The Inca Trek (Peru: South America)
May 26 - June 2016
5 days, 14000 ft on Ancient trail
Machu Picchu was always a mystery. Growing up had seen pictures, some discovery channel / national geographic films. That's about it. People, the ancient culture, style of living all so different than one has ever experienced. The most amusing part while watching the shows were how can a human perform and build and stay at these elevations. The Classic Inca Trek supposedly done by royalty and now a days by enthusiasts who want to walk in the same footsteps is now a compulsory guided walk with limited permits.
Well the thought of doing it was lingering in minds since long but the habit of always planning things at the last minute and this being permit only trek, missed the opportunity couple times. Hence this time not too long ago but still for our records booked earlier to ensure we have the permits. May and June being popular months with less rain in Andes the crowds are more. Given we live at sea level decided to land in Lima and then to Cuzco which is at 11000ft elevation. Just a day of acclimatization.
Got an opportunity to look around Cuzco the basilica, square, the view from the balcony hotel where we just had snack was great. We could see traditionally dressed ladies roaming around taking pictures with their pet Guanaco and themselves with tourists, no of dogs running around, some people feeling the elevation and taking it slow and taking a break. From the balcony one could even see the huge statue on the mountain some tree lines and a park up there those were the Sacsayhuaman ruins later to discover, I think that was the highest point in the town from where U get the view of the entire city.The road where one can see Puma on the original Incan wall (a small section of the original wall still remaining) is amazing, an alley with lots of gift shops and enthusiastic vendors. One shop owner lady was so delighted to see people from India that she handed free gifts and started telling how our both cultures are so ancient and showed us the wall with puma and snake on it. Interesting part was some sports competitions (Tiquando etc later to discover) among Bolivian, Peru, Chile kids were going on in Basilica grounds and had very hilarious symbolic combinations conversation with the Police officers to understand what was going on but at the end we both understood each other.
On this journey got a chance to visit couple villages, see weaving techniques and how do they use natural dye to color wool of Alpaca, Guanaco, Llama's. The typical dressing style at various places was interesting. The area felt as if you are really in some ancient times. Roads / alleys were pretty clean. Little rain thunderstorm showed how it would be in real downpour. It was fun having coffee and some local sweet with group members in one of Cuzco coffee shops in the evening. Hers was first ever trek so she was trying to get some confidence (She did good at the end, it was fun leading and marching entire ladies battalion up the mountain, Just a fun thing, yes our guide was amazing but he had to stay back with much needy individuals.)
The Pisac ruins almost at 10,000 ft show the high performance human ability to build crazy things in thin air. The terraces grow different kind of potato on each one as the climate of each terrace is different, the entire sacred valley area, how high it is and the amount of construction and productivity during those times is worth a visit. Here U will discover the famous Peruvian Corn, they just boil it in water but the kernels are so huge and different tasting. There is always lineup of vendors at the entrance with water, some fresh squeeze juices and what not. There are numerous varieties of potatoes and corns which grow in Peru.
Ollantaytambo at 9500 ft is yet another one of the sacred valley part: the fort, the storages built in mountains, the village, one gets awestruck to see how from far away mine they must have hauled huge slabs of granite to build sun temple . The square in the town is the hustle bustle area with river flowing in the town. From here one goes to the trek that starts from the gates at km82. Here is where u load up your backpacks, and start walking with the guides for the most amazing trek. Fun begins!!