Happy New Year!! Or thereabouts... we still have 8 hours to go here in Cusco so I thought I'd off load my photos from Machu Picchu onto the blog as I'm running out of memory space yet again!
So I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas mine was very strange, we went out Christmas Eve and ended up in a reggae club so not my scene (just for you Soz!!) I woke on Christmas Day and opened the cards and presents that Maff delivered to me in New Zealand and the homesickness then began!! But than you for those that put pen to a card or sent me good old cadburys chocolate and lovely jewellery...We went out as a group for breakfat which was a bit of a shambles although we had pre booked the staff didn't appear to be coping very well I nearly offered to help!
We all then went to a local pub for champagne and many of us phoned home I loved speaking to you all Mum, Dad, Kim, Nan, Math, Dan and James but it made me so upset I opted to stay in the pub for the day and ended up falling asleep after at the hotel and subsequently missed Christmas lunch! It was served at 8pm and some people were in similar boats and only managed to stay ten minutes apparently I didn't miss much! To be honest I can't wait for the festive period to be over and come home right now I know I am so lucky to be out here but we all know Christmas is hometime!!
Anyway trip goes on and Machu Picchu beckoned broken toe in tow! We had boxing day to recover and pack and on the 27th we left for the Inca trail at 6am. Our first stop was a small town to purchase walking sticks, coco leaves for altitude (for the soft ones!!) and more importantly breakfast! Our coach then dropped us off at KM 82 the beginning where our passports were stamped and the trail began about 3hrs drive from Cusco.
The Inca trail is the most famous in South America if not the world. The total distance is 33km winding up and down through the valleys and mountains. Machu Picchu the lost city of the Incas is said to have been discovered by an American Historian in 1911 but our Peruvian guide thought otherwise!!
Day one was relatively easy the scenery was stunning and my toe held up well we walked about 5km up and down and camped high up on a plateau with stunning mountaious views. Some of the boys played football against the locals me and my poor toe could only watch from the sideline!!
The Inca trail is very popular and it made me realise how fortunate Av, Spooner and myself were to do Everest base camp by ourselves with just our sherpa and guide. On day 1 we trekked the Inca trail in a mass group and it was far from sublime!! The Peruvian authorities allow 500 per day including guides and porters of which we had 40! Our trek lasted 4 days so at any one day there are 2000 people on the trail! It closes in February every year for a clear up and I can understand why. There was very little rubbish but the erosion on the paths was massive.
Day 2 was much better as we were given free reign to trek, it was the hardest day crossing over dead womans pass at 4215m above sea level. Again my toe coped well and the other were amazed I was overtaking folk uphill! I was desperate for some exercise and for those that know me well I don't give up very easily!
Our porters and guides were exceptional each afternoon we reached camp our tents were set up and we had afternoon tea and snacks. We were then given rest time and then fed a gourmet evening meal... at the heights we were at we were all impressed with the service. In the mornings we were woken with hot tea inside our tents followed by a very hearty breakfast. It was very different from the lodges on the Everest trek but so worthwhile doing.
Day three was very undulating but again the weather and scenery were stunning we had rain and snow overnight but it cleared to give a beautiful sunrise for our 7am start. We crossed over two passes not quite so high as dead womans but close to 4.000m. My toe still held up downhill was hard and I was considered quite odd to enjoy the uphill more!! Our final camp was impressive fantastic moutain views and Machu Picchu was now only a few hours away. We had a well deserved cerveza another great meal and then a presentation to the porters and guides. I gave away my trekking pole to a porters child (well I said he could have it once I reached Machu Picchu!) and another one got my waterproof bottoms as he fixed my shoe!
So the final day and at 3.30am we had our wake up call from our main guide Julio who was a star. We left at 4am to reach the sungate not long after. Unfortunately we had thick fog so we trekked on down to another viewing point to see the stunning Machu Picchu ruins themselves. The weather broke perfectly leaving a few clouds to create a simply mystical feel (don't laugh Nicole!) After the group photos etc we went inside the ruins for our guided tour. The sun was so strong and we were so tired it was hard to pay attention to Julios tour but I tried to take in as much as poss! We then left for the thermal town of Aguas Calientes by bus for some well deserved soaking! A 3hr journey back by train and bus through stunning scenery once again and that was it the Inca trail complete.
I feel extremely fortunate to have done it and highly recommend it to you all trek and don't train it there beause that's simply cheating and the trek itself is a highlight. It's now New years Eve here in Cusco and we leave for Puno tomorrow where we'll visit Lake Titicaca for a couple of days before heading onto La Paz and my 27th country, Bolivia. I am looking forward to tonight but we all feel we've had long enough here in Cusco!
The plan tonight is to go local so we all have to wear yellow underwear over our clothes in the square at midnight! Not quite sure where the tradition comes from as we only found out today but I'll look into it and update you on the next blog!!
Apologies as this blog has been a bit rushed but I wanted to tie everything up before we leave Cusco at midday tomorrow with sore heads!! Thanks to you all for all your festive messages from the UK, Hong Kong, Oz and the Philippines ( I think Johno?!)
Huge congrats to Lord Kay and Zoe on your recent arrival!! TP I'm cool and your wise words were spot on! Thanks for the offer to chat you're a gem. Mum/Dad/Math/Dan I will call you tonight. Auntie Karen thanks for the mail I have now added you to my update list! Happy Belated birthdays to Paul K up in the great North, Amanda in the greater South, Happy Birthday to my Mum for the 2nd of Jan I love you! Nicole for New Years Day, Dooley for the 10th. Jen Nash for the 13th, Slim Sammy for the 14th, Paul B for the 16th, Inky for the 18th, Andrew NZ for the 27th, Sara NZ for the 28th, Chris Evans for the 30th and Davie Hicks I know you´re in there somwhere and thank god I don´t have to buy you all a card I´m runing low as it is!!! Happy Birthday guys.... Maff, Jo and Parker have a safe flight back...Congrats also to Dan PC for passing his part 2 Sergeants exam!!... I thoroughly thoroughly look forward to seeing you all in a matter of weeks now in 2008! Roll on!!
Ming see you in Cape Town in a few weeks x
Love and missing you all