on April 27, 2005
With day two of the Inca Trail done, often regarded as the hardest day of the Inca Trail, you look forward to an "easy" day of hiking. The weather seemed a bit gloomy as we left camp, and we hoped it would not rain. The trail immediately climbs uphill from the camp, which simply sucks after day two, but you are rewarded within 30 minutes when you arrive at Runkurakay. This is a small structure believed to be a lookout tower or resting place. Some think it was used as a transfer point where messengers bringing information from one town to another would hand off the messages to rested messengers.
Soon you reach Sayaqmarka. The ruin was originally built by the Colla, the biggest enemy of the Incas before they became kings of the Peruvian highlands. After leaving Sayaqmarka, it began to rain, hard.
The rain continued as we ate lunch and after we left. The trail cuts through the ruin of Phuyupatamarka. Immediately after this ruin, the trail begins to descend down hundreds (if not thousands) of stone Inca steps. There are points where you cannot see the end of the stairs. It's almost frustrating, but more amazing than anything else. Along this portion of the trail, the trail crosses a stream (with no bridge), and then you will also go through a tunnel within 2 minutes of the stream.
Reaching the edge of the forest and the edge of a cliff, you find yourself looking out over the vast valley below. And, unfortunately, signs of modern civilization emerge: train whistles; power lines; and far below, metal rooftops to buildings. From here, the trail descends down a narrow, zigzagging path through some brush and small trees. Surprisingly, this led us to the camp much sooner than I expected.
Because of the rain, everything was soaked or damp. But that was okay. It was all part of the experience.
After-dinner time is spent giving porters their much-deserved tips (and, in our case, beer). Tips for porters should generally be 60 soles minimum. The chefs can be given more than that (e.g. 100 soles). And we gave our guide 120 soles.
There are many tour companies around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco that offer treks to Machu Picchu. With these companies, you can always walk up and make a reservation. However, you may need to wait a week before you can get a date you want. And, during peak season, it might even be a longer wait. Another option is to book online through a trekking company. I booked through Andean Life (www.andeanlife.com) 3 months in advance. Booking online may cost a bit more, but the experience may be better with a reputable company. Just because a company in Cusco has a cheaper price does not mean it is the best trekking company. If you would like to arrange a trip with my guide, please contact me and I will gladly give you his contact information.
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