Sunday 22 June 2008
i knew the inca trail wouldn´t be easy... but i had no idea it would be sooooo tough!!
they say day 1 is easy, day 2 a challenge, day 3 unforgettable and day 4 unique. and every day was a challenge. margaret and i were worried after the first day as it certainly wasn´t "easy". the second day was the toughest. it was about 6 hours of constant uphill in the roasting hot weather and high altitude. it was sooo hard to breathe after every couple of steps. i feel like i´m constantly going on about the altitude and breathing but you have no idea how difficult it is... especially when we reached "dead womans pass"... the highest point of the inca trail at 13,776 feet.
they say if you make it to dead womans pass then you´ve pretty much done the inca trail. getting to that pass was the hardest part of the trek. actually, the hardest trek i have ever done in my life. but we done it !! we completed the inca trail and made it machu picchu!!
it´s the toughest walk i´ve ever done... but it sure was the best walk as well. the scenery was amazing... i had no idea just how beautiful it would be. i thought we would be hiking mainly through forests with a few inca ruins on the way... but we were constantly surrounded by the ande mountains. we were so high up and the views were stunning. i couldn´t stop taking photos. surprisingly!
everyone in our group made it which was brilliant. but we were also very very lucky. only 7 days of the year do you get clear views of the snow on the mountains. 7 days!! and for 4 days we had clear blue skies and could see all the snow capped mountains. my photos really don´t do it justice (i´ve uploaded them to my flickr). it was really hard and exhausting but despite all that, i would do it again. although i´d probably not be as lucky the next time with the weather.
william, our guide, told us that last year he had only seen the snowy mountains 3 times. how cooel is that. so so lucky. we were all complaining at times about the heat but really we knew we had it good.
4 days it took us. most of us with our wee rucksacks. now, the porters carry 18kg of luggage for us. sleeping bags, mats, camping equipment, cooking equipment etc. 18kg! they put us to shame because they all make it to camp before us. but get this, the record time of a porter finishing the inca trail is 3 hours and 45 mins!!! i couldn´t believe it. how fit must this guy be!
the porters really are amazing. if it wasn´t for them our trip would´ve been tougher. not only do they carry all our stuff for us, but they set up camp for us arriving, cook and serve us our 3 meals a day, clean and tidy up, wake us up the following morning, cook and serve us breakfast, take all the camping stuff down... then start hiking to do it all again... for 3 more days!
a porter carrying way too much stuff!
our other guide, marcello, told us that some porters on other tour companies can be badly treated. some of them had hand made backpacks made from sacks and plastic bags. looked really sore for their shoulders... especially with the weight. some have to sleep in bad conditions, lack of food, badly paid etc.
our company, peru treks, comes on top for treating porters well. i done a bit of research before booking the inca trail... and that´s why i chose them. marcello mentioned that most porters want to work for them. there were 22 porters in total on our trek. marcello used to be a porter when he was younger and back then they were carrying up to 55kg of equiptment !! ouch !!
we´re now in aguas calientes, we leave tonight to go back to cusco. not much here but the usual touristy shops and cafes surrounded by the machu picchu mountains.
looking forward to getting back to cusco... for our last 3 days in south america! can´t believe it´s nearly coming to an end. we´ll be ending it with the inti raymi festival. we´re hopefully meeting up with 2 girls from our trek for some tapas and drinks to celebrate our achievement.
then it´s the long flight back to london for 2 nights to see paul before leaving for africa. i can´t wait for london! i hate the place... but i´ve missed paul soooo much! it´ll be tough leaving again for 4 weeks... but then we´ve got just under 3 months travelling together... and i can´t wait