We´re finally back to civilisation- it was really nice to have a bed and running water again last night!!
We started our trek last Sunday after a three hour drive to km88(??). the trek was 28 miles and started at 9000 ft and reached a peak of 14000ft. We were joined by 2 Canadians, 2 Aussies and an English guy.
The first day wasn´t too bad for some of us as it was fairly flat. And then there were the others who were absolutely knackered (I´m mentioning no names!!). We walked about 6 hours a day and the scenery was fairly interesting (when you remembered to look up from your feet!!). We reached the camp site at 3.00pm. Out tents were already set up, as was the toilet tent - which comprised of a hole dug in the ground, a rickety wooden stool (over the hole)and the smallest imaginable tent!! There were no toilets along the way so you can imagine the state of the toilet tent (a smell which will stay in my mind for a long time!!). We were given a bowl of warm water to wash between the two of us. The view from the tent was ok (snow capped mountains and cows grazing). The highlight of the first day was dinner - a dining tent was set up with table and chairs and candle light. The food was excellent and for dessert we had flambe bananas in rum (absolutely delicious).
The second day was supposed to be the hardest and reached the highest altitude. I think Paul thought it was the worst day. We climbed up a MOUNTAIN from 8.00am till 1.00pm. At the start of the day we were each given a pack of provisions - including figs, chocolate bar, orange energy drink and fruit (passion fruit on the hardest day - yummy). It sure helped to keep us going. The weather was beautiful (lots of sun bloc was used). But when we got to the top we were in the clouds and it was bloody cold!! The Aussie guy (a really big chap) really badly suffered from altitude sickness - the rest of us weren´t too bad. That evening we camped at a really lovely site - the view from our tent was spectacular- snow capped mountains, green valleys and a stream running alongside. We were all fairly tired that evening and after the first day of the toilet tent no one wanted to use it again!! The highlight of that night was finding out that there was a toilet with running water near by. So we all had an evening trek down to the toilets!!
The third day wasn´t too bad - we reached another peak of 13000 ft. The weather wasn´t too great. The mist had settled in so our views were ruined. We got to the worst camp site that evening - boy did it smell bad!! And to top it all it started raining. We all went to have some tea in the dining tent and were chatting when Arturo pointed out that the mist had risen and a it was a beautiful evening. We stepped out to the most amazing scenery all around us. The mountains at dusk to one side were really magical and on the other side we had the view of some Inca ruins. Really spectacular!! That night, like the one before was really cold.
The fourth day turned out to be the longest as far as walking went. I thought it was one of the worst (others thought it was as bad as day two). We started walking at 8.00am and finally got to the camp site at 9.00pm. The day was also damp and misty. It was all downhill but most of it was through the mud and it was really hard going. I think this was also partly as our views were covered in mist.
We saw some really impressive ruins after lunch and carried on walking to Machu Pichu. We finally reached around 4.00pm - tired and muddy. What a fine group we looked - the difference between those who took the train and those who hiked was very apparent!! We smelled!! We took a bus down to Caliantes through the most winding road I have ever seen. We had a child running down the hill yelling good bye at every hair pin - it was really strange when you realised it took so long for the bus to wind down - although the kid must have been really quick! When we got to Caliantes we walked to some hot springs. That was just great - it was so nice to relax in hot water for a while! By the time we walked back to camp in the dark we were knackered.
Day 5 was an even earlier start than the other days (every morning we were woken at 6.00 am with a cup of tea). On day 5 we were up at 5.00am catching the bus back upto Machu Pichu at 6.30am. We had the day walking around the ruins. It was really amazing to think about the engineering required to create such a city, and really sad to think how the Spaniards were threatened by the Incas and as a result destroyed a whole empire. We climbed another hill that day for some really good views of the city and surrounding landscape. Then that evening we caught the 5.00pm train back to Cusco arriving at 9.30pm.
Overall the trek was memorable and worthwhile doing, although I would recommend the 2 or 3 day treks instead (mainly because of the really awful toilet facilities!). This was my first experience of camping and possibly not the best introduction!!! The highlights were the superb scenery, excellent food, the ruins and the good bunch of people we had with us.
Today we will just be relaxing and getting our clothes washed!! We then have to go and find some Easter Eggs!! Happy Easter!!
Loads of love & hugs, Pip & Paul