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Inca Trail: Machu Picchu

  Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world.  Visited by 1.5 million visitors each year, people from all over the world travel great distances by plane, train and then bus to be here.  Many are checking off bucket lists.   During the week before hiking the Inca Trail, we talked to an older couple from Canada who had just returned from their hike.  We asked whether the journey to Machu Picchu had been worth it?  The guy laughed and said that the Inca Trail was amazing but not to fall in love with the idea that Machu Picchu was going to be some kind of climax to the hike.   "It's amazing, don't get me wrong," he said.  "But it doesn't compare to the hike itself."   We didn't really understand until we were standing at Machu Picchu.  In many ways, it wasn't different from the other ruins that we had seen:  just on a grander scale.  It did have a more colorful name.  Machu Picchu translates to "Old Penis." Most people in the U.S

Inca Trail: Into the Clouds

We rose at 5:30 a.m. on our last full day of hiking, wondering if G would be able to hike with his bad ankle.  We found out at breakfast that his ankle was feeling much better, and P said he was recovered from his altitude sickness.  

Pancake breakfast with chocolate syrup

We had completed the hardest climbs.  Today, we would alternate steep descents with flat.  We were camped at Runkuraquay  (3710 meters or 12,172 feet).  


For the first two nights of the trail, the tour groups were relatively spread out.  But on the final night, we would join the other 496 hikers and porters at one final camp.  Freddy warned that we might want to make sure we used the bathroom before leaving that morning's camp because things would be "messy" at the evening camp.

Freddy was unusual accurate with his predictions, so I made sure to use the facilities.  Even here, there was no toilet seat, and I needed to wade through used toilet paper on the floor, wipe down the toilet rim, and do my business quickly.  For those wondering, the used toilet paper was on the floor because the wastebasket was overflowing.  One does not flush toilet paper down the toilet in third world countries.  I would much rather plop my butt over a downed tree or the worst outhouse on the Appalachian Trail than repeat that morning's experience.

Why didn't I just use a downed tree?   Freddy didn't advise it.  Off the trail, poisonous snakes, spiders and insects were present.  Also with the numbers of hikers each day, the government wanted to concentrate the unsanitary conditions in the provided bathrooms, which were cleaned once per day by rangers.

Early morning view


After a steep descent, we were in the clouds and mist/drizzle for the entire day.

Porters in the Fog

Inca Ruins

Continuing to hike down, the vegetation began to change to jungle.


MFH said…
That top one is duh bomb!

I'm not even goona attempt imagining what it must be like being around such a wild-eyed woman 24/7.
greg said…
500 people all at the same camp! That's a small town!

Ahh yes, the joys of being a waste-eliminating creature. Once you get out of Europe and North America there is a fascinating array of elimination appliances and customs. (On a business trip in a remote area of Uzbekistan where you eat by hand out of a communal platter, I, a die-hard left-hander, had to remember to do everything with my right hand to avoid pissing off the locals who have left hands instead of toilet paper.)
John said…
Fortunately, she isn't wild-eyed 24/7. I don't think I could handle that.

My brother's wife is from Uzbekistan, although she was a city girl and a Russian minority in that country. She is a clean freak and follows people around to make sure they wash their hands all the time. Maybe it is a overreaction to customs in the remote parts of Uzbekistan.

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