The 4-day hike to Machu Picchu.
Day 1: started walking later than expected as a recent landslide had blocked the railway line and all the day-trippers traveling on the rain had to be off-loaded and bussed just in front of us! As a result we didn't get quite as far as hoped before setting up camp, giving us an extra 1.5 hours uphill to cover the following day!
Day 2: the hardest day! A 5 hour hike up 1200m to Dead Woman's Pass at 4200m (Please note, I was second up from our group, completing it in 2.25 hours!!) The downhill was much quicker!
Day 3: the beautiful day and what we had saved all our camera battery for. We walked in the cloud for most of the day!! Visibility wasn't good, but what we saw was indeed beautiful and the drops from the paths very spectacular. Saw the ruins of Sayacmarca, Winaywayna and Phuyupatamarca a few of the 34 Inca settlements in this area. All the religious settlements faced east and we learnt all about the Spanish invasion. That evening the 3 days hard walking was rewarded by camping close to a bar and we had a little song and dance with the "team" - 25 porters, 3 guides and cooks for the 20 of us.
Day 4: 0300 rise to be the first through the Control Point as soon as it opened and first up to The Sungate to see cloud!! Should have had a spectacular panoramic view of Machu Picchu before the crowds descended, but it wasn't to be much to our disappointment. Fortunately it started to clear while on our tour of the ancient Inca site and by the time I climbed to the top of the big hill behind the settlement there was a view through the clouds. After exploring Machu Picchu we lunched in Agues Calientes and took the train and bus back to Cusco, the Mecca of the Andean people. Having risen at 0300 we embarked on a 24-hour challenge and clubbed through to 0300 the next morning without sleep!
A brilliant hike, and were looked after so well by the team. The porters appeared to find the up-hill climbs as hard as us but they did have 25Kg on their backs and we were carrying only a measly day-pack, but then they charged down the hills at a run!! Lunch and dinner were 3 course meals with tea and biscuits and a massive breakfast - incredible food and I didn't go hungry unlike the few of us who were ill out there!