Today was another early day as we were again awoken with coffee and tea at 5.30. I had actually woken up at 4.30 and Lynn at 5.00 so we were wide awake and mostly packed by the time Luis came around. Matt and Joe were again late to breakfast but were quite insistent that we all wake up even earlier than the planned 3.30 am tomorrow so we could be the first ones into Macchu Picchu. Yea right guys.
After breakfast we started our hike out of the valley and the rain really started. Today we would learn what the rainy season in Peru was actually like after having been blessed with great weather so far. Wearing our rain coats and rain pants we climbed more stairs to yet another mountain pass. By the time we reached the top our rain coats were soaked through and I was pretty miserable. Aldo suggested a natural overhang just on the other side of the pass where we could wait on the rest of the group. Here I put on a heavy poncho that covered both me and my pack to hopefully keep everything a bit more dry.
The way down the other side of the pass was still very rainy and we rolled into lunch camp thoroughly soaked and pretty miserable. We piled our packs in small corner of the mess tent and hung our drenched ponchos outside on some poles. While we warmed up and dried off we were luckily treated to a warming lunch of soups and delicious bean stews. Thankfully, while we were at lunch the rain subsided and it was starting to even clear up by the time our siesta was over.
After lunch we had a very steep decent out of the mountains and Lynn stuck with me most of the way down the slippery rocks. We stopped at some pretty amazing ruins right after lunch and they looked especially cool in the fog that hadn’t quite lifted yet. Aldo explained that it had been a sun temple and a bit about the Incan religion before we continued on.
Lynn appreciated how much I pushed her (not literally) on the way down and we made good time. Every few minutes we had to pull over to the side of the trail to let a herd of Chaskis barrel down the path. They were fully loaded and wearing sandals and they took on the steep, wet rocks at a full run. It was a hilarious contrast to how slowly and carefully we picked our way down.
We ended the hike down at some more ruins, this time of farming terraces that has been used to feed the population of Macchu Picchu which was now just around the mountain from where we were. We rested for a while, taking silly pictures, and admiring the view while eating some delicious Peruvian chocolate before heading the last 30 minutes to camp.
Once we got to camp, Aldo had a surprise for us, there were some more ruins just around the corner and they were easily the most spectacular we had seen so far. And even better than that, just as we were headed out of them a herd of llamas burst on to the scene from our of the jungle. They grazed on the grass growing on the terraces and were very patient of tourists trying to take selfies with them, except for one who spit at a woman.
We spent quite a while trying to get a good picture of me with one of them before deciding they were too interested in eating and calling it quits. The whole thing was very cool though. Llamas in ancient Incan ruins…how much more picture perfect could it be?
After all the excitement of llamas and ruins we settled down for one last dinner. This time it was sadly a bit more disappointing and seemed to be mostly left overs and whatever hadn’t yet been used up. To be fair we had been on the trail for three days so fresh vegetables were a little much to ask. The chef had just been doing such a good job up to this point I think I had developed unreasonable expectations.
After dinner we had a good bye ceremony for the Chaskis and all chipped in for their tip. It was here that we learned Matt, Joe, and Alessandro are huge cheapskates, to the point of being offensive. Alessandro tipped just 15 soles ($5) for the Chaskis to split twelve ways. This for people who had carried all of his food, tent, light, etc for three days. He then justified it by saying that maybe SAS should pay them more instead. Matt was just as bad, and he had even hired a porter to carry his stuff for him. We all felt terrible for the Chaskis and Liz slipped in some extra money to try and compensate for these horrible people.
We went to bed more than a little pissed off at how poorly these people had treated the Chaskis who had made their Inca Trail trip as amazing as it had been so far.
Daily Walking Mileage: 16 kilometers
Vertical Drop: 4,500 feet
- If you’re paying $700 for a four day trek you should be able to tip more than $5. Don’t instead complain about how you already paid $700 and you shouldn’t have to pay any more. You have no idea what the costs of running these treks are.
- The Chaskis make 50 soles ($15) per day and most of the them are farmers the rest of the year.
- A very annoying Australian who brought his full size guitar on the Inca Trail is at a campsite near us. It seems he is determined to get the most out of his guitar since he brought it all this way and played bad covers of songs until late into the night.
- There are over 380 species of orchid that live near Macchu Picchu. They are all quite beautiful.