Currently just completed the four day Inca Trek to Machu Picchu. Pretty incredible. The trek started early early in the morning (or night???) of the 8th. We were to meet our tour group in Cusco the biggest city close to Machu Picchu to be picked up by bus at 4am to start our mission to one of the seven wonders of the world. The bus took about an hour and 45 mins to get to the starting point of the trek, Kilometre 82. Our group consisted of 12 trekkers, two guides, and 18 porters (including a cook) to carry all of the tents, chairs, gas, food, etc to each campsite. By the end of the first day I knew this trek was going to be so much better than the Lost City trek, well maybe a different kind of trek than the Lost City. The trail was actually well established, our guides were well trained (one of the them had gone to school for 4 yrs to be a guide) and had studied the Inca trail and sites to be able to provide us with intricate detail and knowledge about the incas, the way they lived, and the history behind their kingdom.
The first day was very easy only an hour climb at the end of the day. We were completely spoiled arriving to the break/ camp sites having lunch or dinner waiting for us (3 course meals) with our tents already set up and hot water and soap waiting for us. We also received big applauses upon our arrivals to these spots from the porters, which is ironic because they completed the trail during the day in way faster time carrying approx. 25 kilos of weight on their backs. It was almost an embarassment for them to be applauding us because they worked so hard getting up before us, carrying our stuff, completing the trail wayyy before us and then going to bed after all us. I felt like a pretty big rich spoiled gringa.
Day two was the hardest, took us 10 hrs to complete 16km, having hiked up to 4200 m above sea level to reach Dead Woman´s pass. The climb was long (3 hrs) but not too intense, but lots of up and downhill that day. Geoff and I decided to hire porters to that day as we had both the heaviest and third heaviest bags of the group. This was probably because 2/3 of the group had hired porters for the whole trek, which would have beena great idea but definitely more expensive. I was definately a bit disapointed in myself for how heavy my bag was but was so paranoid of being cold I slightly over packed, even bought a North Face jacket (which was completely worth it by the way). We also ended up having to carry our sleeping bag and mattress, which added to the weight. The third day included a lot of downhill and about 5 hrs walking but had some great views and inca sites. Today we got up at 3:30 am (oh yes) in the rain to start our trek to the final destination, Machu Picchu. We had to wait until 5:30 am for the gates to open to let us in, and then walked for about two hours to reach the biggest of all of the Inca sites (there were a lot of Inca sites along the way). It was absolutely beautiful arriving around 7:30, it was misty and fogged in ( think of Lord of the Rings cool misty eery-ness) but as the morning progressed the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Got some great photos and learned a lot from our guides Raoul and Marselino.
Overall the trip was amazing, we ate great food, did have to use bathrooms that were literally holes in the ground, but were grouped with a great set of people and guides that made the trek that much better. It felt really good to have trekked all that way (44km) to reach Machu Picchu, especially when we got to the site and saw all these tourists all decked out in hiking gear looking like phonies (having taken the train), while we were proudly sporting out mud and probably slight stench (only one shower stop along the way). We were also so much more fortunate because we got to see so many amazing inca sites along the way, some that could almost rival Machu Picchu, and got to hear about the Incas from someone who had grown up in the mountains and was extremely proud and knowledgeable about his ancestors and country.
Having seen the site, Geoff and I have reached Agua Calientes (there are hot springs here we´ll check out later today!) where we will meet our group again at a restaurant for our final goodbye lunch/ dinner before we catch the train back to Cusco at 9:30 pm.
Suffice to say we are both pretty beat having hiked the last four days but are looking forward to some hot showers and real beds once we get back tonight around 1-2 am. Tomorrow we will meet up with Owen who we had to leave in Cusco. Cusco is a really great small city, touristy, but with lots to do and great food (Owen is the champion restaurant finder).
Before Cusco (after taking an agonizing 24 hr bus from Lima) we had to say goodbye to Corey after having reached Lima, but not before we spent a few great hours checking out the nice part of Lima (Miraflores) and the boys have a good skate at the skate park off of the beach. So random we started talking to a bunch of kids at the park to ask where a good place to eat might be and they ended up coming with us to Chilis and one of the even knew of Geoff which is pretty crazy. Needless to say they were pretty stoked on the guys adding them to facebook immediately and one I think just msged Geoff already.
Anyways this is a long one but just wanted to say we survived and it was great. Can´t wait to post the pictures!