The day before the trek
Pre-trek meeting with our guides from the local trekking agency.
Everyone takes the opportunity to ask any questions and psyche themselves up for the next 4 days of walking!
We’re picked up early by a minibus. First stop is Sacsayhuaman, a.k.a. Sexy Woman on top of a hill overlooking Cusco. A Fortress from whence the capital of the Inca kingdom was defended or a religious and ceremonial place – different views still!
On to the Sacred Valley to see the bread basket of the region.
Visit to Pisac ruins and its fantastic terraces where we get to put our lungs and legs to the first little test.
Walking sticks, coca leaves and colourful plastic ponchos are purchased as well as the last supplies for our trek.
After lunch and a traditional weaving demonstration, it’s time to start walking in earnest! We tentatively start climbing our way up the hills and slowly watch the scenery change.
An easy introduction to the trek, this afternoon’s walk ends at a tiny community where we get to meet the locals, stay overnight in a colonial house and enjoy some traditional food.
After a hearty breakfast we pick up our snack bags and set off for a full day’s walking.
Small steps, deep breaths – the recipe for success.
We meet little old ladies without shoes, running up the mountain paths with heavy loads on their backs and kids on their way to school down in the valley and we all feel a bit sheepish in our gore-tex gear.
Newfound respect for the people living in these harsh but stunning mountains.
Walk through an ancient Inca site before huffing and puffing our way up to the high pass, with breathtaking (literally) views of the Vilcanota and Vilcabamba ranges.
A shot of pisco on the highest point of the trek (4,400m) – each of us pouring just a drop on the ground as a sacrifice to Pachamama (Mother Earth).
Finally downhill and we race down towards our lunch stop.
The porters and cooks have overtaken us a long time ago and already have our tents, the kitchen tent and the toilet tent set up for us!
We’re greeted by hot popcorn and cold drinks in the kitchen tent – very civilised!
A pack of cards come out and we play and talk about today’s sights until dinner is served.
Delicious 3 course meal followed by hot drinks to warm us in the chilly night.
The morning starts with a soft ‘knock’ on the tent and a voice calling: “Coca tea!”
We poke our sleepy heads out to find mugs of steaming tea and a hot basin of washing water waiting for us. What luxury!
Our cooks continue to spoil us with a breakfast of porridge, toast AND eggs.
Herds of alpacas and llamas cling to the mountain sides.
We conquer another high pass and stop for a few snacks and photos of the view of stunning green mountain lakes.
We cruise downhill for lunch at our second campsite at a tiny community school.
Most have an afternoon nap while some of the guys play football.
Visit to the school where we do some work and get to hear both singing and poetry from the kids.
We get local ‘quechua’ lessons from the local teacher. “Sulpayki wayki” (Thank you friend)!
That night the stars are out in full force and we admire the beauty and stillness of the Andes.
Our last day of trekking is short and all of it downhill. Nobody complains
We’re sad to say goodbye to our team of porters and cooks as we hop on a bus to Ollantaytambo.
In summary we all have had blisters, aching muscles and shortness of breath but it’s all bettered by coca leaves, good company, tasty and plentiful food and the amazing scenery.
Arriving at our lodge in Ollantaytambo we have glorious showers and a little rest before a guided tour of the Ollantaytambo ruins.
Dinner in one of the local restaurants and then we’re all eager to try out those lovely hotel beds.
Early breakfast and then we jump on the train to Aguas Calientes.
Shuttle bus to the fabled Machu Picchu where we have a guided tour with our fabulous guide.
We meet up with the Classic Inca Trail trekkers and they’re envious of our clean smell having just trekked into Machu Picchu that morning after 4 days on the trail without a shower 😉
A couple of hours of free time in the Machu Picchu complex – we go exploring on our own, some take the hike up to the Sun Gate and others take the opportunity to have a closer look around the city ruins themselves.
Time to go back… We board the bus and train to Ollantaytambo and then transfer to Cusco where oddly enough nobody shows an overly large interest in the 24-hour Cusco challenge…..
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