What happened in Machu Picchu...

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Kenya 2006


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This must be the most visited tourist site in Peru.  Well there are various ways to reach the old Inca ruin up in the mountains.  The famous route of the Inca trail is limited to 500 people a day and that includes the guides and porters.   We’d heard some horror stories of people booking months in advance to only turn up here and find they’re not booked on it and the company had taken their money!!!


We tried booking a trip back in the UK 6 weeks before we left, but kept getting told they were all full.  So we hoped to arrive in resort to find a cancellation.  There was nothing available until mid August, so they tried to sell us the next alternative which basically takes you round another way to Machu Picchu via various days of hiking (5 days, 4 nights) and all camping.  So not wanting to go without a shower for this long we bought a further alternative route.  This had some tough hikes planned and NO porters carrying your kit.


Day 1 was mountain biking from a point just under 5000M up in the clouds.  So after one hell of a bus ride up the mountain for a few hours we got to our point.  Bikes out from under the bus, helmets on we met some of the people who we would live and breathe with for 4 days (Mark from the US and Rob from New Zealand).  We set off all loaded up.  It was hot, humid and the mosie’s were out ready to bite.  For any mountain biker out there, this is a must.  The route down to the village night stop was 62Km long with about 80% down hill and 20% up.  There were stream crossings, miles of teeth chattering, arm shaking bumps and rocks.  It took just over 4 hours to get the group down to the bottom.  Perfect for Terry but not so great for me…I needed a new pair of arms and hands when I got to the bottom.  Not great being the only girl with a bunch of 5 mad guys whose only mission was to get to the bottom as fast as possible!


The village was a real shanty town, which seemed to have only one phone.  They had a mad system for taking phone calls - when the phone rang you could hear it on a loud bell and the whole village was called on a tanoy so the person could come to the phone.  We also meet the rest of our group.  Two more guys from the US (Sarah and Hamesh) who had been trekking during the day.  So the whole group totalled 6 people and with 2 guides.


Anyhow our room was very, very basic and the one shower for us all was only cold with no spraying head, just a straight cold jet down!!!  But after all that biking in the heat, and carrying all that kit it didn’t feel too bad.  Just nice to be clean.  Dinner in the village was well deserved.  One of the local little girls was fascinated by Rachel and Sarah’s blonde hair and wanted to touch it, she was very young and hadn’t seen anyone with blonde hair before!













Hiking valley views

Pitstop in the shade



















Rachel outside our home for the night!

Long walk on the railway!

Machu Picchu after sunrise




Happy local kids!

Hiking Team



Next day 5am wake up and after breakfast we set off hiking, that was after one of the lads in our group got charged at by a local bull with horns that just seemed to be roaming about down the street.  Soon woke him up.


We walked probably 8 hours in total climbing some serious elevations, steps of all sizes, walking along some very narrow high edges as well as various river/gorge crossings that you had to walk a high beam with NO rails.  You can see why this trip had no porters or donkeys carrying our stuff, there’s no way they could have made the climb.  The manual cable bridge across the rivers was good fun…  We also saw some amazing views through the valley, really spectacular.  That made the trip worthwhile! We rolled into a shanty town (that had smooth paths, yet unmade roads, how bizarre), dirty, sweaty and hoping for a hot shower.  We were surprised as the shanty street called our home for the night had luke warm water… So a good feed and bed.


Another early start, trek not as long this day so we thought!  6 hours with longer lunch break and we walked miles of rail tracks into the village at the bottom of Machu Picchu.  We arrived into Machu Picchu still with some day light only for a quick check into our hostel and drop off our packs to re-load with our head torches, water, cameras and warm clothing.  Well what we did next was madness!  When we booked the trip the guide told us about this other mountain (Putukusi) you can climb next to Machu Picchu which gives you great views of the ruin with the sun setting.  It was as good as straight up rock climbing.  The rocks were big, so were the steps as well as wooden ladders just nailed to the side of the face that seemed to go on for an age, the first ladder must have had 100 steps with a vertical climb.  No ropes or rails we carried on.  It sure was a case of don’t look down. 


We reached the top after just under an hour of uphill climbing with a wee bit of light left.  The view was pretty good, the light wasn’t brilliant but you could make out the various walls of Machu Picchu in the moonlight.  The temperature had really dropped.  So after some drink and photos we got our head torches on.  Only 6 of us went up.  3 of us had head torches and one had a normal torch.  So with maximising on the light we set off back down.  It was a great team effort to get down helping each other.  Probably better in the dark as you couldn’t see the drops!  Later on during dinner we found out our guide had never done that route before.  Nightmare!  So it turned out to be a long trekking day.  It really was great to do even if really stupid…  Much needed food and sleep that night.


04:30 alarm call the next day to start the hike up to Machu Picchu in the dark ready for sunrise.  We got up there as the first lazy arsed people arrived by bus.  It was a just reward to have done what we did to see the amazing sight of Machu Picchu 2400M up.  The views were really incredible.  We spent a good few hours wandering around and taking photos (lots of photos), as it’s just one of those sights you can’t help but be impressed by.  Why did the Inca’s build such amazing cities in the sky? 


After sunrise came up we had a guide take us around telling us more about the ruins.  By 10am the sun was baking and all the clean tourists (straight off the bus) started arriving in coach loads.


We started the long trek back for a just reward of coffee and cake (no surprise) and some lunch before the train and bus journey back to Cuzco.  A quick drop by the ice-cream shop for a group ice-cream before getting back to the hotel for a long hot shower.  God it felt great!  I think we where in bed that night at 21:15 and probably slept a good 10 hours.  So a nice easy day in Cuzco was had the following day…


Just like to say, we had a great trip with a great bunch of people.  Good luck guys with what you’re all planning to do in your lives…



Some pictures from the amazing Machu Picchu

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