Friday, December 2, 2011

Machupicchu and Waynapicchu 4D3N Jungle Inka Trek, Peru 23-27 Nov 2011

Day 1
We waited for the pick up at 7:30am, they came to pick us up at 8am. We took a taxi to another gathering place, there we were gathered into a van with bicycle loaded on the roof top, we were 15 in the bus including 2 guides. We had another stop for them to switch some bikes before we finally take off at 9am.

Our guide Alex told us we will spilt in 2 groups, there are 3 including a guide from different agency in the minibus. Our group will be 12, one Australian guy will be only joining us for the bicycle ride as he is doing only the 3D2N Trek. All right so 11 to a guide, supposedly should be 10 to 1 guide. Cutting corners!
We had 3 hours minibus ride from Cusco to Abra Malaga @ 4350m where we will get off and gear up and ride down with our bicycle to a town close to Santa Maria @ 1250m. That is a 2100m descent. The journey up to the top was beautiful, breathtaking view of valley, waterfall, rivers and mountains. We arrived to the top around 12 noon but it was very misty and raining. A bit too dangerous to start the biking so the guide decided to move on further down to find a spot less misty and rain. We drove for another 15 minutes and stop at an empty area.

It was still raining and cold. All the bikes were off loaded. We were given a helmet, gloves and a safety vest. We were given a safety briefing, always stay 1m behind the next bike and always keep to the right. If we have any problem with our bike, stop and the minivan will stop to help. The guide did a final check on all the bicycle brakes and another briefing were given regarding the brake and gear. Final adjustment to our bikes, gear, seats and test drive, we are all set! All set in our poncho and safety gear. Off we go! The minivan will tail us from the back.

The road was pave 99% we were going down 80% and 20% was flat where we need to paddle. A couple of pit stop and brake fix, we zoom down the mountain. I can’t feel my fingers and nose anymore…it was freezing! :-) We crossed couple of rivers that run thru the road and at the end about 500m of unpaved road. It was a breeze. We arrived around 3pm at the small town to drop our bikes, and then the minivan sent us to Santa Maria which is 1 hour away. We were starving! We took our lunch at 4pm. The rest of the afternoon was free and easy. Santa Maria is a really small town, only 1 main street with a few restaurants and shops. We all slept early prepare for the tough day tomorrow.

Day 2
Breakfast at 7:00am and we start our trek 7:30am. Our breakfast was either pancake with banana and chocolate or scramble egg. For those who ordered pancake had a huge regret because the pancake was just a piece of crepe wrap with half a banana with some honey on top. We were still hungry after the breakfast. We were given option to send our stuff which we do not need during the trek to our next stop. The charges were S5 per bag. We weren’t told the options during our briefing in Cusco :-( else I could have brought more cloths. So we sent all our cloths in a shared bag to Santa Teresa. It’s better with only carrying water, camera and some food.

Coca Plants next to Alex
We started with an easy walk on the road along the Urubamba River, Alex explained us about the Urubamba River and what it did to Aguas Caliente last year when Machupicchu was shut down for 3 months. Every year during the raining seasons from January to March, the rivers destroy everything by the bank, including villages, farms, plantations, road and bridges. We were glad we had a sunny day today, we reached our first resting point. It’s a house of a local, she lives out of coffee and fruits plantations. She sells us fruits and drinks and fried some trout from the river and cooks us some tapioca. She gave us some coca leave to try as well. The coca plantation here are planted for their own consumptions only, selling is illegal. At the end Alex asked us for some tips for her which I think it’s fair.

After the break we had a 2 hours up hill, we had another pit stop before we reached the 1km Inka trail. The Inka trail is right at the edge of the mountain with sheer drops to the Urubamba River. We walked really close to the wall to avoid any accident. At the highest point of the Inka Trail, Alex gave us a briefing about the story of Inka Empire. We were all sitting close to the wall where he was standing at the edge of the trail. :-) We then continue for another 2 hours decent to a small village called Qellomayo for our lunch. We had a 30 mins snooze in the hammock after lunch.

It was our final stretch of walking along the river side until we reached the Hot Spring at Colcamayo. We crossed a few hanging bridge and 1 basket crossing. The basket crossing is where there is a cable tied across the river and a basket for 2/3 person hangs on the cable with a rope to pull yourself over. We have to pay the guy S1 to pull us over. It wasn’t as scary as I thought.
ColcamayoWe arrived around 5:30pm at the hot spring, exhausted! Our feet were numb and our body was raising red flag! After a cold beer we all jump into the hot spring, ahhhh… it was the best moment of the day! We soaked there for 2 hours till they kick us out. :-) We were supposed to walk the last stretch (1 hour) to Santa Teresa but all of us raised white flag! We took and minibus instead. We paid S5 for the 15 minutes ride.

At night after dinner, Alex invited us to go partying. We were exhausted but we went to have a look. After a few drinks at the club, we became energized again and we danced whole night till 2am in the morning. :-)

Day 3
Meeting time was 8am for breakfast. All of us woke up with a hung over. No one was looking forward for another day of walking. Even the restaurant owner was late for the breakfast because he was also partying hard last night. We finally got our breakfast at 9am but still no sign of Alex our guide. At 9:30am he finally appeared obviously with a hung over as well. :-) Some of us already decided to take a bus to the next stop. Well, Alex suggested that we should not miss the first part of the trek where we will trek to a waterfall, and then from the waterfall, we could take a bus to Hydro Electric for the last 3 hours of walking to Aguas Caliente. We all agreed to walk the first 1 hour to the waterfall. It was not a huge waterfall but after an hour walked under the hot sun, dipping in the waterfall was just refreshing. We cut 2 hours from of walking by taking the minibus.

Arrived at Hydro Electric for lunch, here is where the train trek ends. From here we will walked by the train trek all the way to Aguas Caliente. It took us around 3 hours. Along the walk we saw the peak of Machupicchu and Waynapicchu. The walk was pretty relaxing, flat and shady. We got to Aguas Caliente arund 5pm. We were all relief to make it here. Aguas Caliente is also called a Gringo Town which obviously carries the name. It is really touristic, full of restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops and foreigner everywhere. Because it is so hard to get here, either walk or train, everything is 50% more expensive here. A plate of pasta is S15! A hamburger is S10! :-( Lucky we had our dinner and breakfast covered! Francois and me were check in to a very nice Hotel. We got individual room for ourselves, with cable TV, double bed, tower and soap. Wow! A little surprise at the end! :-) The rest were checked into to a hostel because they went with other agency.

During dinner, Alex gave us a briefing about tomorrow’s plan. He had a bad news for us, he forgot his Guide Pass, so he can’t guide us to Machupicchu but he got his friend help to cover him up. More bad news, the 2 German couple didn’t receive their Machupicchu and train tickets. And more bad news Francois and I didn’t receive our Machupicchu tickets as well. It was already late, Alex arrived at our hotel just in time, he helps us manage the situation with the agency. For Francois, he is only going to Machupicchu, they can get him his ticket tomorrow morning at 5am once the office is open and the agency will pay for his bus ride up to Machupicchu since he can’t make it for the tour if he walks from 5am. For me it is impossible to get me my Machupicchu and Wanapicchu tickets because they only allow 400 visitors up to Waynapicchu per day. The tickets for tomorrow have been sold out. The agency told Alex to tell me to go to the Mountana. When I heard it I was pissed off! It’s like there is no apple take the orange. F@#@$! I insisted I want to go to Waynapicchu, if not tomorrow the day after. I was angry the fact that for 3 days the agency didn’t get the problem resolved until we arrived to the hotel. So the agency said there are tickets for the day after and they will pay for an additional night in the hotel for me, plus a guide when I visit Machupicchu. Phew! Cool! All problems sorted except for the 2 German couple which still has no news about their tickets. Alex had to hunt down the agency and yet still no news about their tickets.

Day 4
Since I don’t have to go Machupicchu today, I slept in! :-) Woke up at 9am and found that I have missed my breakfast time. The guy from the hotel was looking for me, he said there is a problem with my student card, it’s false! Shit! I though in my heart, yes it’s false, I made it in Thailand. But I have to pretend that it is real. So I have to go to the office with him to verify that, when I arrived at the ticket office the guy showed me a stack of similar cards that he has comfisticated. He questioned me where did I get my card? I have to stay cool and said I got it from my university in Singapore. I don’t know why it is false! I knew I have to give in and buy the non student ticket, so I told the guy to pay for the non student price instead. It was $20 extra. I wanted my card back at the end and he made a hole on my card. Well, I wasn’t happy but I couldn’t say much! :-( Now that I have got my ticket, I need to change my train ticket. We went to the train station to make the change, I have to top up $7.50 to change to the 6:30pm train. No choice!

For the rest of the day, I spent in my bed watching cable TV. Since I only have S30 (US$10) left with me, I can’t do much. I still have 2 dinners to cover with what’s left. Francois came back around 2pm, we have a chat, he had a great day up at Machupicchu this morning. He and the rest left with the 6:30pm train. The 2 Germans have to pay for their tickets to Machupicchu and didn’t get to visit Waynapicchu. They hope to get their refund from the agency when they get back to Cusco. Well, lucky me I don’t have to pay anything, instead I still owe the agency US$20. :-(

Day 5

It’s finally time for me to visit Machupicchu. My guide tour is at 7:45am, so I could sleep a bit late. I had my breakfast at 5:30am. At 5:50am I started to walk to the bridge. It was a 20 minutes downhill walk and after the bridge, it was a straight ascent up from 1900m to 2425m. It was tough, steps all the way. I was watching more the steps then the view. I made it up in 50minutes. The other option was to take the tourist bus, one way is $6. I couldn’t afford. :-( Anyway I made it up, I had 45 minutes rest before the tour start. By 8am, there are already tons of tourists queuing. I joined one of the English group. The tour was around 2 hours. It was quiet interesting to hear how the place was discovered yet lots of info are still pretty unclear. I was lucky again that the weather was perfect. Machupicchu and Waynapicchu was standing beautifully with the clear blue sky. Pictures after pictures!
Finally is my time to ascent Waynapicchu. There are only 2 group per day, each group consists of only 200 visitors. Group 1 was at 7am and group 2 was at 10am. From 10am, the second group can start their ascent. Long queue again at the entrance, I started climbing around 10:45am. The path was steep and narrow, slowly and carefully I arrived at the peak at 12:30 noon taking some time along the way to enjoy the beautiful view around. At the peak of Waynapicchu, we can see the entire valley surrounding Machupicchu. It was incredible! I just sat there and enjoy the moment.

By 1pm, the guard started to chase us down, and the sky is turning grey as well. By the time I reach Machupicchu, it started to drizzle. After my packed lunch I started my decent from Machupicchu around 2:30pm, half way down it starts to pour. Oh! Gosh! I am glad I have a waterproof bag, everything else is wet including me. Back at Aguas Caliente around 3:30pm to the hotel to get my stuff, couldn’t take any shower, did a quick wipe and change into the same cloths that I wear before. Yeah! I have been wearing the same pants for 4 days now, I think that’s the first time in my life I get so dirty. :-(

My train left on time and I got to Cusco around 10:30pm. The entire 5 days has been challenging physically, the achievement and the experience is worthless! I am glad I did it! :-)

Including in the package 1 night Hostel in Santa Maria, 1 night Hostel in Santa Teresa and 2 nights in Aguas Caliente.

Bicycle, Walk, Busket ride across the river S1 x 1, Minibus S5 x 2 and Train.

Banos Termales – S5

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