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wehl’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 23 Dec 2006

Location: Cuzco, Peru

MapArrived into Cusco from La Paz the evening of Dec. 17th, ready to begin our Inca trail early on Dec. 19th. It was a very long but interesting bus trip - at one stage 2 Peruvin ladies hopped on the bus armed with a large meat clever, hacking into roasted guinea pigs to sell those interested some dinner - we decided to refrain until we got to a resaurant.

Hambo again affected by the altitude - but recovered in time for us to begin our Inca trail. Meeting our group early on the 19th, we set off by bus, along the Urubamba river, past Ollantaytambo village, and on to where our trek began. We were really lucky with our group - only 6 of us, including a lovely English couple Nick and Gail, another nice Australian couple, our guide, chief and 12 porters.

It was beautiful weather on the first day, however that evening the rain began and didn´t clear up until the morning we reached Machu Picchu - although it didn´t really bother us. Our first night´s camping site was by a local farm house, about 500m below Dead Woman´s pass. As we arrived, the farmer was in the process of killing one of his big pigs - it would not have been dead more than 5mins, split open, with all of its organs lying beside it in a wheelbarrow - not the most pleasent arrival!

Every morning we were woken with hot coca tea and warm water to wash our faces - my kind of camping! We set off early day 2 through beautiful rainforest right up to Dead Woman´s pass, 4,200m, the most difficult section of the trail. After a big pack of llamas cruised by us at the top, we started to decend down to our lunch site, Pacamayo (3,600m). AFter another amazing meal, we decided not to camp here, and moved on, past the small circular ruins of Runkuracay to the second highest pass, Abra de Runkuracay (4,000m). After an hour of descending down stone steps, we arrived at Sayacmarca ('Inaccessible Town') - an Inca city that is protected on three sides by sheer cliffs - before arriving at our second camp site - exhausting day but amazing scenery.

Day 3 we climbed up through the ´cloud forest´to the 3rd pass (3,700m) where we spotted an Andean Condor flying. A few minutes after the pass we arrived at Phuyupatamarca (´Town of the Clouds´) by a steep flight of stone stairs. Leaving the site via another really impressive Inca staircase, we descended a further 1000 steps, passing through dense rainforest to our 3rd campsite at Wiñay Wayna - treated with a shower finally! We visited the nearby Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna - includes a series of steep curving agricultural terraces where the Incas grew their potatoes, corn and coca leaves. The name in Quechua means 'forever young' and is named after a really beautiful variety of pink orchid which grows here.

VERY early 4am start on day 4 so we could reach Machu Picchu before sunrise. The trail to the last pass was through thick, wet rainforest, before coming to an almost vertical flight of 50steps leading up to the Sun gate, where we could first view Machu Picchu. We were a little disapointed at this point as after 3 days of trekking, we reached the Sun Gate and we could not see more than 5m in front of us due to the wet weather!

By the time we walked down to Machu Picchu city, the weather cleared up and we looked around the city for a couple of hours before making our final climb up Huayna Picchu to get an amazing view of the city.

Finished the trek with an extra night in Aguas Calientes - where we stayed with the Engligh couple in our group, Nick + Gail, relaxed and soaked in the hot springs before catching the train back to Cuzco.

An awesome 4 days.