The Inca Trail

Trip Start Aug 01, 2003
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Trip End Sep 20, 2004


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Saturday, September 25, 2004

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September 2004

Acclimatised in Arequipa visiting the Santa Catalina Monastery. One of our friends was the patsy in a simple scam. Our friend asked the tour guide where the toilet was and a smatly dressed individual with name badge volunteered to show her. He politely informed her that no bags were allowed in the toilets and waited until she returned to give her the bag back. Later, when she went to use her camera she realised she'd been had; money and camera gone, gutted.
The monastery was nice though..

The next few days were lost to altitude sickness and food poisoning only resurfacing for the start of the Inca Trail: A four day hike to the 'lost' city of the Incas.

Day one: The journey started with a bus trip along the sacred valley, stopping in Ollantaytambo for the essential walking sticks, water etc. Passports stamped and we were away at a comfortable pace. A gentle rythm ensued only broken by the occasional shout of 'porter, porter' as stocky Peruvian farmers teetered past with plastic coated burdens. This side of the mountains it was drier and there were few trees to obscure the views of the snow-capped mountains. The path sloped upwards and we were soon looking down on an impressive Inca settlement craftily grafted on to the valley sides. Then the rains came.

Day two: Known as the toughest day: a steep ascent to an altitude of 4,200m over dead woman's pass. The group soon became strung out with the stragglers lured on by our guides inspirational flute-playing. Even the porters looked knackered.

It was a long wait at the summit for the last people to arrive, then the rains really came, then the wind, then the hail.

Day three: Known as the most beautiful day: a short climb to the second pass then a long knee jarring descent into the semi-tropical rainforest. Unfortunately it was cloudy and grey. The dramatic view never showed, just heavy rain. Fancy western raincoats soon succumbed leaving the cheap, plastic, poncho clad walkers as the only dry members of the group. I've never been so happy to be carrying an umbrella. Spirits were low but as it pissed down all day today surely it'll be clear tommorrow for Macchu Picchu.


Day Four: Awoke at 4am and queued by starlight at the final passport control. As it opened a surge of bodies pushed forward but we were away on the narrow path. There was a rush to get to the sun gate for sunrise over Macchu Picchu. This final walk in the darkness was the highlight of the hole trip. The anticipation that Macchu Picchu was just over the next rise.
A final climb to the sungate and we looked out over a bowl of mist. It was stunning but pervaded with disappointment. Macchu Picchu was shrouded... still a dramaric scene. The the sun rose and descended down the mountain wall on the far side of the valley. As it descended the cloud began to lift and just as the sun hit Macchu Picchu was revealed for an instant.

The rest, hmmmmm, Macchu Picchu is gorgeous but....well who cares.

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