After 3-4 days acclimating to the altitude in Cusco, Peru, our group was ready to start hiking! We were each allowed 16 pounds of gear -- clothing, toiletries, pillow, spare shoes, etc. All of our stuff went into duffle bags, was weighed, and packed up for the porters.
Our group of 14 people had 22 porters, each of whom was allowed to carry 55 pounds. Believe it or not, porters have a union which has improved conditions for porters immeasurably. They carried all the gear, food, tents, cooking utensils, etc. etc. More about these amazing men later.
At the beginning -- KM 82. A few last photo ops.
The bridge over the Urambamba River and then we start! See the donkey heading up the trail on the right?
Porters going across the bridge
A gigantic Yucca
The first day we are close enough to "civilization" that we see locals now and then and pass through a few villages.
The scenery and Andes mountains are breathtakingly beautiful!
After hiking for a couple of hours, we come to Patallaqta. It is at the convergence of three valleys. Was it a lookout post or a place for messengers to meet? Often the purposes of the ruins are open to interpretation. But the terracing was used (1) for erosion control and (2) to make flat surfaces to plant crops.
TC and I looking decidedly worse for wear!
Finally -- lunch time! Our porters have basins of warm water and soap for us waiting as we arrive.
Our dining tent!
Back on our way! This is a group of French tourists, singing "Sur la Pont, D'Avingnon" as we walk between them!
Taking a break. This is the oldest couple we hiked with, she was 72, he was 75. See the red bag hanging on the end of the pole? It signifies a BAR, a place where the family has alcohol for sale!
And here's the barkeep! Yup, right on the trail!
A welcome sign -- after nearly 8 hours of hiking, it's only .2 km to our first night's camp:
It's in this small village, the last we'll see:
So the first day went pretty well: We started at 9000 feet above sea level, went down to 8400 feet, then climbed to 9700 feet over 8 miles. We had tea, then dinner at 7:00 pm, and then lights out!
If you think I added way too many pictures, let me just say that TC took over 100 on the first day alone. So I think I exhibited amazing restraint! Thanks for reading and looking!