Lovely breakfast once again – a sort of moisty pancake filled with apple and chocolate sause… woooooow. Good start of our third day – the longest trekking day!
We all trekked together in a group, starting with 1 hour of uphill trekking where we visited an archaeological site, Pacaymayo, believed to have been an Inca military fortress used to overlook the valley or a place where the running messengers swapped places.
It was a beautiful day where we passed by a few mountain lakes and archeological sites, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca.
We had lunch on the top of a mountain that was surrounded by clouds, so we couldn’t see what was expecting next.. But walking into the other valley we noticed a change in the climate – more humid and also warmer like a jungle.
We reached our last camping place, “Wiñayhuayna High Jungle camp” above a river valley in late noon and had a small nap before dinner. A couple of hours after sunset we heard the last group arrive, it must be hard to trek in the dark! So glad that we are quite fast ;)
We had our last dinner together, and still as good quality as before – and they even baked a CAKE for us for desert!! I really don’t know how they can do that with this portable gas kitchen thing… so impressed. After dinner we had a small celebration with our portiers, the cook and the guide, they presented themselves with name and age (the youngest was 36 I think and the oldest 58!).. so cute.. one of them even shed a few tears as we said goodbye. We tipped them and said thank you.
They have really been amazing… I feel so bad that they work so hard for us, they carry so much on their backs, and don’t even have good backpacks. They are not supposed to carry more then 20 kg, but I think some of them carries a lot more! And they are so quick! They always pass us by running on the trek, because we leave before them, they pack up all the camping equipment, then catch us up, reaches the camp long ahead of us to raise the tents and prepare the food for our arrival… And they have so bad shoes too, and bad backpacks. So impressed.
Also I feel bad that we barely talk to them, they are sort of afraid of us and treat us as we were king and queens.. I wonder how much they earn. I don’t think it’s that much.. I hope it’s more then our tipping! In our pre-meeting the woman from Bamba Experience (the agency) told us that the average tipping is 50 soles total per person but it turned out to be around 140 soles.. Every porter got about a total of 80 soles (30USD), the cook a total of160 soles (60 USD) and 50 soles (20 USD) each to the guide..
Then we had an early night – next morning we were going to wake up 2.50!!
We woke up and directly packed our bags and left the camp at 3am to get to the checkpoint-gate before the other groups. The gate reach the Sun Gate with a view over Machu Picchu opens at 5.30 and we were there like 3.15 – the first group in line. There are only seats (benches) for the first three groups, the rest have to stand. Our guide is ALWAYS the first there with his group, haha. When the second group arrives he applauses and says “congratulations to the second place!” haha.
After a couple of cold waiting hours in the dark, we finally got our passports and passes checked and we started to trek in the dark. About one hour later, after the gringo-killer-steps, we reached Inti-Punku, the sun gate, just when the sun had gotten up, and we gout our first view over the amazing inca city Machu Picchu. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley. Then we had about one more hour before actually reaching Machu Picchu. On our way we passed by a few other day-trekkers – really fresh with really nice hair and clothes like boots and jeans.. haha.. and all out of breath.. they had only been walking for like 30 minutes, and we have actually been doing it for 4 days… felt quite good actually. Totally worth it.
I mean, the goal was to reach Machu Picchu of course, but I noticed that that itself didn’t matter “that” much anymore– the thing itself was the trek, all the amazing things I’ve experienced along the way.
When we reached Machu Picchu we had to leave our bags in the baggage storage and we also finally had normal bathrooms with a regular toilet instead of a whole in the floor :) Then we entered again and had a guided tour in this enormous and magnificent archeological city. But we were all tired, we had been awake since before 3am and while having the tour we almost fall asleep haha.
Machu Picchu was built around 1450 but abandoned about a century later. Most archeologist belive that it was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. Also they think that it’s a sacred religious site because it’s built on and around mountains that hold high religious importance in the Inca culture.
What’s important with this site is that it wasn’t found by the Spanish conquistors, so it has remained intact. It was rediscovered at 1911 by an American historian (Hiram Bingham). It is often referred as the “Lost City of the Incas”. It has been reconstructed and restored to give an idea about how it originally looked liked. It was declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1983 and in 2007 Machu Picchu was voted in a worldwide internet poll to become one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
After the guided tour we had a few hours to walk around by ourselves. I picked a big stone with a great view over Machu Picchu and I sat there meditating for one hour, before it started to get to hot.
I took a few more walks around Machu Picchu. The site is roughly divided into an urban sector and an agricultural sector, as well as the upper town and the lower town. The temples are part of the upper town, the warehouses the lower. There are about 200 buildings on wide pararell terraces.
Around 12.30 I met up with the group at 12 and took the bus down to Aguas Calientes, where we had lunch. While eating it started raining – wow, we have really been lucky with the weather! We waited out the rain and then took the train back to Ollantaytambo, where a bus from the agency where supposed to pick us up, but they didn’t… so we went with another company and weren’t back in Cuzco until around 21.
P.S I used everything in my backpack, so it was worth to bring everything with me!