Monday, 26 October 2009

The Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu! 21-25 October 2009

Oh my goodness, the last 5 days have been amazing! AMAZING! Hard, incredible, so much fun and I loved it. Machu Picchu was magical, spectacular and out of this world. I somehow found the energy to even climb Huyana Pichu (a near vertical 4km crawl!) to get the outstanding birdseye view of the incredible M.P. Having Happy Birthday sung to me by my group and other tourists at M.P as the sun brooke over the surrounding mountians was such a special moment of my life. Who said getting old was rubbish! Life just gets better. I have so much to say about the trip but here is one brilliant ¨Marguerite pearler¨ to keep you excited and on your toes! So, the trip was hard-ish, mainly because of the altitude (our highest pass was 4650m above sea level), but I reached Aguas Calientes (MAchu Picchu town) without any tears! But of course, the whole trek was never going to be tear-less. Our group set off at 4am on my birthday, SUnday 25th October, to start climbing the steps to the entrance of Machu Picchu, we left early so that we would be eligible for tickets to Huyana Pichu (only 400 are distributed each day!). It was dark, pitch black and suprisingly hot for so early. As we came to the first flight of stairs I decided to take off my jacket and fleece so i wouldn´t roast. The others set off ahead of me, just a little ahead of me, but by the time i reached the top of the first flight of stairs up the cliff side I couldn´t see the tohers, i couldn´t see torches ahead of me or hear any noises. I foloowed the white direction arrow along the road track and still didn´t manage tot find anyone. I panicked. It was pitch blakc and I was in the jungle all alone and lost! SOme birthday this was starting out to be. I stayed cam and returned to the steps and found the rest of the path that I had managed to miss on the way up! I followed the path but there was no one around me, in front or behind. It was so scary. I knew I was already 15 minutes behind the group and I had no hope of catching up on the vertical steps. I kept hoping that someone would notice i was missing and would hang back and wait for me, but with every turn there was no one. Then i bumped into a German mand aged around 50 who took me under his wing. Unfortunately for him, he didn´t make me feel any better as he sklagged off PEruvian guides who are unable to hold a group together adequately. He then asked me questions about Peru and Bolivia and the rest of South America, i answered as politewly as I could while chomping my way up a cliff side, holding back tears. I found a covnenneit point to ditch him, he wanted to walk the road, and I was happy to keep climbing the stair case. Alone, I let rip. The tears came flwoing. It was no longer dark, but I was still alone and I was struggling with all the steps. I stumbled over, and then got in a tizz about if I fell and twisted my leg. I began to hyperventilate as I puffed and panted up the cliff. Oh my goodness I was a mess. WHen i finally reached the top there were around 80 people head of me all there chatting and talking, i was a jibbeirng mess ofof tears despite ahving tried to calm myself. I found RHiannon in the masses and she eventually calmed me down, after I explained my getting lost and lsoign everyone. Oh my goodness i felt liek such a dipstick! No one else had got lost in the dark, and it wasn´t the end of the world that i had to trek up by myself, but i was jsut in one of my traditional birthday tizzes that I always seem to get in on my birthdays! After this it was all plain sailinh and Machu Pichu lived up to all expec5ations and even went beyond! I just had an awesome day with beautiful blue skies and perfect heat, but we did leave when the Inca Gods got mad and started thudnering at us. Luckily we didn´t get wet, (I had got drenched the day before to the extent that my waterproof boots were so wet from my sogging socks that when I woke up for machu pichu that i had to wear carrier bags inside my boots!) It was a perfect day that was rounded off with Pisco and Cuba Libre (no Lambrini Trigg unfortunaltey). Added to the whole amazing day, the German couple on our trip got engaged at the top of Huyana Pcihu whihc was so incredibly romantic and so exciting. I knwo I´ve been so lucky to have a lot of incredibly amazing days on this trip, but this one, my birthday, coudln´t have been anymore special! Loved it!

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