Distance – 33km, 3 daysLongest day – 16km over 9hrsStart – 3400mHighest peak 4800m.Coldest night – Minus 10cWeather – Sun, Rain, Hail and Snow
Our day began at 5am for a 6am pick up from our hotel and a 2hr bus ride to Ollaytaytambo where we had breakfast and collected the other trekkers. We then had another 1.5hr drive to Lares to begin our adventure. We had only been walking for about 1/2 hour and one of our group members were already struggling. I thought to myself, it was going to be a very long few days for both them and us. The first day begins at about 3500m and we hiked up 300m over a distance of 7kms. We stopped for lunch by a small stream where the staff consisting of a chef, a waiter and three horsemen had gone ahead to set up camp. When we started our day the sun was shining and it was pretty warm. However by the time we arrived at our lunch spot the clouds had come over and with the sweat on your back you soon got pretty cold.
After lunch we headed off for a few more hours to our camp site for the night. The scenery is just amazing. It reminded of those documentaries I had seen when people where are in the middle of nowhere high in the Andean mountains and from nowhere a little boy pops out on the track ahead to greet you. He is dressed in layers of dirty clothes and sandals made of leather. Our guide asks his name and age and translates for us. The local language of the Peruvian Inca people is Quechuan. We come across many young children some out playing and others taking care of the family sheep or Llama. We purchased extra bread and fruit before leaving town to give to the young children along the way. They are extremely shy but very grateful for the handouts. We reach our camp site where the staff have already arrived and set up camp. We are allocated a tent and have a couple of hours rest before dinner. Dinner is served in local community meeting room that was built with the help of donations from tour companies that use the trail as part of the Lares trek. Dinner is a delicious 2 course meal of soup and fish and rice. We are all pretty tired and head off to our tents early as tomorrow is the biggest day and a 5am start.
Day 2. We wake at 5am to a cup of coca tea, pack and get ready for breakfast. Straight after breakfast we begin our trek from 3800m to 4800m. The track is pretty tough from the start and we begin a steady climb straight away. Within 30mins its taking its toll on a few people in the group. Someone appears to be suffering with altitude sickness and another is just struggling with the steepness. Its going to be a long day for some and slow going for the rest of us. After a few hours and lots of stops I think our guide recognised that 3 people in our group were struggling.Nothing is said but before we know it our Peruvian chef is leading 3 of us up the mountain. He is a little guy with a big smile a good sense of humour. He speaks both Quechuan and Spanish so Rachael can converse with him. He turns many times to see where Jason, our guide is, and how far they are behind.
He waits occasionally for them to catch up but unfortunately for the other group every time they catch up to us we have rested for 10-15 mins and our chef he is ready to go. Vamos…… Haku…… Lets go is the call. Its possibly one of the best days of my life. The scenery is out of this world.
The climb is challenging and the local people you meet along the way are just amazing. At the half way point we reach a couple of lakes situated at over 4000m and the weather had started to close in. It began to rain so we get out our ponchos. However within about 3 mins it began to snow. Unbelievable……. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. To be high in the Andes and experience snow was just fantastic. As we got nearer to the top of the mountain the climb got even steeper and very rocky. We could see the top but we knew we still had about an hour to go. Once we finally reached the peak we had a well deserved 5 minute break before our decent to our lunch camp. Julio, our chef went on ahead to prepare lunch. We arrived at our lunch spot after an hour of downhill which was nearly as difficult as the up hill accept you weren’t breathing as hard. The 3 of us lay in the sun and rested and fell asleep whilst waiting for the others to arrive. They arrived an 1.5 hours later and looked pretty tired.Camp that night was pretty cold as the sky was very clear. I assume it got down to about minus 10.
Day 3. An easy 3-4 hour downhill walk to lunch where we got picked up by our van and taken to Ollantaytambo where we caught the train to Aguas Caliente or Machu Picchu town. Machu Picchu is a beautiful little town situated between towering vertical mountains. Its the meeting place to get to the actual ancient city of Machu Picchu which is a 30min bus ride. Unfortunately, after being in the mountains for 3 days and not seeing any people accept for locals you are bombarded by tourists everywhere. Grrrrr.