Machu Picchu day 1 of 4 day walk

Monday 4 july 2016
First of four days of walking. We left the resort at 7. Bus to Ollayantambo. Arrived to many commercial opportunities plus, toilets. Lines, as befit toilets for customers setting off. Coca leaves were among the items local women were selling. 

Until an American guy helpfully explained you also needed to buy some alkaline stuff (no, it just looked like llama poo or pumice) to mix with it I’d wondered why it had never had much effect for me. Improved the effects a bit, possibly.not really, after nearly choking on it later I gave it up for Werthers toffees, my usual!

So, toilets and shopping done, back on the bus to Piscacucho, on the Vilcanota River. The start of our hike.

Stacks of others. Stacks. We ignored them and did our own final preparations.

From left: Sam, Alyssa, Jani, Gail, Jodie, Alyssa, Christina. Missing: Ruth and I. 

Time for a last minute catchup between our guides: Lisbet (L) and Disnada (R) (lead guide, with us for the whole trip, a quintessential professional, a class act). And no, Disnada rarely looked worried, just this once! 

Porters in coloured company clothing and foreigners. Some looking cocky. Some not. 

Big check point. This one was for porters as they are only allowed to carry 25kg each and their loads are weighed along the route. Plus, they have to have boots. That many swap out of them, into sandals, as soon as they are confirmed is irrelevant!

Foreigners are checked to see they have permits. Your permit and passport are checked and must match. So there was a long line. 

Once through you cross a swinging bridge over the Vilcanota River into the park. And then you know it’s for real!   

Christina (above) and Jodie (below) both looking very ready and keen to get going 

And a more formal group photo while we were still clean and rested:

L to R: Jodie, Alyssa, Jani, Val, Alyssa, Ruth, Sam, Christina, Gail.

Picture postcard scenery. Truly. Time and again. 

Soon after the bridge we saw one of the trains to Macchu Picchu on the other side of the river. We were to catch this back to Ollyantambo after our walk.

By now we had porters, 13 of them, 2 cooks and 2 guides. 

Crossed the bridge and we were off. Each with a day pack. Some weighed 10 kg but others of us travelled lighter, 5 or less.  True, 10kg! Hmmm….

The experience was different for each of us. Some of us were fast, ever ready bunny style, and others slow. The guides were fantastic. One at the front and one at the back. 

Spectacular scenery: river, steep and bare mountainsides, a snow covered mountain. Wow!

We ended up walking at our own pace appreciating the many brief breaks. Breaks were at little shop sites. Under cover seating and usually a toilet. For 1 sole (~$U0.30), a toilet, usually a smelly squat loo.  

Personally, I puffed like a grampus during each climb but had little trouble keeping up with the lead guide. Each climb? Yes, very little was downhill! Mostly up irregular steps often high. Up and up.

Saw the wonderful snow covered mountain, Nevada Veronica, gradually recede behind us. 

Lots of cactus beside the dusty path.

Past another resurrected set of Incan terraces and buildings at Llactapata. Very extensive and very impressive. Many other sites are possibly still hidden throughout the country under 400 to 500 years growth of vegetation. Or, like this, they are part of a local community.

Past a small rock burial niche up in the hill. No doubt long ago emptied of mummy and loot (grave goods). 

Disnada frequently stopped us to point out things of interest, often plants. Secretly it was a bonus to catch your breath. Remember we were very high above sea level even at this stage.

Time for a rest at our lunch stop. (Front: Val, Jani & Sam. Back: Jodie and Alyssa).

We arrived to find our tents setup on a clean, well used and flat(ish) site.  

We have some sharing and some singles.  I was lucky to be alone in the resort and again in the tent. 

Oh yes. Warm water was brought to each tent as we arrived. 

We only saw the flag this first night. Had it not disappeared it was to have been ‘disappeared and appropriately relocated’ a few days later.

And we have a toilet tent with 3 receptacles, one for urine, one for faeces and, one for toilet paper. 😊

Then, at 5.30pm, a snack and drinks. Seating in the food tent is on little plastic stools so, I don’t linger. 

Dinner was soon after and we had our next day briefing.  Dinner? Soup trout with veg and rice followed by cooked bananas in chocolate sauce. Nice! (Was the best on the trip).

We were at 3,269m above sea level after a hike of about 11km (from Gaia GPS app). Yes, you guessed it. My Fitbit said it was a lot further. Can’t remember exactly but it was about 2800m above where we started the day. 

The group?

What are they like? Wonderful!  

I am so lucky! Nine of us, 2 pairs- one mother and daughter and the other 2 friends – and 5 travelling solo. We all got on well and it was excellent. Such a good group. People were mutually helpful on big and small things. No clear factions. Median age: ~43, oldest 65, youngest 22; countries UK 1, Canada 4, USA 2, Aussies 2. 

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