29.04.2013 - 03.05.2013 20 °C
We started the Inca Trail on 29th April. We weren't off to a good start as Emma and I had just started taking antibiotics for the bad bellies we picked up in Bolivia. Instead of making us feel better we actually started the Trail feeling tired and sick! We had a great group and two excellent guides called Ellistan and Juan. At the start of the Trail we had to show our passports as there are only 500 people allowed on the Inca Trail a day. This number includes the porters who carry all our camping equipment, food and even some of our stuff. The porters are not allowed to carry more than 24kg, which considering they're all about my height and aren't given suitable shoes to wear is crazy. They run ahead of us to set up and cook lunch and then pack up and run ahead of us to set up camp for the night. They are amazing!
On day one we walked pretty quickly, I think Emma and I would've like to stop more but our group were quite speedy. At least we'd stocked up on snacks and there were a few little houses we could buy drinks and snacks at. We passed Inca ruins and looked down at the Urubamba river. The views were great and the sun was out. We got to the campsite (Wayllabamba) earlier than expected. I felt awful so had a rest in the tent before dinner. Luckily we had Mary in our group who's a nurse from the US and she gave us the sympathy we really needed! On the first day we walked about 14km and climbed up 500m.
On day 2 we woke up to the sound of a cockerel and to a cup of coca tea given to us by our lovely guides. We had to climb from 3,100m to 4,215m up to dead woman's pass. I thought it the pass was going to live up to its name that day! Emma and I just plodded along at the back and took our time. The group waited for us at the pass so that we could have a picture together and to give some encouragement. The view was so pretty and we could see the path we'd come up and couldn't believe how far we walked. The altitude had also made it a lot harder to breathe and you get dehydrated very quickly. We then had to walk down continuous steps for about 2 hours. I took it slowly because of my ankle but it meant we got to see hummingbirds and appreciate the view a bit more. We got to the camp and had dinner. Emma only had crackers to eat because she felt so awful which wasn't helped by the disgusting toilets! The camp was at 3,500m and we walked about 10km.
On day 3 we continued to climb up to the second pass of the trail which was 3,950m above sea level. We passed an Inca ruin on the way and walked through cloud forest on the way down to lunch. It started to rain after lunch so Emma and I put on our stylish blue and orange ponchos! We walked through Inca tunnels behind slabs of rocks and got to the 3rd pass (3,670m). We took the path down at a very slow pace and went through a big Inca ruin called Winaywayna where llamas were grazing. We got to the camp just before it got dark. It was a very long day and took us just under 11 hours and we walked about 14km. This was the last night and we got to meet the porters and give them a tip. I also was elected to give a speech to say how grateful we were for all their extremely hard work - I have no idea how they do it and keep smiling! We then had some cake and went to bed.
On the 4th and final day we got up at 3.30am to pack up and eat breakfast so that the porters could take all the stuff and run to catch the only train they can get at 5.30am. We then had to wait until 5.30am for the control to open to allow us to walk to Machu Picchu. It was dark and some people were crazy and running ahead. We walked pretty fast and overtook some people to get to the sun gate (Intipata) to get the first glimpse of Machu Picchu. We were so lucky with the weather, we could see the whole of Machu Picchu in the sun. We then walked on to get to the famous ruins and managed to see experience it without the crowds of tourist that get there an hour later. Machu Picchu is so special because the spanish never found it so it was left untouched after its residents fled to the last Inca city. Our guide showed us around and told us everything there was to know about it. I was surprised how animated he was because the rest of us could barely keep our eyes open. We had a look around by ourselves, got a stamp in our passports to say we've been there (had to be done) and then got the bus down to the town below called Aguas Calientes. We had lunch with the group and said our farewells. Despite feeling sick and exhausted the Inca Trail was definitely worth it. Machu Picchu was by far the most interesting ruin we'd seen and the views on the way were incredible!