With thanks to Dan and everybody at The Real Peru Company, Leeds,
For their help in arranging this special trip for us.
DIARY OF EVENTS FOR OUR 2007 INCA TRAIL TREK. RAISING FUNDS FOR C A N NORTHAMPTON.
Sunday May 20th 2007.
Leave Birmingham Airport for Flight to Lima, via Amsterdam.
Arrive in Lima 6.30pm, bus ride to Hotel, very interesting bus ride, considering the traffic movement in Lima.
Following wash and brush up, time for a quick walk along the Mira Flores area of Lima, to the coast area, meal plus our 1st (Of Many) PISCO SOURS, Local Peruvian drink.
Monday 21st May
Early Start, Pick up from Hotel in Lima, at 6.30am for trip to airport, 9.20am Flight to CUSCO.
Arrive at Hotel Los Americas in Cusco around 1pm, free afternoon to explore Cusco centre.
Tuesday 22nd May.
Very early Start, pick up approx 6am, for 12 hour bus ride to MANU National Park, to begin our 3 night Jungle lodge stop over.
Bus ride took us over a very spectacular mountainside, with VERY VERY steep drops alongside the road, only room for 1 vehicle at a time (See photo’s). At one point, following a lunch stop-over at Paucartambo, we all had to disembark from the bus, so the driver could negotiate a very steep bend, where part of the roadway had been washed away, guides were helping by throwing extra rocks under the wheels of the bus has the driver crept forward, excellent driving !!!!!!!.
Our Guides for the next 3 days were Joel and David.
Arrived at San Pedro Lodge in the dark, approx 6.30pm.
Quick wash and brush up, then Dinner.
Wednesday 23rd May.
Up at 5am to try to catch a view of the mating of the "Cock of the Rock", Unfortunatlly, due to weather conditions, we only managed to catch a glimpse of one bird, very pretty, but only flying.
After breakfast, we had our 1st walk, along the roadway between Jungle and Valley, approx 1 hour, Bus the picked us up for our journey to the Erika Jungle lodges.
Along the way, we stopped off at a LEGAL Cocoa Plantation, where picture were taken of everybody standing amongst the Cocoa leaves.
Following Lunch, our group split into 2, the 1st group taking a raft for a trip along some Grade 2 white water rapids, the rest of us took another quire Hairy bus ride, to meet up with the group at Picopata, here it was our turn to take the raft, (Mick, Sue, Helen, Pam and Andy, Plus 2 others Geoff and Jeannie).
The rest of the group took a river Motor boat to the Erika Lodge.
After approx 1.5 hours of White water rafting (Grade 2) We could see the Erika lodge, our destination, in the Distance, However as we were on the final approach, our raft leader accidentlly took us aground, we had ran out of deep water.
Quite an intersting disembarkation from the Raft for the 7 of us, we had to wade across submerged rocks, to reach an island, following approx 20 minutes walk across the Island, we then had to"Hitch" a lift on another motorised boat, to cross the final stretch of water.
Eventually reaching the Lodge at approx 5 pm.
This natural paradise is officially recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. In 1977 they designated Manu as a World Biosphere Reserve because it contains the best existing example of biodiversity in protected areas of rain forest, as well as endemic areas of cloud forest. The majority of forests in the world have been altered by humans. Fortunately, Manu has remained intact and untouched by civilization.
Following a wash and brush up, plus settling into our " 5 star " Accomodation, communal wooden lodges with no Ceilngs, just 8ft high walls, we then had a quick tea.
Just before our Dinner at 7.30pm, the heavens opened, quite a torrential rain storm that lasted most of the night.
Dinners at this Lodge were quite varied, however mostly cold, should have been hot.
Thursday 24th May.
Flying on a zip wire through the tree’s, with quite an interesting Rapel down from the tree top’s at the end.
PM We had a walk through the Jungle, to take a river "Cruise" on a wooden raft across a lake.
Early Evening, we set off for a Night Jungle walk, this turned out to be a very hardous trek, with a very steep ascent / descent through the MUD.
Another Interesting, but again cold, evening meal.
Friday 25th May.
The following morning, we had an early morning call, to take a motorised boat trip along the River to View the " Macaw Lick", this involves hundreds of Macaws "Licking" the Clay walls to feed on the minerals. http://www.manuadventures.com/macawlick.html
Again due to the weather and the fact that an Hawk was flying around, we did not actually get to see any of the Macaws on the Clay wall, however we still managed top see quite a flock arriving at the trees above the wall.
Following Breakfast we then took the Motorised Boat back to our meeting point, for the start of our Bus Journey back to CUSCO.
The boat trip took about 1.5 hours, we then picked up our Bus, for the, again, very spectacular, but quite frightening Journey along the mountainside road.
The whole Journey again took about 12 hours, with a couple of stops for Lunch etc.
Arriving back at the Los Americas Hotel in Cusco approx 7.15pm.
Quick wash and brush up, and then took a meal at a Local’s Cafe, just up the road from the Hotel, quite an interesting place for a meal, not the highest quality establishment, but it did suffice.
Saturday 26th May..
This was a free day in Cusco for us, we started off in the Morning with a walk down the Avenue de Sol, shopping etc, and then along some of the small side streets in Cusco, all around the Playas De Armas Square, not venturing too far from the Centre.
12 noon meeting with Julio to brief us about our forthcoming \\\INCA TRAIL TREK, (We were due to start this next Tuesday).
Afternoon, was spent shopping etc, following a vey nice lunch in the Norton bar, Cusco.
We the split as a group, Sue and myself wandering around side streets etc, and stopping off for a coffee.
Evening was spent taking a meal at one of the restaurants around the Playas De Armas main Square.
Local Peruvian band playing whilst we were eating, a very nice meal of Alpaca was taken.
Sunday 27th May.
early start, 6.30am for our organised trip to the " SACRED VALLEY", Our 1st stop was at one of the Many mountain side "Markets", following a few Pictures etc with the Llamas, we then set off again to Pisac.
At Pisac, we had approx 1 hour to tour the large town Market, it appeared from the short time that we had here, that nearly anything imaginable could be purchased from this market.
We then took the bus ride along side the Urubamba river, (The Sacred Valley), to Urubamba town it’s self, upon entering the town it became apparent that today was their Festival Sunday, lots of Bands, processions etc, very very colourful.
We stopped for a lunch time meal at a very colurful restaurant located at the side of the Urubamba river, very nice selection of Buffet style meal.
Here we climbed the Inca Terracing to visit the Sungate at the top, this gave us a little indication of what to expect on the Inca trail it’s self.
After our climb, and tour guides interesting facts about Ollaytaytambo, we then had a chance to visit the local square in Ollaytaytambo, where again, this town were holding their own festival, lots of celebrations processions and dancing within the Main Square was taking place.
we then began our Journey back to Cusco, Via Chincheros.
Long before the Spaniards conqured the new world, the Inca empire had build an enormous complex and settlment in present day Chincheros. The ruins stand as a witness to the amazing Incaic architecture that still stands to this date. Take a breather from the hard days of travel and stroll around the ruins of Chincheros.
After visiting the wonderful Church and market, we then headed back to Cusco.
Sunday evening was spent having a meal in the hotel’s own restaurant.
Monday 28th May.
Another free day in CUSCO.
A.M We all decided to trek from Cusco Main Square up the very steep incline to the Inca site at the huge fortress, Sacsyhuaman, Once here, we had fantastic views of CUSCO, plus, due to the clearness of the day, we could see the huge massif of the AUSANGATE mountains, (approx 100Km away) just across from the site was the huge white cross of Christ, which looks over the Town of CUSCO.
The Saqsaywaman archaeological complex has an area of 3,000 hectares and is located North of Cusco and is controlled by the National Cultural Institute. It includes the following archaeological monuments:
Located 2km from the city. Together with the city of Cusco, this monumental complex is considered the first of the new seven wonders of the world. This huge construction was planned and built by Andean Man. The Incas called it the House of the Sun and the Spaniards called it a fortress because of its zig-zag shape and the 1536 revolution. The construction, which is made up of three platforms one on top of the other, was one of the most important religious complexes of its time.
The mixed-blood historian Garcilaso Vega described in his book "The Royal Commentaries" every detail of this sacred spot, its walls, rooms, towers, doors and canals, which have sparked great interest and admiration from visitors and residents alike. The enormous boulders that form part of the construction were put together perfectly without using mortar.
The heaviest weighs up to 125 tons. Archaeologists are currently excavating and have discovered water fountains, canals and rooms. In a nearby flat area, every June 24 local inhabitants hold the Festival of the Sun, or Ind Raymi. Saqsaywaman witnessed important historic events.
Following our tour of Sacsyhuaman, we then took the short walk to another Inca Ruin at :-
The name means labyrinth or zigzag. Located 3km from Cusco, this temple dedicated to Mother Earth is a unique center of worship and for ceremonies. It has numerous ceremonial carvings, holes and canals cut into the rock. One of its features is a semi-natural underground chamber.
P M, Following Lunch, more shopping etc.
Tuesday 29th May.
Today we start the Inca Trail.
However, due to Sue’s Damaged Knee, She will spend Today and Wednesday in Cusco, catching the early morning train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes on Thursday, a tour around Machu Picchu on Thursday, then up at the crack of dawn to catch the Bus back to Machu Picchu on Friday, to meet up with us approx 8am on Friday Morning after our completion of the Inca Trail.
6.30am start for our 3 hour bus Journey from Cusco to the start point of KM82, via a short stop-over, last minute purchases etc, at Ollaytaytambo.
Whilst in Ollaytaytambo at 8.15am, we witnessed more festival celebrations in the main Square, processions, dancing etc, apparentlly this had been going on since our last visit the previous Sunday.
upon reaching KM82, our bags were weighed, to make sure we had not gone over the 20 KG limit for each porter, our bags were well within this limit.
We then had to visit to control booth to check in our passports etc, only 500 people, this includes Guides and porters, are allowed to start the Inca trail each day, this rule is strictly enforced.
Approx 11.00am along with our Peruvian Guide Victor, we then set off on the 1st leg of the INCA TRAIL.
The trail start off quite flat, with a few ups and downs, (INCA FLAT).
The 1st Inca site that we come across is the small settlement of the ruins of the Inca hillfort of Huillca Raccay high above the mouth of the river Cusichaca (‘happy bridge’). It is a simple descent down to the Cusichaca river.
Following a short lunch stop, we reached our 1 st camp site at approx 3pm.
A bit of a mix up with the tents, meant that Andy and Myself were now to Share a tent for the next 3 nights.
Quite an early night to bed this evening, approx 8.15pm, we later found out that this was the norm on the Inca Trail.
Following a quick read, we found that were asleep around 9.30pm.
5.30am wake up call the following morning.
Wednesday 30th May.
We were woken at 5.30am with a nice hot cup of Cocoa leaves tea, Cocoa leaves are very good for the high Altitude trekking.
Following breakfast we started what is known as the hardest day of the Inca trail.
We left camp around 7.15am, starting to Ascend Inca steps as soon as we were out of the camp site, this ascent continued almost unabaited for the next 4 hours or so, till we reached a reasonable flat area where we took snacks etc for lunch.
At this point, we could see our destination point for the Afternoon trek, the summit of " DEAD WOMANS PASS", At 4200metres (13780feet) above sea level, this is the highest point we reach on the Inca Trail.
We finished our Lunch and started the long long climb up to Dead Womans Pass, this was, by far, the hardest stretch we had walked so far, at times the walk appeared almost impossible, the steps appeared to be too steep to actually lift your legs, about 30 minutes or so from the summit, it then started to rain quite heavilly, full water proof gear was required to be put on by everybody.
The last 15 minutes or so to the summit just about drained every last bit of energy that you may have left, the steepness of the path was almost impossible to walk, this is how it felt to us all at this point.
However, eventually all 4 of us, plus our Guide Victor, managed to summit, completely drained of energy, we then had a few minutes to get our breath back, as it was raining and turning very cold, we started our descent almost straight away, after giving ourselves, and other groups congratulations.
Due to rain and cold, no one managed to get their cameras out at this point.
The descent down to our 2nd camp site was taken with great care, due to the wetness of the Inca steps, this made them very slippery indeed.
We reached the campsite around 3pm. time for a cup of tea and salted pop corn,
Due to our altitude and weather the temprature here was dropping like a stone.
Following a rest in our tents, and sleeping bags, we were raised around 7pm for our evening meal.
By the time we had finished our dinner the temperature had dropped to around 6 or 7 degress centigrade, leaving us also with a fantastic clear night, due to the fact that this was about 2 days before a full moon, the sky was extremely bright from the moon light, the stars were also pretty impressive, the cloud, however did still hang about in the Valley.
Bed about 8pm, wrapped up in as much clothing as possible, due to the cold.
Thursday 31st May.
Again woken at 5.30am with a lovely hot cup of Cocoa leaves tea.
Due to the tents being of Nylon Construction, we were awoken in the morning with a very damp tent, the inside of the tent, walls etc, were saturated, as 2 of us, including our luggage, day packs etc, were in what must have been a 3 man tent, it became very difficult to dress yourself without touching the sides of the tent, this then showered us with extremely cold water everytime.
Following breakfast, we then started our days walk around 7.15am.
Again the start today was a very steep ascent, to the 2 nd pass, approx 90 minutes of ascent, passing an Inca site on the way, a very good photo shot, with the previous days summit, (Dead Womans Pass, Abra de Huarmihuanusca ), in the background.
From the valley of the Pacamayo (Our 2nd Camp Site), the trail climbs steeply up the opposite side of the valley wall, towards the second pass. About halfway up is a small round roofless stone building. This Inca ruin is known as Runkuracay ("Pile of Ruins"). The building is thought to have been a tambo, a kind of way post for couriers following the trail to Machu Picchu. It contained sleeping areas for the couriers and stabling facilities for their animals.
After Runkuracay, the trail continues to climb towards the second pass, the Abra de Runkuracay, which is at around 3500m. On the far side of the pass, the trail descends towards a valley containing a shallow lake. At around this point, the trail changes from a dirt path to a narrow stone roadway.
This is the beginning of the true Inca Trail;
the stones of the roadway were laid by the Quechua people of the period of the Inca Empire.
The trail leads to a second, larger Inca ruin, Sayacmarca ("Town in a Steep Place"). Sayacmarca effectively controls the trail – which passes beneath it – at this point. It is built on a promontory of rock overlooking the trail, and is accessible only via a single narrow stone staircase. On the left of the staircase, which is about a metre or less in width, is an overhanging rock wall, which makes it difficult for a tall man to climb, while on the right is a sheer drop onto the rocks below.
Sayacmarca (which Bingham inexplicably decided to name Cedrobamba – "Plain of Cedars" – despite the fact that there are no cedars to be seen, and it’s perched on a spur overlooking a valley) is roofless and overgrown, but the walls still stand and the shape of the fortress can easily be seen. Nearby is a stone aqueduct which once carried water to the site.
Following our visit to this site, via the very narrow steep stone stairway, we then walked another 30 minutes to our Lunch stop.
Following Lunch we then continued our trek. On the far side, the trail begins to climb again. The roadway represents a considerable feat of engineering, including even an 8m tunnel section where the Inca engineers widened a natural fissure in the rock into a tunnel large enough to allow the passage of men and animals.
The trail leads up to the third pass and, just beyond it, a third Inca ruin, Phuyupatamarca ("Cloud-level Town"). This site appears to have had some ritual function; the rectangular structures along one side are baths, which were apparently fed from a spring higher up. The highest bath was reserved for the nobles, while the lower classes performed their ritual ablutions in the water which had already been used by the aristocracy.
Below Phuyupatamarca, the trail spirals and descends steeply towards Huinay Huayna,("Forever Young"), (Approx 3000 steps down from Phuyupatamarca) the site of another Inca ruin. This is our 3rd and final campsite.
After last nights very cold camping, at this altitude, we were almost sleeping without our sleeping bags, a very warm night indeed.
Following Dinner, we all met up with our Porters, Cook and Guide to hand out our thanks for their very kind services over the last 3 days, tips were handed out to our cook, so that he could then split the proceeds between the 6 of themselves, this was to be our last night with the porters and cook.
Due to the reasonablly low altitude, and the fact that there was actually a bar here, we allowed ourselves another Large Pisco Sour each, before retiring for the night.
Friday 1st June.
A wake up call, no tea, at 4am today.
Following our breakfast of a Pancake, we handed out to our porters any old clothes, energy bars etc that were unwanted by us, these were taken with huge gratitude by our porters and Cook.
Our Porters then started their descent to Agua calientes via a different route, they do not actually walk through Machu Picchu, this was our last contact with the 5 porters and cook.
We left camp approx 5am, for the short walk to the last control point on the trail, as this did not open till 5.30am we did not have any rush, however everybody elese had the same idea, when we reached the control point there must have been approx 60 / 70 people already in front of us waiting for the control point to open.
Once open, it did not take too long to process every one.
We eventually reached to Sun gate, (The entrance down to Machu Picchu) at approx 6.45am, time for lots of photo’s etc whilst waiting for the sun to drop down over Machu Picchu, our luck certainly held out today, the weather was perfect, hardly a cloud in the sky.
I think that everyone, Andy, Helen, Pam and Myself shall all agree, that today was a very special, emotional moment for us all, after 3 days of very hard trekking we could now see our objective basked in Sunlight,
Following lots of Pic’s etc, we then started our final descent from The Sun Gate down to visit the magical place that is
After meeting up with Sue, Victor our Guide, then gave us a very informative tour of Machu Picchu, before leaving us to explore the City on our own for a short time.
After catching the Noon bus down to Aguas Calientes, Lunch was taken, then down to the railway station for our 4 hour train journey back to CUSCO.
Arriving in Cusco approx 7.30pm
Our Last night in Cusco was spent with a meal at a restaurant, again on the Playas De Armas Square, followed by several PISCO SOURS back in our Hotel.
Saturday 2nd June.
11.20am Flight from Cusco back to Lima, arriving in Lima approx 12.30pm.
Time to spare before checking in our luggage at 2.45pm for our final flight back from Lima to UK, Via Amsterdam.
Due to Time difference, we left Lima at 6.30pm on Saturday evening, and arrived back at Birmngham airport at 6pm Sunday evening.
To Sum up, I would like to pass on my thanks, on behalf of CAN, to Andrew Leeson, Pamela Cousins, Helen Handy and My Wife Sue for agreeing to take part with me in this most wonderous charity challenge, to Peru and MACHU PICCHU.
HERE’S TO OUR NEXT INTERNATIONAL CHARITY CHALLENGE.
WATCH THIS SPACE.
Thanks once again to you all for taking part.