Wednesday 6 july
What a great way to start a day! From in a tent looking out at surrounding mountains as the sun rises.
Probably the steepest section we’ve walked up yet. Arrived at Runkurakay, a site built in the shape of an Incan battleaxe. The views back down the valley and across to one monolith in particular were worth it.
As usual, it was built on the edge of a seeming void!
And the later views back down to it as we climbed ever upwards were even more impressive. Nestled on a neat little promontory with a view over the valley.
And then some walking down about the time we saw the first lake up top. Not especially prepossessing. Was low, dry season, but did have prototype ‘moss stones’ growing nearby.
Another lake later, below us, and even a little less prepossessing!
The first highlight was the ruins of Sayaqmarka. Good condition, fantastic position, interesting. It was not the fine Incan stonework we are expecting in Machu Picchu, the fitted stones without mortar, but it was impressive. Big. High above the trail. A steep climb up. Well worth it.
Looking over the edge to the valley below showed just mist and more clouds.
A shadow image of an Incan warrior was just visible on one stone face. Use your imagination!
Lunch, soon after, was a washout for many people in the vicinity, including those racing to get to Machu Picchu for sunrise (poor them, hours of walking in the dark, no sun rise was going to appear, just mist and clouds).
Anyhow, we were lucky. We were all sitting in the meal tent watching the heavy downfall when it turned to hail. Heaps on the tent roof.
We restarted, wearing wet weather gear. And no, Disnada is not preaching the sermon of the valley to her adoring supporters. And no, my borrowed plastic cover did not make me look like a yellow condom! Don’t bother looking for the photo – there isn’t one. 😊
And the wet gear star? Ruth!
(L to R: Gail, Christina, Sam)
Happily the rain finished soon and a short time later we stripped out of our wet gear.
The second highlight was going through an Incan tunnel. Not a great tunnel as it was short, the stone steps brutal and with a nasty dip in the middle. Clear why they incorporated these rocks, called it a tunnel, and didn’t try and remove them. Best of a bad deal!
Some porters were amazing as they raced huge loads up and down or through….
An associated highlight at this point was the surrounds: the high level jungle with the profusion of small coloured orchids, spanish moss and old man’s beard hanging from trees and some tree ferns. And the mist down over the valleys.
The third highlight of the day was arriving early at our campsite. This was opposite a huge, clearly deliberately carved, section on a nearby mountain face.
After some more information on the history of the Incans and of Peru during supper at 5 (‘movie night’ a la Disnada), we took off to sort out the tips. A horrible system in which we are expected to tip the porters, cooks and guides. I hate the system. We paid enough for this trip and expected the staff were properly paid. They should not be dependent on tips. Tips should be an extra for great service. A downside to the trip. It was described in the brochure but, it’s a system I deplore. I experienced a similar approach in Myanmar on the bike ride where tips were voluntary but strongly expected.
Good campsite at Salcantay, overlooking another Incan site we will visit tomorrow. The views from our campsite toward the sacred peak of Salcantay are sublime.