Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Peru Part 5b: Cuzco, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu; April 8-14, 2012

Packing up Camp 1

Up we go!

jungle hiking

Farm House
 On April 11, 2012 we were awoken at 5am with coca tea and hot wash water to start our 2nd day on the Inca Trail.  Today’s hike would take us on a 12km with  1200m of elevation gain from Wayllabamba, up and over the high pass at 4215m EL, Waimiwanusca (aka dead woman’s pass) and down the other side to camp number 2, Paqaymayo at 3600m EL.  After packing our gear and a breakfast of omelettes and Quinoa porridge we hit the trail which started climbing right away.
Porter & Cook Team

 We hiked at a slow and steady pace and after about 2 hours of climbing we all stopped for a snack and reconvened at the next camping area. The next section of the trail took us up a collection of ramps and stairs alongside a river through a dense, amazing, high altitude jungle. After another 1.5 hours we came across our porters and dining tent for our lunch break.  We had a great view of the surrounding peaks and valleys while we enjoyed a lunch of quiche, rice, salad and lemon meringue pie

Dead Woman's Pass; 4215m EL
 After lunch we met all our cooks and porters (19 of them for 11 guests!) before heading on our way. It took about another 1.5 hours of steady hiking to reach the high pass, Dead woman’s pass, which felt like a great accomplishment as the hardest portion of the Inca trail was now complete!

We hung out at the top for about an hour to let the group get back together, have a rest and take photos, but it was quite cold and rainy so we headed down fairly quickly. Unfortunately, on the hike down to camp it poured rain the whole way so we didn’t get great views on the 1.5 hr descent.

Resting at camp

Camp 2
 The whole day took about 9 hours on the trail, including breaks. Once we reached camp we took  a well deserved rest, dried out our clothes, enjoyed some warm tea and snacks over a card game  and had a tasty dinner of soup and spaghetti.
Inca Tunnel

 The Third day on the Inca trail is known at the long, but pretty day.  It consisted of 16km of hiking over 10 hours with a two hour climb up a high pass straight out of camp. The morning started out cold and rainy but the time we reached the top of Runkuraquy Pass it was lightening up and we had some nice views of ruins, mountains, green hills and hanging lakes. The next 4 hours were spent descending rolling hills into the cloud forest, with spectacular views and some more small ruins along the way to our lunch stop. We climbed some crazy steps up to the Sayacmarca ruins, which were awesome, complete with floating stairs.
Camp 3
After and excellent lunch, including cake for desert!, we checked out the Phuyupatamarca Ruins which are perched on the edge of a hill overlooking the valley below. After lunch we hiked for 3 more hours through  some tunnels and along stone trails in the cloud forest to the huge terraced ruins of Inipata Ruins, complete with Llamas everwhere and then after another 30 min of hiking we reached our camp for the night at Winaywayna. We had just enough daylight left to sprint to the Winaywayna ruins which were the most spectacular so far, especially with the river below and surrounding waterfalls. Beautiful! After a tasty pizza and Jello dinner we headed to bed to get so rest for Machu Picchu in the morning!

Floating Stairs


Stay tuned for the final Inca Trail post…..

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