Familia, Amigos y Machu Picchu!

The time arrived for Machu Picchu! A trip highlight we have been looking forward to for months now. We welcomed several visitors over the past couple of weeks to see the infamous lost Incan city with us. 

Tres Chicas' Guest List

Sarah's Clan
  • Father Tony, Mom Sharon, Sister Emily (from Carson City, NV)
  • Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Laura (from Baton Rouge, LA)
  • Friends Leo, George & Adam (from NYC)
Shelley's Clan
  • Father Jim (from Breckenridge, CO)
  • Friend Susan and new friend Jolene (from Denver, CO)
Trinity's Clan

It is required to employ a guide for all trekking access to Machu Picchu. We ended up on two different treks to visit the ruins- Sarah's clan booked early on the traditional Inca Trail route (limited permits) while Shelley's clan approached the ruins from the Salkantay Trail route. 


Info on Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu was "discovered" by American Hiram Bingham in 1911 who was shown the city by local hunters. The lost Incan city had been covered in subtropical vegetation for over 400 years.

In the mid 1400s, the Incans built Machu Picchu to serve as the spiritual center and second governing capital of the empire. In under three years, over 2,000 workers built the city to house only 500 people. 60% of the population was female- young virgins serving the sun god. The city farmed coca and tropical fruits, importing other goods (corn, animals etc) from Cusco. When the Spanish conquered Cusco 100 years after Machu Picchu's inception, supplies were cut off to the distant city so it was slowly abandoned. The Spanish conquistadors never found the trails leading to Machu Picchu. At the time of abandonment in the mid 1500s, construction of the city was 80% complete.

Machu Picchu from classic photography angle- if you flip this picture vertical it supposedly shows an Incan face with the mountain Huayna Picchu representing a large nose

Info on the Inca Trail Route
Sarah's immediate family (Tony, Sharon and Emily) took the Inca trail- the traditional four-day route taken by the Incans between Cusco and Machu Picchu (the two capitals of the Incan empire). The trail's ancient (and plentiful) cobblestone steps take the hiker over alpine passes (including Dead Woman's Pass at 4200m), through the cloud forest, and lowers into the subtropical vegetation surrounding Machu Picchu. A highlight (or lowlight if you're not an early riser) of the trek is arriving at the sun gate (Intipunku), the entrance to Machu Picchu, at sunrise - unfortunately, it was rainy that day for the Fields! A maximum of 500 people (including guides and porters) are allowed to start the trail every day... so book early! The Fields used the guiding company PeruTreks.


Info on the Salkantay Route
Shelley, her clan, and I took the five-day Salkantay route which uses Incan and pre-Incan trails to access Machu Picchu from due south. This was the original route to Machu Picchu.  We started in a high alpine environment, peaking a 4600m pass (15,200 ft) surrounded by glaciers, and lowering into the damp, flowered jungle. Our third day we took an excursion to some clear, pristine hot springs at Santa Teresa. We used the guide company SAS Travel.


Highlights
  • If you remember in our last blog post, we mentioned that native Quechua speakers always repeated our questions back to us but in statement form (i.e. Us - "Is this the trail to the hot springs?" Quechua speaker- "Trail to the hot springs!"). Now we've learned how the llama got its name. Apparently the invading Spanish asked native Quechua speakers while pointing to the animal, "Como se llama? (What's it called?)" to which they replied, "llama!". Haha!!
  • Having tents pitched for us, all hot meals cooked for us, and horses (porters for the Field parents) to carry our loads - we didn't know what to do with ourselves!
  • Waking up to a guide handing us hot tea in our sleeping bags each morning
  • Learning geology tidbits along the way from geophysicist Dr. Professor Scott Marshall - you better expect pictures, questions and e-mails coming your way in the future, Scott!
  • Sharing conversation, playing cards and swapping stories with new friends on our guided trips
  • Sarah, after hiking the Inca trail for four days, finding her NYC boys Leo, George and Adam at Machu Picchu!

Lowlights
  • Trinity caught a cold on the 4th day of the trek- so much for being pampered on a guided trip!
  • On the fourth morning of our trek, Shelley and I refused to emerge from the tent (even though everyone else was up after a late morning) until we were served our hot tea- we got used to that perk fast!
  • Sarah's wallet was stolen, which most importantly held her family's SD card of pictures of the Inca Trail, while out on the town in Cusco after Machu Picchu... hence there are limited pictures of their trek in this post )c:

Salkantay trekkers- Susan, Jim, Shelley, Trinity and Jolene (with Mt. Salkantay as a backdrop)
They pitch our tents for us before we arrive!
Mmmmm food
Shelley and Trinity enjoying the view among cairns of wishes
Susan, Shelley, Jim, Trinity and Jolene atop Apacheta pass on the Salkantay trail
Resting atop Apacheta pass
Shelley and father Jim enjoying a rooftop ride to our hot springs excursion
Jolene, Susan, Shelley and Trinity relaxing in the hot springs (note fault line in mountain behind us over Trinity's head- thanks Scott!)
Striking viewpoint of Mt. Salkantay
Shelley won at cards- check out her loot.
The brave and valiant Salkantay trek group
Crossing an earth-made river bridge on Salkantay route
Jim testing the waters from a hot spring
Jolene, Susan, Shelley and Trinity in front of Machu Picchu
Jim sitting on a wall in Machu Picchu city overlooking the terraced farm plots
Susan and Shelley with llamas!
Jim atop Huaynu Picchu mountain


Sharon, Emily, Tony and Sarah at the start of the Inca Trail 

Emily hiking on one of the rare step-less parts of the trail

Forty-two agricultural terraces (about 12 kms from Machu Picchu) used for storing seeds

Tony at the top of the 42 terraces 


Tony and Sharon hiking through one of the "tunnels" 
View from one of the passes on the Inca Trail

A very exhausted (and wet) Field family
The awesome Inca Trail group (there is supposed to be a great view of
Machu Picchu behind them - luckily the clouds didn't last all day) 

The clouds finally went away!! Sarah with Adam and Leo 
Jimmy, Tony, Emily, Sharon, Sarah, Trinity and Laura out to eat at Cicciolina in Cusco
A night out in Cusco at Mama Africa! Top: George, Trinity, Adam, Leo;
Bottom: Susan, Sarah, Shelley, Emily


3 comments:

  1. Family and friends are great aren't they? Just wanted to leave a note cause notes are fun :) Enjoy the last part of your journey!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Stumbled across this page while I was searching for some info on Machu Picchu. I trekked with Sharon and Tony on the Inca Trail in June '12. Say Hello to them for me pls!

    Cheers
    Chintan

    ReplyDelete
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