We left Cuzco on saturday 12th and headed for Ollantaytambo, a small village just before the Inka treck starting point, Km82. We visited a couple of Inka ruins that day, the first one in Pisco and the other one in Ollantaytambo. The Inkas really liked their hills!! It was some hike up to both ruins, its amazing how they built the houses and temples. They moved stones from miles away to the sites just like the Egyptians did for the pyramids.
We spent the night in Ollantaytambo and rested before getting up early for the start of the Inka Trail the next day.
Day 1 of the treck - The easy day
We had packed a duffle bag the night before with the clothes we would need for the treck, it had to weigh no more than 6 kg as the porters would be carrying these bags. All we had to carry was our day bags containing water and cameras.
We drove to Km82, the starting point of the treck. It was busy with people eager to start and porters getting ready to carry 25kg each!! (they used to have to carry 70kg each until new regulations came in a couple of years ago) I dont know how they did it, my back pack was enough!!
There were 13 people in our group doing the treck, 19 porters to carry everything, 2 chefs, 1 tour leader and 1 assistant tour leader.
We waited in line to get our passsports stamped and to be granted entry to the national park then had a group photo taken under the Km82 sign. After that we were off....the scenery was stunning, we were surrounded by beautiful moutains some of which were snow capped, a large river flowing alongside the path and only a few local houses spread out. It felt good to be there and walking on the path that would lead us to a place we have wanted to see for so long.
We walked 12km that first day, stopping for lunch by the river after a few hours of walking. It was easy going, quite flat to start with which was good. When we arrived for lunch all the porters clapped which was quite embarrasing, especially considering they had practically ran up the path to the lunch spot and set up for lunch.
After lunch the treck was a little more touch, some big uphill parts but nothing that put me off.
I saw my first ever tarantula along the way....it was dead and being carried off by some huge flying insect. It wasnt that big...big enough though!! Im just glad it was already dead and not running around.
We arrived at our campsite at around 4pm (again more clapping) got washed up and had afternoon tea then dinner an hour later. The tent was quite cosy and we had some view...mountains every way we looked. The sky lite up when it got dark, I have never seen so many stars in my life and they were so clear, it was beautiful.
Day 2 of the treck - Dead womans pass (the day everyone dreaded)
We got up early, around 6am for breakfast and then off. I hadnt slept to well, my tummy had been a little sore and iffy plus as we were on a slight hill I kept slidding down the tent and ending up in a ball at the bottom!
This was the day everyone warned about, saying it was really tough. 4 hours solid uphill then 2 hours down steep steps. We only walked 9km this day but it was literally straight up a mountain. We climbed about 1,200 meters in those 4 hours...it was absolute hell!! It started off ok then got really steep. At one point we were looking at a wall of giant steps, I just about gave in saying there is no way I will make it up there. I so wanted to hijack a donkey! I couldnt believe that the porters just plodded along at their usual fast pace, the sweat was lashing off them as they carried there huge bags on their backs, but one by one they just kept passing us.
Finally after hours of pain, sweat and stoppigng every 10mins to catch your breath, we made it to the top of dead womans pass. I have never been more relieved to get somewhere in my life. Dad, Uncle Bill and Fraser...you aint climbed anything!! :p I kept thinking of all of you while I was walking and thought you guys would have loved it. It was hard going but the views were amazing and the sense of achievement when we reached the top was great.
We rested for a while before heading straight down the other side!! I was a bit annoyed at having suffered that just to head back down again! I thought going down would be a breeze...nope....it was steep stairs all the way. Our legs were shaking by the end of it and our knees were killing. I was so happy to reach the camp site and lie down. I didnt even bother having dinner that night, I just washed, rubbed deep heat into my legs which were agony and went to sleep. Best nights sleep Ive ever had!!´
Day 3 of the treck - Supposed to be easy, mainly down hill and through the cloud forrest.
My legs were so stiff in the morning and another full day of trecking was the last thing I felt like doing but I had no choice. Today was supposed to be easy, a little bit of up with a little bit of down. Nope...they took us straight up another moutain!! Not as steep as the day before and not for as long but it was no walk in the park. It was beautiful when we reach the top though, we could now see the cloud forrest below (part of the Amazon, its called a cloud forrest because its always cloudy) At the top we saw a humming bird fliting in and out of a tree, I tried to get a photo but it was a bit too far away.
From the top we had the dreaded steep stairs down into the forrest. We visited another Inka ruin along the way then headed up again to the meeting point for lunch.
After lunch we walked through the cloud forrest up over the moutains, at one point we were walking at the top looking down on the forrest. It was amazing, really pretty. We walked up 2 more high passes (not that bad, more my kind of walking) and came out on what seemed like the top of the world. It was absolutly stunning, we could see moutains for miles around us. It was the prettiest spot I have ever been to and it felt so good to have walked there.
Then it was all down hill again!! Never ending steep steps...some that were really close to the edge of the mountain. One wrong move and you would have been a gonner! I was terrified of slipping or falling but the porters didnt seem to care, they ran down the steps...I couldnt watch, I was sure one of them were going to go over.
As we approached the last campsite it started to thunder, we made it just in time before it started to rain.
At this site there was a lodge (wooden hut) where you could have a shower, a beer or a massage if you wanted. We all opted for the shower as we hadnt had one in 3 days!!
Then more deep heat, dinner and off to bed. We had walked about 16km this day.
Day 4 of the treck - the day we had all been waiting for.
We got up at 3am that morning to make sure we were first in line to get trough the gate and onto the last part of the treck to the sun gate and Machu Picchu. The gates opened at 5.30am but people got there really early to be first in. We were first,closley followed by another group. By 5.30 it was really busy with people eager to get on the path to Machu Picchu.
The last part of the treck was about an hour long (4km) to the sun gate. When we arrived and looked down we could see Machu Picchu far below sitting between the mountains, it looked tiny from where we were but I was still amazed that we had made it. We were amongst the first 20 people of 500 to arrive at the sun gate and get our first glimps of the famous site. We were finally there, after 3 days of hard work and a lot of pain,and years of wanting to see it face to face. I felt quite emotionally and really proud that we had done it. We took some photos and waited on the rest of the group before heading down to get a better look. The closer we got the more excited we felt, it was massive and really breathtaking. It felt amazing to be there and even more so because we had walked all that way to get there, not just turn up on the bus like some lazy people. We felt like we had earnt it more than them. It just felt really powerful.
We took lots of photos then had a guided tour around the site taking it all in. Machu Picchu was built by the Inkas in the 1500s and was only discovered in 1911 by an American man. The site was thought to be a city for around 700 people, different parts for different classes. Most of the remains found in the site were female, around 60%. There were many sacrafices made using females.
It was an amazing experience, one I will ever forget. It truely was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The treck was hard going but worth every bit of pain and soo rewarding in the end.