fueled by driend llama poo! The houses didn´t have any chimneys and therefore filled with smoke. They used this to warm the housed but it also meant that infants only had a 60% chance of survial. There was no sign of any form of bathroom so i guess that was just outside. We met lots of the kids here though and have away some toys. Turlough gave one of the boys a filled waterpistol and he loved it!
We carried on hiking up hill again, this wasn´t so bad though as jacques and I had learnt to take it slow. It was only when you got out of breath that you couldn´t EVER get it back! This mountain took us back up to 4200 meters, and then went down hill for a couple of hours! So annoying as it only meant that we had to go bloody back uphill again later on! Taking it slow was great though and there were lots more kids and sights to take in on the way! After about another hour or so uphill we stopped for lunch! It was pouring down with rain at this point and i was absolutley soaked and freezing! (Not in the best mood) The soup warmed me up abit along with the good old coca tea.
After lunch was the worst uphill of the whole trek, it would take us too 4600meters. I was not doing good at this point, lukily not nausous, but really really dizzy and as it got steeper i got dizzier and kept stumbling! The terrain got even rougher as it got higher and i had a funny turn and nearly fainted! Yes the shame. laugh it up why dont you. Lukily i had an ambulance at the back in the form of Rusty the horse! My hero! It was my noble steeds job to carry me the last 500meters uphill. This didn´t really help with the dizziness however, as you can imagine it was a tad wobbly and we were walking along tiny cliff face paths. I tried not to look down to the right or up to the left and just kept patting good old Rusty. He obviously wasn´t too happy about his latest position!! Turlough managed to walk the whole way to the top unaided! I waved as i past him on my steed! and watched him make the last 50m climb, just! He says he couldn´t breathe and that he had lost ALL juice in his legs! Although the reward getting to the top was so great! The views were amazing! So we were sat on this mountain at nearly 15,000 feet (bearing in mind that people jump out of planes at around 12,500) trying to believe and in sight of our distant camp sight down below. Downhill. Thankgod. Our last two hours downhill would total 9 hours walking for the day and i felt a bit better at the campsite. Turl walked this downhill part with me for the first time! (because he had damaged his knee might i add) When we got to camp four of the guys, Flo the brit, charles and tim the yanks and jacques the canadian jumped into the FREEZING lake we were camped by! No one else could belive their eyes! As if it wasn´t cold enough already! When we got in our tent in the cold to get changed, the bloody tent zipper broke with us inside, so we got stuck in! We had Johan and pedro the guides trying to fix it with TWO porters too! I couldn´t belive it, the tent was broken and open letting ALL the cold air in. I was about to breakdown at the thought of sleeping in the wind and rain! Thankfully 45 minutes later we were freed and the tent was sewn shut!
We were camping at 4200meters and although it was dry it was the coldest any of us had ever felt. Because of this after dinner Johann the guide brought us out some of their weird rum drink. It was warm and consisted of rum lemon and honey! Safe to say it tasted exactly like cough medicine and was really strong! I dont know if it was the altitude but after just a couple everyone was completley upside down behind the TV. We forced the guides to make up more and more jugs and went from sober to drunk in an instant. We had a great night huddled in our little tents with Ipod speaker playing great classics for us to all sing along too! We all stumbled back to our tents around midnight and saw the most beautiful stars you coiuld ever see! A couple of people got into the wrong tents, and one of the aussie lads Adam, after tripping over two guyropes got carried to his tent by the porters. I dont think the andes had heard such a noise in a whille!
After having possibly the worst and coldest nights of all our lives (i genuinly thought death was coming) we woke to beautiful pure sunshine. I was the MOST GUTTED THING EVER as everyone bar us managed to watch a llama give birth on this hill!! Apparently the baby started falling fown and had to be rescued by a local! We saw it all clean and lovely in the sunshine with its mam though! I was feeling so much better this morning! My body had finally created some more red blood cells for the lack of oxygen and i could breath! We had breakfast, a pancake with GAP written on it and everyone was in high spirits after the humourous night before! Today was a beautiful 3 hour trek down hill with pure sunshine. (i still had to wear my fleece though as at this altitude the sun is so ridiculously powerful and strong even my factor 50+ couldnt handle it!
At the bottom of the hill we had a beautiful coach waiting for us and we all piled on, stinking rotten from no showers! We stopped off for lunch at a nice house with a great garden with a puppy!! The sun was stil shining and everyone felt great, although all the brits had to take shelter under a tree! That afternoon we got a train to Macchu Picchu where we were to spend a night in a HOTEL (thank god) before going to the lost city itself. This was horrible as the best thing about our trek was that we didn´t see one other tourist at all, Just us and the locals. When the train pulled up we were in absolute tourist central. After seeing so few people for days and only mud huts it was really daunting! When we got to the hotel everyone decided to go to the hot springs, except for us as we just had showers. Lukily didn´t miss out on anything as apparently they were smelly, dirty and over crowded with other tourists.
That night we went out to dinner at a restuarant Johan picked! It wasnt the best and he blatenly got a free meal for takking us all there. Turlough obviously got steak and chips and a bunch of us got pizza. Big mistake. there was barely any tomato and there was about 2 tons of cheese per pizza. And it was like a horrible greeney musky cheese. Not pleasant. The worse by far however was Jaques getting roasted guinea pig. I was trying to be brave and not over react as obviously i had my beloved GP and another girl Sophie had a pet one too, however it came out on the plate whole. yep, whole. NO exaggeration it still had its claws, head complete with eyes, ears, teeth and tongue. It was still in its little screaming position from its murder. Jacques didnt excalty help by peeling the ear off and passing it around. He also passed the jaw around. Rough. Just to make matters worse (or funny in our case) Adam spotted a giant rat halfway up one of the walls, which decided to run down towards our table, much to the delight of the screaming girls! After dinner we all went to bed early ready for our 4:30am wake up call.
Today we bused it at 5:30 up to Macchu Picchu. It was raining and pitch black. The idea was too watch the sunrise but it was waaaay to cloudy for any kind of sun to be seen. When we got there, we had to que to get in (soo many tourists again!!) once in had to climb for TEN minutes up another hill!! Last thing any of us cared about!! Once up to the top we were supposed to get the cliche shot, but it was completley white with cloud!! Johan gave us a two hour tour around the most important parts. During this the cloud lifted leaving us with a beautiful sunny day! Once the tour had finished we had the option the climb for an hour and half up Waynapichhu safe to say Turl and I thought stuff that, along with a few others. We looked around the rest of the lost city and this is when my camera decided to DELETE ALL OF OUR PICTURES. I´m so livid about it now I dont want to think about it. SO all of our pics from Lima, Cuzco, and the trek were all deleted because the camera went mad. We climbed up the top again and took some cliche photos. Macchu Picchu was absolutley beautiful as you would imagine but its a shame they let so many tourists in per day as it really ruins it! As we left we got our passports stamped with Macchu Picchu which was great and made our way back to Cusco.
So that was our epic adventure, sorry we´ve written so much! hope you made it to the end! We have another blog to catch up with tomorrow if you dare look on here again! Missing you all!
Much love Fran and Turlough xxxx