Archive for June 7th, 2010

Inca Trail – Day 4

Topic: Travel| 2 Comments »

Day 4
We got up at 3:30 to allow the porters to pack up and catch the train at 5. We also wanted to be among the first ones to the checkpoint which opens at 5:30. There were about 50 people in front of us. Once we got our permits checked we started walking. It was still dark so we had to wear headlamps to see the trail. It was super adventurous. The pace was really fast and we all walked in a line. It was the first and only time we walked in a herd of tourists.

After an hour and conquering “the gringo killer” which is about 50 completely vertical steps that you have crawl up on all fours we reached the sun gate. That was the first time we laid our eyes on Machu Picchu. It was an incredible moment and one that I will always remember. It was so huge and beautiful and we had worked so hard to see it. The sky was blue not a single cloud and we watched the sun slowly kiss the terraces. Wow. From the Sun Gate, it was still about another 45 minutes before we reached Machu Picchu.

We left our backpacks at the storage since big bags are not allowed and started our 2 hour tour with Mauro. It was so amazing to be walking around the premises admiring the stonework, the Inca understanding of nature, the beautiful jungle covered mountains surrounding us, and also realizing that one of our dreams had just come true. I really cannot describe how awesome it was. After a quick snack we had free time to explore and take more pictures. We went to see the Inca bridge, which you must google, because it is the scariest thing I have ever seen. It is a couple of logs on a completely vertical cliff. It is obviously closed because unless you are an Inca or a monkey you are guaranteed to die. I was having heart attacks just looking at it.

At 1:30 we hopped on a bus to take us to Aguas Calientes, a little tourist town in the valley, to meet Mauro. The 30 minute bus ride was worse than all of Inca trail. We rode about an inch from the cliff edge and had to back up several times to allow the buses coming up the mountain to pass. I was happy to get off the bus and walk on solid ground again. It turned out that our train was leaving four hours later than we expected so we decided to go the local hot springs to kill time. We left our bags in a local restaurant along with the stuff the porters had carried and left here for us. The springs were exactly what we and our bodies needed. It was heaven.

After the rejuvenating bath in the hot springs and the pee of many foreigners and locals, we got a beautiful grilled alpaca steak and headed for the train station. There is seriously no better meat than alpaca; so tender and so flavorful. The train took us back to km 82 where we started the trail. The train used to go all the way to Cusco but because of a landslide it has not gone to Cusco since January. The train was comfortable and clean and we had assigned seats. It did rock from left to right quite a bit but we were too tired to be concerned. Unfortunately it was too dark to see the valleys outside.

After 1.5 hours we got to km 82 where we boarded minibuses that took us to Cusco. Again, another scary bus experience as we happily left the road and rode on the train tracks instead. We both tried to sleep. Denial is bliss. There is only one thing worse than riding on a bus on train tracks and that is riding on a bus on a Peruvian road that is either plain dirt, plain rocks, or asphalt with foot tall speed bumps every 10 yards. After 3 hours when we reached Cusco I felt like I was thrown into a blender that was thrown into a washing machine. Horrid. We arrived in Cusco at midnight. Someone from the Trail agency was supposed to meet us but nobody was there due to either a miscommunication or our early/late arrival, So we took a taxi. No seat belts of course, that would be too boring. The car looked like we might have to push it to our hotel (like some modern version of a pioneer handcart) but by a miracle it made it. When all was said and done we crashed at 3 am, totally exhausted.