Right, last post for the day - phew!
On 2nd July we started our 4-day trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We started full of beans but before too long I was really struggling with the altitude - funnily enough, lack of oxygen does have quite an effect! I never would have thought that even going downhill could hurt so much... Day two is notoriously hard as you make your way up to Dead Woman´s Pass - named not because of some unfortunate lady´s fate but because of the shape of the rocks along the mountain pass which vaguely resemble a fairly well-endowed reclining lady.
Roland was a star with a good line in encouraging comments, and stayed with me right at the back of our group as I huffed and puffed up and down the mountains. At least it meant we had plenty of time to admire the breathtaking (and there wasn´t much breath to take) scenery. The Andes are truly stunning and the landscape makes up for the pain! We were also really lucky with the weather - beautiful clear blue skies and pleasantly warm.
We had a couple of Kiwi additions to our group and all got on really well. We had two excellent guides specifically for the Inca Trail who were very knowledgeable and engaging, and talked to us about the wildlife and various Inca sites along the way. We got to know one (Ulisses) very well as he followed us at a snail´s pace at the back...
We also had a team of incredible porters who zip up the mountain with huge bags carrying all the tents, cooking equipment etc on their backs - somewhat humbling. Our tents were pretty snug in the chilly nights, but Roland and I are unsurprisingly novice campers and we´ve probably had all the back-to-nature we need for a little bit. Thank God for baby wipes.
The moment when you reach the Sun Gate, where you can first see Machu Picchu in the distance, is pretty special and we all felt a sense of achievement at the hard slog it had taken to get there. It is mind-blowing when you consider that the 22 miles of the Inca Trail´s (steep!) steps were laid by hand in such difficult terrain - and then you see Machu Picchu itself...
All in all an unforgettable, if a bit gruelling, experience - but most definitely worth it.
That´s us all up to date for a little while. Hope all good back home.
Lots of love
Helene and Roland xxx