DAY 3: 6 hr/8 km Trek to Machu Picchu (elev. 2400 m)
We had to say goodbye to our porters and cook today :(. I was informally nominated by the group, and made a little speech in Spanish (since I don´t speak Quechua!. We were all so full of appreciation, and really wanted the porters to understand how much we respected their hard work – day in and day out. It was hard to translate that in a language other than English.. but we managed to try, at least 😉
We hiked for another 5 or so hours, got a wonderful boxed lunch .. and lucked out on a sunny day! Apparently many groups get to Machu Picchu in the a.m, when it is often foggy .. we arrived at around 1pm to Sun Gate (across from the ruins with a gorgeous view and photo ops) and the weather could not have been more conducive to pictures! We enjoyed the breathtaking scenery and headed down to MP for a 1 hr tour and some individual time. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to reflect on why we came, how we felt about the whole experience .. and to soak in the sight that we´d come so far to see.
Something funny to add to this otherwise serious and reflective posting is that – at Machu Picchu, there is a hotel ($1000 USD per night), bathrooms, etc. You would think that there would be English speaking doctors and nurses at the medical clinic given it is one of the 7 wonders of the world AND professionals are English speaking seemingly everywhere else in Lima and Cuzco. Well .. I was picked up by some Japanese tourists and asked to tranlate questions with regards to train ticket bookings as one of them was quite ill. I was able to help organize a train to Cuzco, with the doctor and 2 of the girls, and they were very thankful. What a scary experience to be feverish and almost incoherent – and have such a language barrier! It was a neat experience to attempt broken Spanish, while the tourists spoke to me in broken English … When the translations were complete and I had been pulled into the medical clini one more time .. I looked around and laughed at the situation, as we all said Gracias, Ciao, and Arregato Mucho emphatically. I realized just how unique this situation was. Just a bunch of well meaning people trying to help eachother out 🙂
SUMMARY OF THE INCA TRAIL EXPERIENCE:
13 people (6 from the U.S, 2 from England, 4 from Australia, and me)
Age 25 to 60-something
– 2 nights, 3 days (65 hours from start to finish)
– 6 hours of sleep total
– 25 hours of hiking
DISTANCE AND ELEVATION
– Approximately 28 km of hiking
– Highest elevation at 4200 meters asl (above sea level)
– Average of 29 celcius during the day and 3 degrees celcius at night
– Humidity varied depending on area (there are soo many microclimates in one region it is phenomenal)
– 4 to 5 hours of rain during 2nd night (sleeping!)
– Sunshine and clear skies – not overcast for Machu Picchu 🙂
– Flute player at the highest point (Dead Woman´s Pass) .. it made the uphill climb and breath-taking view all the more mystical
– Arriving at camp on the 2nd night in the dark, in a proud delerium
– Sitting at Sun Gate, eating lunch, taking in the sites of Machu Picchu, and reflecting on the last few days..
What a phenomenal experience. Honestly .. The trek itself was as memorable as the view from Sun Gate to Machu Picchu. The memories made will forever be engrained in my mind and I would jump at the opportunity to do this again in, say, 10 years ..
I could not have asked for better fortune with regards to the group, my own physical and mental health, and the weather. Our guides were amazing and the porters and chef were inconceivably hard workers. I have to say, I went into this with very few expectations – only excitement – and I left feeling more rejuvinated and energetic than I have felt in … a long, long time.