Thursday 7 july
Straight down! Well, almost. Steep stairways heading in the one direction, down.
We farewelled the porters, cooks and Lisbet, the assistant guide, in a formal ceremony this morning. This was when we distributed the envelopes of cash for each group, along with a brief speech from 1 of us for each category, ably conducted by Disnarda, our chief guide.
Sometime later we saw the Winyawayna ruins. Spectacular but, by then the rain had set in and we didn’t see a lot as we passed through, overlooking a misty area. Interesting old fountains.
More interesting was the outline of the head of a puma in rocks at this point, possibly the reason for this site given their importance (going down, going down to hell: condors, pumas and snakes, in order).
No track without a tunnel in this wet jungle.
No explosives so the Incans sensibly built in large existing rocks to make it look natural!
A llama was grazing on an ancient terrace. Yes, they are employed to keep the grass down. Sorry we couldn’t walk around the area as it was huge and impressive.
Sometime late morning we had lunch (in a tent thankfully) and were joined about then by people doing one day treks.
The rain was still falling! Mist covered the valleys. Easy to see why so many beautiful, but small, varieties of orchids grow through this area in particular. High but lots of water. Disnarda told us later today’s volume of rain was much higher than usual for winter, the dry season. Oh well!
Finally we reached the Gate of the Sun overlooking Machu Picchu. Mist parted briefly. We got some shots and were all delighted at that.
Somewhere along the way today we climbed both up and down some scary bits. Going down one section was hard as the stairs were quite different, cut from the existing rock but sloping down in the direction we were walking. Ugh! And a short but very steep bit later was equally horrible as it was at least as steep as any we’d climbed earlier. Thank heavens for Leki poles!
The walk today was longer than for a couple of days, 9km. Sounds pathetic but, given much was downhill, none flat, and some up very steep stairs it was enough.
Finally, we were in Machu Picchu. No, the sun did not appear. We were delighted irrespective.
(L to R: Ruth, Alyssa, Gail, Sam, Val, Jodie, Christina – the missing two were off for a family shot)
All present at last. Look carefully into the background at that hugely high, hugely steep mountain just down behind us. Yes, Huayna Picchu! Coming tomorrow….. Aggghhhh. Why must I always push forwards? Why?..
(L to R: Ruth, Alyssa, Gail, Sam, Val, Jodie, Christina, Alyssa, Jani)
Ruth, proving it!
Caught a public bus ($U12 one way), literally the last lot on it, found seats and jammed our cold, wet selves in. Headed down a very steep switchback towards the town. Each time we met another bus coming up the driver backed up and moved right over.
Arrived in Aguascalientes, walked briefly, but very rapidly, to our hotel, El Mapi. After 15′ or so of bureaucracy and shivering with cold, we got rooms. Everyone was soaked to some degree, cold and tired. Showers had been a focus for a few for hours. Oh, and a soft bed as many were over sleeping on narrow thermorests on groundsheets. Doesn’t matter how you set it up the floor of each tent seemed to slope. I usually started out in the centre of a tent and on the thermorest but sooner or later most nights ended up on the diagonal and off or only partially on the thermorest.
Tomorrow four of the nine of us are walking up Huayna Picchu, after the group guided tour of Machu Picchu. I’m delighted that Sam, Jodie and Christina are the others who chose this add-on. They and I have either been directly behind the leading guide or, close to her, for the entire walk. I’m a little nervous as its a hellishly steep climb. Seemed like a good idea when I added this option 🙂. Now, I’m not so sure. Anyhow, it’s an early start. At 6.30am we take our gear and catch the public bus up to Machu Picchu for our tour. Fingers crossed the promised rain is considerably less than today.