Hello from Cuzco! We arrived here late at night, our bus journey into town wasn`t great but our hostel was lovely, like a family run hotel, it was really cozy and their 3 month old puppy was really cute! We spent a couple of days there relaxing and then headed out to start the inca trail.
There were 11 people in our group, the others were all part of a 7 week organised tour so they all knew each other. They all spoke English which was good, some of the guys were a bit macho, one of the young kiwi guys insisted on walking bare foot and being the fastest but generally they were all really nice. The first day was an easy walk and very scenic by the Urubamba river with the Veronica snow capped mountains in the background. We saw some small ruins, lots of donkeys and llamas and tried cactus fruit on the way. We did one steeper uphill climb but generally it was just a nice day of walking. Our tents were good and we stayed in a little family campsite that night. The food was good too, we even got afternoon tea with biscuits and then a big dinner.
The second day was the toughest, we climbed from 3000m to 4200m in a few hours to go through dead woman`s pass, the first of 3 passes. The first 2 thirds were through rainforest so there were streams by the path and it was a bit cooler. After that the trail opened out along the side of a bare mountain. There were lots of steps and it was quite steep, chewing coca leaves helped a bit but we were glad to make it to the top where we had a nice view of the valley and the cloud forest on the other side. From the top we went down 600m to the camp. Our knees were glad when we reached the bottom, at the camp we got straight into the stream to cool our feet down. The water was cold but very refreshing! Unfortunately that night Sean was really ill. It was the worst night as the toilets were far away and basic to say the least, and as it was the highest night it was also very cold.
In the morning we spoke to Santiago our guide, we didn`t have any other choice but to walk to the next place so he got a couple of the porters, Charlie and Adrian to walk with us and carry Sean`s bag. They were really friendly, it helped to have them with us. That day was the longest so it was hard going and it started with a climb to the second pass. After that it flattened out but there was a steep drop by the side of the path and lots of cloud forest so we still had to concentrate, we went through some inca tunnels carved in the rock and then up to the third pass. When we finally reached the last campsite we were exhausted and Sean was really weak but we still managed the extra little trip to Winay Wayna, the mini machu picchu. It was an impressive sight with lots of semi circle terraces on a big hill so we were glad we went along. The whole day had been the prettiest with several little ruins and lots of hummingbirds and orchids along the way, but really we were just glad to have made it to the camp. Sean was amazing, I don't know how he kept going!
We got some good sleep that night luckily. We paid for a bed in the little hostel instead of sleeping in the tent and it was definitely worth it as you had to pay for a shower anyway and we got that included with the 3 pound bed. The tents were on a big slope and it rained in the night too so we were definitely better off in the beds.
On the last day we got up at 3.30am, had some toast and went to the check point to wait for the gate to open at 5.30. We were the first group through and we ran in the dark with our torches along the rocky path to the sun gate, it was tiring but very exciting. We climbed up the steps at the end using our hands as it was really steep and then the path opened out to the sun gate and our first view of machu picchu through the misty morning clouds. It was amazing, it`s not the traditional view, that came later, but it was my favourite moment as we were on our own and it felt really special. I just couldn`t believe we`d made it!
We walked down to the picture postcard spot, we were a bit disappointed that tourists had been let in by bus from Aguas Calientes, we thought we might have the sight to ourselves, but it was still amazing. It was much greener than I expected and the birds singing made the atmosphere nice and peaceful.
We had a tour of the sight for a couple of hours, they don`t think the Spanish reached Machu Picchu which is why it`s so in tact and you can still see elements of inca sun worship. After the tour we went to see the inca bridge and then found a quiet spot on one of the terraces for a much needed snooze. When we moved from there the tourist trains had arrived so the whole place was packed. It didn`t feel as special like that so we decided it was time to leave. The trail was amazing, we were so pleased to have done it.
After that we spent a day in Aguas Calientes and then went back to Cusco to recover. Sean saw a doctor and it turns out he had salmonella and a parasite called giardia, not ideal on the inca trail but it makes it even more of an achievement. He got lots of antibiotics, rested a lot in the hostel and was on the mend quite quickly... ready for some more adventures!
Love Vicky xxx