Archive for June 4th, 2010

Inca Trail – Day 1

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The trail.
We were picked up at six thirty by our guide Mauro and a minibus. We drove around Cusco a little, picking up other people starting the trek that day. In our group there was our guide Mauro, us, a Canadian couple, and a mother and a daughter from California. We rode for about two hours through the countryside, seeing tons of tiny potato fields and mud huts. We stopped in the tiny village of Oyallantaytambo for final supplies and thirty minutes later we were at Km 82 – the start of the trail, where the porters were already waiting for us. We gave them our bag of stuff to carry. We paid for half a porter – 16 pounds. Does not sound like much but as we learned for ourselves every ounce counts on the trail. They mainly carried our sleeping bag and some clothes. David carried most of our stuff in my big camping backpack: about 28+ pounds. I carried water, sleeping mat, snacks, and such: maybe 10 pounds. We set off around 11. Above us was the Veronica glacier peak. It was beautiful. We walked through the valley along the Urubamba river. We also got an Inca trail stamp in our passports. The national park workers had just discovered some aqueducts that morning on the cliff face so they took us to look. The local TV station was there and both David and I were interviewed. The first was was a pretty easy gradual hike. The weather was perfect – not too hot, not too cold. We stopped by some ruins for a lecture. Our guide was really knowledgeable and his English was quite good. We reached our camp around 5. On the way we had lunch of course. The way the trail works is that the porters run in front and set everything up and they stay behind cleaning up and putting everything away and then they overtake us. They are incredible people. It is so humbling to watch them. Most of them are Andean farmers trying to earn extra money to support their families. They are poorly dressed; usually in torn sweat pants and a t-shirt. Most of them don’t have real shoes but only sandals made out of old car tires. They carry huge bags of stuff often as big as them: at least 60 pounds, No matter what the regulation says.

The food they cooked was AMAZING. Lunch and dinner both came with soup and huge main course with several dishes. I don’t know how they managed to cook so gourmet on a tiny gas burner. We always had tea time before dinner and after lunch and dinner. Coca tea is awesome. Helps with altitude and is a good kick in the butt. We always ate in a large tent that the porters set up. The tent was actually large enough to stand up in. It was divided in half: half kitchen, half dining room. We are at a little aluminum table with a beautiful Peruvian woven table cloth. We always had napkins. We sat on little stools. It was great service. The tents we slept in were also spacious.

At the first camp site the night was incredibly cold and we were woken up at four by a devil rooster. On the trail the wake up call is early – 5. The only exception is the last day when it will be at 3:30.