I want to take a minute to pay tribute to my sister Jen and brother-in-law Flackie who walked the very challenging Inca Trail over 4 days this time last year. It is impossible to appreciate that feat unless you stand here and see the trail near the Sun Gate and the ant-like hikers who are nearing the end of the trail. But what a prize at the end. Well done you two!
Just making it from the hotel to the train station in Ollantaytambo was an achievement for us – and that was only 200m down the road 😉 Passport checked and tickets stamped we waited in growing anticipation for the Perurail Vistadome to take us the 1.5 hours to the bus. The train was great! A snack and great scenery along the way where the vegetation changed from more open farming lands of the valley to the forest type sheltering orchids and simple huts along the river., and ghe hydro electric plant.
Our limit of 5 kilos in a backpack meant we had trusted the hotel to forward our main luggage on to Cusco, so it was light work for us…and would become even lighter soon as the backpacks were wisked away by our hotel porter from the El Mapi Hotel at the end of the train ride. So we now pared down to essentials for Machu Picchu….hard to decide on clothes to cater for varying temperatures though.
Even for those of us who were driven up from the train station at Aguas Calientes (now renamed Machu Picchu Pueblo) in the caterpillar cavalcade of buses round the hair-pin no guard railed bends, were allowed the prize…… no, not the queue for the toilets (2 Peruvian selos), the touting of guides and the endless checking of pasports and tickets…..THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE ICONIC POSTCARD MP image!
Our Condor Travel guide was lumbered with a licorice allsorts motley group – the 4 of us, an Australian couple from Melbourne – young and fit, a well-travelled couple from USA/Switzerland, and a single Swiss 50ish guy. So we set off for the hardest section first. It was definitely a struggle for Muz…..but the guide, so very proud of his ancestors, was patient and supportive, and we all made it to the top section. And WOW!
From there, and the classic postcard vista, it was stone steps down to the middle
level and the complex components. The skill of the stone masons and the sophistication of the seasonal calendar aligned to the sun, the granaries, the semi-circular astronomical observatory, the agricultural terraces and temples, guard houses and living areas and the sacrificial sections….all so interesting and a testament to a vibrant culture!
The views of the surrounding peaks and the valley below were breath taking – though Muz was having problems with breath-taking of a different kind, and the large, deep steps in places really tested our flexibility and knee joints. Tip: a hiking stick is very handy! Tip: plenty of water to keep the oxygen intake high
Lunch was a smorgasbord of delights upon which LSM and I ended our Machu Picchu adventure and I closed my eyes on the curves coming back down the mountain…too close to the sheer drops for comfort for me. Once we found El Mapi hotel and our overstuffed backpacks, we soon settled down at cocktails and a recount of an amazing day. Dinner was a la carte and most enjoyable after the exertions of the day. Climbed more steps to a dreamless sleep.
Our travelling companions are very active and they braved the bus queues and sunny skies again the next morning and headed for the higher level to walk to the Sun Gate. We chose to sleep in😁