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30 December 07
The Inca Trail Make a Donation HERE
Isobel Mackay - Raising Funds For Diabetes UK
Before giving an overview of the Inca Trail, I want to highlight that this trip was the most challenging event of my life, both physically and emotionally. I met the best group of ladies ever, as well as the best organizers and guide – not forgetting our wonderful porters! We were all a team working 100% together!
Returning home, I realized that life is for living, loving and enjoying! Standing looking down on to the Lost City was one of the most rewarding, emotional times in my life.
We left Cusco went by bus to the village of Chilca, the starting point of the trek. The journey took us across the Pampa de Anta and on to Ollantaytambo. This town retains much Inca architecture, more perhaps than any other inhabited town. We may have time to explore before continuing our journey to Chilca (2700 metres).
The Inca Trail formed only a small part of the extensive network of Inca highways, but this 'Royal Road' to Machu Picchu, reclaimed from the cloud forests only this century, clearly had important ritual functions and probably served as a sacred pilgrimage route related to the veneration of natural and celestial phenomena.
Its (and Machu Picchu's) absence from early Spanish chronicles demonstrates that its existence was not known about during colonial times, and explains why the Inca religious structures escaped destruction at the hands of the Spanish conquerors. The Trail is a paradise for botanists and birdwatchers due to the rapid succession of ecological and climatic zones, which are crossed. The region's flora includes 60 species of orchid, and the varied avifauna includes humming birds and various species of birds of prey.
The second day features the first major ascent of the trek. We follow the Llullucha valley up to the treeless puna and on to Huarmiwanusca Pass (4200 metres). From here we descend to our camp in the Pacasmayo valley (3700 metres) or at the nearby ruins of Runkurakay.
On the third day we cross the second pass (4000 metres) and descend through lush cloud forest on a paved Inca pathway past the ruins of Sayajmarca and Conchamarca and continue to the third pass at Phuyupatamarca (camp). The views into the Urubamba gorge 1700 metres below are spectacular.
We make a dramatic descent along an ancient stairway to the beautiful sacred sanctuary of Huinay Huayna (2700 metres) where we camp.
Next morning, continuing to the Inti Punku (Sun Gate), we feast our eyes on the stunning Lost City of Machu Picchu spread out below. We intend to descend to the site and enjoy the peaceful scene, before dropping a further 400 metres to the railtrack town of Aguas Calientes, where we spend the night.
Machu Picchu’s remoteness protected it from the plundering Spanish colony and when, early this century, it was rediscovered and cleared from encroaching forest, its structures were in surprisingly good condition. Since then, the enigmatic site has posed many questions and provided few answers.
There is ample time to explore the extensive site, as well as to climb the dramatic path up Huinay Huayna mountain, or Machu Picchu mountain. You may prefer to explore the area around Aguas Calientes before boarding the afternoon train to Cusco; one of the great railway journeys.
6 October 07