Wednesday 9 May 2012

Day 39 - Inca Trail (Day 4), Peru (26 April 2012)

Day 39 – Inca Trail (Day 4), Peru (26 April 2012)

We are woken up at 4am.  The first thing I notice is the rain falling on the tent.  Not the greatest.  Hopefully it will clear by the time we reach Machu Picchu.  I get up and get my stuff ready and then head out for breakfast.  It turns out that it’s not even raining, our camp site was above the toilets and one of the taps had been running full bore all night, which made it sound like it was raining.  In fact when I look up to the sky I see a heap of stars, it was a beautiful day!!! We all have breakfast and we head off to the control point at about 5am, the control point is about a five minute walk from the campsite and doesn’t open until 5.30am, so we have to join the queue.  Some of the tour groups get up at 3am so they can be the first people in the queue.  At the end of the day, they only see Machu Picchu for a couple of minutes more than us, so I would prefer the extra hours sleep.  When the control opens, we begin our final hike to Machu Picchu.  This hike is very easy in comparison to the previous day’s hikes, and the fact it is only about an hour and a half is even more satisfying.  Along the way, we see some slips that happened back in March during the rainy season.  As we get close to the sun gate, the climb gets much more stepper.  There was one point where it felt like we were rock climbing!  Good fun though. We finally arrive at the Sun gate, this is where the sun rises during the middle of summer.  This is also the point where we get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu.  It is a stunning site with the ruins and the mountains in the background.  Everyone starts snapping pictures, but then the fog moved in and we couldn’t see it.  Everyone was gutted and thought it would ruin the day, however 20 minutes later the fog disappeared and it was gone for the rest of the day.  Apparently the fog appears quite often at Machu Picchu so it is understandable why it wasn’t discovered for 400 odd years, and also the fact it is in the middle of nowhere!!! Our guide wants to get moving towards Machu Picchu, which is still another half an hour or so away, so tells us that we can get better pictures closer up.  He is right though, much better pictures from closer.  We continue our trek towards Machu Picchu and pass the sun temple and we are told that it is customary to leave something behind there for good luck.  I left something there, can’t remember what though.  As you get closer, it just looks more impressive.  I have seen hundreds of photos, but it is much bigger than I anticipated, and it is more spectacular.  We get our classic photos of Machu Picchu then we have our tour of the city.  Our guide explains about the temples being the only constructions that didn’t need any mortar as they carved the stones to perfection.  The royal temple has three windows where the sun shines directly through them on three dates throughout the year, can’t remember the dates.  We walk up to the stone quarry which is where they got all the stones to make the shelters.  Machu Picchu is not finished.  The Spanish invaded and they abandoned Machu Picchu before they got to finish.   We then saw the sun dial and the lookout point for the city.  After the tour we got free time to explore the city ourselves.  We just sat down for half an hour as we were so tired.  Then we walked around to take some photos and then we sat at a spot up the top and just stared at the sight for another half an hour.  At 1pm it was time to catch the bus to Aguas Calientes for our lunch.  This town is a really small town 8km from Machu Picchu, therefore it is really touristy.  We have a buffet lunch here with the rest of the team.  Then it is time for some of us to catch the train back to Cusco.  Some of the tour are staying the night in Aguas Calientes.  We have tickets for the Vistadome train which has a window in the ceiling so we can see the sights.  Unfortunately, as our train leaves at 5.30, it is dark and we cant see anything.  We get served a light meal and a drink on the train.  The train ride then starts to get weird.  I went off to sleep and suddenly the music on the train starts blaring.  This gave me a bit of a fright but I recovered and went back to sleep.  I started to notice a bit of activity around me so I decide to slowly open my eyes, I got an even bigger fright here when I saw a clown dancing in front of my face!  Not what I had imagined on a train journey.  Apparently the clown had been dancing up and down the aisles and I woke up at the wrong time.  The other members of our Inca Trail group who were sitting next to us thought my reaction was hilarious!!! Then the attendants on the train have a fashion show and start walking up and down the aisle wearing different types of Alpaca attire.  Quite different to what I think yhe norm is.  We then arrive at Poroy which is where we are catching the bus back to Cusco.  We finally get back to Cusco at 10pm.  I am pretty exhausted that I don’t even shower when I get back to the hostel.  That will make it five days with physical activity and no shower.

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