and the Inca Trail
27.02.2008 - 08.03.2008 12 °C
Cuzco is possibly the most beautiful South American city that we have been to. The mix of colonial buildings with inca ruins makes for an impressive site, indeed most of the more modern buildings have been built upon inca foundations. The city is awash with religious buildings (both pre and post columbian) interspersed with upmarket hotels and eateries. It is also the most commercial city that we have been to; with every local eager to make money out of the "gringos".
Plaza de Armas, Cuzco.
An Inca wall in Cuzco.
Further out from the city is the more impressive "sacred valley" with some of the best preserved inca sites outside of Machu Picchu. We saw the sites of (amongst others) Sacsayhuaman (which appears to be pronouned "sexy woman" - talking about Lisa again), once thought to be a fortress, but now believed to be an astronomical site and royal temple.
The stone to the left of Andrew weighed in at around 130 tonnes!
The Sacred Valley.
Terraces and Inca ruins at Pisac.
Anyone for a bacon butty? Pigs head for sale at Pisac market.
The Brunton's at Pisac.
Why the long face?
The sacred mountain at Ollantaytambo.
Close up of the mountain. Can you make out the face of the mountain god complete with crown?
The Inca Trail
The 4 day trek to Machu Picchu began with an early morning call at 5:45am, to catch the minibus to Km82 at Pisacucho (the beginning of the walk). The first day was a "test day" as we only walked around 4 hours and thought it was easy despite the altitude and the backpacks (we were the hardcore who didn't require an extra porter!) The crew of porters certainly make the trail more comfortable. We went with SAS and they thought of everything; from bowls of hot water to wash with at the end of a day's walk, to waking us up with a cup of coca tea each morning. The food was also something else - 3 courses at dinner AND tea (which was actually too much on the days where you hadn't exerted yourself), plus "happy hour" which entailed cups of chocolate, tea, coffee and popcorn, plus biscuits. It was comparable to the B-Meister's cooking skills (even the veggie food was fabulous). We also happened upon a good bunch of people to walk the trail with - once Lisa had overcome the shock of being the oldest member!
The start of the Inca trail.
The group and the porters.
The second day was slightly harder, walking for around 10 hours in total, and overcoming "dead woman's pass" the most difficult section of the walk. Andyb raced up, whilst Lisab decided on a leisurely stroll to the top!
Lisa on her way up dead woman's pass.
The Brunton's at the top of dead woman's pass.
And everybody else made it too!
Flora on the trail.
Winya-Wayna, one of the Inca sites on the way to Machu Picchu.
Another group shot whilst on the trail.
We were slightly disappointed on the last day to walk through the sun gate and see fog as opposed to Machu Picchu! (well, it is rainy season). However, because we are such fit types, we decided to walk up Waynapichhu (the big mountain you see behind the typical postcard shots of Mahu Picchu) and were chuffed to get great views from there instead.