ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Machu Picchu & Inca Trail Hike

AFTERTHOUGHTS, Inca Trail, Peru

We reached Aguas Calientes after a 20 minutes bus ride. As the gateway to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes is a very touristy town. The Urubamba River and the large boulders reminded us the flood and landslide that closed down the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu for two months from the end of January 2010.  When the flood hit a little over half a year before our trip, over 2000 tourists were stranded at Aguas Calientes waiting for evacuation by helicopters.  Little trace from the flood remained by the time we set foot at the town at the end of our Inca Trail journey.

We had little to do in the town, and I was not feeling well at the moment with a bit of fever.  So we pretty much stayed at the restaurant for the entire afternoon while other members of the tour group went to check out the small market and souvenir shops in Aguas Calientes.  We were all exhausted and waiting for the train ride back to Ollantaytambo at 7:45pm.

Two packs of “local” chips bought across the street from the restaurant became our “supper” on the train.  The train took us to Ollantaytambo in about two hours.  From there, Peru Treks arranged a bus that took us all back to Cusco. By the time we reached Cusco it was almost midnight.  We bid farewell to the Peru Trek team and headed back to Ninos Hotel for the night.  That concluded our 4-day Inca Trail experience.

01The Urubamba River in Aguas Calientes.

02Frequent shuttle bus runs to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.

03All businesses in Aguas Calientes depend on tourism of Machu Picchu.

04The railway track runs right in the middle of Aguas Calientes’ main street.

05We waited at the restaurant arranged by Peru Treks until late afternoon.

06I wasn’t feeling well towards the end of the Inca Trail journey, and spent most of the afternoon resting at the restaurant.

08Two packs of “local” chips were all we had for dinner after the remarkable Inca Trail journey.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


MACHU PICCHU IN BLACK AND WHITE, Inca Trail, Peru

Situated at 2,430m above sea level on a mountain above the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu was an estate of the Inca royalty.  Abandoned before or around the time of the Spanish Conquest, the lost city was not known to the Western world until 1911 when American Historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu. Compared to the early 20th century when most buildings in the site lay in ruins, today many parts of Machu Picchu have been restored for everyone to admire.  Much research has been done over the past century, but according to the UNESCO, many of the mysteries remained resolved.

As UNESCO puts it, “the Inca City of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is the articulating centre of its surroundings, a masterpiece of art, urbanism, architecture and engineering of the Inca Civilization. The working of the mountain, at the foot of the Huaya Picchu, is the exceptional result of integration with its environment, the result from a gigantic effort as if it were an extension of nature.”  While we wandered around the site, we could truly witness the powerful integration of manmade architecture and natural landscape.  The stepped terraces, temple structure incorporated into natural rock formation, and the stone pyramid all reveal the same story of harmony between Machu Picchu and the natural world.  For us this feeling was very powerful, especially after we had firsthand experienced of the Andean landscape from our three days on the Inca Trail.

01Temple of the Sun

02Mummy vault (royal tombs) at Temple of the Sun

03Alternative entrance to the Temple of the Sun.

04Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock and Guardhouse at the top.

05Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock

06Stone quarry at Machu Picchu

07A viscacha on an Inca wall.

08Principle temple at Intiwatana Pyramid (damaged by earthquakes)

09View from Intiwatana Pyramid.

10Terraces at the side of Intiwatana Pyramid.

11East urban section

12Lane going up to upper section

13East urban section

14East urban section and the Huaya Picchu.

15Overview of Machu Picchu with llamas.

16Inca Bridge and original Inca Trail

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 


MACHU PICCHU, Inca Trail, Peru

We validated our tickets and got a souvenir stamp onto our passport at the main entrance of Machu Picchu, then our guide Freddie led us into the site once again.  We walked past the Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock and sat down at a terrace where Freddie gave us a talk about Machu Picchu.  Then Freddie took us to the Temple of the Sun, where former Inca priests observed the sun, performed sacrifice rituals, and stored the royal mummies at the mausoleum.

Lastly, Freddie took us to the Main Temple and then Intiwatana Pyramid, a high point in Machu Picchu where the Incas studied and worshiped the stars.  After some last words on the Inca astronomy, Freddie and his assistant Miguel left us to freely wander around the ruins on our own.  They left for a restaurant at Aguas Calientes where the space was reserved for Peru Treks.  All members of our group, including our friends, dispersed all over Machu Picchu.  We decided to take a break at the entrance cafe before climbing up to the guardhouse once again to take a few more photos of Machu Picchu under the sun.  At the lookout, there was a few funny looking llamas grazing the lawn.  After a few minutes photographing the friendly llamas, we ventured further out for 15 minutes to see the Inca Bridge.

Back to the lookout, we saw another llama standing on a terrace behind a stone wall peeking at the passing tourists.  We slowly walked back to the main entrance and hopped on a bus for Aguas Calientes, where our friends, Freddie and the entire group waited for us at the restaurant reserved for Peru Treks.

01Main tourist entrance of Machu Picchu.

78330034More tourists arrived as bus loads of people were transported from the train station at Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu.

78330035Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock and the surrounding mountains.

04Tourist in Machu Picchu.

05One of Freddie’s sessions explaining the history of the lost city.

06Temple of the Sun was built upon a natural rock, with the mausoleum situated underneath.

07Mummy vault (royal tomb) at Temple of the Sun

08Doorway to Temple of the Sun.

09Damage to the stonework of the Main Temple by occasional earthquakes.

10The Intihuatana stone on the top of Intiwatana Pyramid.

11Terraces on the side of Intiwatana Pyramid.

12View towards the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock.

13Llama, Machu Picchu, Una Picchu and Huayna Picchu (mountains behind Machu Picchu).

15Urubamba River down at the valley bottom.

16The Inca Bridge and part of the original Inca Trail, 15 minutes walk from Machu Picchu.

17Curious llama peeking out from the ruins.

18Llama in the ruins.

14One last classic overview of Machu Picchu before we left the site.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


WINAY WAYNA TO MACHU PICCHU, Inca Trail, Peru

Last day of the Inca Trail. We got up super early and joined the queue marching towards Machu Picchu.  At 05:20 the gate of the final stretch of trail opened and we went in as a group to hike the final 5 km.  Despite a little wet, we hiked in a relatively quick pace and felt quite excited.  Our destination was Inti Punku (Sun Gate), where we were supposed to get a glimpse of early sunlight shining on the legendary lost city.  Though the night of heavy rain brought us another morning of mist, so that scene of golden Machu Picchu at dawn never happened for us.  At least it wasn’t raining when we arrived at Inti Punku.  We only stopped briefly for a drink, took a few pictures and continued our way marching towards Machu Picchu.

Before entering the legendary ruins, we stopped at the guard house to have a closer overview of Machu Picchu.  We stood at the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock near the guard house and waited for the fog to lift.  Magically it did happen in front of our eyes.  We could see first the ruins and then later Huayna Picchu, the iconic mountain behind the lost city.  After some moments of excitement, we descended to the main entrance.  At the main entrance, we used the toilet, stored our day-pack, and had some morning snack before heading back in to Machu Picchu for a tour with our guide Freddie.  And then the dog appeared again, which had been mysteriously following our group since we left our first camp site two days ago.

01At 5am, we woke up to a grey sky of clouds and fog.

P1030118Clouds and fog was still present, but the fog seemed lifting a little by the time we reached Inti Punku (Sun Gate).

03Lush green mountains around Machu Picchu.

04Llamas and the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock near the Guardhouse.

05From the guard house, Machu Picchu stood right below. We sat on one of the terraces to wait for the fog to lift.

06Our group among other trekkers waiting for Machu Picchu to emerge from the mist.

78330024Machu Picchu in the mist.

07Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in the mist.

78330027Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu after some minutes of waiting.

08Entrance tickets into Machu Picchu.

10And here is the dog that had been mysteriously following our group since we left our first camp site two days ago.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 


PACASMAYO TO WINAY WAYNA, Inca Trail, Peru

After a night of rain, it was cloudy and foggy throughout much of the day while we trekked through the cloud forest.  This third day of the Inca Trail saw us went past mountain passes with the highest at 3,950m, passed by several Inca ruins, wandered through the Peruvian cloud forest, and descended 1,000m down to the Winay Wayna campsite at 2,650m.  The dramatic difference in altitude allowed us to experience the distinct environment between cloud forest and tropical woodlands.  After a day of hiking in the humid forest, where heavy mist lingered around tree canopies, we were delighted to reach Winay Wayna, our last campground before reaching Machu Picchu, in late afternoon.  Similar to the previous two days, our guide Freddie was always enthusiastic on explaining the history and legends about everything we saw along the way.  That evening, we had another rainy night.  The campground at Winay Wayna was fully packed with trekkers.  We were told that hot showers (fees required) were available, but we rather waited another day until we arrived back at Cusco for a well-deserved hot shower.

01 Mountains and mist were the first things to greet us in early morning.

5090437132_21417b7677_oIt was cloudy and misty throughout much of the day.

2The misty landscape was poetic and picturesque.

3One of the first Inca ruins we encountered was tampu Runkuraqay.

4At certain moments, the scenery looked more tropical than the Andean highlands.

5Qunchamarka was another decent Inca ruin down at the valley.

10Sayacmarca (3,600m), another impressive Inca ruin that we actually climbed up for a visit.

11Sayacmarca could be translated as “Town in a Steep Place”.

12After climbing about 100 narrow and steep steps, we reached the main platform of Sayacmarca.  We sat down at one of the terraces in the complex, where our guide Freddie explained to us some brief information about the site.

13Similar to Machu Picchu, Sayacmarca was first discovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in early 20th century.

6The third day also saw us walking on some section of the original Inca Trail.

7Ferns, moss and tropical trees were common in the cloud forest.

8Misty path in the cloud forest.

5089808991_124f794f1e_oPhuyupatamarca, “Town in the Clouds”, was another prominent Inca ruins along the Inca Trail.

14Just as its name suggested, Phuyupatamarca was truly a “Town in the Clouds”.

15Winay Wayna (forever young) was the last Inca ruin we visited before reaching the campground.

17Overlooking Urubamba River, the ruin and the campground at Winay Wayna (forever young) was impressive and very popular.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


WAYLLABAMBA TO PACAMAYO, Inca Trail, Peru

After spending the night at Wayllabamba, we began hiking after an early breakfast outside of our tents, where the staff of Peru Treks set up a long table and plates of pancakes.  After breakfast, one by one we picked up our day packs and left Wayllabamba behind.  We were told that the second day of Inca Trail would be the toughest, as we would reach the highest point of the entire trek, Warmiwanusqa or the Dead Woman’s Pass.  Before reaching the pass, we would need to go through four stages of uphill hike, with a total of about 1,100m of ascend in one morning.

Not sure when did we find ourselves followed by a friendly dog from Wayllabamba.  We went through the first stage of ascend without much troubles.  A 15-minute break with snacks and drinks was the reward after completing the first uphill hike.  The second stage of the ascend took us through a dense forest and hundreds of uneven steps, some of which belonged to the original Inca Trail where the Incas traveled hundreds of years ago.  The second stage of uphill hike ended at an open valley, where dense forest gave way to grasslands and alpine tundra.  A long table was already set up by our guides and porters at the valley, where we enjoyed our second breakfast of the day.  Soon we were on our way on the third stage of the uphill hike.  It was a nice walk through a highland valley, in the embrace of mountains and glaciers.  In the valley, a wild llama walked alongside us with its head up.

At the end of the valley, the last stage of ascend was made up of sloped path and steps leading all the way up to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass).  At 4,200m, reaching the Dead Woman’s Pass has always been one of the the most daring feat of the Classic Inca Trail.  Luck was on our side.  It was clear, warm and sunny when we reached Dead Woman Pass, which is usually foggy and windy.  We were among the first ones in our trekking group arriving at the pass.  Fog approached Dead Woman Pass as we waited for our group.  After everyone arrived, Freddie led us up a rocky slope where each of us placed a piece of stone which we picked up from our camp site at Wayllabamba onto a large rock, forming a small vertical pile of stones. He and another porter took out a bottle of rum, and we held a small ritual paying respect to the “pachamama” (Mother Earth).

After the small sip of rum, one by one we descended the other side of Dead Woman Pass. It was a 600m downhill hike to our camp site at Pacamayo (Pakaymayu).  At the camp site, Freddie gathered all the cooks and porters and introduced them to us one by one.  It started raining after we arrived at Pacamayo, and the rain lasted all night.  We were just so lucky of not suffering from a drop of rain while we hiked.

5090385044_f268fa33eb_o_01Early morning breakfast at our camp site at Wayllabamba.

01Farewell to the sleepy village of Wayllabamba.

02We rested and snacked below an exotic tree.

04The second stage of ascend took us into dense forest.

05Steps were uneven throughout most of the second stage ascend.

07Second breakfast was awaiting us by the time we reached the open valley.

08A wild llama walked alongside our shoulders for a bit as we walked through the valley.

09Halfway up the last stage of ascend to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass) took us face to face with splendid mountain scenery.

12Almost reaching the Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass).

14After 1,100m of ascend, we finally reached Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass) just after noontime.

15After some snacks and a sip of rum, our descend began at the other side of the Dead Woman’s Pass.

13It was a 600m descend to the campsite at Pakaymayu.

17At Pakaymayu, our guide Freddie (front right) introduced us to each of the fantastic cooks and porters.  Without their support, our trek would simply be impossible.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


KM 82 TO WAYLLABAMBA, Inca Trail, Peru

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru.  In order to reduce trail erosion, the government sets limits of 500 trekkers per day and a handful of companies that can provide guiding service.  Most people go for the Classic route, starting the trail from Km 82, reaching the highest point at Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman Pass) on the second day, passing by Andean cloud forests and Inca ruins on the third day, and ending the trek at the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu at sunrise on the fourth day.

At 05:30, a 4×4 from Peru Treks came to our hotel in Cusco to pick us up for our 4-day trek. They took us first to Ollantaytambo for breakfast, and then to the trail-head at Km 82, the starting point of the Inca Trail. At Km 82, we left our rented sleeping bags, mats and warm clothing to the porters. With a small day pack of personal belongings, water, broad brim hat and a pair of hiking poles, we followed our guide Freddie to embark for a full day of challenge.  As we departed for the hike, a tourist train ran ahead of us into the valley  towards Machu Picchu, taking a train load of tourists (70% of visitors of Machu Picchu) who rather skipped the magnificent Inca Trail to reach the lost city in about three hours (train + shuttle bus).

Our trek started off with an easy hike into the mountains. After some uphill walking, we arrived at the first Inca ruin Patallaqta. It was an Inca settlement for ancient travelers and soldiers located at the intersection between two valleys. Our guide Freddie called this the Valley of the Wind, because of the constant strong wind.  An optional climb up a hill gave us a better view of the terraces of Patallaqta.  We continued to hike towards our camp site of the first night at Wayllabamba.  Along the way, we get glimpses of the Cordillera Urubamba.  After about 12km of hiking and a few resting spots where water and gatorade were sold, we arrived at Wayllabamba in mid afternoon. The camp site has a great view to the Cordillera Urubamba.

At Wayllabamba, we were assigned with our tents, one tent for two people.  We settled ourselves and took a short break.  Our guide Freddie, porters and some local villagers decided to play a game of football (soccer) on an open field.  I joined them for the game but retreated after playing for about 30 minutes.  It was extremely tiring to exercise on high altitude, no wonder I was the only one from our trekking group willing to join the game.  After the game, we went to get water at a nearby village, and passed by a community church as we headed back to our camp.  At night, the entire group (16 of us) and the guides had dinner in the dinning tent.  The meal was very impressive given we were high up on the mountains.  We got to have a good sleep to gear up for the toughest challenge of the Inca Trail, the 1100m climb to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman Pass) in the next morning.

01Tourist train rushing ahead of us at Km 82.

02Beginning of the Classic Inca Trail near Km 82.

03The Kusichaka Valley led towards the magnificent ruin of Patallaqta.

04The ruin of Patallaqta, at the intersection of Kusichaka River and Willkanuta Rivers.

05Patallaqta was once an important Inca settlement in the Sacred Valley.

06Snow-capped mountains of Cordillera Urubamba often came to sight.

07The community church near our camp site at Wayllabamba.

08Our camp site at Wayllabamba.

09A nearby settlement from Wayllabamba where we could use the toilets and get water.

10The mighty Andean peaks dominate the backdrop of Wayllabamba.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


PERU TRIP 2010

In the next little while, we will engage in recollecting the delightful memories of our journey to Peru in 2010, and post our travel photos to document our first ever travel experience in South America.

In September 2010, with two of our best friends, we made a trip to Peru.  Like many others, the iconic picture of Machu Picchu emerging from the mist of Andes represents our first impression of Peru. Through pre-trip research, we learnt that this South American nation actually has much more to offer than just a postcard image: the Andes mountains, Amazon rainforest, Lake Titicaca, Nazca Lines, ancient cultures, fabulous cuisine, etc.

With Peru’s friendly people and breathtaking scenery, our Peruvian experience was a great introduction to the fascinating continent of Latin America.  For almost three weeks, we made a small loop in Southern Peru, starting from the national capital Lima, then southeast to the colonial gem Arequipa and the mighty Colca Canyon, further east to Lake Titicaca and the peaceful Taquile Island, then west to the Inca capital Cusco and the ruins and villages of the Sacred Valley, trekking the famous Inca Trail with the grand finale at Machu Picchu, and returning to Lima to complete the loop.

The Peru trip was not our most challenging journey, but it is certainly one of the most remarkable and delightful travel experience we have had, especially when we could share the wonderful moments with our two travel buddies.

10PE15-32High up on the Andes, the lost city of Machu Picchu in front of Huayna Picchu captivates everyone’s imagination.

Peru Map_01Our route was a classic tourist loop at the southern part of Peru, taking in Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and Machu Picchu.

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Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru