25th January 2009

Machu Picchu

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We had planned to hike on the famous Inca trail. We had read from Internet that it was possible to book while in Cusco. Unfortunately, amount of hikers is restricted, and January is a specially busy month (the trail is closed on February because of the rain season). The closest possible date for us would have been on the 24th of January, which of course didn’t suit our plans at all. Looking for alternatives, we found an interesting “Inca Jungle trail”, that would last 4 days and take us to some jungle part instead of only mountains.
We took off early in the morning with small buses. Most of the people coming along with us were South Americans, as it is usually the case at this time of the year (Americans and Europeans travel mostly in June-August). After changing the wheels along the way, we drove through villages and high mountains. We found surprising to see kids in quite remote places, with no one around and at this time of the day. Where do they come from ? And why are they there ?
We took the bikes out at noon, and started our memorable descent. The first hour and half were completely foggy (one could barely see 10m ahead) and freezing cold. Breaks on the bike weren’t exactly effective, and the cliff along the road dissuasive enough not to drive too fast in the curves. We had been said that the beginning might be a bit cool, but we couldn’t remember when we last got our hands this frozen. We had a snack and tried to warm up in a very humble house. The fire place hadn’t exactly been thought through, and the whole ceiling was more black from the smoke than Manu’s smoke sauna. Walls looked like they could fall with the wind and the kettles and cooker were not in good shape, to say the least.
Our good gear helped us to dry fast and it was nice to start the more beautiful part of this day. Still going down the serpentine road, we could take pictures from the landscape as we got under the clouds. It was quite fun !
Once at Santa Maria village, Netta started to feel bad, and finally got sick to the point that she couldn’t keep anything inside. Not the best place ever to get sick: one toilet for 20 people in the hostel, no doctor around, but a small pharmacy (of course, speaking only Spanish). As Netta wasn’t the only one feeling weak, the following day we shared a taxi to Santa Teresa, the next village, while others were hiking. Chris didn’t have the best journey, sitting in the boot of that car, and watching the cliff 10 cm from the taxi’s wheels. Luckily, the music was good :)

On the 3rd day, the medics starting to effect, we only took the bus for the first part of the day, joining the group at the end of the road, where only railroad tracks take you to Aguas Calientes. We walked along that one for 3H to get there. It was good to hike a bit, and the landscape was very nice (jungle down, mountains high, bananas along the path, etc).
The next morning, we woke up at 4 am in order to catch the sunrise over Macchu Picchu. It is possible to take a bus up there but we decided to exercise a bit and took the stairs up (about 1H30). Tired but happy, we could finally admire the legendary lost city of the Incas. The scenery is truly breath taking, surrounded with huge mountains and you feel like sitting there for hours and hours. Nevertheless, we did manage to also walk around the place, thanking the Inca gods for the exceptional weather. We hope that you’ll share at least part of the magic, although the photos don’t seem to capture the greatness of the place. We however found surprising that the place wasn’t as crowded as we had been told it would be. Later that day, we found out why as we got our train tickets, to come back to Cusco. The rumors started to spread that there might not be any train that night. Some protest had lasted the whole day and people had blocked both roads and railtracks with stones. Getting to the train station around 5 pm, we realised that some tourists had been waiting for their train since 5 am, and that no train would start for at least 2 hours. Our waiting time passed relatively fast, having interesting conversation with Chilean couple and singing with Argentineans. Finally, our train left 4H30 late and didn’t yet reach the destination. At midnight, around Ollantaytamba, sweaty and tired travellers were wandering around, looking for a bus to Cusco. Many buses were there, but it was a mess, as each would serve only one travel agency (and many people, like us, had no idea which was the travel agency). Suddenly, a small girl, holding a cardboard with our names took Chris’s hand and said “Vamos !”. The journey back was a competition of slalom of buses between the stones left behind by the protesters. To help passengers cope with the length of the trip, some 7 year old boy (probably son of the driver) started to sing in Quechua and left only after having collected enough pocket money. At 2.30 am we were wandering around the streets of Cusco looking for a place to stay as all the places were full due to the special event, and as our hostel didn’t know if we would make it there. Quite an adventure, but definitely worth it! :)

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 25th, 2009 at 22:04 and is filed under in English please !, news, voyages, worldtrip'09. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 2 responses to “Machu Picchu”

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  1. 1 On January 26th, 2009, Irma said:

    Hei taas ja kiitos mahtavista kuvista ja kerronnasta – miten käsittämättömän upeita paikkoja olettekaan nähneet ja kokeneet- huh-huh!! Tulee vain mieleen heti,että minkähänlaista elämä on ollut siihen aikaan kun noita paikkoja on rakennettu ja eletty ja mikä ne on vaientanut. Mutta oiskohan nyt niin, että ensimmäinen muumipeikko on valloittanut pikkupeikon kera nuo upeat historilliset paikat ja mitä ne vielä vuoden mittaan näkevätkään. Voisi siitä syntyä aika monta satukirjaa– saas nähdä…
    Oikein paljon kiitoksia taas mielenkiintoisista kuvista ja kokemuksistanne. Pysykää terveinä ja pitäkää todella lepopäiviäkin, sillä olen ymmärtänyt, että matka tulee olemaan aika pitkä.. Terveiset koko Pakilan porukalta! Irma

  2. 2 On January 26th, 2009, John said:

    Wow, indeed, it was quite an adventure. Very interesting trip as can be read from your blog. In spite of reaching Cusco at 2.30 am and having no place to stay, but I can see that you are very happy with this wonderful trip :)

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