The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Travel Blog

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At the top of Dead Woman´s Pass. We did it!!

We awoke early on Friday morning to start with our group on the 4 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Peruvian government has regulated how many people may go on the Trail per day to minimize damage to the trail so you must go with a liscensed tour operator. Some people have to go in groups of 14 but we luckily were in a group of only 6. It was Madolyn, Matthew, Danilo, Emily, and two awesome Argentinian guys. Gonzalo is a cool young guy from Buenos Aries and Fransico was an ex-army guy from Santa Fe who was in better shape than any of us youngins (by far too). Our tour guide, Alex, is from Cuzco, studied anthropology, was very knowledgeable about the Incas and the flora and fauna along the trail.

He was a totally relaxed guy and his style of tour guiding fit in with all of our personalities. Basically, we had the Super Group. Five porters (people hired to carry our tents and food - strange but not our choice) rounded out the experience. They cooked us great food and carried our stuff like champs.

We drove several hours from Cuzco to the start of the Inca Trail. We had to wait in line for a while for the control to check our tickets and passports then we were off on the trail. At the begining it was raining a bit but it was misty and beautiful. The hike the first day was really easy and our group decided to hike an extra half an hour so we could be in a more isolated spot and further along the trail (200 people are on this trail every day). We had a great dinner and great conversation and went to sleep early.

The fog covers it all...

The second day at 6 am we were awakened by the porters bringing tea to our tents (luxury!). We ate a huge breakfast and got on the trail for what would prove to be the hardest day. We started out hiking uphill and continued that way for two hours. We took a break and for the next two hours arduously hiked straight up a very steep mountain to reach Dead Woman´s Pass, the first mountain pass on the trail. It was a brutal climb and both Matt and Em suffered from the altitude (bad genes). Reaching the top was extremely rewarding as we had climbed over 1000 m (thats a kilometer) to reach the top and were at an altitude of 4200m. We went down 400m and hung out for the rest of the day.

On the third day, we were again awakened with tea at the tent at 6am.

First thing in the morning we climbed to another pass although this one was a bit lower than Dead Woman´s and the Rendas were no longer suffering from the altitude. The third day was the longest and most diverse day of hiking. We saw 6 different sites of Inca ruins (or Inca buildings as our guide called them). We hiked through two mountain passes and the climate changed to subtropical. We saw many differnet types of birds, trees, and flowers, including some breathtaking orchids. We finally reached our campsite around 5 pm, dropped our bags, and went to see another Inca village 5 minutes from our campsite. Much to our surprise, Matthew showed up a few minuted later with a much needed beer for everyone. Hooray Matthew!!!

The final day, there was no tea because we woke up at 3:50 in the morning (just a tad groggy) so we could get to Machu Picchu for sunrise and before the huge swarm or tourists.

Our Super Group booked it on the trail and we were one of the first groups to reach Machu Picchu, well hidden behind a mountain by the Incas. Viewing Machu Picchu for the first time is pretty indescribable. Its amazing what the Incas were able to accomplish at that point in history. The most impressive element is how they incorporated nature into their architecture. As opposed to present day humans who just knock down mountains if they are ¨in the way¨, the Incas chose certain socks to serve as walls or foundations then cut stones to fit in around them. The Incas were also very adept in astrology and this also showed up in their temples dedicated to the sun and certain constellations. For instance, the Temple of the Sun is lined up with the two solstice, and stones are lined up with the Southern Cross constellation.
Our Argentinan friend Francisco standing where Machu Picchu is splitting.
All in all, Machu Picchu was incredible.

The ride back to Cuzco took most of the day. First we met in the town next to Machu Picchu called Aguas Calientes (although they are trying to re-name it the town of Machu Picchu) to get some grub and walk around and whatnot. Next we caught the train. We could have jogged faster than this train but we were tired and it was a nice view for a few hours so we just rode it instead. After the train we caught a two hour bus ride back to Cuzco. We meant to celebrate that night, but we were so tired that we simply passed out.

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At the top of Dead Woman´s Pass. …
At the top of Dead Woman´s Pass.…
The fog covers it all...
The fog covers it all...
Our Argentinan friend Francisco st…
Our Argentinan friend Francisco s…
Machu Picchu
photo by: NazfromOz