The first day of the Inca Trail started at the ungodly hour of 5.15am. We were at breakfast by 6.00, with the intention of being on the road by 6.30. In the end, it was more like 7.00, which was extra irritating because I could have done with an extra half hour's sleep! We drove to Ollantaytambo (where we'd been the previous day) and stopped for second breakfast. Because apparently going on an epic trek turns you into hobbits?
We finally reached the starting point - Kilometre 82 - at about 10.00. There followed an enormous photo taking exercise - photos had to be taken with everyone's camera to document the event:
|That's Mr and Mrs Watermelon on the far left. Some of us MAY have cut them|
out of the photos to more nicely centre the sign...
From there, we headed through passport control and set off along the trail. About 10 minutes in, we had to stop and wait for Mr and Mrs Watermelon to catch up. And we were waiting longer than we'd been walking before they appeared. This proved a terrible omen for how the rest of the trek would pan out... On the plus side, it gave us plenty of time to take photos of Mt Veronica, which is 5,860m high and therefore picturesquely covered in snow:
Eventually, it was decided that we should just keep walking and one of the guides would stay behind with Mr and Mrs Watermelon. So we ploughed on without them. Eventually, we came to our first challenge: a climb which increased 50m in altitude over 200m. So basically, it was like walking up a 200m long flight of stairs. It was a test for the rest of the trek, and there was a time limit of half an hour to get to the top. If you didn't reach the top in that time limit, they'd send you back and get you a ticket on the train to Aguas Callientes instead. Thankfully, we made it in under the half hour, and there was a nice view over an archaeological site at the top, so at least there was something nice to look at while you got your breath back!!
We walked for a couple of hours, and eventually came to a village where we stopped for lunch. Lunch was quite funny because there was a group of piglets running all over the place and tripping everybody up. Luckily they were super cute, so no one minded too much!
The afternoon was much the same, except with an increasing number of hills as we got closer to the first campsite. Ness and I finally plodded into camp at about 5.15pm, which was some ways behind everyone else. But two full hours ahead of Mr and Mrs Watermelon. TWO. HOURS. As the first day is only 13 kilometres and largely flat, this REALLY didn't bode well for the following day... Apparently the guides had tried to persuade her to get a horse to the camp site and save her energy for Day 2 (on the first day, the path goes through a bunch of small villages, so there are horses everywhere. I was not impressed by this, being terrified of them). She refused. As a result, the guides were...not impressed with what happened on Day 2 and Day 3.
Not long after Ness and I got into camp, we were called to the mess tent for afternoon tea - mountains and mountains of popcorn and tea. Once we'd run out of popcorn, we broke out the cards and played approximately a millionty rounds of Shithead until it was time for dinner, just after Mr and Mrs Watermelon finally staggered in. Dinner involved purple corn pudding, which can best be described as warm, unset jelly/jello. Mmmmmm, DELICIOUS. (Except not)
Then it was back to playing cards until about 9pm when we decided it was probably a good idea to go to bed. This involved a trip to the toilet.
|Super attractive hiking fashion|
See that little shack in the right top corner? That was the toilet. Getting there involved avoiding tents and trees and trying not to trip up a hill using fairly useless head torches. Using the toilet was...an experience. It was a drop pit squat toilet. And lots of people had missed the hole. The resulting smell led to rather a lot of dry retching on my part. And then, while I was waiting for Ness to gag her way through a trip to the toilet, I spotted a freaking TARANTULA wandering along the ground. This understandably caused me many panicky "MUST KEEP TORCH ON IT AT ALL TIMES SO I KNOW WHERE IT IS" feelings, closely followed by "RUN AWAY AS FAST AS POSSIBLE" feelings.
So yeah. An excellent night's sleep was had after that..........
Next up, climbing the steepest effing mountain of EVER, and everyone is grateful for a lack of tarantulas.