The Trek - Part 1
Trip Start May 12, 2007
22Trip End Jul 14, 2007
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We got up early as we had been told to be ready by 8.30am for collection. Noone turned up, but the company in Lima did phone the hostel and tell me i was very rude because i had roganised to go through a different company. Well......this was breaking point, this compnay had refused to contact me, constantly asked for money in advance (which it turned out they did sod all with as nohting was booked for us) and we met everyone they told us to and did what we were told and then We get accused of being rude! The audacity. After this phone call the guy Ariel went back to check his facts and funnily enough i didnt hear from him again. Eventually people from the Cusco company turned up, and said we werent going to leave until 11amdue to the confusion in Lima (great coordination of companies eh). So we killed some time until then picking up some extra bits we needed for the trek. When we returned at 11am we were told we were leaving at 1pm and got sent off for lunch. We finally left around 2pm and arrived in a town called Cachora around 5pm, having supposed to be there at 11am to start walking. We camped in Cachora, and we were pleased to see at least that we had brand new camping gear, and we didnt have to set it up at all. Our cook made us popcorn while we waitd for dinner, then we had a soup and a rice and meat meal. This set th standard for the food over the few days, which i have to say was excellent. Whilst eating we chatted to our guide henry who has pretty good english, and seems very sweet. He was very pleased to be able to return to Choquequirao as he did his project there to graduate as a tour guide. he lived up with the contollers for a month so has good friends up there. He said more had been uncovered since the last time he was there six months ago. It made us very excited about getting there.
Monday 23rd July
The first offical day of the trek. We walked 24km in total on this day. The first two hours were relatively easy and flat. we then had 3 hours steep downhill walking before we stopped for lunch down next to th river in the valley floor. The scenery was unbelivabl. Literally, it looked like a backdrop or blue screen. We could see snow capped mountains, massive green mountains, and a river gusinh below. Spectacular. The next stage meant climbing up the other side of the valley. So after lunch we climbed for 2 hours more. It was in the heat of the sun and very steep uphill. Very hard work. Th day wa espcially hard as we had to fit 2 days walking into on due to the screw-up yesterday. Thankfully we had had panckaes for breakfast plus a big lunch plus snacks to keep our nergy levels up. We camped in a place called Santa Rosa. We both had washes in a freezing cold stream running down th mountain and i even managed to wash my hair which i was impressed with. It was this night we first started getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. Lovely! During dinner Henry palyed all the 80 rock music he had on his MP3 playes through his mini speakers. Was good fun.
Tuesday 24th July
Sorry for the nastiness of the next part but i was up several times in the night with very bad stomach (if you kno what i mean). It was particularly charming givn the nature of the toilet facilities. An 'Inca toilet' ie a hole. Upon getting up was no better.i felt very sick and couldnt eat. This made the next 2 hour climb very tough as i had no energy. Having an upset stomach on the side of a mountain is no fun either i have to tell you. We were slower than we should hav been as a result. I really feel for poor Dave who had to ndure my moaning for those 2 hours when im sure he would hav just liked to hav got himself up that mountain as quickly as possible. He was grat though, very patient and understanding. We reached a plateau at Marampata and from there the 1.5hour walk was much more plasnt but still with is steep ups and downs. We got fanatstic view of the ruins as we kirted round the edges of mountainsides. We were supposed to have arrived mid morning to have th whole day at the Choquequirao ruins, however i slowed us up and we didnt reach the Choquequirao campsite until around midday and Henry told me to sleep. Again i couldnt manage my lunch, but out of concern the chef made me camomil tea with fresh camomile to try and help. After another rest we cloimbed the half hour to the ruins. The climb wasnt too bad, but i struggled terribly. We arrived at Choquequirao which means 'Golden Wall' in quetchua (inca) language. Choquequirao is said to be the lost city of the incas as it is where they escaped to when the Spanish invaded in 1532. This was when they started building the site, it did not exisit before (whereas Machu Picchu was built in 1476) .The ruins looked beautiful, espcially in the late afternoon sun and the surroundings and the silenc made it even more spectacular. We walked around the main body of the site where we saw soldies quarters and a factory where womn made the soldiers clothes. There were few buildings as it appears that the majority of inhabitants were soldiers, to protect the city from spaniards. There were also preiests, the Inca (king), his Inca Princess (usually his sister - yes they bred within the same bloodline) his virgins of the sun, and a few women to work. There were not many average womnn due to the tough conditions to get there from Machu Picchu. We then climbed down to see some terraces uncovered in th last two months which have patterns of Llamas made out of quartz. Quuite incredible, but also a little hairy, jutting out of the mountainside. There was a viewing platofrm we could walk to but i couldnt manage it so we went back up to the main area again. We climbed the circular tower where the priest used to perform sacrifical rituals and preict the future. Only h was allowd up there, even th king had to ask the priest for permission to go up there. After this i started to flag, and Henry seemed quite concerned about me and said that other guides at the campsite had been too. He startd to discuss other options for the trek as the next day was due to be a very steep hard climb for 7 hours. We had dinner, which again i couldnt eat, and this time the chef made me fresh mint tea, bless him. We sat in the controllers hut for dinner as they knew henry and again listned to his music. We discussed options and based on how i was feeling we decided that rather than continue ou trek through the mountains we would go back the way we came (meaning we would do the traditional Choququirao trek) and join it on to another trek to get to Machu Picchu. It also meant we could spend more time at the ruins th next day as I hadnt appreciated it at all. I carshed out after dinner.
Wednesday 25th July
I woke up feeling slightly better but my appetite still hadnt retunrd fully. I did manage to struggle down som tasty pancake though, along with some celery tea which was also supposed to help my stomach. Lol. We dcided for definite not to do the the mountain trek as firstly we didnt feel we had seen enough of th ruins, and secondly, once you start that trek there is no turning back and no civilisation for 3 days. I felt very bad as I knew Dave had really wanted to do that to push himslf and reach the 5200m, but again, he was great about it. After brakfast we walked up to Choququirao again and it didnt seem so hard today. The sun was still rising and the site looked even more beautiful than yesterday. We climbd up t another lookout where there is a natural spring and where th priest and king lived. We saw the area where the Virgins of the sun bathed. These were 10 girls sleceted as being the most beautiful girls in a town t about the age of 8 and spend thir whol lives worshipping the sun god. At some point they may be given as a gift as a wive to the ruler of a town who allies with an Inca city, nobles, or for the king himslef if there is no Inca Princess. Originally the word Inca referred only to the king which i didnt realise but has become coloquialised as a term for the people who were actually Quetchuas. In cusco qutchua is still the main lnguga ethat is spokn. Interesting eh?! We then went back downto see the Llamas (on the wall). It was a steep climb down for 20 mins and this time we went out to the viwing platform and boy was it worth it. In total there were 20 terraces with 21 llamas, and one tiny frmer made of quartz, a spectacualr site, again made better by th dramtic scenery around. As most of these have only ben uncovered inm last 2 months (and platform only been there 2 months) we were seeing things that very very few peopl have which was very exciting. We then climbed back up to the main square, tooik more picturs and walked out to th site which was where th contollers of the city had lived and stored supplies etc. We then went back to the campsite for lunch, and more funny tea. Then had siesta. We decided Henry probably was glad of more time there with hsi friends which is why we had breaks etc. We got trated well beacuse h knew them though, being able to eat inside with elctricity rather than by torchlight in a tent like other groups. After lunch we climbed a very steep climb down to the agricultural terracs which were HUGE. There was also a water temple down there. The sheer size of the terraces leads one to believe that thre must have been more peopl living there firstly to tend them and secondly to eat all the food grown there. Therefore it is assumed there are lots of buildings still lying undiscoverd under the blanket of forest. Whilst down thre w could see workers xcavating other parts of the terracs which was fascinating. Very steep climb back up to campsite (located halfway between terraces and main ruins). On the way back up we saw a clearing that looked like a football field, and laughed about the problems if the ball got kicked too hard ie would fall 1000m down a cliff. On getting back to the campsite me and Dave were presented with new walkign sticks by th contilles. They saw we had been walking with rubbish bent sticks (as having a stick was a great help on step slopes), and they had cut and sanded down sticks for us and sharpened the end to dig in the ground. They had mad a littl light one for me anda havier mor solid on for D. Was really sweet. We then did th 1.5 hour walk back to Marampata, it was very plasant. Although i hadnt flt on top of th world it was a fantastic day, really enjoyable with mazing views and the chance to experience some real history. While we were eating that evening one of henrys controller friends dropped in. He had receivd news over the radio of a family mergency and was walking through the night to get back to Cachora. Whilst there he mentioned the football pitch, and said it was used by the workers excavating the site. They playd with 40 people. Two teams of five and 30 people making sure the ball didnt go over the edge. This really tickled us having laughed about it earlier.
Thursday 26th July
We were allowed a bit of a lie in this day, until 8am! This day wasnt too hard, it was consistent walking but it was all downhill tp start. On hour to Sanata Rosa, a furthe hour down to Playa (by the river where we had lunch th first day) and then one and a half hours up to Chiquisca. We had lunch here ( a delicious betroot salad) befor walking on more hour up to th campsite. This mean that the mornigs walking would be a bit asier. The climbs today wer quit tough but the weather was cloudy ad so it was quit cool. It was a relaivly enjoyable day of exerice, we were definitely gtting mor used to it by now, and aching much less. The scenery was not to spectacualr today as it was obscured by cloud, bu as i said this made the walkin easier. We arrivd realtively early at the campsite so had a long time to relax. Was starting to feel dirty by his point as we hadnt washed since that first spring. We sat and watchd the sun go down behind the mountains. We were sitting in lin with the river so we watched it flow through the valley. It was beautiful. We had the usual popcorn, tea, food and bed. My vody clock was getting seriosuly confused by these early nights!
Friday 27th July
We woke up at around 6am ready for th final leg of this part of the trip. We had delicious fresh hot chocolate before we left on the 1 and a half hour uphill slog. It wasnt too bad and we entertained oursleves by asking inane questions like 'if you could at one more food for ever what would it be?' 'if you could have a magical pet, what would it be?' etc. It seemd to do the trick! After that it was just ove 2 hours relatively flat walki back to Cachora town. Again it was actually a very nice walk, but the views were not great. We were ucky to have had such spectacular views that first day. Henry managd to get us a car back to Cusco that had just dropped a group off. We had bumped into som peruvians on the trek on the way back and they were sharing with us and the taxi driver tried to charge them less. The cheek! Henry took us back to Apus orld office in Cusco, explained the situation ie the difficulty the first day in having to do 2 days walking and my illness etc and suggsted we do the Jungle Inca Trail for the next 3 days to get to Machu Picchu. They seemed very obliging in helping sort us out and booked us on a bus to start the tk later that night. Henry and our cook Justo Would not be coming with us though. We would be staying in hostels and eating in restaurants. So we said goodbye to them and went to our hostel to ditch some of our stuff before returning to get the bus. We aslo had a coupl of spre hours and so we watchd Die Hard 4 while we ate dinner. It was very surreal to b back in Cusco. We went to get the bus at 8.30pm, but therein begins another adventure and i have been on the internet ages doing this part.
So i hope this has given you a taste of our trkking experience, and the nxt installment is to follow. W fly out to Florida tonight so the next part may have to come when i get home so apologies in advance but itll be 2 weeks max til i write again. Lots love xxx