A Travellerspoint blog

The Inca Trail

sunny 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

Posted by vickismith 10:28 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

The first steps

semi-overcast 18 °C

So our flight out to Lima, Peru was fairly eventful. We had a 10 hour stop over in Madrid where we went to get some tapas and had a wander round town before catching the flight across the Atlantic. Unfortunately on the landing it was extremely foggy and the pilot had to do an emergency re-ascent about 5metres from the runway. Claire took this opportunity to hold the hand of the stranger sitting next to her!

We found our hostel before venturing into the fog to explore. We were walking along the clifftop and could literally only see about 100metres in front of us, very weird. Despite Lima being the capitol of Peru, there isn't much to do there so the next day we caught our first bus to Huacachina. We were pleasantly surprised by the buses, which are modern and spacious with reclining seats, plenty of leg room and a free meal. Much nicer than the UK! Huacachina is a tiny village surrounding an oasis outside the town of Ica. The oasis is beautiful and is set into huge surrounding sand dunes- literally an oasis paradise. The weather was beautiful so we spent time lazing by the pool as well and going on a white knuckle dune-buggy trip. Our driver took us up the dunes driving at about 70mph, up and over the hills which was really fun! At the top he then took some sand-boards out of the back of the buggy- we were not prepared for this! By translating his pigeon english and our lack of spanish, we realised he wanted us to lie on our tummy's on the boards and go head first down the dunes. Needless to say we were terrified, and not convinced but after a while we trusted him and went down. Turns out it was so much fun!! We then went down bigger and bigger dunes, getting bumped and bruised along the way, but thoroughly enjoying ourselves before watching the sun set and then heading back home. Can't wait to do it again in the desert in Chile!

Next stop was a night bus to Arequipa which is known as the "white city" due to the white stone buildings and huge snow capped volcanoes looming over the city. We went to the Santa Catalina monastery here and in the evening had our first experience of the Peruvian night life. We also met a stray dog.. wearing a full button up shirt! On the final day we went to book our tickets to Cusco. Thinking it would be wise to buy these through a travel agency we headed to the plaza and found what we were looking for. Unfortunately, it wasn't until we were back in the hostel we realised that instead of a bus ticket, we only had a receipt, which wasn't going to get us onto the bus! We went back, and the man promised us the taxi would pick us up with the tickets later. We spent the entire day worrying about this, and panicking about the bus company we were travelling with- there are too many horror stories on the internet about buses being hijacked or falling off cliffs!! At 7.30pm we were tentatively waiting at the hostel entrance, and just as we were about to lose all hope and admit that we had been conned, the taxi man arrived, tickets in hand!! To say we were pleased was an understatement, we nearly hugged him! And as you can probably guess, the bus was fine, not a hijacker in sight!

So onto Cusco. This is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and inca ruins. Our first experience of the altitude involved a small hill and being very dizzy and out of breath- better take it easy for a bit! Last night we went for dinner at a little restaurant filled with locals where we had Peruvian fish and chips (fried trout with chips and rice- they always give you double carbs here!) and alpaca curry! On our way home we discovered a small crowd had gathered around a group of dancing men, dressed in traditional clothes and masks and covered in dead llamas hitting each other with whips. Actually as odd as it sounds. We later found out they were practising for the summer solstice and it was some sort of religious ceremony. Most odd.

So that's our story so far. We are doing the Inca Trail hike next week so wish us luck and we will update you all soon,
Love of love
Vicki and Claire

Posted by vickismith 12:19 Archived in Peru Comments (2)

Good Old Blighty

overcast 9 °C

So its 4 weeks before the adventure begins and to be honest I'm a bit impatient to get started! Flights are booked and paid for, travel jabs have been had and notices have been handed into work. And now the travel blog has begun. Testing testing 1 2 3.. Excellent. Speak to you on our departure.
Vicki x

Posted by vickismith 19:52 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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