04.05.2012 20 °C
Since we last updated, we have completed the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Last sunday we started our tour with a trip to the Sacred Valley. We met our tour guide Effy and our assistant guide Edith and our group which consisted of two American girls, and Aussie couple on their honeymoon, a Norwegian couple on their gap year and an older couple from Denmark. We went to visit some small villages in the valley with markets to look around selling locally made alpacca and llama woven goods. Effy showed us how to tell the different between the two and explained to us how they dye the wool using plants and herbs and how they then weave it into blankets and clothes. In the afternoon we went to see our first Inca site at Pisac.
On the monday we began the hike. Our group consisted of our two tour guides, 14 porters and two chefs. We were each given a duffel bag, in which we could put in 6kg of our personal belongings that the porters would carry, whilst we carried our day packs and water. New rules state that the porters can only carry 25kg each (which considering our bags for the entire year away are only 15kg is a little ridiculous!) including food, tents, table and chairs, toilet, waste and rubbish produced on the trip, duffel bags. When we started hiking the porters have to walk quicker than us, because at each lunch stop or evening camping spot, they must have set up the tents and cooked our meal before we arrive. It was mad seeing them running past us carrying such huge bags just so they can cook for us. It made us glad that we had booked with a reputable company who look after their porters properly. For each meal we had at least two courses (including breakfast!) and three courses for dinner, as well as afternoon tea! The food was amazing, better than we could have cooked at home, and they even made us a cake on the last night.. how they made it without an oven is a mystery!
As for the actual hiking, it was pretty hard going. The first day was extrememly hot and we all struggled with the uphill bits. Unfortunately Claire pulled a muscle in her leg so found the large inca steps very hard work! She did amazingly though and powered on through! The second day was mostly uphill, reaching an altitude of 4200metres above sea level, which made breathing very tricky, and we could all feel how thin the air was, having to stop for breaks every few steps! When we made it to the top, it was an amazing feeling, only to be dampened literally as the rain started to fall just before we got to the camp site. Day three was beautiful, walking though the edges of the amazon jungle and the "cloud forest" with amazing views, caves and waterfalls. Another two high passes on this day stretched our legs even further but we all made it to the last camp site in one piece! On the final day we got woken up at the unearthly hour of 3.30am to queue for the checkpoint into Machu Picchu. One hours walk and we reached the Sun Gate, where we should have got the first views of Machu Picchu. Unfortunately us and 200 other hikers sat in the fog for an hour with no views to be seen. As everyone left, we sat patiently, determined to see something, but after another 30 minutes we gave up and began our descent. Just as we started walking the weather rewarded us for our patience and the fog cleared, with incredible views of Huayana Picchu mountain and the famous Inca site!
After this our spirits were high and we walked another hour down into the Inca site. Effy gave us a guided tour, which was fascinating but before long the magic of the place had worn off as thousands of tourists descended from the train. We decided to leave and have our final meal as a team in a local retaurant before getting the train and bus back to Cusco. It was an challenging and tiring week but was totally worth it when the fog cleared! Hope all at home are safe and happy. Lots of love, speak to you from Bolivia,
Vicki and Claire x