Inca Trail, Day 4

Our third night in the tent was cold, but not as cold as the second night. Day 4 dawned bright and cheery…. Here’s our camp site above the clouds, the view, and the group before we set off for the final day’s walk (we’re looking surprisingly presentable, all things considered)

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This was Indiana Jones day. Lots of stone steps meandering through the rainforest, and ruins along the way.

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Phuyupatamarka:

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They’d carved these steps out of a solid piece of rock. Very impressive, but pretty slippery…

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Some photogenic bamboo:

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The weather was very changeable. Intipata was bathed in glorious sunshine when it came into view. By the time I had got my camera out it had disappeared into some mist. Luckily the worst of the mist soon drifted away so I did manage to get a photo.

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We continued on, downward and downward, being overtaken as usual by scampering porters. We did see 2 groups of porters from new companies today, all kitted out in matching gear (red in one case, green in the other), with proper coverings for their bundles (rather than the “balance tarpaulin on head” approach favoured by our porters), proper footwear, and all running along together in formation. I suppose the footwear is a good idea, but the corporate outfits did detract from the character of the whole thing…..

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Later in the day we reached Wiñay Wayna, which we later agreed was the best of all the ruins (including Macchu Picchu). It’s small, beautifully formed, and doesn’t have coachloads of tourists spilling through the entrance gates. Which reminds me….. There was just a group of Japanese tourists there at the same time as us. Wilson had to wait for them to get out of the way to take a photo of me and Ritu. I commented that at least they all just had small cameras, not the multitude of devices they normally have hanging round their necks when you see them in London. This prompted Wilson to tell the story of the guy with the huuuuuge camera lens who had tripped on a stone step. Instead of protecting himself, he’d clutched the big camera lens, cracked his head on the step, and that was that (blood all down the steps, game over). So that was our Death on the Inca Trail for Day 4.

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Finally, we walked round a corner and found Megan (one of the four members of our initial group who weren’t doing the Inca Trail with us as they hadn’t booked early enough to get a permit. Megan and Lynn had spent the time visiting other ruins in the Sacred Valley; Michelle and Lindsay had done an alternative trek). The others had all travelled up to Macchu Picchu on the bus and were walking back along the trail to meet us, so we knew we didn’t have all that far to go (another 90 minutes or so).

We found the others by the time we arrived at the Sun Gate, having climbed an almost vertical set of steps that Wilson called the Mother-in-Law steps (aided by Bob Marley… having sussed out the night before that Wilson could play music from his phone to the Bluetooth speaker he kept clipped on his rucksack, we’d had a test run of Bob Marley earlier in the day – complete with very theatrical group dancing down steps – and we demanded some more to get us up the Mother-in-Law steps).

It’s a good thing we arrived when we did. We did manage to take a couple of pictures before the big black cloud that was rumbling across the valley reached us…. So much for “Sun” Gate….

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The trail was very very slippery in the rain. On we trudged… and trudged…. and trudged. I snuck my camera out to take this picture as it said it all at that point – Ritu trudging along in the rain, eyes ahead, trying not to slip and disappear into oblivion (we’d already had the official death for the day), very little interest being shown in Macchu Picchu despite it being right there and having spent 4 days walking to get to it…..

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We didn’t look round Macchu Picchu when we arrived. Most of the cheap tours seem to do that, but we had the luxury of heading down to Aguas Calientes, the town in the valley below Macchu Picchu, and going back up the next day rested, refreshed (our enthusiasm having been restored by a lukewarm shower and a comfy bed) and ready for tourism….

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