We were up and ready to go by 4:30 am. There are 9 people in our group, plus two guides, 17 porters, and 1 cook. After a 2 hour drive, in which most of us at least tried to sleep, we stopped at Olantaytambu for a bathroom break and to purchase last minute snacks. This is such a beautiful mountain town, and it is bustling with people heading to Machu Pichu.
We drove for another 45 minutes down a bumpy dirt road through farms and along the Urumbaba River. The Inca people are amazing farmers, being responsible for the development of many crops such as quinua, over 500 different types of potatoes and many varieties of corn.
We finally arrived at the trailhead where bowls of water, soap and facecloth were ready for us to wash up. A fabulous breakfast of fresh fruit, eggs, juice and hot chocolate was waiting for us. We met our porters, had our last minute bathroom break, and headed toward the checkpoint.
The Peru government strictly controls the Inca trail, allowing only 500 people on it each day. We registered months in advance in order to ensure our spot, and everyone must go with a registered guide company, as the trail goes through many of the Inca ruins, and they want to ensure that they continue to be protected.
This was a gruelling day, with over 1100 meter climb, but it was actually much more, because the trail went up, then down. Both Marianne and I found the long uphills exhausting, and at one point, I found myself thinking about how much I hated the trek. However, our guides Rueben and Wilson are outstanding, allowing us to go at our own pace, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Unforunately, most of the pictures are on my camera, and I will have to wait until we return home before I can download them onto my blog.
We finally arrived at our camp at about 4:30. Our tents were already set up for us, there was a warm bowl of water with soap and washcloth set up for us, and even a porta potty! This is camping in style! Once we were set up, hot chocolate and popcorn was ready for happy hour. It was already getting quite cold, so we bundled up and enjoyed congratulating each other as we enjoyed our nice fresh treats.
Supper was again a 5 star treat of vegetable soup, Inca corn, fresh vegetables, chicken, rice and fried eggplant. After eating, we cllimbed into our sleeping bags and were asleep by 7:30. Wakeup is at 5:00 am, so we want to get a good sleep in order to prepare for tomorrow's hike.