Yoga retreat in the South of Goa – Yogamea

 

I arrived here in Agonda in the South of Goa almost one week ago, on Monday, around 15 after about 2,5 hours drive from Swan Yoga in Asagao. On the way here we passed by more palm trees, colorful big houses, kids in school uniform, rivers and beaches, until finally arriving in this small paradise.

Agonda is a very small and tranquil little town, not much party or people here, there is one main road and the beachside. There are so many nice little beach huts here, adorable, must be so nice to hear the sound of the waves all the time. The shops are cute here, the vendors are not as annoying either, they’re calm and sweet and you get to know them all :)

Beach huts on the way down to the beach. Beautiful and peaceful!

Beach huts on the way down to the beach. Beautiful and peaceful!

The main street at Agonda. People, cows, dogs, scooters.

The main street at Agonda. People, cows, dogs, scooters.

On the beach

On the beach

There's a school just beside the church

There’s a school just beside the church

I’m in another yogaretreat named Yogamea, but it’s not as busy schedule as in Swan Yoga. We only have 2 asanas per day, but they are 2 hours long each, between 7-9am and 5-7pm. We have the all meals included here, but the food isn’t that good, they don’t have any spices at all, so it doesn’t really taste indian. We have been eating a few lunches out just to get some good indian food. They sell a lot of fish here, but still it’s India, so many vegetarian restaurants as well.

I’m sharing room with a french-canadian, Lydia, and we hang out all the time actually, she’s great. The room wasn’t as nice as Yogamea showed on their website at all, it’s quite basic, but the place is good. The food area is great, and the location is perfect too, we are just beside the main road and have about 2 minute walk down to the beach.

We had Veg makhanwala and navratan korma for lunch one day, we asked what the ingredients are of navratan korma, he said "it's vegetables, together with saus and nuts and dried fruit" - but when we got it, it was fresh fruit... quite wierd! the other thing was better..

We had Veg makhanwala and navratan korma for lunch one day, we asked what the ingredients are of navratan korma, he said ”it’s vegetables, together with saus and nuts and dried fruit” – but when we got it, it was fresh fruit… quite wierd! the other thing was better..

This is where I'm staying next! At agonda palace. Thats our porche!

This is where I’m staying next! At agonda palace. Thats our porche!

Our dining area, very cozy

Our dining area, very cozy

The yoga here is different, I was really confused at first about the sun salutation and some of the pranayamas we do, because there are other versions of the ones I knew and learned at Swan. But the teachers are great, we have had a couple of classes with the owner Timmy, and the other teacher Vilu, and he always corrects me and helps me to get better.

There is 200h yoga teacher course here, so there are many yoga students who also teaches us, so sometimes it’s a little bit repetitive, but it’s good for me :) There’s quite a segregation though, like when we eat, because the students weren’t allowed to speak for like 3 days except for during the class (saving energy or something), so we other retreaters had to stick together haha. The yoga-students have anatomy and yoga philosophy classes, so they have a busier schedule than us in the retreat, we are only 4 persons (with free time between 9am to 5pm).

After morning asana we have fruit breakfast and just relax, we are the four retreaters :)

After morning asana we have fruit breakfast and just relax, we are the four retreaters :)

Afternoon yoga class

Afternoon yoga class

 

But the times really flies here! We have breakfast and sit in our very cozy eating area between 9-10, then we take a shower, we go out for some walking or shopping or we go to the south or north side of the beach, we go back and have lunch at 13 (except for the times we have eaten out), around 14 we go out again, either beach or do the bars along the beach and have some lassi or something, and then back to do yoga again. Haha.

The bars and restaurants along the beach are much more expensive then on the main road, but they have big comfy kind of sofas with big pillows and a view over the beach, and it’s super comfortable to just sit there and chill down after a day in the sun, or when you can’t stand the heat anymore.

Enjoying our first day at the beach!

Enjoying our first day at the beach!

Enjoying ourselves at all these beach restaurants.. got a HUGE coffee and some brown bread with nutella, oh, delicious!

Enjoying ourselves at all these beach restaurants.. got a HUGE coffee and some brown bread with nutella, oh, delicious!

We have been out for a drink almost every evening after the afternoon asana class, there is a place just across our facility called ”My Friends place” where it’s nice and just across the street from Yogamea. One evening they had live music there and we met a woman in her mid 50’s from Canada, Flora, who had been abroad for over 25 years, so cool. She was now living in China. She was super cool!

The other night we sat in one of the beach bars in the comfy sofas and I ordered some sweets from south of goa and hot chocolate, watched the stars, sometimes a firework, and just the sound of the waves. I’m glad they don’t play music, it’s just very peaceful. And there are no mosquitos here at night, it’s such a relief!!

At "my friends place" just acros Yogamea, enjoying my first drink in India!

At ”my friends place” just acros Yogamea, enjoying my first drink in India!

Enjoying live music at my friends place another night

Enjoying live music at my friends place another night

Having some night snacks and beverages at the beach loving life

Having some night snacks and beverages at the beach loving life

I got a henna tattoo, the girl who made it is Sarsu (little bit unsure how it’s spelled) is only 19 and have never been to school! So she doesn’t know how to read or write. It’s weird to just imagine not be able to read the signs everywhere.  She has learned english through tourists! She has 4 sisters and 2 brothers, 2 of the sisters are married and the younger 2 sisters and the 2 brothers are still in school, she works here in the shop and provides for them so they can go in school. She was super sweet. :)

Getting my first henna tattoo

Getting my first henna tattoo

Henna tattoo

Henna tattoo

Went back to Sarsu to her shop to fill in my henna, she was like "Is it ok to wait 2 minutes while I do my prayers?". So sweet.

Went back to Sarsu to her shop to fill in my henna, she was like ”Is it ok to wait 2 minutes while I do my prayers?”. So sweet.

On Friday we rented 2 scooters, me, Lydia and Milo from Italy, one of the others doing the retreat. We drove to Cabo da Rama, which is not far away at all, but there’s no way to get there without scooter or hiring a car. It was fun to ride scooter, the roads here are great, and there is only one so it’s difficult to get lost, and there’s almost no traffic at all. It’s just uphill downhill uphill downhill all the time, Goa isn’t flat at all!

We rented scooters and went exploring in the surroundings!

We rented scooters and went exploring in the surroundings!

So in Cabo da Rama there’s a an old fort, In the past it has switched hands between Hindu, Muslim monarchs and the Portuguese and witnessed many battles in history. Now it’s almost only ruins and some rusty cannons. It was abandoned when the Portuguese left this place. And then it was a government prison till 1955 and was abandoned again. It’s really ruins, so I don’t understand how the prison was really, since it was only 60 years back.

At the top of the hill at Cabo da rama fort with a view over everywhere!

At the top of the hill at Cabo da rama fort with a view over everywhere!

Cabo da rama fort and surroundings

Cabo da rama fort and surroundings

With Lydia and Milo

With Lydia and Milo

 Nice views from Cabo da Rama fort

Nice views from Cabo da Rama fort

A woman on her morning walk

A woman on her morning walk

Soo many palmtrees!!

Soo many palmtrees!!

We spotted many monkeys!

We spotted many monkeys!

Exploring!

Exploring!

After sweating our asses off in 39 degrees and enjoying all the surrounding views, we took the scooters to a local restaurant along the way and had some veg thali. For 3 thalis, plus one extra portion thali for Milo, 3 extra breads, 3 sodas, one bag chips, one water bottle and one ice cream, we paid 450 rupees (about 5-6 euro/USD)-total! Cheap huh!

Then we drove back on the road against Agonda, stopped in a small village on the roadand had some Tea masala for 5 rupees, bought some petrol, felt sorry for all the cute little street puppies, and drove towards Cova beach. It was quite a bumpy road to the beach, only packed sand and stones along hills and cliffs, a little scary sometimes – but it was totally worth it!

The green lagoon at Cova

The green lagoon at Cova

The cottages at cova beach, so peaceful!

The cottages at cova beach, so peaceful!

Taking a bath in the lagoon at cova beach! Ah! So fresh!

Taking a bath in the lagoon at cova beach! Ah! So fresh!

In Cova it was super peaceful, nothing more there than a few cottages, one bar, the sea and a green lagoon with sweet water which was beautiful, you could se cows on the sides eating grass. The water in the lagoon was so much colder than the sea, really relaxing. You can’t reach this place with a heavy vehicle, the roads are to big for busses (you can drive car, but there’s enough space for meeting another car in the opposite direction).

We enjoyed a couple of hours there and then we had to go the bumpy ride back to be in time for our afternoon yoga.

 

Today, Saturday we did our last shopping, had some pastries at the main road, talked to the vendors, had yoga, and at night we went out for a couple drinks (compared to the regular 1 at night), since it’s our last night here. We had one kingsfisher beer to some live music on the beach, and then another beer at the other side of the beach.

But there’s really nothing going on even on a Saturday night here, the bar which we were closed since we were the last customers, and it was around 23-23.30. All the shops were closed when we walked back to, total silence.

Had some pies

Had some pies

I really love all these copper things here, but they are so heavy!!

I really love all these copper things here, but they are so heavy!!

Live music at the beach and indian beer

Live music at the beach and indian beer

 

I really like Agonda, everyone is so friendly, always saying goodnight or goodmorning, even if you don’t know them. It’s really a small town feeling. And you get to know the vendors and the waiters on the places, see them somewhere else and say hi to them to when you walk around. It’s really nice, you kind of feel at home here very easily :) This is really a place for total relaxation. 

 

Delivering fruits with a scooter

Delivering fruits with a scooter

Omg I love the signs here, they are always misspelled

Omg I love the signs here, they are always misspelled

There's a school just beside the church

There’s a school just beside the church

Yes... we are reaaally enjoying ourselves!

Yes… we are reaaally enjoying ourselves!

So many cows on the beach!

So many cows on the beach!

Sunday is the day off here at the retreat, but we have yoga in the morning anyways, they sort of special arranged it for us because we wanted to have it tomorrow. After we are going to a place that we spotted today called Krishna where we are going to treat ourselves with some ajurvedic massage.

We have dealed the price, so we are have rejuvenating or deep tissue massage, then we have khizi and we also have a facial treatment and massage, so it’s 3 treatments, it will be about 2 hours and the price is only 1100 rupees! (around 15 euro/USD). At Swan Yoga I had Khizi too (the powders and the hot oil thing) and it was 1200 for ONLY that one reatment. So yeah, this is a very nice price!

(Updated: The Khizi was only half body, but still, the whole treatment was about 2 hours and really good. The full body massage was the best, the facial wasn’t really relaxing but more rubbing the face hard)

Then we are going to have some nice indian food somewhere, my last indian meal!

After the 2 hours massage (I look quite puffy in my face) I had my last indian meal, veg thali, before heading to the airport

After the 2 hours massage (I look quite puffy in my face) I had my last indian meal, veg thali, before heading to the airport

Sunday is also our last day here before going to our new destinations, I’m going to the airport around 14 and Lidia is heading north in India (she is traveling allover India for over 3 months).

I’ve enjoyed this week of real vacation together with yoga, I’ve learnt many new asanas and mantras, got much more bendy, even bought a yoga mat so that I don’t have an excuse for not doing yoga everyday, and I’ve eaten and treated myself as one should do on their vacation, haha. I even have a new habbit, to drink tea, even if it’s 30 degrees outside, which is good for me and my metabolism. :)

Now I’m heading to the Philippines, my first flight leaves Goa at 5pm today, Sunday, and I’ll arrive in Manila around 5pm tomorrow (Flying goa-mumbai-dubai-manila) and there I will meet up with my boyfriend Duilio! :)

So bye India!! Gonna miss you!!

Yoga retreat in the North of Goa – Swan Yoga

I arrived in the airport of Vasco de Gama and had a driver there waiting for me, Camilo. He was very funny and sweet. We had about 1,5 hours drive in front of us to reach Asagao, where Swan Yoga is located.

My first impressions of goa was: aahhh!!! So nice here!! It’s hot, sunny, green, there’s both rivers and sea and the best thing of all; you can breathe! There’s like no pollution and palmtrees everywhere! Goa is much more laid-back, like a surfers place kind of compared to Delhi.

I arrived in the afternoon at Swan Yoga, ready for one weeks yoga retreat. I visited an ayurvedic doctor and then and I had dinner with the gang that was in the retreat. It was a nice group, which Shirin from Iran, Ayse from Turkey, Daniela from Mexico (living in China), Chantelle from Canada (living in China) Scott from US, John from UK, Britta from Canada (living in Australia), and Tine and Ann from Belgium. They had all arrived earlier then me, the retreat recommends to come on a Friday and I came on a Monday. All our teachers and the ones working on Swan yoga was also amazing.

First dinner with the gang!

First dinner with the gang!

Swan Yoga is located in the hills and surrounded by jungle. They grow almost all their vegetables and fruits them selves in their gardens. We all live in eco-friendly cottages, but the space it’s quite big, there is a kitchen and food area, a yoga hall (shala) , a temple where we do fire ceremonies or similar things, another hall (shala) where we did the Nitrakaya (stare into a candle flame), and there was a whole section with Ayurveda practices, a very cool reception and a ”fake beach” with sands and sun chairs with parasols and small bar next to it where you could buy healthy juices, fruit salad and things like that. Everything felt very close to nature and was very peaceful and with great energy.

My cottage, number 6, Ajna!

My cottage, number 6, Ajna!

The reception - so cozy!

The reception – so cozy!

Scott taking a walk through the Ayurveda gardens

Scott taking a walk through the Ayurveda gardens

Waiting for the morning yoga class to begin

Waiting for the morning yoga class to begin

Love that you can see the stars at night so well from Swan Yoga

Love that you can see the stars at night so well from Swan Yoga

The friday fire ceremony, were we chanted a mantra 108 times :)

The friday fire ceremony, were we chanted a mantra 108 times :)

What I liked the most about this retreat is that you don’t only do the ”Asana” – which is the physical training on the yoga mat (what we in Europe actually call yoga but it’s a very little part of it) – but you get to know the indian life and the philosophy about yoga. There is so much more, thousands of years of knowledge about this – and I have barely just touched a little tip of it. I love how incorporated yoga is together with the spiritual and lifestyle here. I got many tips and advices and a lot of food for thought while listening to the wisdom of our yogis and to of course, stories (Indians love to tell stories ;)

Our daily schedule looked something like this (changed everyday):

tuesdays schedule

tuesdays schedule

Quite busy schedule huh! We always started at 6am with about 45 minutes meditation. It was all completely black then when we started, but about the time we opened our eyes in the end, it was bright and the sun was just rising. Such a nice feeling!

I loved the meditation in the morning. It’s amazing how the mind works, how you can bring awareness do different parts of your body or your surroundings. One morning we also did it on the beach – fantastic! We went to mini-vagator beach, which is all quiet. Apparently if you go to the other beaches around, there are still people up partying around that time. We had some fruit there listened to Shivendras and Gyanmidras stories :)

morning meditation at the beach. Ayses picture

morning meditation at the beach. Ayses picture

Sunrise at the beach

Sunrise at the beach

Having breakfast at the beach :)

Having breakfast at the beach :)


We always had 2 asanas
(excersices in the yoga hall) every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In between we had another class, either yoga philosophy, yoga nidra, trataka, chakra drawing, or similar. After the afternoon asana we Tulsi Puja everyday before dinner, and on weekends we had fire ceremony.

The holy basil, which we do a Tulsi Puja for everyday. We do a small ceremony to thanks mother Tulsi for this plant

The holy basil, which we do a Tulsi Puja for everyday. We do a small ceremony to thanks mother Tulsi for this plant

Me and Tine doing yoga

Me and Tine doing some streching in asana class

So yes, we had quite a busy schedule, but between 12.30-17.00 we had free time.

The first day we went to a coffee place close to Swan (just walking 45 minutes down the road ;) and enjoyed some nice smoothies and not so healthy cakes haha. Then we walked back for the afternoon asana. Another day we went for the Anjuna Flea Market, and 2 days we had a cooking class. The rest we spent at the fake beach or on our porches drwaing Chakras.

On our way to the bakery

On our way to the bakery

Enjoying some juices, smoothies, coffee and cakes at a nice cafeteria down the streets

Enjoying some juices, smoothies, coffee and cakes at a nice cafeteria down the streets

Me and Chantelle hanging at the fake beach bar :)

Me and Chantelle hanging at the fake beach bar :)


The Anjuna flea Market though –
what a crazy place – sooo many tents and shops, and it was super hot – and I was surprised to see so many foreigners – like every tourist is here! It was a little bit fun to bargain, like if someone sells you a pair of pants and says it costs 600, you can easily get them down to 250-300. It’s actually very cheap anyways, but I don’t like when they try to get advantage of you, but as long as I find the price fair I’m glad. Anyhow, it was kind of exhausting!

The anjuna flea market

The anjuna flea market

At the anjuna flea market!

At the anjuna flea market!


The food at Swan was amazing
, super healthy Ayurveda vegetarian Indian food, and as said earlier, almost everything is from their own farmlands, and it was all perfectly spicy and with rich flavors. We did a Ayurveda cooking class on our free time for 2 days and got to know and make Palak Panir (Spinach and soya-cheese or cottage cheese), Polow (indian vegetables with rice), a fusion salad, Dal (lentil soup), coriander chutney salsa, and a dessert called Halwa. I’m looking forward to be able to do this at home, I’ve bought some spices so I can! Hehe.

Before and after cooking you always sing a mantra and prays for the food to be good, that it's made with love and it doesn't go to waste.

Before and after cooking you always sing a mantra and prays for the food to be good, that it’s made with love and it doesn’t go to waste.

Preparations for the cooking class - so many nice vegetables!!

Preparations for the cooking class – so many nice vegetables!!

At the cooking class. This is Swan Yogas kitchen - can't believe they do all our food, for about 20-30 people (sometimes up to 60 people) on only 2 stoves!!

At the cooking class. This is Swan Yogas kitchen – can’t believe they do all our food, for about 20-30 people (sometimes up to 60 people) on only 2 stoves!!

At the cooking class. The north americans are good students while Daniela, me and Shiring reather do selfies, haha.

At the cooking class. The north americans are good students while Daniela, me and Shiring reather do selfies, haha.

The food we cooked in the cooking class!

The food we cooked in the cooking class!

I also went to an Ayurvedic Doctor, got to know that my body type is Pitta-Kapha, but that my Kapha is very much increased so right now I’m more Kapha-Pitta, so I got a few treatments and a diet and some exercises o follow so I can bring the Pitta down and balance my body so it works as it should. Very interesting, a little bit hard to follow while traveling, but I’ll do my best! For example I can only eat tomatoes, cauliflower, raw onion, milk products etc once a week, because it’s not good for me, but some things that are good for me are carrots, pumpkin, beetroot, citrus fruits, lentils etc. I have a whole list! So I’ll try to keep that in mind!

Ayurveda doctor and treatments!

Ayurveda doctor and treatments!


We had the Friday off,
so I went more north in Goa, about 45 minutes away with car, to a big beach called Arambol. So much life there, but it was really nice to be on the beach! I did some shopping, had lassi and coffee with a view over the beach, got really burned on my back (damn the sun is so strong here! I had cream…. But I should have reapplied like 5 times more).

The beach at Arambol

The beach at Arambol

Many nice shops along the beach!

Many nice shops along the beach!

 

I had a long conversation with one of the vendors on the beach, her name is Mona, she just sat down beside me and started talking. She felt sort of tired of her job, she is just walking the beach up and down trying to sell scarfs or similar. She told me that it’s not a very good year, not so many tourists and business, and she is tired of walking in the sun, she doesn’t want to get more tanned.

She told me that she is from another city in the north, but she comes here for the season and spends 6 months here before going back. She had been doing this for 3 years now, and she was only 15 years old!! She told me that she went to school up to 5th grade, because it’s only free up to that, and then she had to start working. Hard life! This year was her little sisters first year here to, I got to meet her, but the lil-sister hadn’t learnt English yet, while Mona had by being here working and talking to the tourists.

This is Mona!

This is Mona!


We had quite many birthdays during the week too
, Gyanmidra (the one who started Swan) had his 47th birthday, John from UK also had birthday and both were celebrated with cake.

On February the 14th, valentines day (which nobody knew or noticed until noon), it was Ohms and Gyans Gurus birthday, so we celebrated that with a fire ceremony in the temple, singing a special song dedicated to him. A guru is almost like a god here, it’s someone they have lived and eaten with for a long time, a teacher who had showed them the way of life and yoga.

Birthday celebration, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration of The guru, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration of The guru, valentines day and fire ceremony

For Gianmitras birthday we lit up a fire on the fakebeach

For Gianmitras birthday we lit up a fire on the fakebeach

Chocolate cake! :)

Chocolate cake! :)

Many left on Friday or Saturday and honestly it was a bit sad without them. But I was glad that almost half of the group stayed a little bit longer, like Shantelle and John that was leaving on the same day as me, and Scott that was spending one week more here, and Shirin of course who is staying in Goa for months with her mother. A new group arrived, they were all very kind and funny too, but  I didn’t got to know them to much either since I left on the Monday, but they were only 6 persons, and with Shirin and Scott a total of 8, so quite a small group.

Shirin feels like a local, she showed us and took us to different places with her car, small funny roadtrips :) We went to a big afternoon market on Saturday, we left about 21, we were like ”What, so late??” Haha. And it was really crowded! So many scooters outside!

When you were entering the market you had to go through metal detectors and security checking your bags so you didn’t bring drugs or anything in. In Goa there are a lot of drugs and party going on, but I didn’t really notice anything of it since I was at the retreat, but I could tell from the people and the stores, they have a lot of rave-stores kind of.

Inside it was huge, but much nicer than the Anjuna market, this was more personal with a lot of specialty shops, and also a food court and live music. It was really nice. We got home about 23 – quite late for us since we always got to bed around 20 the other days! Haha.

At the night market, Shirin and John in the picture

At the night market, Shirin and John in the picture

Live music and outdoors barhanging at the night market

Live music and outdoors bar hanging at the night market

The last thing I did on Monday was the Kriya – a cleansing – so we had salt water running through one nosil to the other, cleaning our nose, and then we had to drink minimum 4 big glasses of salt water very quickly to throw it up and clean our stomach (I wasn’t able to drink more then 2 though, but I puked for a looong time). The third cleansing was to drink about 8 glasses and do some yoga postures to cleanse the intestines, so you shit everything out later, but I didn’t do that since I was leaving the Yoga retreat and I had to be in a car for 2,5 hours haha.

Ohm telling about Kriya (you see some of the water and the nose-things there on the table)

Ohm telling about Kriya (you see some of the water and the nose-things there on the table)

But before moving on I wanted to send home some souvenirs and clothes I wouldn’t use more, and Shirin was kind drive me to Mapusa so I could send home a package by indian post mail. It’s quite special here – you have to put a white wool fabric around your package and stitch it (which you can go to a place outside the post office to do it) before standing in a long cue at the post office to actually send it. But it was super cheap, I paid for the box and fabric and stitching about 140 rupees (2 euros/usd) and the package that was 6,7 kgs didn’t even cost 2300 rupees (30 euro/usd) to send to Sweden by air. So cheap!!

The little place where you can get help with packaging your parcial. You see that he man is stitching my box with the white fabric :)

The little place where you can get help with packaging your parcial. You see that he man is stitching my box with the white fabric :)

Anyhow, the week at Swan Yoga passed super fast, and it was time to go. I would have enjoyed staying another week to learn more about the way of the yogis, I only got a little taste of it.

It has been a true pleasure!!

 

Group picture!

Group picture!

 

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Day 3 & 4

Day 3.

Lovely pancake in the morning!!!

Lovely pancake in the morning!!! Perfect start of the day :)


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.

Pacaymayo - maybe an Inca military fortress .. day 3

Pacaymayo – maybe an Inca military fortress .. day 3

On our way to the top..

On our way to the top of this day..

Finally at the highest point of this day..  just have to walk downstairs now.. day 3

Finally at the highest point of this day.. :) A little chilly!

Matilda, Mia and me above the clouds!

Matilda, Mia and me above the clouds!

Walking down the last big hill!

Walking down the last big hill!

Group picture day 3 :)

Group picture day 3 :)

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.

Phuyupatamarca, meaning "place of the clouds", because most of the year is surround by big and thick clouds (not so much this day though)

Phuyupatamarca, meaning ”place of the clouds”, because most of the year is surround by big and thick clouds (not so much this day though)

Phuyupatamarca on the other side

Phuyupatamarca on the other side

Our guide is telling us about Sayacmarca, meaning "Inaccessible Town", a name that describes the position of the ruins perfectly as they are protected on three sides by a precipice.

Our guide is telling us about Sayacmarca, meaning ”Inaccessible Town”, a name that describes the position of the ruins perfectly as they are protected on three sides by a precipice.

We have reached the urubamba river that passes by Aguas calientes.. Meaning that we are really close to machu picchu now!

We have reached the urubamba river that passes by Aguas calientes.. Meaning that we are really close to machu picchu now!

Having a break, soon reaching our last camping place just a couple of hours from Machu Picchu :)

Having a break, soon reaching our last camping place just a couple of hours from Machu Picchu :)

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.

All our portiers, the guide and the cook! So sweet!

All our portiers, the guide and the cook! So sweet!

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!!


Day 4

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.

Waiting in line (the first ones) for the last check point to reach Machu Picchu

Waiting in line (the first ones) for the last check point to reach Machu Picchu

Morning day 4, walking the last hour in the dark before reaching the sun gate at sunrise..

Morning day 4, walking the last hour in the dark before reaching the sun gate at sunrise..

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.

Our group hiking :) Lucys picture

Our group hiking :) Lucys picture

On the inka trail - reaching Machu Picchu in a couple of minutes!

On the inka trail – reaching Machu Picchu in a couple of minutes!

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.

Another classical picture of Machu Picchu

The classical picture of Machu Picchu

Lamas going for a walk in Machu Picchu.

Lamas going for a walk in Machu Picchu.

The house of gards on the top there

The house of gards on the top there


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.

Meditating with this wonderful view in front of me... breath taking

Meditating with this wonderful view in front of me… breath taking

Sweet lama at Machu Picchu

Sweet lama at Machu Picchu

The residential part of Macchu Picchu

The residential part of Macchu Picchu

Extensive terraces were used for agriculture , and there are stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site.

Extensive terraces were used for agriculture , and there are stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site. Also view over the nobel houses.

Let's say I shouted "I'm the queen of the world" when I jumped.

Let’s say I shouted ”I’m the queen of the world” when I jumped.

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.

Great experience!

P.S I used everything in my backpack, so it was worth to bring everything with me!

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Day 1 & 2

So… time to tell you about the Inca Trail!
It’s 4 days of trekking and about 50 kilometres through the andes. Around 70% of the path is hand-built stone about a thousand years ago. It’s the only trek that take you along the original Inca trail, so you litterally walk in the footsteps of the ancient Incas and also enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate instead of the regular entrance of the visitors.

To be honest, I thought this was the only way to visit Machu Picchu at first.. but there are plenty of other treks that goes there and you can also do a day-visit to Machu Picchu. This trek is the most expensive of them all, in our group we all paid different fees, something between 500-650 USD. I paid 500, but it didn’t include any portiers that carries my stuff or hiking poles as it did to some of the others in the group.

Ok so..

Day 1
I got picked up 5.30 in the morning, then we picked up the rest of the group in their hostal, and then we went to Ollantaytambo  where we had a 15 soles breakfast haha. After that we were supposed to leave to Piscacucho/Km 82, but we didn’t have enough portiers. We only had 2, and we needed at least 7. Usually there are portiers waiting here in ollantaytambo… but they didn’t this Saturday morning. The guide told us that sometimes they have been out partying and that they don’t show up in the morning… So we stayed there a couple of hours waiting for porters to show up, but they didn’t..
We started to get slightly irritated since we had booked this over 6 months ago, but they couldn’t book porters even a couple of days before?? Then the guide said that we should go to Km 82 and start preparing lunch (the cook was with us : ) and that they had localized some portieres from Cuzco that would go there directly. So… that meant we actually could have slept until 12 instead of 4… but well well.

We had a delicious lunch, we were all really surprised of the quality of the food, we had a soup as first and pasta as a second, with bread and tea and everything.. and we even had our own table and chairs!!! Amazing.

Lunch at Km 82.. look at all the food and pots they are bringing with them! Crazy and heavy!

Preparing the lunch at Km 82.. look at all the food and pots they are bringing! Crazy and heavy! But the food was delicious!

We didn’t start our trek until 14, instead of around 8 in the morning… so we were a little behind. When we got to the first check point, the guards weren’t’ even there, they where having lunch… so we had to wait another 30 minutes before they got there. Haha. But the guide told us we still would reach the camp in time before darkness – and we actually did just in time!  In the info it said it would take around 6 hours to trek this part, but we did it in around 4 hours, but of course we didn’t have  the lunch break or anything.

The first group picture exactly at the starting point of the Inka Trail!

The first group picture exactly at the starting point of the Inka Trail!

We had to cross the river just in the beginning of the Inka Trail.

We had to cross the river just in the beginning of the Inka Trail.

We passed by a few archeological sites along the way and stunning and really beautiful views. Still it was actually really heavy… I started to think like “why the heck am I doing this for?” And this is what they say, ”and easy start”… we had a little uphill and we were all exhausted afterwords… and the second day is supposed to be the hardest day with over a kilometer just uphill.. this was like 200 metres or less.. haha. We asked the guide if it was going to be this stiff too, and he just laughed and said it was going to be a LOT more stiffer.. haha.

I noticed I’m the one that has the biggest and heaviest backpack  (4 girls have their things carried by portiers, but another couple also carries their stuff, still they have really good light equipment plus they share some stuff)… I didn’t know how I was going to be able to make it tomorrow.. the guide even said I was going to have it really hard and asked if I didn’t want to pay a portier to carry my stuff… but nope. :p

First archeological site

First archeological site we passed by

Our glad portiers passed by us :) Behind you see a snowy mountain

Our glad portiers that passed by us :) One is having a backpack but the other only has an aguayo (the blanket)

The whole group first day of the trek!

The whole group first day of the trek!

When we got to the camp (Called Wayllabamba) I was surprised that it was in a village, I thought it was going to be in the middle of nowhere, so did the rest of the group to, but no… it was a camping site with water, toilets and even a small and expensive store… I think 2 L of water was like 9 soles (I had purification tablets with me, best thing!). Once again we had a greaaaat meal, wow, so surprised. Vegetable soup first and then for second we had rice, fried potato, fish and vegetables.. sooo good… I really thought that I was going to eat like powder soups or something.. but not at all – it’s better then in restaurants!

Having our first course at our first camping site :)

Having our first meal at our first camping site :)

After dinner we all went to bed – dead. It was really cold too, I slept with my union suit, fleece jacket and poncho in my sleeping bag.. and we were only at 2980m altitude….

Day 2
We woke up at 5 in the morning to have breakfast at 5.30 (omelett, cereal, porridge, bread, coffe, tea, hot chocolate…mmmm!) and leave the camp at 6 in the morning.

Getting lighter over the campsite

Getting lighter over the campsite


Today is the most challenging day along the trail! There is around 5 hours of vertical hike to reach the Dead Woman’s pass at a altitude of 4,215 meters. In the beginning of the day our guide pointed the Dead Woman’s Pass out for us, and it seemed soooo damn far away. It didn’t feel possible to reach there even in one day… but apparently it is.
And after we had around a 3 km hike down on stone steps before reaching our camp at Pacaymayo at the high of 3660 metres.. This I did with my around 10 kilos backpack…

The guide is showing us what's ahead of us, you see up there in the V of the mountain, there's like a boob and a womans face.. we have to go up there and then down on the other side..

The guide is showing us what’s ahead of us, you see up there in the V of the mountain, a little bit to the right there’s like a boob and a womans face.. that’s where we are going today and then down on the other side..

Some colorful portiers with quite good equipment passed us by

Some colorful portiers with quite good equipment passed us by

Second day on my way up to dead womans pass!

Second day on my way up to dead womans pass!

It was damn hard, but, easier than I thought it was going to be!  Today we didn’t hike together, but in our own pace. And I found a trick: listen to music! When I don’t hear myself being out of breath then I don’t feel tired either. Also, I listened to regueton which has a great rhythm for walking up hill. I felt happy dancing/trekking/singing and I had a really good pace. I really started to enjoy this –the breath taking hills and the breath taking views… to be this sweaty, tired and happy at the same time. . The guide praised me plenty of times for having a good rhythm even if I was having a big backpack too. I felt great! The way back down took around 2-3 hours.. I think it’s heavier to go downstairs that upstairs, not for the lungs bot for the knees..

Found some llamas along the way

Found some llamas along the way

The beautiful Inca Trail

The beautiful Inca Trail

Finally at the top - made it! Really cold up there though

Finally at the top – made it! Really cold up there though



When we arrived we packed up our things in our tents and had yet another great lunch of course. The afternoon was free and we were all so tired that we went to take a nap first… and then it started to rain. So we were kind of stuck in our own tents, I did a few bracelets and then the rain was over and it was time for dinner. Potato-soup, chard-pie, pasta, chicken curry (for me battered colliflowers) and salad… amazing.

Lunch day 2, saffran rice, mush potatoes, some beef thing with carrots and sweet potatoes filled with cheese.. and I had my own vegetable burger things.. loooovely

Lunch day 2, saffran rice, mush potatoes, some beef thing with carrots and sweet potatoes filled with cheese.. and I had my own vegetable burger things.. loooovely

Trying to relax in Puerto..

Hi again :)

So, now that I don’t really do anything that is of a cultural interest, I find it hard to write a post about doing nothing in general. So this is mostly for my family and friends to know that I’m still alive ;)

In the beginning I was like nervous somehow because I have had some ”stressful” days, meaning with lots of activities, and now I come to a place where everyone just is. It’s so warm and sunny during the days that you can’t really do anything, and the time just passes by anyways.

So I have surf lessons either 7.30 AM or 4.00 PM. Rest of the time is just walking around, drinking smoothies, sleeping, reading a book, eating, hanging out. :) It’s a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere here, you feel like at home after one day, and start to say Hi to everybody. :)

The first night there were 3 german, 2 mexican and one australian girl here, and I surfed my first class with them, but it was their last day of classes and at the beach house.
The second day, two other mexican joined instead. And also there is a norwegian girl living here. But it’s very calm and cool here. Me and Emiliano went to a vegetarian/healthy restaurant here in La Punta that David (the surf master and the owner of Puerto Surf) had recommended. We ate falafel pita, really good! :)

Puerto Surf Beach House

Puerto Surf Beach House

La punta, Puerto Escondido

La punta, Puerto Escondido, where we surf

With the german guests

Last night with the german guests

Emiliano and me eating out at a veggie restaurant

Emiliano and me eating out at a veggie restaurant