Hi everyone...brace yourselves, it´s probably going to be along one (with numberous typos,awful keyboard)
We had one day in Cusco before beginning the Inka Trail. We had hired a porter to carry our main bags on the advice of 2 separate couples we´d met along our travels. We were the only ones in our group to do this and wondered if we were maybe being pathetic!We were a group of 11, all couples (apart from one man who was 57!) Rhys and I were the youngest. We were collected at 6.30am on 1st May and after a 3 hour bus journey were ready to start at the trail head. The first day was quite easy and Rhys and I set the pace (without our bags!!!) and really enjoyed the hike, it rained quite heavily just before lunch but our ridiculously oversized pnchos did their job well! We saw some Inka ruins during the day, and it most definately whetted the appetite for Machu Picchu itself! We were at our camp by 5pm just before dark and were camping at the bottom of ´Dead Woman´s Pass´ What is renowned to be the hardest part of the trail. We had a delicious dinner, the porters are incredible carrying approx and at least 20 kilos and running parts of the trail, often just in sandals, and then setting up camp and cooking feasts for us on very basic equpiment too!!! To bed by 9pm as up at 5.30 the next day to start the trek before the sun was too hot.
We set off and it was immediately uphill and fairly steep but the scenery was breathtaking and it was just the right level of challenging! (All other people in our group had hired a porter by this point!) However as the morning drew on the path grew steeper and we began to relaise why nthe Inkas were famous for steps...there were hundreds and that made the trekking much harder (Not for Rhys he acted like he had a rocket up his bum and practically ran to the top!) After approx 4 hours (with breaks) we had climbed over 1,200m and walked 6km all up and mostly steps, and we had reached the top of ´Dead Woman´s Pass´and the views ade the effore all the more worthwhile. After a fairly long break we began the descent, of 2 hours solidly down hill, this was actually much harder due to the pressure on your knees and the sheer level of concentration necessary not to take a tumble and plummet down almost vertical steps!luckily we had both bought wooden poles and they helped alot. We were 2nd to reach camp at 3pm and had another delicious lunch. The trekking was finished for the day and everyone had a power nap before dinner, and then early to bed after getting to knwo our group a little better and everybody clicked really well!
Unfortunately neither Rhys or I slept particularly well but it didnt stop us the next morning(especially Rhys, I think he was first to every meeting point...I was very proud of him and he earned the nickname Speedy Gonzales!) There were 2 passes to go over during this day which was lomewhat daunting after what we had faced the previous day. The first pass was very steep but not as long, and again R and I both found the downhill more challenging. We then had lunch and after lunch set off for the 3rd pass. R sped off ahead as he was faster than me on the uphill but this pass wasn´t so steep and I caught up with him but near the end, so unfortunately we dont have any photos together on that part of the walk although we could have! We then had a break for lunch and the dreaded downhill descent began again. I had a twinge in my knee which became very painful and by the end of the walk I was having to use both mine and Rhys´sticks as crutches, but he stayed with me and kept me laughing! We evbtually reached our last camp and a hot shower and a hot drink cheered me up hugely! The excitement from all of the groups camping around us was palpable, especially as many people had 1 or 2 beers which after the hiking and at the altitude had a very rosy effect! We had decided to get up super early 4.15 to be first to the checkpoint in order to try and get tickets to climb Wayna Picchu which is the large mountain you see in all the famous photos of Machu Picchu and the one me and R are standing i front of in our picture!
Ñuckily the next mornign my knee was fine and Doctor Richards diagnosed what he thought was maybe a trapped nerve so I had obviously slept it off!We set off at a gallop to get through the 2 hours of trekking to get there for the tickets. The first glimpse of the city ios breathtaking and I admit I even welled up a little as I´ve wanted to go to Machu Picchu since Jonathan did his gap year 10years ago! So it was a very big deal!!!Unfortunately we issed out on the tickets but it was impossible to be disappointed with everything around us. We had a tour around parts of the city and it´s phenomenal whjat they did. They now believe that Machu Picchu was a university city, and people studied astronomy here, particularly the movement of the sun. We wont bore you with all the details on ehre, they will have to be explained along with the photos but it was truly impressive and R & I just sat trying to take it in for over an hour.
We then went down to Aguas Calientes the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu mountain and relaxed our aching muscles in the hot springs before catching the last train back to Cuzco, arriving at our hostel at 2am!
It was an amazing 4 days and definately a great midway point activity as it had been 3 months when we returned!We both felt a little weird realising we had just done the Inka trail and seen Machu Picchu and even stranger realising we had less than a month left in South America. The time has flown!
Lots of love to all at hoke xxxx