|Machu Picchu at sunrise from the Sun Gate|
What an amazing trip to Peru! The four day Incan Trail to Machu Picchu was one of the most difficult things I've ever done physically, but it was well worth it.
The trip started on August 23rd when I left Atlanta for Lima, checking in for my first time at the new Atlanta International Terminal, hanging out at the Sky Club there awaiting my flight. Arriving in Lima, I quickly retrieved my bags and walked just across the street to the Ramada. I had briefly considered sleeping in the airport for my 6:55 am flight -- thank goodness I did not! The airport was crazy. The Ramada was actually connected to the airport by a Sky Bridge which was very convenient. Plus, I was upgraded to a suite. They offered a welcome beverage--a pisco sour--which I gladly accepted.
I woke up at 4:30 am, showered and checked in for my flight to Cusco, then went back to the hotel for breakfast. Security was short and easy, but the plane was delayed. It was close to 9:00 before we took off from Lima. The plane boarded from both the front and the back in no apparent order. Kind of crazy.
Landing in Cusco on Friday morning (August 24), my hotel transfer wasn't there because the plane was so delayed. I called, and they camed immediately. The Hotel Marqueses was amazing! It had been a 16th Century Colonial House. I would definitely stay there again! There was a beautiful courtyard, and my room felt palatial. It even had a fireplace.
|Inside my room|
|Inside my room|
|Courtyard fountain at night|
|Courtyard looking towards my room|
|Cathedral in the main square, Plaza de Armas|
Dinner that night was a a really good restaurant called Pachapapa where the best thing that I had was alpaca. This turned out to be one of my favorite foods in Peru, but especially on this night. Dave Blaney ordered the Cuy there.
|Cuy (Guinea Pig)|
On Saturday morning, I slept until 9:00 in my very dark room where I could hear the fountain just outside my wooden door and window shutters. We walked around town, and went to the Qorikancha, the Temple of the Sun that was the center of the Incan Universe. After the Spaniards arrived, this became the Church of Santo Domingo.
|Terraced Courtyard of Qorikancha|
Dinner that evening was at Tunupa, on the second floor of a building on the main square. It was a good buffet with cultural dancers and music.
Just across from Tunupa was a bar called The Crown 1650. There, RJ, Nicola, Karol and I met a bartender named Norberto who let us take pictures behind the bar. He had several different infusions of pisco including eucalyptus and coca leaves. Of course, I had to try them. On leaving, Karol and I made plans to meet Norberto on Sunday to tour Cusco.
The next morning, there was a huge, strange parade-- lots of soldiers, nurses, men in suits, marching bands, and priests marching by as Karol and I watched from the Paddy's.
After the parade and some lunch, we met Norberto to start our tour of Cusco. Scenes from the day:
|Norberto and I in front of the statue of Pachacuti, the great Incan leader.|
|We climbed to the top of the monument of Pachacuti where I took this shot|
|With Karol at the remains of Saqsaywaman|
|Saqsaywaman. Note how the rocks are perfectly fitted with not mortar.|
|Cusco from Saqsaywaman|
|Christo Blanco, overlooking the city of Cusco|
|Karol and I at Q'engo ("the labyrinth") on the sacrificial altar|
|The remains of Pukapukara|
|The remains of Tambomachay - the "princess baths'|
|Watching the sun set over Cusco|
|Dinner at El Tablon|
On Monday, August 27, we begin our Incan Trail trek. The bus from United Mice, our expedition company, came to pick us up at 4:00 am. We drove to Ollantaytambo, where we had breakfast and started our four day adventure.
|Start of the Trail|
|Finally near the camp site around 6:00 pm after starting the day at 4:00 am|
|Tired folks ready for dinner|
The next morning, wake up call was at 5:00 am.
|The start of Day 2|
|Some of the many, many, many steps along the trail|
|Me at Dead Woman's Pass -- Warmiwanuscca -- our highest elevation at 13,776 feet.|
|The group shot at Dead Woman's Pass|
|Me with our guides Milton, Fabrizio, and Adolfo at Runkuraqay|
|The remains of Runkuraqay|
It felt like day 2 of the trek was spent walking through the clouds. Everything was hazy and cloudy. While the views weren't quite as spectacular, there was a beauty to the cold mist.
The remains of Sayacmarca on Day 2 of the Trek (elevation of 11,472 feet.). This was about 17 miles into the total hike and about 7 miles for the day.
|Camp -- Night 2|
More scenes from Day 3:
|Puyupatamarca remains. 11,930 feet.|
|The remains of Winaywayna -- 8,682 feet.|
We campsite the third night was by the beautiful terraces of Winaywayna. This was really cool and amazing that there were fountains there that still worked. Milton, our guide, explained to us there the Incan Cross:
Milton, our guide, illustrated the Incan Cross in the sand -- three rules: Don't be lazy, Don't steal, and Don't Lie. The Condor representing the sky or upper world (Hana Pacha), the Puma, representing the earth or everyday world (Kay Pacha) and the snake, representing the underworld (Unin Pacha). One corner also represents the values of love, knowledge and work.
That night we recognized all the porters and guides before going to sleep early under a beautiful full moon. Wake up call for the final day was 2:00 am so we could be at the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu for sunrise.
|The "Gringo Killers" -- steps leading up to Intipunku -- the Sun Gate.|
|Me at the Sun Gate after the sun had illuminated Machu Picchu below|
The next morning, we went back to Machu Picchu as we had tickets to climb Huayna Picchu. They let in 200 people at 7:00 am and another 200 at 10:00 am. I was number 95. I had come close to not doing this climb after four days of hiking, but it was really awesome! It felt good to do it without gear and poles. There were really amazing views and it was a really fun trail.
|Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu|
|Looking back at the Sun Gate from Huayna Picchu|
|Me at the top of Huayna Picchu|
|Climbing down. After down, there was still a lot more 'up.'|
|Moon Temple remains on the way down|
|Inside the Moon Temple|
|Me at the summit of Huchuy Picchu with Huayna Picchu in the background|
After climbing to the top of Huayna Picchu, we went to the top of the smaller Huchuy Picchu, which still had excellent views and a nice part where one needed a rope to climb up to the top.
We spent the afternoon with a nice lunch at The Treehouse -- totally awesome -- followed by drinks in the cute little town of Aguas Calientes.
Leaving that night, we took the train to a bus back to Cusco-- a bit easier than our trip to Machu Picchu.
|Train back to the start -- Ollantaytambo|
|Back in Cusco -- one last night at The Crown|
|On the Lima Hash on the last afternoon in Peru|