Well, hard to believe, but we´ve now got less than a week of this great trip left. I guess all things must come to an end. On the plus side, the time really hasn´t seemed to fly, meaning we´ve really been enjoying the trip, and it truly has felt like a proper getaway!
We´re back from the Inca trail, and no worse for wear. If you´ve ever contemplated heading south and seeing this area, I would definitely recommend getting back to nature and doing some proper hiking. Our 4 day journey wasn´t exceptionally difficult, but it had it´s ups and downs (literally). One of the downs would probably be the fact that on the day we started, Apu the sun God decided that it was time for rainy season to start. For most of the trail, the mountains were shrouded in clouds, and yes, we did experience both hail and heavy rains at various points. That being said, it certainly didn´t dampen (get it, dampen?) our spirits or reduce the experience in any way.
My personal favourite part of the journey wasn´t the trail, or even Macchu Picchu itself, but the hike we did on the site of the ruins, which was to climb up Wayna Picchu, (Young Mountain), the bigger peak behind the ruins. It is an uphill trail that is incredibly steep in parts, and culminates in a peak of a few really big boulders that you´re free to scramble around (1000s of feet above the valley below). We took some great shots from there, and both remarked that ´liability insurance´ obviously isn´t something required in South America. But obviously since I´m writing this, we both made it down in one piece. The rain even let up while we were up there.
Our Inca trail journey was only 45km in length, but was broken down daily into very manageable chunks. Our group was pretty small, with only us and an Italian couple of the same age with us. However, the total group size numbered 15, with us 4, plus the cook, plus the guide, and 9 (!) porters to lug all our needed gear (tents, food, packs, etc. etc). I´m pretty sure most of the weight was food, since we seemed to eat non stop. The days went something like this:
1. wake up with hot tea
2. big breakfast
3. hike a little bit
4. break for morning tea (with food)
5. hike a little bit more
6. break for lunch
7. hike to campsite
8. tea time (with popcorn and card games)
You could pretty much sum it up as 5-star camping. The food was incredible. I swear the food the cook served up was better than most of the food we´d had at restaurants, and all cooked on a single burner stove. Our guide was also really fun and made the trip that much more memorable, with plenty of color commentary on sights along the way.
We´ve also seen more ruins than one would think possible in 5 days. This started after our last email, since we´ve been on a couple of tours of the area, and the trail, all of which have ruins scattered everywhere. Very impressive. Those Incans were incredible folks, what with their clever engineering, agricultural prowess, masonry, etc. We also decided we know why they didn´t have the wheel, after climbing pass after pass on treacherous stairs. If they´d had wheels, they wouldn´t have lasted long at all!
Before leaving for the trail, we decided that we weren´t game for the 1/2 day walking tour of Cusco when we returned, so our tour company was kind enough to swap it for a day of whitewater rafting at no charge! This was a few hours of rafting in the Urumbamba river, which runs through the former Incan capital of Ollyantaytambo. However, Jody decided that after an INCREDIBLY long day yesterday (up at 3am, not back here till 9pm), she´d rather shop, so I went at the rafting alone. It was cold, wet and just a tad miserable, fun nonetheless for me though, being a sucker for punishment.
Tonight, we´re off to a buffet dinner and show, before heading off to the jungle for 4 days, at which point I´m pretty sure we´ll be incommunicado. We´ve racked up hundreds and hundreds of pictures, so you´ll all be free to relive our fun in the near future on our flickr account.
Well, probably best to leave it at that for now, since this is already getting rambly. We´ll see you all in the near future.
Steve and Jody.