Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Machu Pichu and the Inca trail

The Inca Trail
That was actually easier than I expected, apart from the second day which was sheer hell. I managed to be near the front of the group and didnt feel any pain in my legs until I stepped through the entrance gate at Machu Pichu. Having packed for wild campingI was surprised when there was no need to use my candles, mess tin or iodine tablets. I found it quite amusing to hear people say that this was roughing it while the porters set up their tents and cooked dinner for them.

I have to put in a word about the porters who were amazing. Every day when we left they would saty behind to break camp and pack up all the heavier bits of equipment, then run past us on the trail and have the next camp set up by the time we got there. Our guides Washington and Ephraim spoke excellent English and were very funny, they also told us interesting facts like the fact the 'discoverer' of Machu Pichu 'Meester Hiram Bingham' arrived about fifteen years after the area was opened up by the railway and Inca artefacts began to appear for sale in Cusco.

After three days of glorious sunshine we arrived in rain and mist. I ran to the gate at Intipunku hoping to see something before the clouds closed in but just missed it. After a very wet tour we all went down to Aguas Calientes. It was obviously a tourist town from the fact that prices were in US dollars but it was possible to find hints of local life as well like a restaurant with two entrances one saying 'Tourist Menu and Pizzeria' the other 'Se vende menus economicos y chicha de maiz'.

The main road was actually a railway track, something of a shock to someone used to the idea that train tracks must be seperated from people by high fencing that only the highly trained can go behind rather than something you can casually cross between one shop and the next. In fairness the trains seem to move about walking pace so there is probably less danger. I visited the hot springs which were crowded but otherwise ok hot water felt good after the trail.

Having booked for a second day I returned to the ruins and was pleased to find that even such a popular site has quiet areas so while tor groups queued to climb up to the temple of the sun I wandered around the agricultural terraces and buildings newly cleared from the jungle with only the lizards and birds for company. Finally I rejoined the throng to get the obligatory postcard shot from the watchmans hut before heading back down to the train station.

No comments:

Post a Comment