June 30, 2004

Dinner is $3 but we don't actually serve dinner

Trujillo, Peru for some ruins, over the border to Ecuador, and visits to Vilcabamba, Cuenca and Baños.

After leaving our friends in beautiful Huaraz, sadly, we continued north to Trujillo on the coast. There we visited the pre inca ruins of the Moche Culture with guides from our hostal. First was the Sun and Moon Temples which are giant pyramid like structures which are currently in excavation. It was exciting seeing archeologist at work. Apparently, a group of students from Laval University in Quebec were the first to really start excavating the sites. The Sun Temple is so far pretty much unexcavated, but the Moon Temple has had a lot of work done by both archeologist, and looters. The Moon Temple is built as a series of floors built on top of each other. When a leader died a new floor would be built and the previous one filled in with bricks or entombed. Not only did they build upwards, they also would build outwards as well, so the excavation is uncovering layers and layers of ornately painted outer walls. This temple was unlike any ruins we´d seen so far and was very impressive. Later that same day, we visited Chan Chan, a massive Moche ruin consisting of 9 royal palaces. Only one of the palaces and the Arco Iris Temple (Rainbow Temple) have been restored and are open to visitors. It was very impressive to see, not just ruins, but a restored version of what these sites were in their prime.

From Trujillo we bussed up to Piura via Chiclayo. Ben had some ceviche in Trujillo moments before we left on the bus to Chiclayo. We had been told it is best to have ceviche early in the morning while it is still fresh so he thought that since it was 11:30am it was safe to have. He enjoyed it so it must have tasted better than it looked with various squid pieces amongst the interesting looking chunks of nondescript white fish meat with a generous helping of onions and yucca at the bottom.

We overnighted in Piura and then took an overnight bus from Piura to Loja in Ecuador. We chose an inland border crossing into Ecuador after hearing horror stories of robberies and general sketchiness at the crossing at Tumbes. The trip was rather uneventful other than our bihourly passport checkpoints which prevented any hopes of having a decent bus sleep. Arriving at Loja around 7am, we caught a bus directly to Vilcabamba, about an hour south. In Vilcabamba, we stayed at a heavily pimped hostal called Hosteria Las Ruinas de Quinara. It was a bit of a disappointment when you compare the hostel to their flyer. For example, we asked how much dinner was as it is advertised on the flyer and in the hostel and we got an answer of $3. Then around dinner time we asked when dinner was going to be served and told that they don't do dinner anymore. When we inquired as to why he told us dinner was $3 instead of saying there wasn't dinner we didn't get an answer. Feeling lazy, we spent a few days just roaming the small town, eating and trying exotic fruit juices at a vegetarian set lunch and enjoying mexican food, wine and spanish covers of english 80´s classics at a local restaurant.

Next, we headed north, as always, to Cuenca, Ecuador. We stayed at El Cafecito in the city, a popular place with good food, good rooms, but very thin walls :). On our arrival evening we walked around the city center, admiring the beautiful main plaza and popped into a cafe for a hot drink and to share a banana split. Who should walk into the cafe not 10 minutes later but Yvonne and Sandro, our Swiss road biking friends from our 3 day Bolivia jeep trip. They arrived on their bikes that same day and had been invited by a local guy to stay at his home. We caught up and made plans to meet for happy hour at our hostal the next evening. The next day, Yvonne arrived for happy hour without Sandro, who had become ill after some bad cebiche at that restaurant/cafe the night before. We had a nice evening with Yvonne enjoying their stories of how they had spent the last 2 months since we´d seen them. The next day, Ben and I visited a number of travel agents in Cuenca, looking to book a flight to Cartegena and then later to Bogota. Unhappy with the $400 US prices that we were finding for the flights, we settled on just a flight from Quito to Bogota with Aero Postal, a Venezuelan airline, for $96 US each including tax. A nice travel agent told me that if we bought our other Columbian flights there in Ecuador, we would be paying alot more because we´d pay both Ecuadorian and Columbian taxes. We´ll save those flights for booking in Bogota.

From Cuenca, we caught busses to Baños via Ambato. We are currently in Baños and staying at El Oro, a nice HI hostel. Baños is a beautiful little tourist town at the base of Tungurahua Volcano, at 5016 meters. Unfortunatly, so far, we haven´t seen the active volcano because it´s been cloudy. Yesterday, I treated myself to a luxurious 2.50 US, gringo price, manicure. This morning we hiked up to the Virgin statue overlooking the town. It was a rather steep, but short hike that gave us some great views overlooking the town.

In other news, we are glad to hear the Canada doesn´t have a Conservative government and Happy Canada Day to all our friends back home.

From Cuenca,

Posted by bforsyth at 10:59 AM | Comments (1)

June 27, 2004

Huaraz, Peru

After spending a few days in the Jungle we flew to Lima. From Lima we headed to Huaraz which is a nice town in the middle of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, the highest in Peru. We did a nice hike here before continuing north. Click below to read more.

I was expecting to meet up with a buddy from rugby at UBC that lives in Lima but his girlfriend dragged him to Cusco by the time we arrived in Lima so no go there. We spent a couple of days in Miraflores, the main suburb of Lima, and didn't do much really. We saw a movie and walked around Miraflores but never made it to the old Lima. You'd expect a city in the tropics on the ocean to be nice and sunny, but that doesn't happen in Lima or anywhere north until Ecuador because of a fog that blankets the coast making it kind of cool and dark. After taking advantage of the cheap and fast internet in Lima we hopped on a bus to Huaraz, about 8 hours away.

We had a hostel recomended to us in Huaraz along the way that wasn't in our guide book called the Way Inn. It is a very nice hostel run by a British couple that have lived in Huaraz for the past 3 years. The hostel includes a sweet rooftop patio and bar, complete with sauna and steam room! We wanted to do a hike in the mountains around Huaraz and after talking to Alex, one of the owners of the hostel, we decided to do the Quilcayhuanca valley hike instead of the more popular Santa Cruz hike. They are both 4 day hikes but the Quilcayhuanca hike is much less busy because the trail isn't as well marked. We had enough of gringo hikers on the Inca trail.

So the next day we headed out with packs heavy from all the equipment we rented from the hostel and our food. We were told there wasn't any transportation to the start of the trail, just to a small town near the start. We went off to find a colectivo to said small town early on a sunday morning. Colectivos don't leave until they are full, 12 people, and there weren't many people that wanted to go to Llupa, or even better, Pitec this early on sunday morning. So we ended up paying quite a few soles to get the colectivo driver to leave with just us and take us all the way to Pitec. It was one bumpy ride and we even picked up a few locals that got a free ride thanks to us.

From Pitec it is about 45 minutes to the park entrance. There was nobody at the locked gate entrance but there was a nice stone staircase going over the wall next to the gate. Safely in the park we started getting used to the scenery and the weight of our packs. It is very easy going for the first couple of hours along the edges of swampy ground at the bottom of a beautiful valley. After an hour or so we saw our first gringos. Then a little while after that we saw another group of gringos taking a rest. We said Hola and were going to continue on our way but something about one of them looked familiar. Upon closer inspection and inquiry we determined that they were indeed the 3 Kiwis we hung out with on the roof of Milhouse in Buenos Aires and who we had tried to meet up with unsuccessfully in Cusco. We were a bit surprised to run into them on this somewhat unpopular hike especially when last we heard they were in Ecuador. After chatting for a bit we continued on our way since we wanted to get to the first camp site before the rain in the distance got to us.

A couple of hours after the start of the hike there are some gentle climbs and then flat parts and then more climbing and more flat parts. At the end of the valley there are two lakes that can be visited in one night and two days of hiking. Our first campsite was just below the lower of the two lakes. We were warned that it would be cold at night but it was colder than we expected. After a spaghetti dinner we called it a night around 6pm. I didn't sleep so well the first night because of the altitude but I felt fine in the morning.

The second day we had planned on visiting the lakes and going over the pass to the next valley. As I mentioned before the trail isn't well marked in places and we managed to lose the trail pretty early on on day 2. On the way to the first lake we somehow missed the main trail and made our own trail through the brush along cow trails (there are a lot of cows on this hike) and eventually made it to the lake. Well, kind of. We made it to a ridge that overlooked the lake by quite a bit. No big deal though, it wasn't like we were going to go swimming in the glacial lake with ice floating in it. I think we had a better view than from the bottom anyways. And we were higher up than we thought which was good since we still had a long ways to go up. So off to the second lake which is higher up.

We could see the main trail to the next lake from where we were but it was back down a bit and there was another trail closer to us that looked like it went to the same place but not used as frequently. So we took the closer trail. It was pretty steep but in good condition. We were pretty tired by the time we got to the second lake and had lunch there. Then we hiked up a ridge to a carin and found that the pass was still quite a ways away. So after some discussion we decided to setup camp just below the second lake. It was about 2pm when we set up camp and the sun was hot so we unrolled our sleeping mats and did a little sunbathing before the weather changed. It was a good thing that we didn't go for the pass because around 3pm a huge thunder storm filled the valley below us and blanket the pass in cloud. The storm just missed us, we thought. About 5pm the clouds came over us and started dumping hail on us, which is better than rain I would say. The cows that had surrounded our camp to eat grass and check us out were getting a nice blanket of hail on them while we were cooking dinner. We played some crib via headlamp after dinner and before bed and tried to figure out if the cows were going to take our tent out by listening to the sounds they were making. I was awoken early by the sounds of our pots being moved around which we left outside. Some cows decided it would be a good idea to lick our pots which I guess weren't as clean as we thought. They could only lick one pot though because all the others were frozen together to the bottom of the first pot (I did say it got cold at night). The creek by our camp had frozen over in the night and we had to smash the ice away to wash the cow spit off of our pots.

The weather looked excellent on day 3 so we decided we would go for the pass. We were told that there wasn't much of a worn trail but carins would mark the trail. From our campsite, which we knew was a bit off the main path we couldn't see any carins but we could see some switch backs on the hillside across from us. We decided that was a good place to start and got going around 9am (had to wait for the sun to come up to warm us up or else we would have gotten an earlier start). The ascent to the pass is a series of steep climbs with short flat bits inbetween. We were making good progress and managed to find some carins at the top of the scree field we were climbing. There were multiple large carins so we thought that we had to be going the right way. And by looking at our topo map we could tell that we were almost at the right altitude for the pass, which we were beginning to think would be just around the corner. Well at the ridge the carins were on we could see the pass but it was a bit further away than we thought but almost at the same altitude that we were at. So we thought it would be an easy traverse following the carins to the pass.

We were on solid stone now at the foot of the mountain on the right side of the pass and there were plenty of carins to follow. I stayed a bit lower than sarah since I figured it would be easier. She stayed with the carins. I got to the edge of a gorge and saw where the carins led to, a glacier and the gorge, not exactly what we had expected. We didn't give up yet because we knew we were close. We went down into the gorge and tried to climb up a sketchy bit of snow and ice covered rocks but quickly gave up on that idea. We went down a bit further and tried to climb up a near vertical slope of loose rocks. This wasn't such a hot idea either. Doing both of these things with our heavy packs on at around 5100 meters of elevation tired us out and we decided to give up and go back to where we camped the night before. We took a different way back to the campsite and saw a few other carins that might have marked the correct trail but we decided to keep heading back towards camp. On the way down (which was much easier than going up) we saw two other hikers heading up to the pass in the distance. They were the first people we had seen in a day and a half. They were taking a trail that we skipped because it looked to soggy, which I still think was the right idea because there was a huge swamp in the direction they were heading.

We got back to our old campsite pretty quickly but we were exhausted. Hiking at altitudes over 4500 meters just isn't the same as hiking in Vancouver. I had some quick peanut butter and jam sandwiches while some cows watched me do this. It was a quite afternoon with nice weather, although not sunbathing warm this time. More spaghetti for dinner and some more crib before we called it a night. This time with the pots stashed in a small cave so the cows couldn't get to them.

We slept in until almost sunrise time on the 4th day to avoid freezing in the pre dawn shade while making breakfast. We got on the trail around 9:45 and tried to follow the main path out of the valley. It wasn't too hard finding the main trail and it seemed like a much easier way to go than the way we took on day 2. But we didn't regret taking the trail we did. Then at the bottom of hill at the start of the valley where we camped the first night we found the main trail to the first lake as well. We had just missed it by crossing a small river via some boards instead of some rocks. So we built a carin marking the correct path and set off down the valley. It was easy going and we were in the flat marshy part of the valley before too long. On the way out we ran into a guide and a woman heading into the valley and a group of gringos that were on the wrong trail. They were trying to do a day hike to Lago Churup but missed that trail somehow. We also saw a few locals that must tend the cows or something because there aren't any settlements up the valley.

The hike to pitec from the end of the park was longer than we remembered from the way in. We were hoping that a cab might be waiting at Pitec (which is really only about 7 houses as far as I could tell) for people finishing the Churup hike, and there was but he was already booked. So we had to do the hour walk down to Llupa and catch a collectivo or cab back to Huaraz. A smart cabbie had driven up further than anybody else to catch people walking back down first. After some negotiation we got a ride with him and one other gringo back to Huaraz. For part of the ride a buddie of his rode on the roofrack of his aging toyota cab. It must have been quite the ride because I think most of the logging roads in BC are in better shape than the road from Llupa to Huaraz.

Back in Huaraz we showered and had a nice hot and relaxing steam bath followed by a cold beer. We crashed pretty early and the next morning had a delicious breakfast at the California Cafe. This is an incredible place with the best breakfasts we have had since Brazil. They also have fresh roasted coffee (not Nescafe!) that they serve in bodums. I noticed that one of the owners, Tim, was using a powerbook to play music. I thought this was a good sign since we were having some problems with the iPod. It appears that the 3000 meter altitude limit specification for the ipod is actually closer to 4500 meters. It basically didn't work so well up there, but it did successfully download one full compact flash card of pictures thankfully. But this messed up future picture uploads because it thought it was the first roll of pictures when really we had about 37 previous rolls. So when we were back down to Huaraz's more hospitible 3000 meters and tried to dump our pictures onto the ipod it wouldn't work. It took me a day or so with Tim's computers to fix the problem and in return for the free computer time I dumped all of our 20 gigs of music onto his drive (I also snagged 5 gigs of his 40 gigs of music).

After breakfast we headed back to the Way Inn and found Jon Major there chilling out with some friends. We had been trying to organize meeting up with Jon at some point and it was good to see somebody from home again. Unfortunately it was still feeling the effects of the civiche he had in Trujillo that laid him out for a few days with food poisoning. It turned out that the food poisoning was a good thing with respect to their hike since on the day they had planned to leave it was pouring down rain in the mountains. This was also the day that we left Huaraz for Trujillo. We had an excellent time in Huaraz and it was sad to leave without having done more hiking and climbing there. It is definitely some place that I would like to go back to.

Posted by bforsyth at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2004

No Vote

Since the Federal Canadian election will happen while we are still traveling have spent some time trying to figure out how to vote while on the road and have found that it won't be possible for us to vote in this election, which kind of sucks. I thought that we might be able to just go to the embassy in Lima and vote there which seemed kind of reasonable but probably unlikely. After looking at the elections Canada website we found that we had to fill out a registration form and then a ballot and send these in. Well I guess I read the website a little too quickly and you have to first send in your regestration and then they mail you a voting kit. We learned this at the embassy in Lima. This poses a problem for people that don't stay in one spot for more than 3 or 4 days at a time and figure out where they are going to be spending the night in a new town on the bus to said town. So no voting for us, booo. I suppose it is our own fault though.

Posted by bforsyth at 06:50 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2004

Tarzan, King of Jungle!

After hiking the Inka trail Sarah and I decided that we had better go to the Jungle at least once on our trip. So we had a day of rest in Cusco before heading to Puerto Maldanado and then to the Ecoamazonia jungle lodge for a "4 day/3 night" jungle tour.

When we were in Bolivia we skipped going to the Jungle there because we wanted to move north as fast as possible. We regreted this once we got to Peru because the jungle tours in Bolivia are way cheaper and people that we met that had gone to the Jungle in Bolivia really liked it. So we sucked it up and booked a tour to one of the cheaer jungle areas in Peru just outside of Puerto Maldonado.

We decided to book through the same tour operator as we did the Inka trail with since we thought that we might be able to swing some kind of deal. We managed to get a little of what he claimed was the "normal" price but no huge savings. We also decided to fly to Puerto Maldonado from Cusco and then to Lima from Puerto Maldonado after our tour. We left Cusco early on the morning of June 5th for Puerto Maldonado. The flight lasted half an hour, much less time than we spent in the airport waiting for our flight. We got off the plane and were welcomed by the hot and muggy jungle air of Puerto Maldonado. Then it was a 20 minute ride in a flimsy and cheesy bus with a bunch of other Canadians, mostly from Calgary, to town from the airport. Then we did some souvinir shopping and walked around the central market of Puerto Maldonado. We headed out to the river for a boat ride to the lodge at 12:30. It was an hour ride downstream in a narrow river boat to the lodge.

Upon arrival we were greeted with some kind of pisco drink wraped in a leaf and shown to lunch. Lunch was something like Pallea (rice, chicken, rasins, veggies, olives and half a hard boiled egg) wrapped in some banana leaves. Then we had some time to rest in our very nice bungalows before going across the river to Monkey island. On monkey island there are some relatively tame monkeys that the lodge feeds and takes care of. We saw a bunch of different monkeys and had a good time. We saw an amazing sunset on the way back to the lodge and had a tasty dinner. Then we did some night time cayman watching with a big spot light that makes the cayman's eyes shine in the dark. As we were doing this the nearly full moon rose over the river and jungle in a spectacular fashion. After spotting a few small caymans on the river bank we headed back to the lodge and went to bed.

As we were doing the 4 day/3 night tour we didn't need to get up at 5 am like the other Canadians because we were doing something different than them the next day. We were going up river to a smaller river to do a brief jungle walk and then go do some Piranah fishing and then swimming in the same river! The jungle walk was pretty uneventful except for the medium sized snake I saw slithering into a hole under a tree. I yelled out snake to get our guide's attention and Sarah thought that I was just kidding around trying to freak her out, but I wasn't. Luckily she didn't look because she probably would have fainted :) It was a reddish brown snake with black lepord pattern on it. I only saw its back half as it was already pretty far into the hole. The guide said that it was probably a rat snake, I didn't get a scientific name for it as we did for everything else that we were shown on the tour.

The Piranah fishing was unsecessful, but the guides caught a few fish that they called Sardines. We did get a few bites and one of Sarah's bites took her hook clean off so I'd like to think it was a Piranah. Then we did (well me and the Spanish guys with us) some swiming which involved swinging off a vine like tarzan and jumping into the river. That was quite fun but the thought of Piranahs and other scary jungle fishy things made me get out of the water pretty quickly. Then it was back to the Lodge for some quality napping in our bungalow, after lunch that is.

The next day was the day that we had to get up early, 5 am. We were on the road, well river, at 6 am. The day involved a short trip down river and then a long walk through the jungle to a look out tree and then a brief trip on the 'lost lake' and a paddle down a small river to the main river. This was a pretty event filled day, lots of animal sightings and plant explinations by our guide. We had some natural jungle mango and saw a plant that is natural jungle viagra. Just boil it for 20 minutes and then put it in a jar and burry it for a week and bam! Our guide did some tarantula hunting by poking around in a hole in the ground with a short stick. A tarantula did come half way out briefly but not all the way out. We saw some wild monkeys and squirels and parrots. In the lake we saw some baby caymans and kind of saw the mommy cayman as well as a few turtles but no anacondas, kind of dissapointing. Then on our boat ride down the small river our guide got all excited and said he found an anaconda. Sure enough as he pushed some of the grasses out of the way there was an anaconda coiled up by the side of the river. It was only about 2.5 meters long but it was cool to see one in the wild. A little further down the river a cayman jumped in the water just ahead of us and freaked out the people near the bow. A little further down river again we saw the heads of 4 river otters but that is all we ever saw of them. Then as we were doing the 1 km walk between the small river and the main river I heard something in the bushes but I just thought it was the people behind me. Then I heard the people behind me getting excited and as I turned around I thought that there was a jaguar charging them. It turned out it was just a giant ant eater, long nose big body and bushy tail, running across the trail. Pretty unusual I think. Near the end of the trail our guide spotted an unusual frog and showed it to us. It looked like a leaf but that wasn't the unusual part. It can make itself look like a spider by extending its back legs, which our guide simulated by pulling on its legs. Then it was back to the lodge via the trusty peque-peque boat, so called after the sound of its engine which I think is a lawn mower or generator engine with attatched to a long prop shaft with some rebar. The throttle is a knob on the carb which is inconvenient so they change the speed by moving the prop in and out of the water, pretty clever those jungle dwellers :)

That was our last full day in the jungle, so only 2 full days at the lodge in our 4 day/ 3 night tour. Some clever marketing I think. We didn't know that the tour company could get us to our early flight so we planned on spending a night in Puerto Maldonado which we didn't really need to do. It is a strange town and we saw some kind of strange religious parade while walking around the town. It was an uneventful day and the next day Ecoamazonia tours gave us a lift to the airport where we caught our flight to Lima, which is where we are right now.

Posted by bforsyth at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2004

Walk like an Inca

Since we last wrote we have travelled to Cusco and hiked the Inka trail to Macchu Picchu. We heard that the inka trail had a waiting list that was getting longer everyday while we were in Copacabana, Bolivia. We called around and found that there was at least a 2-3 week wait. We ended up booking a tour from Copacabana for May 31st which was about 2 weeks away at the time. We had excellent weather and a good group for the 4 day/3 night hike. Click below to read more....

We arrived in Cusco on May 26th and spent the fews days before we started the inka trail visiting ruins around cusco and doing a Sacred valley tour. There are some really cool ruins above Cusco called Sacsayhuaman that has some very cool stone work. We ended up having a spanish speaking guide convince us to let him guide us around a bit which was good practice for our spanish. We also spent some time walking around the city to the various touristy sites such as the Santo Domingo church which was built over an Inka temple.

On the Sunday before we started the inka trail we did an organized tour of the Sacred Valley near Cusco. It was an all day thing that went to 3 inka ruins and a big market in Pisac. I wasn't feeling so hot that day so it was a long day for me, hiking up the steep Inka sairs and dodging gringos. We had a tasty dinner at Jack's Cafe that night and got organized for the start of the trail the next day.

That night Sarah was up a few times to be sick which we suspect was food poisoning from something we ate that day. I wasn't feeling 100% in the morning either but this was going to be our only chance to do the Inka trail on this trip so we decided that we needed to go. We were in a group of 16 (we thought it was only going to be 8) with quite a few other Canadians. It is a 4 hour drive or so to the start of the trail. From there we got our packs together, I ended up carrying Sarah's sleeping bag as well as my own, and went to the control point at the start of the trail. From here it was a few hours of pretty easy hiking to our first lunch spot. It was another few hours hiking until twilight before we got to our first camp. Our tents were already set up for us and we had tea, cookies and popcorn before a dinner of soup and fried trout. After dinner our guide Celso introduced us to our 14 (!) porters. They carried everything except for the sleeping bags and sleeping mats. This includes, but is not limited to, things such as a 20lb propane tank, a huge lunch/dinner tent chairs and table, tents, food, and more food. They carry all of this stuff on their backs with a makeshift back pack made from old potato sacks and a blanket. That night sarah and I both took a pill for traveller's diarrhea even though we were both feeling a bit better at this point just to be on the safe side.

The next day our stomachs felt much better when we were awoken at 6am with some Coca tea to start our day. We had a breakfast of some kind of porridge, pancakes and toast. Then it was off for what is billed as the hardest day of the trek. It is a long day, 15km, and mostly uphill, around 1200m of elevation gain in the first 10 km or so. This wouldn't be so bad except that at the top it is 4200 meters above sea level. I didn't find it too difficult but I was glad to take a break at the half way point. From here the trail was innundated with gringos and it was hard to get a good pace going. Eventually the slower people stopped for breaks and I managed to get some clear trail ahead of me. I stopped every once and a while for Sarah and some other people from our group to catch up. After the last corner before the top I decided that I wouldn't stop until I got to the top. This seemed to take longer than it should have because my legs were burning from the lack of oxygen. I was pleased to see that the porters were taking frequent breaks and I was keeping up with some of them. And unlike some other people I didn't pay a porter to take my pack up the hill, that would be cheating :)

At the top of the pass we had a celebatory drink of Anis from the bottle I bought on the Sacred Valley tour and took a picture of the people in our group that were at the top at the same time. Then it was all downhill, and chilly, for a good 2 hours before reaching the campsite. By the time I got to my tent I could hardly stand up and not have my legs shake in spasms from the excertion of the day. We got to camp around 1:30pm and had lunch after most of the group got in around 2 or 2:30. Some people took longer though since they had some problems with the altitude. Then we had lots of time to rest until tea at 6 and dinner at 7.

The next day we got up early, 5am, to try to get onto the trail before everyone else. This worked and we had the trail pretty much to ourselves for the whole day. Day three was the nicest day, the hills weren't too steep and the views were amazing. We also passed lots of ruins along the way. We had lunch at a great spot where you could see Machu Picchu mountain and the river below. From here it was a steep downhill slog to the last campsite. The campsite could be classified more as a resort as it had hot showers, a restraunt (with beer) and a hostel. Once again we got in pretty early so we lounged around in our tent until tea and dinner. After dinner it was straight to bed as we would get up the next morning at 4am to be at the sun gate for sunrise.

It wasn't too bad getting up at 4am but it was raining slightly and I felt that our chances of getting a sunrise were slim. We got to the check point at 5am and had to wait until 5:30 when it opened. It was a good thing we got there early because the line was pretty long by the time it opened. Then it was a walk in the dark along a narrow and slippery path to the sun gate, about an hour away. We got there and it was fogged in. We waited for the rest of the group and tried to convince our guide to not wait around for any possible break in the clouds as we saw tour buses arriving at Machu Picchu already. Finaly the Sweedish girls and Sarah and I started walking down to Machu Picchu without the guide because we didn't want to wait around anymore. We got down to the control point at Machu Picchu and ended up having to wait for the rest of the group (the guide had caught up to us by the time we got to Machu Picchu). Then Celso (our guide) gave us a tour of Machu Picchu for the next hour or so and then we had our own time to do what we wanted. I decided to climb the mountain behind Machu Picchu called Huayna Picchu and the Argentinian couple in our group joined me. It was a nice climb up, made especially nice since I didn't have a backpack on anymore, and there are some amazing views from the top. Then I basically ran down to Machu Picchu to meet Sarah and start our hike to Aguas Calliante where we'd catch a train back to Cusco. We hiked down with the two Aussie girls in our group, Chevon and Ellie and caught up to the English couple in our group (Russ and Vicky) as well. I was pretty tired from my jaunt up Huayna Picchu and was the slowest one in the group walking to Aguas Calliante. We had a pizza for lunch and hopped on the train back to Cusco. So ended our Inka trail journey.

Posted by bforsyth at 04:44 PM | Comments (1)