Monday, October 31, 2005

Machu Picchu - last day!

OK - its the last day , the excitement is in the air...Hamilton can hardly contain himself and wants us to be the first to go.. oops im getting ahead of myself! The last day is very surreal in many ways! We all got up at 3am to get ready and to let the porters break down the camp very early. Our site is in a good situation in terms of where it is - close to the "gate" to get into the last section of the trek. Imagine about 20 groups with a range of tourists from 4 - 12, all getting up at the same time, all rushing to get to this "gate" to wait for the tourist police to arrive at 5am to "open the gate" and let us rush through to get down the mountain to Machu Picchu!

So we get up, dressed and still we have the fabulous breakfast - this morning its hot pancakes and fresh fruit- wild eh! You can feel the tension seriously, as we all fumble around in the dark and start queuing at the gate.At any one time there is only allowed to be 500 people on the trail - 200 trekkers and 300 guides and porters combined. So imagine all 200 plus trekkers waiting in this queue!

Then tada! The tourist police arrive and then - we┬┤re off! Literally, it was ridiculous.. we were all walking, well pretty much running, on the trail, which is still a fair old hike, with giant stone steps and highs and lows.. we walked and walked and walked.. our group had a wee injury when Charlotte fell and hurt her ankle but Hamilton bandaged it up and she was amazing and a trouper and just kept going!

After about 2 hours we reached the enviable place we were all rushing for - The "Sun Gate" AKA Intipunka. This is where you are supposed to catch your first glimpse of the majestic Machu Picchu, and wait for the sun to rise over the encompassing mountains but duh - the darn clouds were in and we could only vaguely make out the amazing sights to come but hey, it was still great fun to catch your breath and watch all the other idiots to rush in to this one area and then realize we were all there, so just hang out for a bit and take it easy!

After a wee break, we headed onto the home stretch! The final triumphant descent took about an hour and then we were there!!! Honestly, considering the fact i was a bit worried it would be an anticlimax when i actually saw MP, it was INCREDIBLE!!! Words and pictures really cannot capture the size, beauty, magnitude and even surrounding mountain scapes in a way that would do it justice! This was WELL WORTH THE EFFORT!!!! All around you is 360 degrees of sheer beauty and nature at its best.

Def one of the most fantastic things i have ever seen. Hamilton took us on a tour (of course!) and we saw many different special Inca sites - the Alter of the Three Windows, the Condor Rock, Huayna Picchu (the mountain behind MP that guards it!) (just FYI the Incas chose their specific sites making sure that each one was protected by mountains all around it to keep it safe and sacred!).

Everyone was knackered but really happy we had all made it - in one piece! We had such a laugh! So true that when we had to say goodbye to Hamilton and Victor at Agua Caliente (the wee town below MP) i started crying when i gave him a hug (ok just a wee tear or two!) this then set off Charlotte and Jill and even Hamilton and Victor seemed a bit upset (of course i had been bugging them every single day saying - we are the BEST group you have EVER taken right folks!!).

Had a 2 hour train journey then got off at Ollantaytambo (our original starting point!) then another hour or so on the bus.

Went out for dinner with Angie in Cuzco, and we sat on a balcony watching the Halloween fireworks go off against the backdrop of the Cathedral in Cuzco centre. All the kids were dressed up and the town was buzzing! What a perfect end to an absolutely brilliant adventure!! Hope the rest of the South America trip can match this!!!

Talk soon - im off tomorrow to Ecuador to meet up with Dominique!!! Byeeeeeeeeeeeeee


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steph,
My first time on, and my god, I got bretheless reading your latest story. How awesome! And you look awesome! What an experience. Be safe and have fun!
Take care,
Angela (from ism)

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. You sound like you're having the time of your life. I'm so very jealous. The pictures are amazing. Please keep posting them!! It's very boring at ISM without you....wish I had some good stories to tell you...but nothing would compare to your experiences right now. Take care and keep writing!

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, so the above comment was from me but I forgot to sign my name. Miss you!


7:17 PM  
Anonymous Katharine said...

Hi Steph,
Thanks for sharing your amazing trip with us. It's fabulous to read and I can't wait for the next bit of your journey. We miss you at ISM!

8:05 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

What a beautifully presented travelogue! It gets my travelling bug all agitated! Thanks!

8:12 AM  
Blogger 54UV1K said...

Nice travelogue you've got there. After reading it, I really want to go to Mach Pichu one day. I will link you to my site (Paperback Times).

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Jeez girlie!

Boy am I jealous. I am going to add this one to the "I need to do this in my life" list. Thank you for taking the time and sharing your journey with us. I can't wait to see Ecuador!!

Muchos Besos,


11:15 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann said...

You make Somerville proud, Stef! Your pictures are so great and I think you've found your new writing! On the edge of my seat, I was. So glad you had such fun companions for such an incredible adventure. Keep the stories coming...hello to Dominique!

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stef....what can I say...I'm very jealous!! Sounds amazing! Helen had a quick read the other day and she is now desperate for us to go to South America....see you should be writing professionally!!! Anyway take care and wheres my postcard???
love Myles

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Stef......Yout trip to Macchu Picchu sounds amazing!! Especially the food!!! oh.... and the wonderful views, fantastic history and brilliant people!! I'd LOVE to go!! keep having fun

Helen x

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Stefanie,
We were just reading a story set in Cusco and we like the pictures you sent on the internet! Now we know how the Incas lived. It's very exciting to see the llamas. We miss you terribly and send more pictures-
Linnea and Kirsten (and Dianne)

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Marianne & Paul said...

Dear Stefanie,

We are sitting with Margrit in Munich drinking coffee and enjoying your reports and photos.
We look forward to your latest reports. Hope all goes well. Take care of yourself. Best greetings from your fanclub in snowy Bavaria.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


MAN, what are the chances I can meet up with you at the next stop??? I think I need to join this merry caravan!

I love the stories, they're fantastic - keep 'em coming - we miss you terribly, be safe and I'll talk to you soon..
xo Karen

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steph,
Your trip sounds absolutely amazing. We miss you tons here at ISM and I'm so glad to hear you are safe and enjoying yourself. Can't wait to read all about Ecuador.

Love Leslie

7:47 AM  

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