April 2017
  • Day7

    Machu Picchu

    April 11, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    We finally limped into Machu Picchu and, weather be-damned, it was an impressive sight, and a massive achievement - 42km trekked, up and down over a kilometre in altitude and considerably more in real terms.

    The misty, rolling clouds added considerable atmosphere to the ruins and it made for a fitting and to our trek. Our guide took us through the history of the site before giving us time to explore ourselves. We wandered the ruins for as long as our legs would allow, in particular looking at the intact walls held together with impressive craftsmanship and no mortar at all.

    We headed down to Agua Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu, by bus. A bit of shopping followed by a fabulous frozen lemonade over looking the Urabamba River before boarding the train back to Ollantaytembo, and finally getting a bus back to Cuzco. The train journey gave spectacular views of the route along which we had walked and the Urabamba valley, but staying awake proved the real challenge.
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  • Day7

    The Sun Gate

    April 11, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Alarm call at 2.30am, breakfast at 3am, depart at 3.30am, all in the pouring rain and pitch black. We descended almost a kilometre over steep, slippy steps by torchlight...my knees were in agony by the end.

    We passed through the checkpoint into the Machu Picchu national park around 5.30am and began the final approach - 1 hour undulating, 20 mins steep stairs (the 'Gringo-killers') to the Sun Gate (and our first glimpse of Machu Picchu), then 40 mins downhill was the brief. In actuality, the terrain remained fairly constant - uneven, undulating stones with frequent stairs...murder on already-aching legs.

    The anticipated view from the Sun Gate was sadly obscured by rolling cloud although there were tantalising glimpses. So, we steadied ourselves for the final push...
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  • Day6

    Lunch day 3/Campsite

    April 10, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    The path to lunch was mercifully shallow. Our arrival at camp was somewhat of a unknown quantity however - it was where we were supposed to be camping too. This would mean the following morning a 2 hour hike straight down before 2 more on to Machu Picchu. Our guide hoped we could complete the first two after lunch and camp further on; sadly this was not possible meaning our wake up tomorrow would be 2.30am

    After lunch, Ben and I hiked down a little from our camp to the Phuyupatamarka ruins. As we had the whole afternoon we were able to explore at leisure taking in the stunning valley in which we were staying.

    We watched the sun set from 3600m at camp, although the clouds did their best to stop us before retiring for a very early night.

    Fitbit total - 25000 steps 162 flights of stairs.
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  • Day6

    Sayaqmarka ruins

    April 10, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    En route to our next set of ruins, we encountered some of the local wildlife, a doe hopping around the valley, surprisingly close to us.

    The Sayaqmarka ruins we visited were apparently - multi-functional, holding travellers on pilgrimage to Machu Picchu but also a meeting point of many trails in the area. It was an impressive large complex of ruins most of which we were able to get in and walk around.Read more

  • Day6

    Runkuracay Pass

    April 10, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Finally arrived at the second highest point Inca Trail at 3950m starting from camp that was 3600m. It took 2 hours of stairs to get here...ouch!

  • Day6

    Runkuracay

    April 10, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    From the campsite this morning, we trekked up to Runkuracay ruins. Discovered in 1850, it was likely a resting point for travellers/messengers travelling from Machu Picchu to Cusco. It was possibly a temple to the moon with 3 silver statues found here. The square room below these half-moon shaped ruins was probably for food storage. The trail we take today is 80% original and 20% reconstructed - it has been 50/50 until now. And it's still bloody steep. From here, we trek up to the second highest point of the tour, Runkuracay Pass at 3950m.Read more

  • Day5

    Campsite Day 2

    April 9, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    We arrived into camp about 1pm, with the porters already having set everything up again. The descent down was actually more painful than the rest of the day - the big steps and sharpness made for big impact on the knees which were rather sore by the end. We set out in thick mist/fog but the lower we got the warmer it became with the sun coming out too.

    We quickly sorted the tent on arrival before lunch of corn soup, beef and mashed potato, and apple pie. Sadly, on arriving at the site Ben became unwell with a headache and feeling sick - he was packed off to bed with celery and ginger tea to recover.

    Tomorrow is apparently easier but longer: 16km, more steps but also four historical sites to visit. From our camp we can see the path up in the morning however...my legs can't face that right now. So instead, we rest in the tent, protected from the rain that broke out minutes after we arrived, and wait for dinner at 6.30pm.

    Fitbit total - 21,000 steps and 274 floors of stairs.
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  • Day5

    Dead woman's pass

    April 9, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Steps, slopes, steeper slopes and more steps. But 4.5hrs after starting, we reached Dead Woman's Pass at 4200m. The pace up had been slow and plodding - whilst none of our muscles actually hurt, the trek was simply difficult. Uneven paths, big steps and thin air made for slow but steady progress.

    Stops were frequent, but restarting after each one was itself a challenge and often led to a bit of a headrush in the first minute or two.

    The views were brilliant, surrounded by mountains and snow peaks in the distance, with steam rising off the plants and clouds rolling over the valley. However the clouds made for a very bright backdrop...and most of the pictures of me have my eyes scrunched up from the brightness!! We'll save those for later.

    At Dead Woman's Pass, we regrouped and geared up for the 2hr/4km descent. Having been rather concerned over my ability to complete today, it was a relief to get to the top, as well as a huge sense of achievement. It probably wasn't as difficult as I expected but it certainly was a challenge, and a number of our group suffered with altitude sickness on the way up.
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  • Day5

    Steps, steps and more sodding steps

    April 9, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Up at 5am, breakfast at 5.45am...and what a breakfast! Bread, porridge and pancakes to gear us up for the most challenging day. The plan was a 6hr ascent to 4200m followed by a 2hr descent to the 3600m campsire; the ascent started with a gradual slope through a winding open paths and a more jungle-like environment. The sun came out in force, a pleasant change from yesterday. Then however, just 45 minutes in to the day, came the steps - uneven, giant steps which were the defining feature of the next two hours. Whilst everyone was told to go there own pace, I think my legs would have preferred no pace!Read more

  • Day4

    Campsite Day 1

    April 8, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Post-Lunch, we made surprisingly good time according to our guide. Despite this, the ascents still remained a challenge. The terrain is uneven and the steps very in size and security, all of which adds to the physical challenge of climbing at altitude.

    We were treated to a wonderful show from a hummingbird at very close range, sadly we were too slow and too engrossed to get to the camera.

    The final push to the campsite was a steep one - through the Wallabamba checkpoint and up once again to campsite 18. Our arrival was greeted with applause from the porters who had, in the time that we had simply walked from lunch to here, dismantled the lunch operation, packed it, run past us, got to camp and set up our tents and the dining tent...all whilst we were merely trying to hold on to our breath and our legs. They even provided us each with a bowl of warm water in which to wash.

    We had an hour or so before we formally met each of our porters and introduced ourselves before enjoying a brew and some biscuits. The view from the tent and the campsite is awe inspiring; as the sun descended the almost full moon came out over the mountains.

    Shortly, we'll have dinner - another three course extravaganza. We certainly did not expect this level of provision or even luxury on this trek - the porters really are outstanding. We've yet to find out what time we are up tomorrow, other than 'early' - so early in fact that the 7 hour trekking is apparently all to be completed before lunch...yikes. Tomorrow's climb is the killer - steep ascent all morning. I have to admit to being a little nervous...but the way back is almost as bad so, here goes!

    Fitbit total - 25,000 steps and 251 flights of stairs
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