December 23rd, 2007 – by: andycox_is_now_in
Met up with the rest of our group and our guide Javier at 5am for the drive to KM82 as the starting point of the trek. The 2 hour journey took us past many of the other Inca ruins that are offered as tours in Cusco saving us the effort later on. The only stop was for breakfast which duble as a shop to buy last minute provisions including poop bags for when caught short and there´s no toilets around ! On arrival at KM82 we all got our passport stamped and took team photo for the "before" photo and then we were off.
The 1st day classed as the "easy" day was a steady 4 hour uphill walk. Nothing too tricky and provided ample opportunity to enjoy the views of craggy hilltops with glacial caped mountains in the distance.
Weather ideal. After only 3 hours of the trek, we hit our 1st set of ruins (Llactapata) which in themselves were very impressive with multi tiered farmers fields. Xavier our guide sat us all down for a history talk but quickly asked me to move as I sat next to a hole with baby Black Widows crawling around. I didn´t need to be asked twice ! Xavier (half Quechuan - real name for the Incas) very passionate about his subject and very informative and his English was superb. SAS Travel was definitely a good choice. Lunch was very impressive given the kitchen facilities. I got my 1st cup of Coca tea - the drink of choice for the Inca Trail - a little bitter but really quite nice - no effects ! After lunch we continued with only a couple of demanding patches.
Dave and I led the way and we all made our 1st camp after 15km ahead of schedule. Before dinner came the prewarned but awkward introduction to our 20 porters who whilst we carry ouer little day bags, carry all the tents , food, bags of those who hired porters and then actually run past us whilst we plod up the trail. Everyone was very nice as we all shook hands but awkward as a sense of tourists and slaves prevailed. Another amazing meal and some stories of Inca Trails gone by from Xavier (who is a real character and is in hysterics at al of his jokeswhile the restr of us are non-plussed) before lighs out and in bed for 8.15!
Day 2 classed as the "challenging" day started at 5. Breakfast included porridge, pancakes and hot chocolate.
The 4 hour walk up Dead Womans Pass (named because the twin peaks of the summit either side of the pass look like skyward facing breasts) is the toughest part of the trek. With another lovely morning, we started off in high spirits. Much of the path built into steps but with no respite, I was no longer setting the pace. Thankful of a break at the half way house and also of a toilet where I was introduced to the world of squat toilets - still better than in the trees ! After a 20 minute break, we started on the tougher part. Starting to feel like a stage of the Tour de France where you push yourself as muchg a possible until hitting your limit and being blown out of the back of the peloton. In some sections, struggling to walk more than 20 paces without taking a break - not helped by the now scorching heat.
The camel pack coming into its own for water. Made it to the top at 10.20, 40 minutes ahead of schedule giving plenty of time for some repair work on some emerging blisters. Took a team photo with Bojer claiming the king of the mountains flag. The afternoon was equally steep but downhill providing much needed respite and chance to chat away with the group. However Xavier deciding we were a fit group decided we should go past the usual 2nd night campsite and up the 2nd high pass of the trek to the cloud forest and get a campsite to ourselves. With the threat of rain we scrambled up the pass to another set of ruins (Runcuraqay) with another talk from Xavier that allowed our porters to chase past to set up camp for our arrival.
Made it to the camp site before the rain hit but the clouds prevented a good view of the famed sunset. More dodgy stories and jokes from Xavier with far too much food again before another early night.
Day 3 classed as "unforgettable" was a bit of an anticlimax as the rain continued through the night and heavy cloud remained for breakfast and well into the morning preventing the amazing views of the cloud forest and jungle. However it had lifted in time for the next ruins of Phuyupatamarka. Walk pretty steady and gentle allowing aching legs and shoulders to recover but Dave still managed to walk into a overhanging branch and chip his front tooth - not too bad and not noticeable to the eye ! Spent a lttle time walknig around the impressive ruins before walking downhill for more hours giving our first views of Waynu Pichu mountain (backdrop to Macchu Pichu).
Hit the even more impressive ruins of Yunkapata at 11 before getting to our final camp site (with restaurant and bar) at lunch time ahead of all other treks. After a 10 minute walk to the Wiñawayna ruins in a spectacular setting we returned to the restaurant for lunch and then 1st crack at the showers. Had a nice chilled afternoon whilst the other treks piled into the campsite through the afternoon. Meanwhile the porters took to very animated games of blackjack.
It may be an early start again for the final stint to Macchu Pichu but it was still Christmasd Eve. With a bar available we couldn´t pass the opportunity. We had been told the bar would close at 9 so we started at 6. With beer flowing and music playing (albeit Dido and Bon Jovi) everyone was in great spirits.
However 9 came and went and there was no sign of anything slowing down. Gabriel (Mexican) who had been relatively quiet on the trip proved a dark horse by being a demon salsa dancer and worked his way through the girls. The rest of the lads decided against embarassing ourselves. My Pulp Fiction t-shirt caught the eye of a local girl so I retired to practise my Spanish whilst the others danced away until I was dragged into a limbo dancing competition - I came 3rd. At midnight the firecrackers were being set off and saw the end of a great and unexpected night. Not looking forward to the 4am start tomorrow !!