. Julian also had his moments of being either annoying or quite funny. He had in a bag an Oxygen bottle and mask which he said was a gun (or gum as he called it) in case of pumas, and when ever we caught up with him he would say here come the Champions Champions! (We're not acually sure he was saying champions or champinones - mushrooms!) The trek so far was fairly loose under foot and went up and down with some fairly steep bits. It wasn't long into the walk when the red army (our porters) marched past to get our lunch stop prepared. Lunch was served around 12.30 in a very civilized manor in a partitioned off tent with us and Julian on one side and the cook and porters on the other. We had Avocado with a nice spicy tomato drizzle and garlic bread followed by Asparagus soup finished off with Trout and vegetables. All this off a small gas stove that the porters had to lug around with all the tents and other gear. After lunch we had a half hour rest whilst the porters had their lunch and then packed up the gear ready to move on to this evenings campsite. We had a few more hours walking up increasingly steeper hills until we reached our camp site and the usual applause from the porters who were getting some hot water ready for us to have a wash before dinner. Dinner was veg soup followed by spag bol Peru style a desert that was a very strong alcohol flamed banana. After dinner we headed off to bed.
Day 2 (the long hard one) we got woken around 5.30am with a cup of tea in bed & breakfast was served at 6 which was porridge, fruit salad and a pancake
. There were rolls too but we were full. We left camp at 6.45 after the intro ceremony where we found out the porters names etc. The first 4 hrs was a long slog uphill to dead woman's pass (the highest part of the trail) lunch was served after a two hour steep downhill walk where we saw a huge condor souring above on the thermals. We had broccolli covered with cheese and tomato, followed by carrot soup with chicken and chips & incan rice (like couscous). The next few hours were spent climbing up another mountain to some ruins on the way to camp. at the top we also saw a humming bird and Kali Kali bird. The 2 hour walk down was a bit tricky as the clouds were coming in and there were a few rumbles of thunder. We made it to camp ok a little late but dry. After a nice warm wash and foot soak we had dinner which was, veg soup followed by chicken leg, veg and pasta, finishing with chocolate pudding (not a pudding as such but liquid chocolate). After dinner we were soon "vamos a la cama" as it had been a long hard day.
Day 3 of the slog. Got a lie-in this morning (6.30) had breakfast and on the trail by 7.30. Breakfast this morning was omelete, rolls and jungle potato and banana. As we were in cloud forest it was a pretty misty start but the sky's got clearer as we went higher and by the time we came back down again. Once we got some, the views were fantastic and it wasn't long before our first glimpse of Machu Picchu mountain
. After a lot more steep steps down we arrived at camp for lunch, which is also where we would be spending the night, so we had the afternoon free with a couple of ruins to see. Lunch was tuna topped with cheese, soup and beef steak and chips. Dinner was at 6.30 with pasta soup, chicken and beef with rice that had a condor made from cucumber, and jelly for dessert. We then had the formalities of thanking our porters for their hard work and the giving of the tip, which as there was only 2 of us wasn't as much as they're used to but they seemed happy.
The big day has arrived and guess what, it's raining! We were up at 3.20am breakfast at 3.50 and the porters had the tent and gear all packed away by 4.30. At 5.15 we headed to the control gate to walk the last 2hrs to Machu Picchu. When we reached the sun gate it was still raining quite hard so we couldn't see much but as the clouds moved we got glimpses of the mountains and ruins, it was actually quite mystical. When we got down to the ruins Julian gave us a quick but intensive tour of the city then left us to do our own thing. The rain finally stopped and we spent a few more hours wandering around this amazing feat of workmanship, how they did it all is unbelievable. By midday we were both tired and caught the bus down the windy road to Aguas Calientes to find a room for the night. Aquas Calientes is not very big but full of restaurants and waiters trying to coax you in for dinner
. We found a basic room for 40 sols then headed to the train station to try and change our train to an earlier one around 2 or 3pm as ours wasn't until 7pm the next day, only to be told that they were full. However later we bumped into a chap who we saw at the Llama Path office and he said he managed to change his train to the one in the morning, so we went back to the station and managed to change the train to 9.22am result! We then had dinner and watched some local children playing volleyball where the girls were hammering the boys! We got an early night after playing cards.
Got up around 7.30 and got some breakfast at the local market, fried egg in a bun. We then packed our bags and headed to the station for our train to Ollantaytambo. It was still cloudy but the views from the train were pretty good, the train followed the river surrounded by mountains. The journey took just over 2hrs and kept stopping here and there as there was only one rail with passing places for trains coming the other way. Once in Ollantaytambo we boarded a minibus for the one and a half hour journey back to Cuzco. We sat at the back as there was nothing else, Cat got the window and I got to sit next to a two ton tessy local and a whingeing child that didn't stop for most of the way. We got back back to Cuzco and checked back into the HI hostel where we were staying before, this time in a room upstairs. After some lunch we headed to the Llama Path office to hand in our duffel bags and let them know that they didn't have to collect us from Ollantaytambo. They asked how the trek went and any feedback to which we said that the porters were fantastic but the guide could have done more to stay with us but overall we were happy with the service we received. We then had a chilled few hours had dinner then off to bed.
The day of the Inca trail has arrived, even if very early with a 4.15am collection that was 30 min's late due to bus troubles. We got on the bus to a round of applause from the porters then got ourselves comfy on the bus and stretched out, (well we did get it all to ourselves, 6 porters and the guide). Then there was a bit more fannying around in town as they had to wait for some money for diesel. Why they couldn't have done that first and picked us up later I don't know! Anyhow after a 2 hour journey we arrived in Ollantaytambo Kilometer 82 where we start our 45k Inca trail trek. Once we got through all the formalities of tickets and passports (yes they do have to check them) being stamped we were on our way. Julian our guide got straight into his stride and was off, I thought he was supposed to stay close but it became clear that we were on our own for the most part. We just set our own pace and he stopped now and then for us to catch up when he had anything interesting to say. I have to say that he is very passionate about Incan history as he is a history teacher when not trekking the local mountains