Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Road to Machu Pichu

Anybody got a light? Because I just finished the climax of our trip. We just got back from Machu Pichu and for all the hype and for allt he high expectations it was... amazing. We took a four day Inca Jungle Trail where we went mountain biking downhill on dirt roads on the first day, hiked along cliffs and on parts of the famous Inca Trail on the second day, hiked yet again through the jungle and on supposedly defunct railroad tracks on the third day, and then hiked up Machu Pichu at 430am on the 4th day. All in all, it was an unreal trip and I had a fantastic tour group of 12 that I was with.

Highlights included:
1) Day One, getting sick in the van on the twisting curving roads that lead us to our mountain bike drop off point. Then biking super fast downhill in torrential rains and biking through massive puddles formed by th waterfalls all around us. (Thank you Josh Kroo for those pantalones impermeables, they proved to be indispensable indeed!)

2) Day Two was a perfect day for hiking. Lots of cloud cover but no rain so a great day to hike 3 miles straight up mountains from the river bed (definitely a wake up call for all of us - hello! you are hiking the inca trail now!) we all neded a break and what a better place than a little hut in the middle of the jungle with pet guinea pigs (that they would later eat), badgers, gophers, and of course a MONKEY! Everyone knows all men really want is a pet monkey (or so says Dane Cook) so we had a lot of fun playing with Martin (pronounced Marteen) as pictured to on the right.

3) The video here is me singing Free Fallin on the Inca Trail where we were once at the riverbed and now walking along scintillating acantilados (thats´s spanish for cliffs). Later that day we went to the thermal hot springs which was a much-needed relaxation point after a long hard day.

4) On day 3 we were not as lucky to have cloud cover and got beat up by the sun for the majority of the day. Never had so much sun screen, sweat, and water all over my body all at the same time. The end of our hike was 3 hours on railroad tracks that were the only way into Aguas Calientes, the tourist town at the foot of Machu Pichu. Lonely Planet says they were defunct i.e. no longer in use, but Yoav and I quickly found out, leading the group at the time, that every now and then there was a single train car that would come by, probably switching out the real trains on another track below. There were definitely a couple of ¨stand by me¨ moments where we had to jump off the tracks in order to not get hit by the quickly moving steam engine bearing down on us. I love it when life imitates the movies.

5) I was 16 years old and hiking up Masada in Israel at 330am all over again when this time I was 29 and it was 430am and I was hiking up to Machu Pichu. Time flies when you are getting old. Hiking in the dark is always a blasty blast. Got to the top, headed straight to Huayna Pichu (the big mountain in the background of all the famous Machu Pichu shots) to get our entry tickets, cuz they only allow 400 per day to hike that mountain, and then started our tour with our guide. Machu Pichu is amazing if not for anything but the fact that the Spanish Conquistadors never found it and therefore were never able to obliterate it and/or build on top of it. So what you see is really how it was left for hundreds of years. The only devastation was caused by over growth of the land. The fact is a lot of Machu Pichu is still being discovered today and since there is no written history that the Incans themselves kept, there is a lot of guess work as to what was what, etc. But walking thu the ruins and just as importantly the steep 1 hour climb to the top of Huayna Pichu are moment that I will never forget, and luckily I as able to video and photo the experience graciously to help put me back in that place that I just left. One highlight of the day was getting yelled at by guards, again, for dancing and being silly on camera with a great view of the ruins behind me. Hopefully I was able to get some footage before the whistle-blowing began.

I recommend to anyone and to everyone to go check out this impressive site. Every part of the trek was incredible and the view from the top is one that will stay with you forever. Looking forward to exploring more of Cuzco and then on to Nazca, Ica, and finally Lima!

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