Good morning loyal blog readers!
It has officially been one week since Mary, Hannah and I (plus our amazing group) made it to Machu Picchu, after a long 4 day trek through the Andes Mountains - that's right we survived the Inca Trail!
Words cannot begin to adequately express what an amazing week we shared - uphill, downhill, SO much laughter, more coca tea than we knew what to do with, and an amazing group of 15 young adults, 2 guides, 1 amazing chef and 17 porters. We were a force to be reckoned with let me tell you.
Upon our arrival in Cusco we got ourselves settled, checked in with our trek company (http://www.perutreks.com/ - HIGHLY recommend) and spent the following 48 hours fully adjusting to altitude (not a problem for this group), "carb-loading" which we believed to be perfectly acceptable given the journey we were about to embark on, and thoroughly enjoying each others company.
Monday morning was finally upon us - 4:45 a.m. wake up call - buses were scheduled to pick us up at our hostel between 5:20 and 6:00 a.m. Sure enough 5:30 a.m. and there they were - Hannah was mysteriously taken by herself first, a mistake that was thankfully corrected when we arrived at Km. 82 to begin the trek. Anyways, after a 2 hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo and then another hour to Km. 82 we were READY!
|The team getting ready to start!|
The first day was needless to say gorgeous but in retrospect, by far the easiest. We arrived to camp around 5:30 and really began getting to know our group over a delicious dinner. Side note : the food was amazing! Far exceeded my expectations.
Then came the dreaded day two - we had been warned about this fateful day - it is widely known as the hardest day and now we all know why. We were pleasantly awakened by one of our guides and a few porters with a hot cup of coca tea at our tent (a morning ritual) and were to report to breakfast, packed and ready, 45 minutes to an hour later. Okay we thought, no problem. Little did we know we were about to face a 6 hour climb straight uphill that would be far more grueling than any of us had anticipated.
|Rock stairs - straight up - my nemesis.|
|We started at the bottom!|
Let me tell you all that making it to the top of that pass was one of the greatest feelings of victory and triumph that many of us has had ever experienced. Grand Canyon times ten! It was amazing. After another hour and a half downhill we were safely at camp and overjoyed to see our applauding porters, a hot meal and tents.
Day three started out a little tired and a lot sore but all in all ready to take on the last (and longest) leg of our journey. What I knew about this day going in was that it was the longest day, started with uphill, then flat (or Andean flat as we so fondly named it, more like slight up and down) and then a good 3-4 hour downhill. Seemed doable at the very least. I must confess that this actually proved to be my hardest day - my knees had taken a beating going downhill the night before and were thoroughly displeased the next day. After some ibuprofen, a wrap job and some rest I was back on my feet, thank heavens. We successfully tackled day three, although I will tell you all, the end of that day was the most tired I have been in a VERY long time.
|Bring it on Day 3! - with Mary and Hannah|
|Down, down and more down...|
At 3:45 a.m. on day four, we were awoken once more, sans tea this time, and were instructed to pack up and get ready to go - the idea being that we would arrive at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu as the sun was rising over the valley. Well needless to say we made it and these pictures can better explain the feeling (and the view) than I can...
An AMAZING 4 days and 3 nights in the Andes with two of my best friends and an amazing group to boot. So there you have it - with between 25 and 30 pounds on our backs (we are mighty women!) we traveled a little more than 26 miles through the Andes and it was by far one of the greatest adventures to date.
Safely back in Lima now - wishing I could turn back time but looking forward to a weekend in Huancavelica with the girls at the end of this month and then Broad Streeter's arrive --- and believe it or not, shortly thereafter I will be returning stateside.
As always, sending lots of love,
*Link to full album of photos at the top right of the page!*
*For our full itinerary you can visit : http://www.perutreks.com/inca_trail_04d_itinerary.html*