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Family trip report Peru: Inca trail, Sacred Valley, Cuzco, Lake Titicaca and Lima

Family trip report Peru: Inca trail, Sacred Valley, Cuzco, Lake Titicaca and Lima

Old Sep 18th, 2021, 02:20 PM
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Family trip report Peru: Inca trail, Sacred Valley, Cuzco, Lake Titicaca and Lima

Travelogue Peru 2021




I was finally walking the ruins of Machu Picchu. The site was empty. The llamas were grazing and the perfect blue sky gave us the surreal impression of waking up in another world, the ancient Inca world. I was so happy that we chose the 5 day / 4 night Inca trail. After a refreshing night in Aguas Calientes and one of the best hot showers of my life, we emerged clean from our hard and rewarding multi day hike. I look at my daughters and my heart is full of pride. They walked the Inca trail at 8 and 5 years old (the younger one had to be a carried over Dead woman’s pass). Yes, this is not a Disney vacation.

What an adventure!
We are a family of four. My husband is American and I am French. We went to Peru for 16 days from July 13th-29th 2021. This trip while exhilarating and adventurous, it was also hard and presented it’s own challenges.
Reading other people's trip reports has always been a source of inspiration. Maybe my trip report can be of some usefulness to a family, especially one traveling with young children.

Preparation:

When traveling stopped abruptly and borders closed in March of 2020, I could still escape in my imagination and plan and research my next destination. Machu Picchu was always on my list but I never got around of visiting it when I was younger and single. Pregnancies and raising babies/toddlers puts one's hobbies on hold. A wake up call was when my two younger sisters who are fit and healthy started having musculoskeletal problems (back and knees), and ultimately could no longer do the Inca trail with me.

With the vaccine available and borders reopening, tentative plans were done with Alpaca Expeditions for July 2021. I highly recommend them. They were fantastic. They are a Peruvian company, pay their employees well, and outfit their chasqui (porters) with appropriate hiking equipment, have dorms for them to stay between expeditions, send their children to school, and are the first company to hire female porters. They also had a chef, and sous chef on the trail with us. A team of 13 was there for the five of us (our family plus a close friend).

The Inca trail was always going to be the pièce de résistance of the trip. I chose the 5 days/4 nights trip as opposed to the more common 4 days/3 nights (same distance) because I wanted less kilometers every day with younger children. But an absolute benefit was seeing Machu Picchu twice, once on the afternoon of the fourth day and once on the morning of the fifth. And even more importantly, seeing Machu Picchu rested and showered on the fifth day was instrumental in being able to enjoy this 15th century Inca citadel. For that reason alone, I highly recommend the longer version of 5D/4N Inca trail.

We live in Florida, so at sea level. We were going to embark on a difficult hike at very high altitude. Reading old trip reports directed me to the Inca town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to acclimate before the hike. With it’s pedestrian cobblestone streets, numerous archeological sites, and delicious restaurants, it was a great place to rest and get used to the altitude (2,792 meters/9,160 feet).

My daughters are fit figure skaters and train 10+ hours a week. They also do ballet and swim. Still, the 5 years old is very young for this kind of multi day hike. The original plan was to have her go with my husband by train to Macchu Picchu while my 8 year old and I hiked. But after corresponding with Alpaca Expectations and discussing it with Peruvian colleagues at work, we decided to bring her along but with her own personal porter. She and Walberto became fast friends. He was so kind and gentle with her. He was also extremely sure footed while he carried her over dangerous terrain. It was so precious to see them climbing holding hands, developing an understanding while she chatted in English and he answered in Spanish.

We did some practice hikes to gauge the children’s endurance in Zion (Angel Landing, The Narrows), Great Smoky Mountains (Alum Cave Trail) and Yosemite (Nevada falls). Most of the stress planning this trip and in Peru revolved about me worrying about the children. And it would have been so much easier for me to go on a solo trip. But at the sheer mention of this my daughters would break down in hysterics at how unfair it was that I was going to find a mysterious city of gold, adopt a baby llama and play the flute on the floating island all by myself. So I brought them with me.

Our final itinerary:

2 nights in Lima close to the airport to do a day trip to see the Nazca lines with Nazca Flights.

3 nights in Ollantaytambo

5D/4 nights on the Inca trail with the last night being in Aguas Calientes.

1 extra night in Aguas Calientes at the Inkaterra

2 nights in Cuzco

1 night in Puno

2D/1N Homestay on Amantani Island with All Ways travel (titicacaperu.com).

1 night in Puno

1 night in Lima

When I was a child, I watched a TV series called The Mysterious Cities of Gold, a French-Japanese co-production. Set in 1532, it follows 3 children with a Spanish navigator Mendoza in the search of the seven cities of gold. The first season of the series is a mix of ancient South American history, archeology and science fiction. If you have children, I would highly recommend this series before traveling to Peru.

Day 1 Arriving in Lima
Out of caution, we all tested twice negative for Covid before boarding our plane (antigen and PCR). But we were only required to have one test and the children less than 11 years old needed an attestation of good health from their pediatrician. We also needed to complete a declaration of health for the Peruvian authorities. Once in Lima, a double mask was required.

Our connecting flight was delayed and we didn’t check into our hotel at the airport in Lima (Holiday Inn) until midnight. Waiting for the airport shuttle was chaotic and took over an hour.

Day 2 The Nazca lines

We got up at 4am for our pick up for the Ballestas Islands and Nazca lines. It was very hard with only a few hours of sleep. It was tight before without our flight delays but we didn’t have a day to spare in the itinerary. It is one of the reasons we went with the expensive option of a private tour from Lima. Day pack, check! Water, check! Snacks, check! Sunscreen, check! Anti-nausea medication (zofran) check! Multiple cups of coffee for the adults and hot chocolate for the children and we are ready!

Except the private van does not show up. A quick email search from Nazca Flight says that due to strong waves, the Ballestas portion of the trip is a no go. Departure will be now at 7am. It was sent yesterday evening, and tired from the flight, I hadn’t checked.

Sigh.

The five year old never really woke up completely. She is still at the age when she can be carried like a rag doll and still sleep. She is easy to put back to bed. The 8 year old is hungry! So we immediately improvised a “midnight” dinner in bed for her which highly entertained her since she had just finished reading a book by Enid Blyton with the Sullivan twins doing just that.

We woke up again 2 hours later, and this time a comfortable and spacious van whisked us away from the dreary neighborhood of Lima’s airport to the mysterious gigantic Nazca Lines.

Ah what a gloomy car ride! This is the most ugly Pacific Ocean coast line I have ever seen! With the gray sky hanging low, the industrial buildings, the abandoned construction sites… As we are riding towards Pisco Airport, I keep refreshing my weather app showing bright blue skies in Nazca… I sure hope so, we have 4 hours to go. We go over the 16 Nazca drawings and test our girls if they can remember them. They choose their favorites to see if it will be the same ones once seen in person.

At Pisco Airport, the sun is shining bright without a cloud. A great day for a flight! The small aircraft is already waiting for us. Quickly my daughters and I take 4 mg of Zofran. My husband takes Dramamine. All the passengers get a window seat. We are so excited!

It is a very small plane and it feels unstable, but soon enough we are circling our first Nazca lines, the Whale! Wow! You can see pictures on the internet but it amazing to seeing it in person so clearly! You realize the scale of these immense drawings.

The plane twists and turns so that with each drawing each side of the plane has a chance to see it. My five years old had the map of the Nazca lines in her hands. With each drawing that she sees, she circles it. “This is too much fun!! It is like a treasure hunt!!!” We all have our favorites now: The Hummingbird (Colibrí), the Spider (Araña) and the Monkey (Mono). And for me, the Condor.





The 8 year old is a bit green/gray at the end. She tends to have car sickness as well, so I am so glad I pre-medicated her. I am feeling a bit nauseous too, but the flight is short and it is so worth it!!

It is a long drive home, so we stop for lunch in Pisco. A small family place. I speak Spanish so I am given a menu that is completely different than the English menu (for my husband). Prices are different too. The food is excellent and cheap
(at least on the Spanish menu). And thus begin my addiction to ceviche. I had no idea that ceviche is a whole meal in Peru, not just an appetizer like in the USA. It is delicious. For he next 4 days I order it every day. I miss it even now.
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Old Sep 18th, 2021, 09:17 PM
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Following vicariously. I miss Peru and ceviche too.
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Old Sep 19th, 2021, 05:23 PM
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Thanks for the effort in making the report. Inkaterra must have been a welcome oasis after the trail. We spent 2 nights there, 2nd day was a spa day for wife after our hike up Hyuana Picchu. Where she slipped and almost fell to her death. I went back for a 2nd day. Those Pisco's tasted so good.
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Old Sep 24th, 2021, 05:54 AM
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Thanks for reading. I have written more but I am waiting for my husband to proof read because English is not my first language. (French is). It was a great adventure but I am not going to lie, it was a hard trip. My sister in law was supposed to do the Inca trail with us and she canceled last minute. She said” You will do it again with me, right?”. After the trail, I was like: “absolutely not”. But now with distance of several months, maybe. The most stressful thing was to keep my children safe. But what a eye opening experience for them! No regrets.
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Old Sep 24th, 2021, 06:54 AM
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Excellent trip report TV. Looking forward to reading more. It seems a very long time since we were last in Peru and I do miss it!
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Old Sep 24th, 2021, 07:49 AM
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We will be awaiting the next installment, whenever you both have time.

Two friends are leaving for Peru now for a more casual trip, I am jealous!

I just had "your memories" pop up on Facebook, reminding that I was in Chachapoyas NINE years ago on my first visit to that area, pre-cable car. It has changed quite a lot since, as has much of Peru.

Last edited by mlgb; Sep 24th, 2021 at 07:51 AM.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 03:39 AM
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Day 3 Llamas, High Altitude in Chinchero, an unfortunate hotel room in Ollantaytambo.


We woke up with a full night of sleep to catch our Latam plane to Cuzco. We even managed to have two breakfasts, one at the hotel, one in the priority pass lounge before our flight.

We have a car and a driver waiting for us at the airport in Cuzco. Originally we were going to stay at El Albergue but because of construction we changed hotels to the hotel Sauce. Honestly once in Ollantaytambo we were happy to stay within the village and not close to the train station where El Albergue was. The Sauce Hotel sent us a punctual driver to pick us up in Cuzco.

I wanted the children to be able to pet llamas but the farm I selected on the way to Ollaytaytambo was closed because of COVID. The driver suggested another location, in Chinchero. It would onlyextend driving by 30 minutes but the route would take us to 3,720 meters (12,200 ft). I knew that it was higher in altitude than Cuzco and debated internally if we should do it since we were not used to the altitude yet.

Landing in Cuzco, I was slightly light headed but otherwise fine. The children seemed unaffected. And how could we refuse seeing cute llamas and cuys?

So leaving Cuzco we started our ascent high in the mountains by car. It was beautiful: the view of the eternal snow on the mountain peaks against the deep blue sky. We stopped in Chinchero and the children had a fun time petting and feeding the llamas. They were fascinated by the cuy house. We did stay for a textile demonstration and bought sweaters. The textile demonstration was touristy but we enjoyed it a lot more than we expected.

My 8 year old becomes quiet: “I am dizzy mommy”. My 5 year old: “My head hurts”. Ok, time to go. Time to drive down to Ollantaytambo (2,792 meters; 9,160 feet) to an altitude close to Breckenridge mountain ski resort in the US where we have skied without issues.

The children fall asleep in the car. When they wake up in Ollantaytambo their symptoms are gone. My husband and I still feel fine except a slight breathlessness.

But our room in Ollantaytambo in the Sauce hotel smells strongly of fresh varnish. We open the windows and go out to eat at Apu Veronica.
We love it so much that we proceed to eat all of our dinners there for the next three nights.

Coming back to the Sauce hotel that first evening, the varnish smell is intolerable still. We have to look for a yet another hotel. Having two young children with me, I don’t like unpredictability. COVID made it so that there is plenty of inventory. We go across the street to Hotel Sol and get a basic but comfortable family room for $37 a night. We especially love the big windows giving us a splendid view of the ruins of Ollantaytambo.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 03:51 AM
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I will posting without waiting for husband to proofread… I am in the mood to get this trip report done, and I don’t want to loose the momentum.


Day 4 Horseback riding. Pachamanca lunch.

Breakfast is not included in our hotel and it looks like the kitchen is closed. With two children, I would have preferred more convenient arrangement however it gives us the impetus to go exploring early in the morning. We find ourselves in the main square of Ollantaytambo and a very old man prepares us a delicious breakfast of pancakes and omelettes.

The Hacienda del Chalan comes and get us for a morning of horseback riding. The children are given ridiculously cute and small ponies. The youngest is riding a mini poney; the eldest a “double”poney. My five year old is more comfortable than my 8 year old and ends up riding with our guide in the front. My 8 year old has a extra helper in the back guiding her poney.

The morning starts out cold, but we do not need our winter coats or gloves. Just a sweater dress leggings and for the children, cowgirl boots that they wore on the plane to Peru.

We come back early enough to be dropped back in Ollantaytambo at El Albergue for their Pachamanca lunch which is a traditional Peruvian way of cooking. The food is layered in a earthen oven. A picnic table is set outside and we enjoy the pastoral setting.

In the evening, my husband feels the effect of the altitude. He had the night before started to take diamox. He retires early to sleep. I walk Ollantaytambo with the children and find ice cream. I really like this village: the cobblestones, the walkability, the ancient Inca architecture, the delicious food and presentation of every dish.

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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 03:59 AM
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Day 5: The Sacred Valley

We are picked up early by Alpaca Expeditions for a tour of the Sacred Valley. My husband feels so much better that he stops taking the diamox this morning. I still feel fine except a bit of shortness of breath while climbing stairs quickly. I don’t like taking medications despite or maybe because I am a physician. We have a small pharmacy if needed but the only medications we end up using during the whole trip were: Zofran (for the Nazca lines) , Dramamine and diamox for my husband. We also carried dexamethasone in case of a severe reaction to the altitude and need an evacuation.

It is a lovely day not too strenuous and great way to get used further to the altitude by going up and down the mountains. We visit Moray, the Salinas de Maras, and Pisac. A great tour of the sacred valley and completely worth it. My eight year old would me to buy her a Salina for her birthday.

We come back in the evening and the night comes quickly and early. By 6pm it is pitch black. We eat once again at Apu Veronica. We are regulars now. Our children play with the cook’s children. There is on the second floor a balcony where my husband and I can enjoy a glass of wine while watching the life enfold in the village of Ollantaytambo. We talk to a woman, a solo traveler and blogger. My daughter thinks she looks like a movie star. We also talk to a man who came back from a solo hike, the Salkantay trail, disliking any group led activities. He said he was sick as a dog from food poisoning the first days and then nearly froze to death at night. In all a marvelous time, he said.

We meet up with the fifth member of our group for the Inca trail, Margie, a colleague and an old friend. My children love her so much.

Tomorrow we are embarking on our own expedition, the 5 days and 4 nights multi day hike on the Inca trail. At the end the reward of Machu Picchu awaits but I suspect the journey will be the prize. We will be with Alpaca Expeditions, and a team of 14 people will help us accomplish our goal. It is with trepidation that we sort out our luggage into our Alpaca Expedition duffle bags and day backpacks. The rest of our clothes will be in our suitcases waiting for us in Cuzco once done with the Inca trail. The children have long fallen asleep by the time we are done reorganizing our luggage. We close the lights and fall asleep thinking of our coming up expedition. I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ToujoursVoyager View Post
At the end the reward of Machu Picchu awaits but I suspect the journey will be the prize.
Having hiked the Inca Trail a few years ago, I have an opinion about this! Also, I am in awe of you doing it with young children. What an experience and memory for your family. I look forward to reading about it.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 03:34 PM
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Thank you for reading. I hope that you found the Inca trail rewarding and fascinating. It was really a treat to be able to access archeological sites otherwise unattainable.
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Old Sep 25th, 2021, 04:25 PM
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What a beautiful light you have on the granaries across from the Ollantaytambo ruins.

Amazing to see it with so few people.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 02:13 AM
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That is the sunrise over the Ollantaytambo ruins. All of our sites were either empty or had very few people, most of the time Peruvians visiting their own country.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 03:51 AM
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Day 6 Let the adventure begin.

Finally this day, the first day of the Inca trail is here. We are driven 20 minutes to the porters’s housing where a full and delicious breakfast is waiting for us. Miguel our guide goes over the hike goals of the day. My five year old meet her personal porter, Walberto, a kind and patient young man. Her individual goal is to hike on her own until lunch every day (unless treacherous terrains) and then in the afternoon, she can chose to be carried by Walberto.

My day backpack contains two liters of water liters. It is what makes the pack heavy. The rest is sweaters, rain ponchos, sun hat, wool hat, gloves, toilet paper, sunscreen, bug repellent a map and my phone (mostly for pictures). The children’s stuff is spread three ways between Walberto, my husband and myself. I made a point of letting my eight year old hike unhinged by a backpack. She is a determined little girl to finish this hike unaided.

The Inca trail reopened on the 15th of July and we are doing it three days later. There are no other groups on the trail with us. Most of the porters have not led an expedition in two years.

Our first day is relatively easy. We do walk near some railroad tracks at the beginning which makes me feel nervous since there are trains passing by, but soon after a few hours, we are arriving at our first checkpoint. Then the real trail starts. It rains lightly and the ponchos are useful. Lunch is set up in a vegetable field next to donkeys. More than ten different courses come from the little cooking tent. The chef and the sous-chef are simply extraordinary.

At every camp site, a portable toilet is set up. I highly recommend choosing a company that provides this.

After lunch, I see the porters setting up the tents and inquire about it. The next camp site is several hours away and it is raining. But our guide Miguel gives us the option of continuing. After a brief discussion, we decide to continue on. It turns out to be the right decision. The rain stops. We walk on mostly flat terrain for 2 more hours to a beautiful evening camp site. A vigorous stream runs next to our tents. As the night comes, the temperature drops fast and we put on our winter coats. We are given snacks such as hot chocolate (priceless for getting warmed up) and popcorn. Soon after comes dinner. Of all the multiple dishes that the chef gave us, my ultimate favorite was always the soup. A soup always started the lunch and dinner and was the best soups I ever had my life. I generously added some pico de gallo. There were so many dishes that were excellent. Everything was so fresh. Best guacamole ever. The adults began fantasizing about opening in Peruvian restaurant in Orlando and sponsoring our chef from the Inca trail to come to the USA.

A headlamp is absolutely a necessity to find our way back to the tent and prepare ourselves for the night. Warm water is brought to us to wash with a towel. My husband and I split the children, so we have one each in two tents. I dress them very warmly with a base layer, middle layer, sweater, parka winter coat, wool hat. They don’t complain about being cold but the five year old get herself out of the sleeping bag while she sleeps and when I wake up in the night her hands are ice cold. I ended putting some wool socks
on her hands. The hand/foot warmers that we use in skiing would have been a good idea to have, especially for the subsequent nights that were even colder than our first.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 06:24 AM
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The amount, quality, and variety of food they produce on the trail is amazing. We had a honeymoon couple in our small trekking group, and the chefs made and decorated a cake.
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Old Sep 26th, 2021, 06:50 AM
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Yes! All that delicious food made in the most rustic conditions... I had read about it, but still was so surprised! It is a good thing we were walking all day and we had big appetites! We had a cake too; the children had a cooking lesson with the chef on the trail. So much fun!
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 06:53 AM
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Day 7

My alarm goes off before they wake us up. A cup of coca tea is offered, but I decline and stick with coffee. Morning should be peaceful in the mountains and I do take it all in for 15 seconds before turning to the task of getting the children ready. We have in theory 30 minutes before breakfast is served, and honestly I struggle with that timeline with little children. The next two mornings, I ended walking up an hour before everyone else.



The air is cold and it feels nice to sip coffee in the breakfast tent. The children sip on their hot chocolate. They consumed an incredible quantity of hot chocolate on this trip, so much that we had to start rationing at the end of the hike. We are all bundled up in our winter coats that we will shed less than hour into the trail as our bodies warm up and the sun comes up. I cannot fathom doing this hike in the wet season when it is cold and wet as opposed to now cold and relatively dry.



Today is going to be our toughest day. We are going to attempt to hike over the Dead Woman’s Pass and camp tonight at Pacaymayu. My five years walks bravely. She is determined to make it to at least lunch (llulluchapampa 3800m/12460 ft) and she does. She alternated between holding my hand or Walberto’s her porter. Miguel our guide congratulates her: she is the youngest he has seen being able hike this section of the trail. Our porters took down our tents after we left in the morning, to eventually zoom pass us and set up camp again for lunch.



We felt at time part of the Lord of the Ring expedition. The endless staircase, the ancient woods, the low clouds as we approached the ominous Dead Woman’s Pass. Hours pass by.



After lunch, my youngest is happy and comfortable in the carrier on Walberto’s back. The trail changes from difficult to extreme. We walk about ten minutes before stopping and getting our heart rate down and catching our breath. My 8 years old has the least amount of difficulties, climbing like a leprechaun. We see llamas on the other side of the ravine. We look up and notice the Dead’s Woman’s pass getting closer. My youngest fall asleep in the carrier, and Walberto unaffected by her weight, keeps climbing ahead with of us.



Finally, we make it! Dead Woman’s Pass! It is freezing and wet; we take a quick picture. Concerned by how cold it is, and cursing myself for not bringing the winter coats on this leg of the hike, I take off my jacket and wrap it around my youngest daughter still asleep on the back of her porter. She has a sweater, a poncho, and fleece leggings but I don’t think it is enough. As we come down the mountain, we send Walberto ahead to the camp to protect her from the cold.



My friend Margie and I had elected not to have hiking poles. I understood now their utility as we going down the mountain. It is slippery and treacherous. Still, the decision of not having hiking poles was a good one for me: it gave me free hands to help the children and the walking sticks felt cumbersome. My husband on the other hand, loved his hiking poles. I also elected to have hiking shoes instead of hiking boots; I felt lighter with those however I did have to be more careful than my companions on the way down, and slipped a few times but caught myself and did not hit the ground.



We were lucky that while the clouds were low and rolling over the pass, we still had a sliver of blue sky. But as we walk down from Dead Woman’s Pass, we are racing against the sun that is setting quickly. Dusks settles in and it is definitely dark by the time we finally arrive into camp. This day was the hardest hike I have ever done in my life.



My poor five year old is waiting for me in our tent under our sleeping bag very cold. Worried about hypothermia, I call for hot chocolate and a warm water bottle to slip under her clothes. She perks up and during dinner I have to fight to keep her coat on because she is now too hot. She is fascinated by the cook and every day spend a lot of time in the cooking tent, so much that finally she is adopted by the crew, helping with the preparations, peeling vegetables, rolling the bread.



We are ravenous that night and the soup is even more sublime if that is possible. While the children fall asleep fast and warm, I have some trouble sleeping. I don’t handle cold very well and my body won’t stop shivering. I did come prepared with merino wool base layers, middle layers, sweaters, a heavy winter long parka from north face, a wool hat, three pairs of wool socks, cocooned in my sleeping bag etc… if there is a next time, I will bring heat warmers. The cold for me was harder than hiking.



There is no denying that the camping site is absolutely beautiful and the stars are crystal clear.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 07:01 AM
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Day 8 Easy day



In the morning, we are veterans now and prepare ourselves quickly. I drink coffee admiring the mountain view while my children practice their figure skating jumps on land. Soon, we put on our backpacks and start out. The hard part is already done. We have now two easy days of hiking in front of us.



We have plenty of time to stop and learn about the flora and take our times in the breathtaking Inca archeological sites along the trails such as the Sayaqmarka ruins. One of the reasons that I travel is to be in touch with history. We have these incredible sites to ourselves. We have not yet encountered any other hiking groups. The climate and the vegetation changes to a rainforest. It is beautiful.



Heavy fog rools in and unfortunately, we can’t see what we guess are amazing views over the ravine. Early we make it to our third overnight camp Phuyupatamarca camp. A family of llamas are eating grass next to our camp and we are delighted to follow them around. The llamas are not shy. A perfect ending to our hike that day!



This camping site is one of the most beautiful but there are little tiny mosquitoes that are bothersome. They seem unaffected by the Picaridin mosquito spray.



During the night, the cloud covers dissipates and the starry night is revealed in all its splendor. I can’t sleep anyway because of the cold. I walk a little outside the tent. The southern constellations are foreign to me. By the morning the fog rolls back in.
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Old Sep 27th, 2021, 07:09 AM
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Day 9 Machu Picchu

We take our time and by lunch time we make it to the majestic Intipata ruins and then later the Winaywayna’s terrific ruins. And while my husband and I would have been perfectly happy just taking a picture from the top, our children insist on exploring and going up and down the hundreds of stairs because you know we didn’t have that many during the Inca trail. “Come on mommy! That is why we are here!”



We said good bye our incredible team of porters and cooks. We gave them a well deserved tip and heartfelt and emotional thank you. We continued on with just Miguel our guide and Walberto to my youngest daughter’s delight.



We had been until now on the same pace as the 4 days/3 nights Inca hike even though we were on the 5 days/4 nights hike.



While the 4D/3N itinerary calls for a ridiculously early morning rise, a mad dash to the sun gate and visiting Machu Picchu ragged and tired, our itinerary made it that we arrived at the sun gate in the early afternoon and saw Machu Picchu twice.



We see some of the steepest stairs yet, called the gringo killer, and my daughters think it is hilarious to see us climbing on all four. My five year old waves from Walaberto’s back: “You can do it!”



We made it!!! We are at the Sun Gate! Magnificent Machu Picchu!



No other groups are with us. We are so fortunate. What a moment! We take a thousand pictures!



Our guide Miguel makes an offering to Pachamama, Mother Earth using coca leaves. Kindly he supervises my daughters’ offerings to Pachamama, chocolate biscuits. “She will be well pleased” he said, “Pachamama loves sweets”. It is the first time in two years that he makes it back to Machu Picchu since the COVID shutdown. It is an emotional day for him as well.



We are looking forward to a night in Aguas Calientes, a warm shower and a visit of Machu Picchu feeling human again the following morning. However, in our excitement, we can’t stop taking pictures of Machu Picchu now.



We walk slowly down, unhurried. It feels strange to see tourists again. There is a feeling of pride and gratitude. My daughters and I sing the opening to our favorite French show, the Mysterious Cities of Gold.



In town, my five year old says good bye to her companion Walberto. Miguel gives us rendez-vous tomorrow at 5am. We checked in our basic but comfortable (and at this point anything is luxurious!!) hotel Inti Punctu in Aguas Calientes. We give three huge bags of laundry to the front desk and they delivered clean and folded laundry in three hours!



The first hot shower in days. Children are finally clean and tucked under the blankets watching Spanish cartoons. It is my turn. Amazing. I never want to leave the hot water. But my poor husband is been waiting patiently his turn… reluctantly I leave the glorious water.



As I dry myself, I notice water coming down from the ceiling! I dress myself quickly and rush downstairs to the front desk and explain in Spanish what is going on! They move us immediately to other rooms but when I meet up with Margie our friend, we tease her that it was all her fault since her room is above ours!



We walk a bit in Aguas Calientes and have dinner with our guide Miguel before falling asleep comfortably and finally warm.


ToujoursVoyager is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2021, 07:35 AM
  #20  
 
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Seriously TJ , this is one of , if not the best and most engaging trip reports I have ever read on Fodors, or anywhere else for that matter. It was like I was there.
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