Right now the sun is shining down on Cusco, Peru!! But times have been very different!
The first days in Cusco basically entailed shopping for raingear, alpaca ponchos and various other survival items! We even played pub quizzes and caught a film, ´the last king of Scotland`, in a small bar where you can also get salsa lessons (Saskia, eat your heart out)!
After taking a few lazy and headachey days to get used to the altitude (which by the way makes you feel nauseous at strange intervals at night) we decided to get our arses (or rather those of our ponies) into gear! Found some random place in the hills with a few sweet but skinny little ponies! It was lovely and sunny when we left up a very steep hill to see the first sites around the city. After arrival it proceeded to piss it down on us! Good practice for the Inca Trail was our view… and luckily Garth decided that an extra poncho to cover his rucksack might be a good idea!
The following day we were rudely awakened by our guide for the Inca Trail at 6.15! Showering is a luxury and so we headed straight off to the beginning of the Inca Trail where we bought the all important walking stick and a bag of coca leaves! We also met our 10 porters.. amazing but true! And this was for our group which consisted of on;y the four of us (Amanda, Garth, Beccy and I)!
The day started wonderfully with mainly Peruvian flats, sunshine and a few showers! The perfect walking conditions! My first lesson was: when you are hiking don’t take layers on and off too often as this is more tiring than the walk itself. My second lesson was: don’t eat too much lunch as the only option is the famous natural toilet!The food and the porters amazed us on the first leg of the trip. They run with packs of 25kg to get to the camping sites before you do and then proceed to serve up 3 course gourmet meals! Unbelievable!
After a night of full on rain I awoke to a wet sleeping bag and a very damp tent! Not best pleased about that as you can imagine! At 5.30 in the morning it is still very cold and damp so that was fun getting up! Started the day with some major portions of coca leaves which apparently are very good for altitude sickness amongst other things! Even though I felt like a tobacco chewing cowboy I now swear by the things! I managed to climb more than 1000ms up the steepest part of the trail! Magnificent views and some spectacular rain on the way down to the brown and muddy second camp! Food and sleep was about all we could manage (including a moan about the tents and a mini bottle of vodka, of course!!) when we got there!
Another early start after another very rainy and damp dripping tent night! The poor porters sleep in the eating tent which has no ground sheet and was leaking as well! They were very tired as you can imagine! (don’t worry, we complained about their conditions to the agency when we got back!).
A great day was had by all with great sites, views and generally good walking conditions! The way downhill was especially fun.. a few cheesy and very badly sung songs were performed by Beccy and I! By the time we got the bottom to the last camp my hip and knees were killing though! There were hot showers at this camp so luxury was the key word! A beer and a rum to celebrate and it was time for bed!
Another extremely wet night and an even earlier start (woken at 3.30)! We started the trek with our head torches (thanks Lloyds) in the dark and walked along very high mountain passes with steep drops down! After only 2 hours we reached Machu Picchu with the sun coming up over the mountains! A gift from ‘whoever’ as in rainy season it could have been very different. Some travelers got a little aggressive trying to fight for a space to take the best photo.. strange but understandable I suppose after such a long trek to actually get there!
Our wonderful guide showed us around the site whilst the sunshine warmed our worn out legs! Machu Picchu is definitely worth the trek! We eveb saw some condors!
After lunch in Agua Calientas the somewhat slow Peru Rail train took us back to Cusco in 4.5 hours where we got booked into a very comfortable hotel with private showers and HOT water! Take away from Jacks and to bed at 8!!