Thursday, March 30, 2017

Inca Trail, 1

The Inca Trail, which Vicki wanted to walk on, is so fragile and crowded that the government now requires hikers to have guides. No guide, no Inca Trail. Not even a single step. The guide service she found, Llama Path, provides a two-day Inca Trail experience, culminating at Machu Picchu. just what we wanted. Thus, on March 10th-11th, they got us to the trail, provided a nice English-speaking guide, Charlie, and, over a day's relatively rough walk in the cloud forest, got us to Machu Picchu. Next day, Charlie gave us the Machu Picchu tour and then saw us back to our train/bus return to Cusco. Oh yes, a night in a nice hotel and several meals were included. We were quite pleased, overall. Trekking with a nice room at the end of the day, hot showers, and restaurant food and drink, is the way to go.
Alas, the day of the trip, they pick you up at 5AM at your
hotel in Cusco for a thrilling ride over the passes, in the dark,
at warp factor 6.5; more coca tea, por favor

Lower slopes of Veronica, an 18,000-footer in the vicinity

At Ollentantamby--to which we would return in a few days--
we boarded the train to Machu Picchhu

But got off at kilometer post 104

The other nice thing about trekking with
hotels and restaurants is you don't have to
carry back-breaking backpacks

Foot bridge over the Urubamba, a big river--more about which--
a major tributary to the Amazon

Obligatory shot of Vicki crossing; not nearly
as exciting without the prayer flags, zopkios,

But the Urubamba turned out to be quite as exciting as the
Dudh Kosi; and then some

Ruins near the guard station; we'd barely set foot on the Trail
when the rain began; and it continued until after Winnie
Winona, that is, well after lunch

A highlight of walking through the cloud
forest is all the vegetation--here, some exotic
rot and corruption--but also many varieties of
orchids, bromeliads, and other exotics

The sacred power lines, bringing mystical energy to Machu
Picchu, are never out of sight

Cloud forest scene; I was pretty fascinated by it all

Tiny orchids

Exotic rot and corruption; ick

Charlie mostly stayed by Vicki but kept close track of me;
lagging behind, under the pretense of taking pix...

On the Camino Inka

Beautiful huge bromeliads

The trail, rising to meet Winnie Winona, in the distance


A mini Machu Picchu, some say

Lowest terraces


OK, it's Winay Wayna, not Winnie Winona

Strolling through Winay Wayna, in the rain

Inca Trail, 2

Continuing on the Camino Inka...
Vicki climbing to the top of Wayna Whatever (she's in her
yellow's still raining)

In the ruins at Winnie Winona

The sacred five-windowed whatever

I can't believe we've climbed all the way up from the river

Along the terraces

View from the other side

Bromeliad parasite

Closer up

"You did pack the bear spray, didn't you?!"

The Gringo Killer

Vicki conquering the Gringo Killer

From the top

Formal entrance to Machu Picchu, the Sun Gate

First view of Machu Picchu

For some hours we had been aware that, at our pace, we were
cutting it very close, that is, catching the last bus (5:30PM)
down the 10 mile road to Machu Picchu town and our hotel;
missing it would have entailed walking down the 10 miles on
this road; and Charlie would have had two very unhappy

So we picked up the pace, snapping fewer pix than usual, and
eschewing the walking sticks

Part of our day's route crossed this mountain

Looking back to the Sun Gate

But we made it on to the last bus, along with employees from
the park, the gift shoppe, the snack bar, etc; here is the
Urabumba in Machu Picchu town (formerly Agua Caliente); a
week later it was totally out of control and had killed some
scores of people along its course

Famous statue of The Inca (it's just Quechuan
for "king"), with all his attributes (puma,
condor, serpent, guinea pig)