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Inca trail death hike: Day 4

Hoooraaaayyyyyy!!!! We finally made it to the last day! Hallelujah! We all got up really early at around 3-4ish. It was still dark. We packed our things, had breakfast & were at the checkpoint by 5ish. For each day of the Inca trail, there is a checkpoint where you can get stamps on your passport. They open at the break of dawn to make sure nobody hikes in the dark. There were sooo many people already waiting in line when we got there. Some people want to experience Macchu Pichu before the mad rush of tourists get in. Some people want to see the sun rise over the ancient site. I am really curious to see if it is worth all the hype.


Highlights: And yes it is worth all the hype! Macchu Pichu is amazing! If I was not in pain, I would have been running all over the place. It is incredible to experience this city in the clouds. Macchu Pichu is not technically an ancient 'ruin' because it was never destroyed (ruined). It's an ancient Incan site carefully concealed by nature for hundreds of years. There were some Peruvians living at Macchu Pichu, maybe a family or 2 when it was 'discovered'. The families never bothered to mess with excavation & it was just their children's playground. When the first western discoverer brought it to light, there were thousands of ancient artifacts & treasures! The place must have been even more amazing back when it was inhabited.
Cast of Characters: Me & my fellow trekkers. When we got there we found some other 'yellow shirts' wandering around Machu Picchu. Peru Treks gave us these 'I survived the Inca trail' shirts to wear at the very last day. Lol! I was kind of worried I jinxed myself because there were some treacherous parts along the trail early that morning. It would have been sad if I was wearing this shirt only to not make it, lol.
Logistics/ Links: Inca trail packlist, Peru treks, Inca trail day 1, day 2, day 3
When: May 10, 2012. The fourth day is considerably warmer than the other 3 days. You just need a regular t-shirt & shorts for exploring the place. It did get a lot cooler in Macchu Pichu village that afternoon.
Location: Macchu Pichu, Peru
Cost: ~$600 for everything including the ride back to Cusco
Trip Report: Ohoho! It was awesome!!! I have to admit when our 4 day Classic Inca trail experience finished, I wasn't sure how I felt about the whole experience. But I guess for vacations its true for me that the positive experiences outlast the negative ones.

There was still a little bit (around 2-3 hrs) of a hike to get to Macchu Pichu. The ancient Incan ruler chose the location of Macchu Pichu because it would be easy to defend the city from invaders due to the location. I can now see why. There was a part where we were on all fours scrambling up this steep, high steps towards the Sun gate. It would only take 1 person to knock off invaders from some of the treacherous parts of the trail. We passed by this section where there was a landslide. Our guides say 2 people died from it last year. Eeep. I did ask Edwin on how many people have died on the trail. He said it was much more common a long time ago when no regulations existed for the porters. Just a quick look behind & the porter can hit his120lb sack against the mountain & it could easily knock him off. Nowadays the trail is definitely a lot safer. I did not feel unsafe at any portion of the trip.

We got to the Sun gate at around 7ish I think. I was feeling a lot more energetic & pumped up from the thought of seeing Macchu Pichu. I was actually somewhat able to keep up with everyone else. Also, the trail on this last portion was a lot more humane. Everybody was excited. At the Sun gate, people were just hanging out waiting for the sun to rise over Macchu Pichu. It was definitely a memorable experience seeing the light slowly bring the site out of darkness. Once that was over, people started heading out. Our guide Edwin gathered everyone & we all set off. The views got much better en route.

We soon (finally) arrived at Macchu Picchu. Hoooraaay!!! My feet were hurting like hell. My toes are all bruised from my new hiking boots. After some obligatory photos, Edwin took us to a spot & explained the history & background of Macchu Pichu. There were sooo many people at the place. I was particularly envious of the clean & fabulous tourists fresh off the train. I looked down at my stinky boots, scratched my nasty hair & decided nobody really cares. My toes are screaming. I took my boots off & walked around the place with just socks. Occasionally I would get a whiff of something that smells like stinky feet, but I just tell myself that its probably not me, lol.

We had a few hours to explore the place. Honestly, it was hard to appreciate the place because I was sooo exhausted! The group split up. I tagged along with some of my fellow trekkers. We followed all the arrows & checked out as much as our physical condition will let us. There's actually a lot of hiking just at Macchu Pichu itself. You can also do Wayna Picchu (with advanced ticket purchase) or Sun gate (kind of a boring trail). Its easy to burn a whole day as there's so many things to see. When we got our fill, we set out for the bus to Aguas Calientes. We did not try the hot springs. Edwin says its more like warm springs. The town is nice even if it revolves around tourism. We met the rest of the group at Ayllu pizzeria (I had their Ayllu pizza & it was heaven! What is that cream sauce they put?!). Edwin congratulated everyone for surviving the trail. Yeeeyyyy!!!! He handed out Inca trail completion certificates & of course, I was the last one to receive mine. Aggghh! Embarassing! lol! I looked at the certificate. It says I completed the trail on May 12 (2 days later). Huwhaat!?! =O  Did they do that on purpose?! Everyone elses had the right date. Hmp. Anyway, if you're worried about the difficulty of the trail- if I can do it, anybody can do it!

We had a couple more hours to explore town before we set off for the train back to Ollantaytambo (then bus to Cusco). Siiighhh!!!! This is definitely something I will never forget. =D

Jimmy keeps encouraging me saying 'We're almost there!!!' He meant just a few more mountains to go.
Another flight of descending steps. You can expect at least 1000x of these.

The morning sun rising over the Andes.
View from the Sun gate trail

Early morning light on Macchu Pichu

Aaaahhhh! Soo beautiful!!!

Sunrise over Macchu Pichu. Amazing!!!



Here's our group getting ready for the last leg of the trail.


Little checkpoint en route

 


Survivors! We finished the 4 day Inca trail on May 10, 2012. Freakin' awesome!
Cute llamas just doing their own thing

Llamas at Macchu Pichu

Yeeeeyyy!!! =D

Our very cool guide Edwin. Edwin does not do hiking sticks. He's been hiking the trail every week for 5 yrs.


Stone construction at Macchu Pichu. The degree of craftsmanship reflects the significance of the place.







Halls of Macchu Pichu
Edwin giving our group a little history


Bus to Aguas Caliente

Small town of Aguas Caliente



Ladies chatting at Macchu Pichu town
I can't believe I hiked the trail without training for it. Cannot recommend that unless you're a super freak.


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