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Simon’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 08 Apr 2010

Location: Peru

MapAs promised...

The Machu Picchu trek started last Friday as planned. We had heard loads of Chinese whispers that the Inca Trail was a mess still because of landslides, and they were loads of people just camping out in Cusco waiting for it to reopen so it would be chaos etc... and apparently Susan Sarandon reopened the trail on April 1st just to add to the craziness. Anyway it was all rubbish thankfully and we didn´t have any trouble.

The trek lasts 4 days 3 nights and was pretty intense. The first day was really comfortable, we walked 12km and by and large it was pretty flat. I think they ease you in intentionally though. The second day was extremely tough. It was only 12km again but it was up and down, including about 2 hours straight up (followed by about 1 1/2 hours straight down), walking along small irregular Inca steps built 500 years ago. We were pretty exhausted by the end of that day. The third day was longer, something like 16km, and also had a lot of ups and downs. We had had great weather until the third day, lots of sunshine and no rain, but on the third day it rained solidly for ages. It was probably just like being in Nam. Finally on the fourth day we got up early and walked for a couple of hours to Machu Picchu itself, which was spectacular. At first it was really foggy so we were a bit worried but it cleared up and we got some great pictures.

The whole time on the trek you are followed / led by a gang of porters - in our case we had 19 porters and 1 cook (plus two guides) between the 14 of us. Those guys now have regulations stating they can ONLY carry 25kgs each!! Apparently it used to be like 50kg. I have no idea how they manage it - hardcore trekking at 4,000m carrying 25kg. Insane. What makes it harder too is that you havw to get up early every night and you´re hardly getting any sleep anyway cos you´re sleeping in tents. Usually we got up at 5ish but on the last day it was 3.45am! It was such a relief to get back home, have a shower and a bed etc to be honest.

One of the cool things about the Incas and Machu Picchu is that no one really knows anything about them. When the Spanish came in during the 1500s they immediately killed all of the ´royal´class, presumably to stop any uprisings etc. Unfortunately they were also the only people who could read or write and understand the written language (based on some kind of hieroglyphics), so everything was lost. No one knows why Machu Picchu was built, and it was never finished as the Incas abandoned it when the Spanish came in (bringing smallpox with them, which wiped out most of the people). Pretty cool.

We´re in Lima now and are about to go out for a meal as Dom and Shannon are going back to Oz tomorrow. After this we go to Nasca, northern Peru and then I have to be in Quito on April 17th for the Galapagos trip. Then home...

Hope all is well with everyone

Simon