Inca Trail playlist:
Bathory – Twilight of the Gods
Pagan Altar – Vol. 1
Pagan Altar – The Time Lord EP
Pagan Altar – Mythical & Magical
Judas Priest – Sin After Sin
Judas Priest – Stained Class
Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith
Judas Priest – Turbo Lover (my dark secret haha)
High Tide – Sea Shanties
Acid – Maniac
Cathedral – The Ethereal Mirror
Saint Vitus – Children of Doom
Spirit Caravan – Last Embrace
Masters Hammer – Ritual
Black Death – Black Death
Sorcerer – Heathens from the North
Cuzco, July 1st. Happy Canada day! The company we booked to trek the Inca Trail/Machu Picchu with, Peru Treks, came to pick us up in a bus at our hotel at 6AM. We were to go to the beginning of the Sacred Inca Trail. It was raining pretty hard outside, and on the way, we actually saw SNOW!
Arrived to our destination, our guide made sure we have plastic rain ponchos, coca leaves and plenty of water. We were already acclimatized to the altitude, so we skipped on the coca leaves. We looked like a bunch of idiots with our colourful ponchos, but keeping dry is more important, obviously! This is what I personally looked at the very beginning hahaha:
We started the trek at around 11AM. To reach the Inca Trail, we had to cross the Urubamba river to the other side:
The trail itself was pretty flat, with some ascending here and there. Already, we were seeing incredible sceneries with gigantic misty mountains and green valleys:
Our guide told us that most Inca sites were made in the shape of sacred animals. The first one we saw, Llactapata, was apparently shaped in a Puma’s foot! He also told us that this site in particular was to guard the commercial Inca Trail (there are two trails – one Sacred and one Commercial, the later one is currently closed to the public after being destroyed by a land slide last year). It was never found by the Spaniards.
All the tents, food, cooking equipment and some of our belongings were carried on by porters, which were absolutely impressive. They always ran (most often in sandals) in front of us to make sure everything was set up and prepared ahead of us…
When we arrived at our camp, a “restaurant” tent was set up and hot tea was waiting for us! What luxury huh? We were stunned by the absolutely intense food we were prepared everyday.
Unfortunately, on the second day, our guide woke us up with bad news. Apparently, the unusual rain (it is supposed to be winter/dry season) has turned into snow on the highest point of our path, the Dead Woman’s pass (4400 meters of altitude). There were 60 cm (2 feet) of it, so it was dangerous for us to go through it. The last time it snowed was 6 years ago… Imagine the porters walking into that with their bare feet in sandals! Some other groups were walking back to the beginning, but thankfully our guide took us forward and made us do a detour through a train track. Therefore, instead of doing 11km on the second day, we hiked for 28km! But it was really easy – everything was very flat, and we got to see ruins that normally people don’t see. Beats climbing 1000 meters worth of stairs and then going down 550 meters!
So, we walked past Llactapata, crossed an eucalyptus forest and reached Qorihuayrachina and its beautiful terraces:
Along the way we saw many colorful flowers and incredibly green vegetation. The ecosystem was changing; we were hiking through what they call the “cloud forest” or high jungle:
For lunch, we stopped at the ruins of Torontoy, which were again in incredible condition. They were a resting place for the Inca – who, in exchange for a night’s rest, had to give an offering (coca leaves, rocks, food, etc).
And the following we thought was really cool! This is where they put mummies of important members of their communities. The person was mummified in a fetal position and placed in the walls with several useful objects for them to use in the afterlife. They were mummified in a fetal position because they were supposed to be reborn as fetuses, obviously!
After lunch, we still had 16 km to do. Fortunately, the rain finally stopped and we were able to remove our ponchos!
We arrived at our camp at around 5PM. Since we walked so much (48km in total), we were allowed to sleep in until 7AM the next day! Another total luxury! And the assistant guide came to wake us up with a steaming cup of tea:
We ate breakfast, then quickly visited the ruins of Chachabamba since it was raining again. This place was once again a resting place for the traveling Inca. The construction of the houses made me think a little of old Canadian houses, or even houses found in Brittany (France)!
After that, we proceeded to walk in the mountains. The path goes up, and the nature itself transforms into a rainforest ecosystem.
To enter your mountain
Go into your mountainside
To enter one’s mountainside
Will take its man
Who enters his mountain
With or without sword in hand
Who enters his mountainside
He will learn
We were ascending many stairs to eventually reach our last camp, located near the ruins of Winayhuayna, in a lush mountain:
After a good 2 hours of hiking, we reached Winayhuayna – well, at least the gates of it. The view was absolutely mind blowing! I had to take a photo, which turned out to be more than epic:
Waiting for us was also a strange bug…
After about 30 minutes more, we arrived at the living complex of the ruins. There, we found the same old Canadian style houses:
There was an optional trail we could take to visit even more ruins. Of course, we took it – and so we ascended again many many stairs…
Next morning, we had to wake up at 4AM in order to walk the final two hours to Machu Picchu. We were heading to Inti Punku, the sun gate, in order to see the sun rise on the magnificient sanctuary…
We arrived at the Sun Gate a few hours later, but we unfortunately couldn’t see the sunrise as everything was completely white with mist!!!
After waiting for a good half hour, the mist eventually cleared out enough for us to see something…
After this, we did another hour of hiking (this one was probably the hardest of all the hike – it was non-stop ascending on huge rocky staircases!) and we finally reached our goal….
To view Machu Picchu like this, for the first time, shrouded in all of its mystery, was quite something. In fact, it really felt like we were on a movie set; everything looked so out of this world! We were absolutely stoked!!!
Stepping inside the sanctuary was like a dream… the ruins were still in very good condition (again, the Spaniards never found this place when they conquered Peru) and it even surpassed my expectations. The surrounding mountains made it even more magical…
We even saw a chinchilla on the site! It wasn’t very scared, we could go close to him and it wouldn’t move at all!
Located on the center of the sanctuary is the plaza:
What impressed me about Machu Picchu is that the architecture is in perfect harmony with nature. Sometimes the Inca would leave rocks on purpose in honor to pachamama, or construct terraces along the curves of the mountain. 550 years later, it still looks stunning.
And finally, the sun came out, in order for us to fully appreciate the ruins…
After our guide finished showing us around, I collapsed from tiredness and did a magnetic siesta on the main plaza’s park.
That’s it for our intense and inspiring adventure in the Andes… It was a great trip, and as you could see, seeing Machu Picchu was only the cherry on top!
Right now, we are have just arrived in Lima, having traveled 20 hours from Cuzco. The ride was comfortable, but they played a really annoying Korean tv series called “Escalera al Cielo” for 15 hours! Arghhh, pure torture!
In any case, we are getting prepared for our gig with Condenados, Reino Ermitaño and Cobra on the 16th. If you are in town, don’t miss this – it promises to be one hell of an event!
July 8th, 2011 at 7:31 pm
Bienvenidos a Lima! se ve que la pasaron muy bien en Cuzco, las fotos están muy buenas.
July 8th, 2011 at 8:02 pm
Ah, Machu Picchu… TROP HOT! J’ai eu un petit frisson en voyant la belle photo (merci pour le nouveau wallpaper!), je peux juste imaginer ce que tu as ressenti en le voyant en personne.
July 9th, 2011 at 12:46 am
Absolument incroyable! Quelle aventure épique! Les photos sont magnifiques! Esti que j’aimerais etre un oiseau et venir vous rejoindre! 🙂
July 8th, 2011 at 10:30 pm
Again all the beautiful photos together with the tour commentary, both Fantastic!
As is the noisy playlist (great selection).
And finally, all the best to you and François for the 16th July gig!!!
July 17th, 2011 at 10:13 am
i always look forward to the next instalment of your travelog- you seem to be having an amazing experience, something which most dream of but never achieve- your writing is funny, fresh and engaging and the photos make everything come alive
i, for one, hope you both continue travelling for the rest of your lives so that i can continue reading this blog!- stay heavy!
March 6th, 2012 at 3:38 am
Hello I noticed your site, i can provide names for your flowers and also for the ‘some entree made with mash potato’. Are your images high res?