We jumped on a plane to Lima and then Cuzco, the capital of the Incan empire, (Useless but interesting piece of information. The word ‘Inca’ for the Andean people meant king but the silly Spanish invaders were so ignorant that they thought that it was the name of the whole civilisation.) Sorry for that slight diversion.
We spent our first night in Cuzco where we met the group of people that we would do the Inca trail with, the typical mix of travellers, a couple of Englishmen, a trio of Irishmen, two American girls, honeymooners and a bunch of Aussie Aussie Aussies.
We spent the next day discovering the country side between Cuzco and Ollantaytambo, where we would spend the last night before starting the trek. We had the chance to explore the rural town of Sexy-woman (that’s how it sounds but I can’t remember how to write it right in Spanish) as well as passing through the sacred valley of the Incas.
The next day I bounced out of bed at 6:30 to start the adventure. I having been dreaming of for years and that my parents had been dreading for months. After an ordinary breakfast we got on the bus that would take us to the 82 kilometre mark where we would begin the famous INCA TRAIL!. But on the way there we had to reverse to give way to another bus and some how the driver managed to ram the back wheel into a huge rock and the tyre exploded! Not the best start but after a while another bus came and took us to start the trek…better late than never…so my parents thought.
The first day was just a warm up, nothing too strenuous with plenty of breaks and places to buy refreshments. At 5pm we arrived at our camp site and from our family of little yellow tents the view of the snow caped mountains was incredible.
One thing that really surprised me on the trail was the food, I was expecting typical camp food…canned this canned that…but far from it. Each morning we were woken with the choice of hot chocolate, coffee or tea. Then in the dinning tent bread and spread awaited us as well as porridge and omelettes. Then lunch and dinner were 3 course meals of soup, main and dessert followed by the trademark hot water with coco leaves or mint leaves… for the altitude sickness.
The killer…apparently. We got up at 5:30 to start the 5 hour climb uphill that would be followed by 2 hours down hill. Luckily today we were allowed to go at our own pace…we hit the trail at 7:15am and by 10am I had arrived at ‘Dead Woman’s pass’ the highest point of the trek with fantastic views of were we had just been and where we were yet to discover. After taking a couple of photos and a quick snack I had to get on the move again because the cold up there was unbearable. So down down down I went and before I knew it I was at the next camp sight…11:15… 3 hours early! I couldn’t believe it. I used the afternoon to rest, meanwhile the rest of the group strolled in as late as 5pm.
Still feeling good, apart from the rain, rain, rain. Silly me didn’t have waterproof shoes so after lunch when I had sat still long enough to feel the cold in my toes there was only one thing I could do…run… so I jogged down with porters most of the afternoon until the rain stopped and the clouds cleared to reveal an amazing view of the mountains and the valley where we would camp for the last night of the Inca Trail. On my way other trekkers were asking if I was after the first beer at the pub…I thought they were joking but when I finally arrived it turned there actually is a pub on the Inca trail. The perfect place to celebrate and swap stories of the adventures of the previous days.
The final day…
3am start…First in best dressed was the theory but a bunch of big clouds made the early start totally unnecessary. Those of us who felt up to it went out racing to the sun gate where we realised that the clouds would block our view for some time yet so we calmed down and just strolled into the ruins of Machu Picchu. We took our seat on an Incan wall while we waited for the clouds to clear…and bit by bit Machu Picchu revealed itself…and there it was clear as day…spectacular…I still cant believe I was there.
After posing for the mandatory photos it was time to go down into the main ruins and explore the amazing architecture of the Incas… and we thought we had seen the end of the stairs…lol.
We said good bye to the marvel that is Machu Picchu and after drinking some chicha on the way back to the hotel our Peruvian experience was complete…so we thought. That night for dinner guinea pig was on the menu (it looks like chicken tastes like meat) and if that wasn’t to your taste Alpaca was also available, that was more like lamb.
Then after a morning of shopping another plane and another county…this time Chile!
This is probably a good time to go top up that drink now…
So…we flew into Santiago 3 hours late and were greeted by Javi, one of my little sisters in Chile. We caught up on some sleep before we loaded Javi’s car and made the trip down to Temuco.
After 6 years my mum was reunited with her Chilean daughter and finally got to meet her Chilean granddaughter and meet my Chilean family. We spent the afternoon catching up in disbelief that we were actually in Temuco.
After my folks hit the sack it was time to get back into Chile mode, we met up with a friend from back in the day and after getting some Pisco we were off to party with friends…as I had just about every weekend when I was here last time.
I showed mum around the estate and we stopped by Felipe’s place so my mum could meet his family and his baby girl.
Then it was off to Coneripe…where we spent Christmas with Carla’s family. We also went on a trip into the mountains to the “geometric hot springs’, they were was just as beautiful as the last time I went. The road there was like something out of a fairytale with fences covered in moss, piglets and goats crossing the road that was lined with fallen trees. When we got to the hot springs the mist rose out of the pools into the gorge that peered down on us…still one of my favourite places.
The week in Coneripe was one of relaxation and conversation, my parents meeting and attempting to speak with all the friends and family that were forever coming and going. Coneripe also gave us another culinary adventure…with deer and wild pig accompanied by a myriad of sauces including Chilean chilli and sweet mint…among who knows what else.
That’s where my parent’s journey came to an end…we got on a bus to Santiago where they went home and I went to BRAZIL!!