Last night was the coldest I’ve been since my arrival in Peru. Flavio tells me the chill comes from the glacier in the distance and also being up 1000ft higher than last night. Whatever the reason, I had to sleep bundled up in my clothes, including my wooly hat!
The view first thing is spectacular, with the Sun lighting the peak of Salkantay and the distant mountains. Breakfast devoured and plenty of hot coffee later, we all got together for a phot-shoot, and an informal few words on who we are and where we’re from. The porters and chef were included in this and it’s very cool to hear where they all hail from. I also couldn’t get over that a couple of the porters were in their 50’s – hoofing people’s kit 45km should be for the younger crew!
Heading up to the last pass of the trail (which is only 270ft above the camp) was awash with beauty from the rising Sun. The surrounding marshland was glittering like gold and huge rays of light spiked the ground, from the nearby hilltop. As with the hike after lunch yesterday, it took a while for my body to work out it needed to get moving, and the first hour was a little tiring. It still didn’t take too long to end up at the pass, at Phuyupatamarka and take the first major rest of the day. Today is a half-day and the distance isn’t too far, so Flavio will spread out the time with longer stops and more explanation, similar to day one.
From Phuyupatamarca, it was a short hike down to the next small ruin and from here, I was again able to take off, to head to the next checkpoint. It’s more surreal on your own, as you could almost believe you’re the only person alive around here. There’s surprisingly little sound, except for a single bee that kept circling my head for the last fifteen minutes of this leg.
The angle of the agricultural levels at Intipata, is amazing and some serious work went in to creating this oasis on the side of a steep valley. It looks like there weren’t many people that lived here but the sight of crops spewing from this area back in the day must have been wonderous. Flavio mentioned that cross-breeding of potato would have been done here, as growing conditions were not optimal for normal crops. Interesting to know that genetic mutation is something that was done a long time before the current hoo-ha with GM foods.
By now, the goal for tomorrow is within view – or at least the mountain of Machu Picchu. there’s a flag atop the summit and somewhere behind that mountain, lays the ruins of the place I’ve waited so long to see.
From Intipata, the campsite was so close, you could see the porters, already waiting for us. Time to head for food and of course, I had to take the quicker way down by using the floating steps. The straight view to the campsite is deceptive and the winding un-signed path, had me heading the wrong way a couple of times but that’s what you get for hurrying. This time, I made it with the rest of the crew in tow and the real sense of achievement came, knowing that 10mins walk away, was the main entrance to Machu Picchu.
This last campsite is pretty awesome, albeit a little cramped. There’s a bar and hot showers (for a five sole fee) and the chance to kick back after covering the hardest part, with only five kilometers left to engage. the bar has a bizarre method of purchase, where you have to walk up to a ticket booth, pay for a beer, then take the receipt to the bar itself, where they allow you to grab a brew from the fridge. Still, a few beers and a Cuba Libre later and I was ready to call an end to my day but first off, there was one more ruin to visit and dinner to be eaten.
Wiñay Wayna appears much bigger than Intipata and after thinking of the work that must have gone in to Intipata, this just amazed me. Technical aspects of the building alone are crazy, let alone the agriculture that would have been employed, after this was built. I would have liked much longer here, but the Sun was rapidly losing its light and dinner was almost ready. Time to tuck in to the usual feast and get to bed early. Tomorrow sees a 3:30am wake-up call, to get as near to the front of the gate as possible before it opens.