17 June 2011

trekking the inca trail

After two days in Cusco, it was time for the main attraction of my trip to Peru: the Lares Valley Trek to Machu Picchu. There were seven trekkers and a guide in my group, as well as a chef, assistant chef, and three chasquis (horsemen). I got picked up around 5 a.m., and then we drove two hours from Cusco to our starting point in the Lares Valley. The trek was beautiful, tough, and amazing, and my photos don't do it justice, but here goes the picture overload, anyway!

Day 1
Our view of a stunning glacier from our breakfast spot, before starting on our trek

Some Andean children we met by a lake, just before our first mountain pass

Shedding layers and taking a break just before our first pass. I couldn't sit down, because I wasn't sure I would be able to get up again, ha!

I made it! This was our first pass of over 14,000 feet

Descending from the first pass...this section reminded me of Lord of the Rings...

Some of the awesome members of my group!

Gushing waterfall

More encounters with alpacas and llamas

Day 2
Love her hat...

...and theirs...

...and hers...

...oh, and theirs, too!

You may notice that most of the kids in these pics are holding red lollipops...the tour agency told us to bring treats for the kids we would meet on the trek. They were so excited to get the candies!

Amazing mountains in the distance

This girl was such a ham...look at her perfect little head tilt!

Lunchtime! The food was amazing, and not just because we were famished from hiking all day. It was really gourmet. So good and filling.

At the top of our third, and last, mountain pass, at 15,180 feet. I've never been so happy to see rock piles in my life! Apparently, trekkers build these cairns to commemorate reaching the top of a difficult pass.

Climbing down, down, down past another beautiful lake to our campsite. The trekking poles I'm holding were so helpful! The second night was very cold...we woke up the next day with snow and ice on our tent!

Day 3
We continue to hike down to a valley

A group of pigs is a sure sign that we're near civilization!

These plastic bag flowers are posted outside chicherias (little bars) all over Peru. Red = chicha (corn liquor), yellow = food, blue = female "company."

Our wonderful guide, cooks, and chasquis!

Train to Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu

Getting so excited to see Machu Picchu tomorrow!

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