Machu Picchu Travel Blog› entry 16 of 23 › view all entries
We are 4 days into our trek and feeling a mixture of exhaustion, achievement and excitment, tomorrow we finally get the highlight of our trip, the ruins of Machu Picchu. Currently we are sitting in a second floor glass internet cafe with the stunning peaks of the mountains surrounding us, and below tacky tourist eating places and any number of souvenier shops selling equally tacky tourist stuff!!
The journey to arrive here took us over a 4,350 mts mountain pass between two awesome mountains. We´ll have all the details in the next edition...
Day one of our trek started bright and early in Cusco.
After an hour on sealed roads we hit the bumpy stuff, all up hill. 20 minutes on the rough, the bus stopped. Just like that... it stopped, never to go again (at least while we were there). Raul (our guide) hitched a ride and returned after a couple of hours with a truck... so we spent an interesting time sitting on the side of a dusty pass getting to chat to our travel companions.
During lunch we meet our horsemen and the mules and horses that were to carry our gear over the mountain pass. After lunch we started our trek, walking in awe of the mountain, getting ever closer and higher - fantastic! We climbed to 4,200 mtrs and our tents were set up waiting for us. But it was very cold camping between two mountains, just below the pass. We had another great meal, although a few people were not feeling so well after the long walk at altitude.
After dinner we taught some of the team to play ´stop the bus´ using coca leaves as tickets. After 9pm it was just too cold to continue so we climbed into our sleeping bags clothed in three layers complete with hats and gloves. The temperature went down to -5 degrees c overnight and our tent was covered with frost in the morning. We woke to the sounds of cows at 6.00am and rushed out to deal with the call of nature that we had put off during the night, then snuggled back into our bags for a short snooze. Then were woken with room/tent service of coca tea. When we emerged for the day the mountain was lit by the rising sun, a great way to start the day.
Pancakes for breakfast before hitting the track around 8am.
The day took us to our highest point of the trek - 4,400 metres - and thru the stunning mountain pass between Nevado Tucarhuay and Nevado Salkantay. The rest of the day was then spent walking down. It was fascinating watching the changing landscape and hearing the stories of the mountains. Salkantay has only been conquered once, by the Swiss in the 1970s. The vegetation also changed more and more, lots of green and more and more flowers, including orchids. The guide helpfully pointed out many of the flowers which we would have easily walked past otherwise.
We stopped for our well earned lunch at Andenes, and then carried on down and across the river, chosing to use the old bridge of timber and mud which moved under our weight.
Surprisingly we slept very well for the second night sleeping on the ground. Another early start and another day of 7 hours walking heading towards Playa for lunch. A long, hot walk accompanied by lots of bitting bugs and beautiful vistas of the mountains and valleys, waterfalls and changing bush. We arrived in Playa for lunch and the group decided to take a truck to Santa Teresa for the night.
In Santa Teresa we took a mini bus to the thermal springs and very much enjoyed a couple of hours relaxing and getting clean! A better option than the hot pools of the day before by far ... no 20 min dusty climb back to the camp... just a crowded mini bus trip. Santa Teresa saw us enjoying a nights entertainment playing Fuzzy Duck with two bottle of scotch and crazy fellow travellers... great fun!
Next morning... a quick mini bus ride and entry into the Machu Picchu park. While the walk wasn´t so long, it wasn`t fun at all. We arrived in Aglas Callentes via the rail lines, there was no path, so we walked the rail track. It is amazing how quickly you can get sick of walking on irregularly spaced sleepers! The townships is clearly geared for the tourists as it is the main jumping off point for the ruins, however, it was soooo nice to shower and sleep in a bed. Dave says... it wasn´t so nice for those that got the cold shower!
After a great meal, with live band and excellent Peruvian food, we headed to bed early in preparation for the 4.20am start.