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Inca trail to Machu Pichu

18 °C

IMG_20191108_130952__01.jpgIMG_20191109_092237__01.jpgIMG_20191108_114102__01.jpgIMG_20191108_121030__01__01__01.jpgIMG_20191109_071129__01.jpgIMG_20191109_124141__01.jpgIMG_20191108_110725__01__01__01.jpgIMG_20191108_100700__01__01__01.jpgIMG_20191109_103118__01.jpgIMG_20191110_133520__01.jpgIMG_20191110_120352__01.jpgIMG_20191110_162638__01.jpgIMG_20191109_054529__01.jpgIMG_20191108_105326__01.jpgIMG_20191110_125823__01.jpgIMG_20191110_070728__01.jpgIMG_20191109_133843__01.jpgIMG_20191110_084201__01.jpgIMG_20191109_134102__01__01.jpgIMG_20191108_091048__01.jpgIMG_20191109_150514__01.jpgIMG_20191108_132026__01.jpgIMG_20191110_092904__01.jpgIMG_20191110_064412__01.jpgIMG_20191110_144533__01.jpgIMG_20191110_081403__01.jpgIMG_20191111_095645__01.jpgIMG_20191111_074250__01.jpgIMG_20191110_164509__01.jpgIMG_20191111_050036__01.jpgIMG_20191111_063750__01.jpg20191113_082607.jpgIMG_20191111_074645__01__01.jpg20191113_201628.jpg20191113_201720.jpgIMG_20191111_114820__01.jpgFriday morning we were up at 5am for a quick breakfast before getting on the bus at 5:45 and setting off on our tour. Needless to say it was too early for pancake balls but I did get avocado on toast which was pretty good. The bus picked up some more people from up the road and all up we had 14 people doing the tour with Jose as our guide.
The bus journey was a bit nerve racking as it maneuvered around mountains and cliffs on some pretty thin roads. One stretch in particular was insane as buses and trucks coming the other way had to reverse a bit and then try get past us without toppling down the hill. It was nuts.
We stopped at a shop after a couple hours where Dad got a good hiking pole for only 8USD, bargain. His knees were thanking him later. We then continued on to the start or the Inca trail where there were about 10 other groups. We had get a ticket and show our passports at the gate as it's strictly controlled that only about 180 tour participants can start the tour each day.
The first couple hours of the hike it was quite sunny and I was thankful for my sunscreen. Apparently this area has one of the highest UV ratings in the world so it's pretty easy to get burnt. The hike wasn't too bad as they ease you into it on the first day. There was heaps of chances to stop and look around and amazing views for photos. We stopped for lunch around 1pm and were treated to a sit down lunch the cook had prepared for us. The porters and cooks are amazing at setting the big tent up, carrying heaps of our stuff as well as preparing all our food and water. We just have to carry our daypacks.
The walk after lunch to our camp for the night took a couple hours but wasn't too challenging.  Sure enough the porters had packed up from lunch and then rushed past us to have all our tents set up for when we got there. The awkward thing is that they clap us when we arrive, I felt it was a pretty undeserved clap given what they'd done. We had some pre dinner snacks of popcorn and hot chocolates which was a bit odd but I went with it. Dinner of veggie soup and fish was pretty good and after a briefing of tomorrow's plans we headed to bed before 8pm.

We were up early again Saturday at around 5am in preparation for the hardest day of the trek. They bring a cocoa leaf tea into the tent each morning to help get you motivated. Dad particularly needed the tea to warm up as it turned out his +5 degree rated sleeping bag didnt cut it and he had to sleep in all his clothes not to freeze. If only i'd suggested to get a warmer sleeping bag months ago, haha. After breaky we set off on our hike which involved an incredible amount of stairs. We were going from 3000m altitude at camp to over 4200m at the summit where we'd stop for a break before lunch. Despite acclimatising pretty well to the altitude it was still genuinely hard to breathe going upstairs for hours on end. After the summit we headed down the mountain a bit for a lighter lunch as you shouldn't eat too much at high altitude. Despite feeling pretty sore from the climbing we then had a couple hours going downstairs which was harder on the legs but the nice bonus was you could actually breathe and even have a chat to people. We arrived into camp around 4pm and had a well deserved rest. Later on we had some pre dinner snacks and then dinner. Some of the crew had bought some rum from a pop up stand on the mountain which they enjoyed at night but Dad and I avoided it as we didn't want to jinx our good acclimatising to the altitude. I found it funny that the same little stand up the  mountain sold cigarettes. I'm pretty sure my lungs were struggling enough without adding a pack of gaspers into the mix. Another early night in bed by 8pm as it's another big day tomorrow.

Another day, another 5am wake up and once we had our tea and breaky we were off. Today we were walking 16km which is the longest day but not as much uphill as yesterday. Despite it not being as brutal as yesterday it was still surprisingly difficult as there was a fair bit of steep uphill and steep downhill. We had a break after a couple hours and i had a Peruvian passionfruit which was as big as an apple. They taste a little different but are still delicious. After a few more hours walking we had an awesome lunch of soup, thin strips of beef, veggies and chips. Amazing how the cooks can prepare it all while they're up a mountain. The weather started getting quite windy and rainy while we were in the big tent having lunch and it almost felt like it was going to blow over at one stage. We were a bit nervous to start hiking again but once we did the rain wasn't too bad and considering the weather had been pretty good overall we didn't mind. We explored some Inca ruins along the way which was interesting and a great spot to get photos from. The last 3 hours of hiking before we got to camp was the best scenery yet. It was through the Cloud forest which looks like a rainforest but you're up on a mountain looking across to other mountains and with fog in the sky which all added to the aesthetic. It was spectacular. Unfortunately Dad's old hiking boots didn't survive this part of the trek as one of the soles fell off. If only i'd suggested to him to get new shoes a few months ago, haha. We got into camp around 4pm again and I went for a shower for the first time as this was our first chance. It was cold and not the best facilities as you'd expect but it was still nice to get a bit cleaner. Dinner was delicious soup, chicken, veggies and quinoa and small apple pies for dessert. Definitely the best food day so far. We then thanked our porters as most were heading off and we gave them tips. They'd definitely earnt it but it would be nice if the tour company also paid them a bit better and didn't just rely on us topping up their income.
Another early night as tomorrow we're off to Machu Pichu.

On monday we finally deviated from the normal 5am wake up, unfortunately it went the wrong way and we had to be up at 3:30am. Not even time for breaky today as we had to walk 5 minutes to get in line for the opening of the last section of the trail which occurs at 5:30am. Getting ready was a struggle as it was dark and raining and we were pretty stiff, sore and tired. Our group  was one of the first in line and ate our packed breaky and chatted while waiting. Once we were through the checkpoint we still had another 6km to walk to the sun gate where you can sometimes see Machu Pichu. Unfortunately the cloud and fog cover obstructed the view so we headed onto the classic spot where people get pictures from. The cloud cleared up and we got a few good pictures before being allowed to explore the upper part of Machu Pichu. After a coffee at the cafe we headed onto the main part of Machu Pichu and had a guided tour from Jose who had been our main guide on the whole trek. Despite lightly raining throughout the tour it was spectular to see the amazing Inca city up close. We even learnt a few interesting things about the history of it like how when the Spanish invaded in the early 16th century the Inca's destroyed the trails to protect the city even though the city's roughly 1000 inhabitants had left. The city sat uncovered for over 350 years before an American rediscovered it in the early 20th century.
We then caught a bus down the hill to a small tourist town where we had lunch as a group which was really nice. A 1.5 hour train ride and a 2.5 hour bus ride then had us back at Cusco at 6:45pm. We were pretty rushed as I raced up to the nearby laundromat to see if they could get our laundry done by 9pm and Dad headed into town for shoe and sleeping bag shopping as we were heading off to Patagonia for more hiking at 4am the next morning. I also had to run into town to get money out to pay the hotel as their eftpos machine wasn't working.
Amazingly we achieved all this, got cleaned up and met the rest of the gang at the UFO Asian restaurant as they were going there on my recommendation. We wanted to see the group one last time before we parted ways. I got the ramen with chicken this time which was excellent. The group enjoyed the food and also marvelled at the terrible pranks on tv as the 'Just for Laughs' show was on again. After dinner we headed to bed.
I really enjoyed the experience of hiking the Inca trail and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. It was also great to share the experience with Dad. We were also mindful of the fact that it's the group that can make or break the trip on a tour like this and we were thankful we had an awesome group that provided plenty of laughs and support along the way. Aside from one cranky old female sociopath from the UK who made life difficult for everyone and was genuinely unsafe when walking near cliff faces we couldn't have hoped for a better group. Even the troublemaker certainly made the trip even more memorable.

Posted by KevinandErin 16:45 Archived in Peru

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