Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Phew.  Writing about this holiday is taking almost as long as the holiday itself.

So..back to the Inca trail
Day two,  our guides assured us was flat and easy.  To make up for yesterday's slack effort, we were to walk about 16kms.  The guides' definition of what is flat differs somewhat to mine, the path was what I would call undulating, often with steep climbs up and then steep climbs down.  The landscape is spectacular and it's hard to imagine a group of people negotiating the almost sheer sides of some mountains, many covered in snow,  in the days before shoes and gortex.  Yet again the porters run pass us on the trail, carrying huge loads and with calves of elite athletes.  I think Peru should enter these guys in the olympics.  We finally make it to camp and are treated like royalty.  Come to the conclusion that I am never hiking again without a porter.

Day 3 starts with a duffle bag full of ants being introduced into our tent by an unsuspecting Mr R.  I dive out of tent and hurt my toe.  Luckily ants turn out not to Sth American fire biting ants or I may not have been here to tell the tale.   I wake up whole camp with my shrieks.  Day 3 we do what is commonly known as the 2 day inca trail, all in one day (about 12kms).  Climb steadily for a few hours as views get more and more spectacular.  Just before lunch we get to Inca ruins of Winay Winya (the spelling is wrong but I can't be bothered looking it up) which consist of an amazing set of terraces set into a very steep mountain side.  Very spectacular and we have them to ourselves.  After lunch we join up to the high trail and continue to the sun gate, a walk done on traditional four day walk in the dark so you reach the sun gate by dawn.  Would be tough going in the dark, especially the near vertical set of stairs.  From sun gate we get our first splendid view of Machu Picchu (jeez, that could be spelt wrong too, and here I am normally a stickler for spelling!), in a word breathtaking.  Could be the climb perhaps.  Take too many photos and then continue down trail for another 40 mins or so to reach the ruins.  Take more photos and admire the view.  Take easy way out and get bus down to Agua Calientes for night's camping.  Day four we are up very early to be first at ruins for tour.  MP covered in mist, so thankful we were not at sun gate with nothing to see.  Tour the site, very pleasant until about 10am when the trains from Cusco arrive and the place is over-run with people that havent walked for three days to get there and therefore all look and smell much better than I.  Best moment is when obnoxious American child asks me if he can pet a Llama (I must look like a llama keeper).  I tell him I have no idea.  He gives it a try and llama spits on him.  My thoughts exactly.

Return to Cuzco that night via train and bus.  Have the best shower I have ever had.  Sleep in real bed.  Watch CNN to make sure world hasn't blown up whilst in wilderness.  Only Australian news we get is that Canberra residents have been warned to watch out for agressive kangaroos in search of water, raiding their homes.  No wonder everyone you meet when they find out you are from Australia says "Kangaroo?" and then laughs uproariously.  Kangaroos have a bad worldwide reputation.

Next day we do a tour of Cuzco, more Inca stonework is admired and photographed. Then some local market shopping in the afternoon.  Get nice silver necklace and lots of alpaca socks. 

That night we pack for the jungle in preparation for early morning departure....

So, I'll leave that there, still without having got to the tarantulas.  I am thinking that I am building the tarantula story up to be rather big, so I must invent good story overnight!



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