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Saturday 10th April 2010

The Inca Trail

Day 1 - Km 82 to HUAYLLABAMBA

We were picked up from our hotel at 6:30am and met up with some of the other people in our group before hopping on a large bus. Our tour was a bit of a mixed bunch, everyone was pretty young and the group consisted of heaps of Argentinians, some Peruvians, some Uruguayans and an American family.

We stopped at a little village to pick up some supplies including coca leaves for the altitude, snacks and some walking poles before continuing on to the starting point. It was all a bit disorganised and we ended up having lunch before setting off on the trail at about 2pm. The first day wasn't that bad, it was a good mix of ups, downs and flats and the scenery was very pleasant. We were responsible for carrying our own clothes and sleeping gear and the rest of the stuff was carried on the backs of the team of porters who raced ahead of us on the trail. They are absolutely amazing, they carry weights of up to 40kg and literally run the trail in sandals. We arrived at the campsite at about 6pm and the porters were already there and the campsite mostly set up. It was two people per tent with a common dining tent where the meals were served. Dinner consisted of rice and meat and was delicious. We were all pretty buggered so were in bed by 9pm.

Day 2 - HUAYLLABAMBA to PACAYMAYU

We were awoken at 5am by the Porters knocking on our tent with a cup of coca tea. That stuff is awesome! It calms your stomach and allows your blood to absorb more oxygen. It seems to fix every ailment in existence!

Day 2 was touted as the toughest day and it didn't disappoint. It was about 90% uphill. Clarkey set a blistering pace and I couldn't keep up so he raced on ahead. We were now at a decent altitude so it definitely wasn't a walk in the park. I teamed up with an Argentinian and fellow engineer Santiago and together we held a decent pace with plenty of stops to take photos of the panoramic vistas. We reached the top of the Warmihuañusca Pass at an altitude of 4200m in about 3 hours. We had a bit of a rest and took in the breath taking views. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped rapidly so we continued on over the other side and it took us another hour to reach the campground. The descent to the campground was quite testing on the muscles. We arrived at the campground at about 11:30am and Clarkey had already been there for an hour. The porters starting arriving and cooked us lunch. The rest of the afternoon was allocated as free time but it started raining so we just ended up chilling in our tent which was a bit boring.

Some of the other people in our group struggled with the altitude and the terrain and didn't arrive at the campsite until 5pm. We were all hanging for dinner by this time. It was a pretty cold night in the tent.

Day 3 - PACAYMAYU to WIÑAYHUAYNA

Another 5am coca tea wake up followed by a hot breakfast and we were on our way. Day 3 was the longest distance and consisted of a mix of ups and downs and the route took us past some inca ruins which were interesting. It was raining which made the first part of the walk a little cold and miserable. We stopped for lunch and it cleared up a little which made the last part of the journey much more fun. Arrived at the last camp site at about 4pm which was quite civilized and had hot showers! Pure luxury! The porters and guides put on a massive feast and we had a few beers. It was awesome! We had a bit of a ceremony to thank the porters and everyone threw some money in a hat. Top bunch of guys and such a tough job!

Day 4 - WIÑAYHUAYNA to MACHUPICCHU

Woke up at 3:50am, packed up our gear and had breakfast in the mess hall. It was overcast and rainy as we hit the trail so our ponchos were required.

After about 2 hours we arrived at the Sun Gate which overlooks Machupicchu. Unfortunatley it was still rainy and overcast so we couldn't see a thing but we were still able to appreciate the shear magnificence of where we were. We made our way to the entrance gate and checked our bags in. As we walked back up the path, the sun came out and it was magnificent! There was some confusion as to whether Huayna Picchu (the peak overlooking Machupicchu) was open but we managed to get some tickets and ditched our tour group to climb to the top. It was a fun climb and well worth the effort as the views were absolutely amazing. We climbed back down and managed to catch up with our tour group again for the last bit of the tour. It really is an amazing place and it is so well preserved. You really do get the feeling that you are in an ancient village. Machupicchu was the religious centre of the Inca empire and you really do feel a higher force while you are there.

Desmond the kangaroo came out to play but the security guard didn't seem to see the funny side and starting blowing his whistle so we ran and hid in some ruins and deflated him. It turned in to a beautiful day so we were able to get all the photos that we wanted. Our visit to South America wouldn't have been complete without hiking the Inca Trail and seeing Machupicchu.

We got the bus to Agua Calientes and met up with the rest of the tour group at the meeting point. It's quite a nice little town and is famous for its hot springs so we went for a dip which helped sooth our sore muscles.

The trip back to Cusco was a nightmare and involved a train then two buses. The second bus driver was very intoxicated and we didn't get back until 2am and were absolutely wrecked!

The company we did the Inca Trail with is called Inca Point and I would recommend them highly - http://www.incapoint.com

Photos here:
http://www.danscapers.com/gallery/Peru




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