Sunday, September 09, 2007

Machu Pichu

So the day started with a typically early tour start time of 4 am! It was actually quite interesting being in the hostel lobby meeting all the reprobates coming back from their all night drinking sessions in the local bars and clubs. ..

There were six of us in our group heading up to Machu Pichu, a Canadian couple, a German couple and a guy from Holland. To get us up the trail we needed 9 porters, a cook/porter, an assistant cook/porter and our guide (Ramirez, a very hard name to say without a sneer on your face and a dodgy accent).

The night before myself and the dutch guy had been given a duffel bag to stuff with a maximum of 7kg of stuff - we had chosen to be especially lazy and hire half a porter each to carry our stuff, a bargain at only $30 for the entire trip. In the end I only had about 4k including my sleeping bad. So the guy got off lightly...

After a couple of hours on the bus we arrived at a place called Piskacucho where we stopped for a bit of breakfast, shopped for walking sticks and bought some coca leaves for the altitude.

After this quick stop off we were back on the bus to drive to kilometre 82 which is where the trail starts. Here you can get your passport stamped to prove that you are crazy enough to start the trail.

The trail starts at the refreshing low altitude of 2720m (8923ft) by crossing the Vilcanota river.

We left our porters packing away the tents, food, table and chairs (I kid you not) and all the rest of the stuff to support our trip. They were soon finished with this and chasing after us along the path:

These guys were quite amazing, carrying a load of 25kg they pretty much ran down the path. Each day they would pack up everything whilst we set off walking, they'd pass us after about 20 minutes and we'd arrive at the next camp site to a cold drink, dinner almost ready and the tents all set up. Quite incredible.

As we walked along the path, we caught a glimpse of the lazy gits going up there by train.

The first day was pretty easy on fairly flat terrain and we got some great views of the Inca Fortress (‘Huillca Raccay'), the vast and incredible Inca site ‘Llactapata' (officially called ‘Patallacta').

After a pretty easy walk we arrived at our first campsite at around 3000m:

The night was damned cold, my sleeping bad is only rated for a -5 freezing point.

The next day the cook made us pancakes and porridge for breakfast. Fantastic. On this day we would climb to 4200m to cross "Dead Womans Pass" descend back down to 3550m for lunch and then climb again upto 4000m to cross another mountain pass!

Luckily there are some ruins on the insane day of walking to keep you entertained.

We made it to the next camp and pretty much collapsed into bed. This night was also very very cold.

The third day was very easy, not very much walking to do at all - only a climb up to 3680n meters. And some more ruins - Sayacmarca and Phuyuptamaca. Campsite for this night for called ‘WiƱay Wayna’ (‘Forever Young’) at a comfortable 2680m/8792ft.

Near this campsite is another nice Incan ruin.

That night it was too hot.

The fourth day we had all agreed (well, kind of) to get up at 3:40 to be first at the entrance to the path to the sun gate - not entirely sure why this was necessary, but apparently it's good to beat the crowds. So, we got up crazily early and sat in the darkness by the gate waiting for the park wardens to open up. We were the second group to arrive there - not bad really. It frightens me to think what time the first group must have got up...

We had a very brisk walk up to the sun gate, sadly the sun was not cooperating, but we did get some nice photos of the site. Our guide gave us a 2 hour guided tour, and then it was time for a coffee break and a rest while some of the more keen members of the group climbed another mountain (nutters).

It was then time to jump on the train home and get back to the hostel for a bit of well deserved sleep.

I'm now in Buenos Aires, various people from the travels seem to be converging on the town in the next couple of days.

You can find all the Machu Pichu photos here. - there's a lot of them.

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