Having decided that we really wanted to visit Choquequirao, a little visited site regarded as the last Inca refuge, that while we were there we couldn’t miss Macchu Picchu, and that the Inca Trail was too “commercialised and easy” (we consider ourselves fit marathon runners) we embarked on an expedition that we will always remember.
Following is a daily account of our trek in the Andes.
Up and ready for 5:45am pickup from our Cuzco hotel – in a little car, don’t know people?? Loads of stuff on roof, person in boot. Pick up Mauro (guide) before going. Roads windy, good tax driver. Pouring rain! Oh no! Flat tyre! More oh no! Change taxi at next village as no spare tyres. Hooligan driver now – hope we get there without hitting a cow (or dog or goat). Arrive Cachora for breakfast with the chooks. 11am start trek – yippee!! Very muddy to start – don’t slip. Nice views of valley, easy going. Lunch – very civilised – in middle of track with tablecloth on table. Very spoilt. Lot sof mosquitoes. More walking – some spectacular views. River huge and noisy – amazing. Ready to rest when get to camp. Tent up, mattress down and ready fro tea and popcorn. Don’t like long drop; would like to feel clean. Can I cope with this for a week? Bed hard – but tired – goodnight.
This is the day to visit Choquequirao – the main reason for our trip. Up at 5am – coca tea brought to us. Wow, this is much harder even than expected. Trudge, trudge, up, up almost 4 hours; then a bit of rain – no! – but get to lunch spot for lots of soup, potato and rice. Rain stopped before we left. Two Condors – welcoming us to Choquequirao. Very exciting. Crossing big waterfall – spectacular! Then we’re at the ruins – worth all the effort!! Amazing views! Looking back at where we’d walked – gee, we’ve covered a lot of ground and lots of mountains. At campsite – no horses! Mauro runs to find then – not happy! Anyway, they arrive – now we can have a shower; bbrrrrrrrrrr cold water. Tiem for popcon and afternoon tea. Dinner and bed.
Should have known it was going to be a challenge. A big storm, poured with rain. Lots of things wet; still raining when we wake up. Yuk! Put on rain gear – stopped by the time we reach Choquequirao (again) but misty so couldn’t see much. Then, what a day!!! 5 hours of challenging down. Couldn’ get across river – after an hour, managed to get a plank across and get us across. Tears, laughing, tears! Set up lunch in river bed – nice, with tablecloth. But then a rush to make it to camp – thought it was 4-5 hours up – only started at 2:30pm. Well, we ran – and got there for 5:30pm. Basic again. And cold. Am I having fun? Really didn’t realise how tough it would be! Get me outa here! Not sure how to get through. Will explore alternatives, but don’t think there are any.
Feeling a bit better after talk with guide over tea last night. After today it should be a little easier.Rained again overnight but not hard. Slept OK. Still raining in morning. Yummy pancakes for breakfast in the morning – in spite of the caramel sauce. Very difficult walking today – landslides, very slippery as rained all day. By lunchtime, Walter’s turn to want to go home. Felt better after lunch, and afternoon easier. I fell twice, but no damage done. Landscape very different on other side – green grass and big cliffs. Couldn’t see the magnificent views because of the mist – although it has its own beauty. Picked up a dog who kept us company, nearing camp – looks like luscious green English countryside – stone walls etc. Nice campsite, but still raining.
Rain all night, a bit cold. Pancakes for brekkie again – yum! But it’s because the horses made the bread wet when trying to cross the river. Anyway, set out in rain. Like walking in New Zealand. If no rain, would be easy – but pretty muddy. And lotsof rivers to cross – Mauro a bit worried sometimes. Even the one he thought had a bridge; it had been washed away – replaced by a couple. He took us both across – scary!! Lunchtime was a good reward – sunshine – after being freezing cold as we trudged up the mountain to 4300metres – wow, what an experience. Very, very wet as we get to the campsite. Have to eat in local’s house – not sure, unhappy. Over afternoon tea, talked to family and helped 12-year old girl with her English. Was good. See snow nearby. Dinner will be inside sharing the room with cow carcass, guinea pigs (lots), chickens and a dog. Good to see family together around fire – 6-week old baby through to old man over 100 years old. Ended up having our best dinner – fish lasagne. With the animals – but warm. Everything wet and smelly – who cares. But sleeping stuff all dry so hope for good night’s sleep. And with a bit of luck it’ll have stopped raining for tomorrow. Was very cold overnight – beanies, socks etc etc very handy!!
Had an OK night and not raining in the morning. Because of lost produce (horses wet) back to pancakes. Yum! With porridge too. Too many river crossings and scary landslides to count. And more mud. Was a day of ups and downs for me – got very wet crossing one waterfall. Got to La Playa – very exciting as end of main/difficult part of trip. Need to remember it’s not over.yet. My tummy’s running – 2 embarrassing stories not for writing down. Decide to catch truck to Santa Teresa – small town. Not exciting campsite, but closer to our destination. Sharing grounds with big group of guys from Argentina. Not raining – good to get stuff dry. Hoping to sleep in tomorrow – heading off to Hydro Electric for lunch and to catch train to Aguas Calientes @ around 3:30pm. Have been able to take photos again today as we’ve had very little rain. Good chat to Mauro over dinner and then bed – not good sleep.
Another exciting day in Peru! After brekkie, just as we were due to leave, the police arrived. Mauor had found a wallet the night before and handed it in – but money was missing. So he had to go to the police station. Stuck in a little village in Peru, can’t speak Spanish, our cook and porter can’t speak English and our guide with the police. At 10am, Walter was going to try and find a phone to call Ultimate – our tour company – just as Mauro arrived back and we left. Across the river in flying fox and then walk to station for lunch. Was a long day of waiting before actually getting to Aguas Calientes and a HOT shower. Train system very interesting – locals pay a few SOLS, tourists pay USD8. The tourists have there own carriage – except it’s shared will the police and Peru Rail staff – so I guess we subsidise them and they protect us. We’ll enjoy the same heading back to Cuzco tomorrow.
Guess what!! Rained overnight again – at least this time we’re inside in a nice warm bed. However even with the windows closed we were somewhat deafened by the sound of the river rushing past. Up at 4:45am, brekkie and out the door with Mauro at 5:30am. Would have preferred no rain for our trip to Macchu Picchu. Never mind, it’s very exciting!! Get to Macchu Picchu before the crowd – very good. Not raining too hard. Get photos of it without heaps of people. Mauro takes us to all the significant spots – tour about 2 ½ hours; good to do so, but ready for free time afterwards. Have a toilet breaka dn snack – long time since brekkie – before climbing Wayna Picchu fo a fantastic view over Macchu Picchu. A hard climb with lots of people – but no harder than we’d done. We did it in 25 minutes in spite of it saying a 1 hour walk. Spent some time resting and relaxing around the site – a surreal experience – before heading back to Aguas Calientes for lunch – 4 course for 15 SOL (about $15). Sent some emails before meeting Mauro to get train tickets. Won’t be catching direct train – will be doing train plus bus. Eventually on our way – after absolute pandemonium and running around! Reached Cuzco and out hotel after a pleasant train trip and long, hairy bus trip. Hamburger and Freanch Toast at Jack’s, sorting out, BATH and bed at midnight. Whew!
Breathtaking scenery, awesome architecture & building, rain, landslides, waterfalls, pancakes and exceptional family units.