The Incredible Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Part 2
Day 3 (read day’s 1 & 2 here)
We had a relative lie in with a 6am start. Day 3 is meant to be easy, with just 6 hours of trekking and mainly downhill. The last proper day of hiking before reaching Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, it really wasn’t easy. It was tougher going downhill for me than day 2 uphill, mainly because I have an injury on my right knee that is usually fine but it really didn’t like all of the steps! We think that psychologically we just weren’t prepared for this to be a tough hiking day, coupled with so little sleep from the night before it all added up to Team Grumpy Oldies!
Jose and Filio were good with my knee giving me lotions and potions to try to help, Fiona also lent me her knee brace, which enabled me to make it to the campsite. Greg has been suffering with toothache too, so Grumpy Oldies we continued to be.
We arrived at our last camp site at 2pm for lunch and a siesta. The group went to see other ruins Wiñay Wayna, but Greg and I stayed behind due to our two painful problems! Charley and Danni said that it was really impressive, like a mini Machu Picchu.
At dinner we collected tips for the porters and chefs, thanked them and wished them a fond goodbye.
Tomorrow is the biggy, Machu Picchu with a 3am start.
We are woken at 3am and all are up and moving within 15 minutes. We walked down to the entry gate to be the second group in the queue – good going! The gate doesn’t actually open until 5.30am but everyone wants to be in Machu Picchu early so it’s a queue time.
We were brought coca tea, (if you’re worried about altitude sickness, read our blog on coping with altitude sickness) plus a snack pack for our breakfast and just waited in line. I decided to put makeup on for the first time in 4 days, just because I had nothing better to do and hope that it will mean I look better in the photos today! My knee is pretty swollen as is my right leg so today is going to be a struggle. Greg’s face has swollen up too so it appears that he has a tooth infection – what a day for that to happen. Poor Greg!
The gates opened at 5.30am as promised and we set off. The walk to Sun Gate is around 1 hour and we were chuffed to be near the front. Annoyingly another group decided to barge people out of the way and rudely push to the front, but I guess that’s people. To get up to Sun Gate you have to get through something called the “Gringo Killer” it is basically vertical steps that you have to do the mountain climber up. If my knee wasn’t already bad……..
We arrived at Sun Gate to our first view of Machu Picchu with just two other groups there. We managed to have photos taken before setting off down to the main site, which takes another hour. All of our Group were disappointed that the main gates to Machu Picchu are also opened at 5.30am so the site is well and truly packed before the trekkers can get there. We were all under the impression that we’d get to see Machu Picchu first, so a shout out to the Peruvian government, open the other gates at 10am just to give the trekkers a little reward for their time.
The whole of Machu Picchu is beautiful, I think because of the way that it is set with mountains in the background. It feels like you are lost in the middle of the world, well it does if you can zone out the other tourists, which I managed to do. We walked around whilst Jose told us of the history of the site, got the cool stamp in our passports and grabbed a Coca-Cola with ice, it seemed like such a treat!
Greg, Danni and I had booked to do a further hike (madness) up to Huaca Picchu. I swapped tickets with Charley as there was no way that my knee was up for it and headed to Agua Caliente, the nearest town with Frances and the runners for a well-deserved beer.
The rest of the Oldies said that the hike up was extremely tough with more mountain climbers, but that the view at the top was beautiful. I was very proud of them all, but particularly Greg given the pain that he was in.
After lunch in Agua Calientes, we got the Peru Train and then an Alpaca Expeditions provided bus back to Cusco. Unfortunately, the journey that should have taken 4 hours, took 6 hours due to ridiculous traffic. That was a bit of a bummer, but we all fell into bed at the hostel for a very well deserved sleep in a real bed.
Tomorrow we leave for Huacachina – an oasis in the desert near Ica and a 17 hour bus journey for a bit of pool side relaxation and sand dune buggies. Actually we are all looking forward to the bus journey to get some good sleep and give our legs a well-deserved rest.