We survived! We made it through the four day trek to Machu Picchu and the two weeks in Peru. It was wonderful. Not sure where to even begin explaining about the trek. It was the hardest, most thrilling, emotional, physical, four days of my life, but I would do it again in a second. I had trained hard for the trek, but nothing quite compares you for just exactly how hard it is. We trekked for four days, 28 miles, climbed two mountain passes and slept in a tent on the ground every night. We used Peru Treks to guide us, and I would recommend this company to anyone. We had two guides that made sure you made it through each day and never made you feel like it was a race. In fact, they promoted going slow. Little by little is what we were told, which is great because that's what I needed! We also had 20 porters with our group, and I have so much for respect for these native mountain men. They carried everything we needed for the trek...food, water, tents, dishes. Their packs were so heavy yet they bypassed us all on the hike. By the time our group finished huffing and puffing for hours, we would arrive at a fully set up camp site with hot soup and tea waiting for us. How did they do it? We would start out every morning ahead of them, and they would pack up and still zip past us on the trail. Amazing.
Here are some pictures and stories from the trek!
We arrived in Cusco two days early in order to acclimate to the altitude. Altitude sickness is no joke and taken very seriously here. The minute you stepped off the plane, you could tell why. The smallest little movement made you winded. We celebrated the start of our trip with local Cusquena beers at our hotel.
This is our entire group at the start of the trek (which is why we look so clean and happy! ha!). There were 16 of us total plus 2 guides and 20 porters. We were together for four days and spent a lot of time walking and eating together, so we got to know a lot of these nice people. Most were on extended holidays through South America.
The amazing porters with their loads. My pack was SO heavy that I could barely stand it on the first day. On day 2 and 3, I hired a local man to carry my pack for me. This is a way for the locals to make some money, and it also saved my life! Win/win.
Anders rolls some coca leaves. You could buy bags of these leaves in Cusco and on the trail. Coca is used by the natives to combat all types of illness...headaches, altitude sickness, tooth aches, stomach aches etc. because they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. You chew them the same way you would tobacco; by putting them in the side of your mouth and sucking/chewing on the leaves. You swallow your saliva but not the leaves. Coca leaves are one of the many ingredients in cocaine, so not only are they illegal in the US, but they also made your mouth go a bit numb. They worked, though!
Resting and taking in the view. We all had walking sticks and they were life savers on the trek.
Most days we had tea time, which involved hot water and coca leaves plus snacks such as popcorn, cookies or these cheese sandwiches. Our porters loved to carb-load us!
Although this picture is foggy, you can see down the long valley. We climbed for 6-7 hours this day. We reached an elevation of 13,779 feet to the top of a mountain called "Dead Woman's Pass." It was the hardest day physically by far. After making it to the top, we still had to hike 2 hours downhill, which is equally as hard. We are so happy to be at the top in this picture!
The long road to Machu Picchu
Back with more soon!