Not somebody that you would put in the ‘athletic’ category, the three day hike along the trail at altitude to Machu Picchu was one of the most physically demanding things that I have done.
I so nearly didn’t get the opportunity……….
It was 2001 and we had embarked on a three week tour of Peru & Bolivia. The trip was planned to end with the hike and we arrived in Cusco by train from Puno full of enthusiasm.
This enthusiasm waned somewhat upon trawling around all the tour agencies to be told the same thing in every one ‘sold out for the next three weeks’.
What idiots we were. Totally oblivious to the recent limitations to the number of hikers, aimed to help protect the heavily traversed Trail.
We dejectedly returned to our hotel to decide our next move where we mentioned our predicament to the hotel owner.
He responded by offering us hope, “come back in two hours and I will make some calls.”
Two hours later we were in! We would be picked up the next morning, taking the place of two people who had to drop out.
Everything went as planned until we approached KM33 where our hike would commence. At this point Fanni, our tour leader, handed us our entrance tickets.
The issue was that mine was in the name of a 27 year-old Israeli female called Yael!
Fanni assured me all would be OK as my mate Hamish studied his pass making him an Israeli man at least!
In the event I only got in as Fanni proffered a few bank notes to the ticket inspector, but thankfully I did not have to impersonate being both Israeli and a female!
Here are a few pictures from the trail.
The three day hike remains one of my travel highlights. We arrived at Machu Picchu at five in the morning to witness the site shrouded in cloud. The sun slowly burnt the mist off to reveal the majestic ruins.
Our small group had the site to ourselves for a few magical hours. A wonderful memory.