A Travellerspoint blog

Inca Trail / Macchu Picchu

sunny 25 °C
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Before leaving England, the Inca trek was the only activity we had pre-booked, and so we had been looking forward to this for a long time. Three and a half days of following the ancient Inca trail, scaling three mountains en route, to reach the famous site of Macchu Picchu. The three of us set off, along with an Argentian guy called Sergio and our guide who was full of jokes and catchphrases (Vamos chicos...let's go to the beach!)

Despite there only being four tourists, our entourage conisted of 7 people, including our guide Jose. There were four porters, who despite carrying around 20kg on their backs would scurry ahead of us always with big smiles and singing along as though it was no effort and have our camp ready for us on arrival. We also had two cooks who produced a stunning three-course feast for every meal...we were putting the calories back on as quickly as we were burning them!

We saw some smaller Incan ruins on the trail, and it was fascinating to learn about the rise and fall of the Incan empire...so much so that we made up a song about the Incans! (I'm sure Zaid will recount it to you if you ask nicely!)

On the fourth day, we finally made it to the Sun Gate, and caught our first glimpe of Macchu Picchu. It was a stunning view, and got better and better as we descended towards the site...well it did until we got really close, and saw the hordes of tourists who had taken up the bus from the nearest town. You couldn't take a picture without tourists encroaching into the snap...it was a massive change from the previous three days of tranquility, where at points you felt you had the trail to yourself - only 200 tourists are allowed on the trail per day.

Nevertheless, it was breathtaking to walk around the site, admiring the various bits of architecture still standing. The trek to reach Macchu Picchu had been tough, but reaching one of the wonders of the world had been a worthwhile goal.

At the start...vamos chicos!

At the start...vamos chicos!


Zaid's already fallen behind...and we're only an hour in! <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Zaid's already fallen behind...and we're only an hour in! :)


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Our first Inca ruin..I reckon we'll see a few more along the way!

Our first Inca ruin..I reckon we'll see a few more along the way!


It's storytime! Jose giving us our first bit of Inca history

It's storytime! Jose giving us our first bit of Inca history


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Start of day 2...I think we're here somewhere!

Start of day 2...I think we're here somewhere!


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Super-human porters taking a well-earned break

Super-human porters taking a well-earned break


At the top!! Over 4300m above sea level!!

At the top!! Over 4300m above sea level!!


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What goes up must come down! After a long hike uphill, we had to descend over a thousand steps...

What goes up must come down! After a long hike uphill, we had to descend over a thousand steps...


It was cool (both figuratively and literally!) to spend the night above the clouds

It was cool (both figuratively and literally!) to spend the night above the clouds


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Getting a different perspective on the ruins

Getting a different perspective on the ruins


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Our entourage..

Our entourage..


We made it!

We made it!


If you hadn't guessed...this is Macchu Picchu!

If you hadn't guessed...this is Macchu Picchu!


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Wandering through Macchu Picchu

Wandering through Macchu Picchu


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What ya looking at?!

What ya looking at?!

Posted by ravroops 13:42 Archived in Peru Tagged inca_trail Comments (0)

Cuzco

sunny 28 °C
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Another border crossing, another country...off to the UNESCO-heritage city of Cusco. We arrived early in the morning, a few hours before Zaid flew in to meet us (how come his flights were all on time?!). It's a beautiful city, with several huge churches adorning the place. We had a few days to let Zaid acclimatise to the altitude (we were at about 3500m above sea level) before we set off on the Inca trail, so what better way than spending a lazy Sunday on a boat...we had arranged to go white-water rafting!! Due to the rainy season, the Urubamba river was at it's highest as we set off, paddles in-hand. Great weather accompanied a great day out as we tackled the rapids, and it ended with us hurtling along 50m long zip lines just to ensure we'd had our fill of adrenaline-filled adventure!

We spent the next few days wondering around the city, visiting some of the other Inca ruins. Cusco had been the heart of the Inca empire, and so many of the sacred sites had been built nearby (though some had been destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors). Zaid was moaning about seeing so much..I don't blame him as there were some pretty steep walks to negotiate! Roops kept saying how it was good training for the Inca trail...I bet he's regretting coming out already!

Proof that Zaid actually made it out!

Proof that Zaid actually made it out!


A grand cathedral...built over Inca ruins

A grand cathedral...built over Inca ruins


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At least he has one fan!

At least he has one fan!


Cuzco by night

Cuzco by night


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Pisac market...lots of colours to entice the tourists!

Pisac market...lots of colours to entice the tourists!


En route to Pisac market - the headgear is needed to protect from the beating sun

En route to Pisac market - the headgear is needed to protect from the beating sun


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Potatoes for sale!! There are over 400 varieties of potatoes in Peru

Potatoes for sale!! There are over 400 varieties of potatoes in Peru

Posted by ravroops 21:38 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Copacabana / Isla del Sol

sunny 25 °C
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Nope, we're not back on the beach in Brazil, but at a little Bolivian coastal town by Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world. Though the lake is huge...we climbed up a hill one evening to watch the sunset, and you couldn't see the opposite shore. The town itself is pretty small, but the main attraction is Isla del Sol, an island from where the ancient Bolivians used to worship the Sun. We spent a day hiking around the island...the altitude and steep hills made the walk a tough proposition. We spent the night there too...private room with en suite bathroom and amazing views over the lake, for £3 each!! Did I mention how cheap Bolivia is?!

Next stop was Cusco, which meant the end of our fourth country, Bolivia. The change from the 'Westernised' developed countries of Argentina, Brazil and Chile to Bolivia was so stark...so much poverty here, but at the same time so much colour and culture made it a great place to visit. There was so much genuine warmth and interest from the locals...though at the same time they're always looking to make a quick buck out of you!

That's one way to get the bus across the lake!

That's one way to get the bus across the lake!


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Copacabana bay

Copacabana bay


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Peek-a-boo! Those Incan ruins were built for small people!

Peek-a-boo! Those Incan ruins were built for small people!


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Swan Lake!! <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Swan Lake!! :)

Posted by ravroops 09:24 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

La Paz

sunny 25 °C
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Back to the original itinerary...and onto the capital city of La Paz. The highest capital in the world at 3600 metres above sea level, the steep hills made walking around the city a tough job. The main part of the town is in a valley, with all the sides covered in housing...it was cool to watch at night as the hillsides would sparkle as the lights in the houses would be switched on. Although living on the hillsides has its risks...about a few months ago, a massive landslide wiped out over a thousand houses. Fortunately, and somewhat miraculously, no-one died, though it did have the impact of delaying the Carnaval celebrations...so we turned up in La Paz to find festivities in full flow (Rav thought they were celebrating India's win in the World Cup). Everyone here was dressed up in various outfits, following the steps of the local PANCERA???? dance. A great spectacle to see, though very different to the grandeur we had witnessed in Brazil.
The next day we were off to cycle down the Death Road...a road about 2m wide hugging the side of a mountain, with 200-500m drops, and having to contend with potential traffic (though in the past few years, an alternative road has opened reducing the number of cars and trucks using the road) and slippery dirt tracks. It was great fun, riding through waterfalls admiring the spectacular scenery. We were knackered yet ecstatic to complete the ride...and what better way to end the day with the one thing we had been craving the most...a curry! We'd been recommended an 'English' curry house...worst food ever!!
We spent the next day just walking around town...Rav had our first brush with crime when he had his trouser pocket slit open, and had his map of La Paz stolen! We were pretty lucky as we had a blackberry and keys in the same pocket, but somehow we only managed to lose a worthless bit of paper!

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Deep in conversation

Deep in conversation


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perfect synchronisation

perfect synchronisation


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Interested spectators

Interested spectators


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All geared up for the Death Road

All geared up for the Death Road


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Posted by ravroops 12:05 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Potosi

sunny 25 °C
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We'd heard loads about this famous silver mining town, but had been slightly nervous about visiting the town's main attraction - the silver mines. But the six of us decided to confront the huge mountain and take the tour deep into the mines to visit the miners in their underground workplace. First stop before entering the mountain was to go to the Miner's Market, from where we could buy the miners some gifts. You could buy juice, coca leaves, food...and dynamite!!! This was the only legal place in Bolivia where you could buy it from...in fact even a 10 year old could just rock up and get some! Then it was down into the mines. It was dark, damp and extremely claustrophobic...especially for me as I'm twice the height of the average Bolivian! It was crazy and eye-opening to see men of all ages working there...we were told that most of the guys work there until they are in their 40s, by which point they've inhaled so much dust and poisonous gases that they die. Doesn't make the office in London sound all that bad! All that effort and risk for little reward...on average they'd earn £20 a month. We met one miner who worked about 30m underground, spending 15 hours a day digging away trying to find nuggets of silver, zinc, tin or whatever metals were left to be found. We gave him a stick of dynamite...about 15 minutes later as we were on our way out, we heard a small explosion - I hope he's OK!

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Parade to celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the Silver mines.

Parade to celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the Silver mines.


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The Bolivian version of an expensive pram!

The Bolivian version of an expensive pram!


Music for the town's fiesta

Music for the town's fiesta


All kitted up to go into the mines

All kitted up to go into the mines


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The miners...pushing a mere 60tonnes!

The miners...pushing a mere 60tonnes!


Climbing down yet another mineshaft...

Climbing down yet another mineshaft...


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We survived...fresh air never tasted so good!

We survived...fresh air never tasted so good!

Posted by ravroops 07:10 Archived in Bolivia Tagged potosí Comments (0)

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