Tuesday, 17th October 2023
Tony and the group rose early and were driven from Cuzco through the Sacred Valley on a roughly three-hour journey, passing through picturesque villages, with a couple of stops.
The trail to Machu Picchu begins at Piscacucho in Cuzco region. The Piscacucho community is also known as KM 82 in Peru. KM 82 refers to its position on the railway line from Cuzco. Piscacucho is located at a height of 2,709 meters above sea level on the edge of the Machu Picchu National Park. The trail begins by crossing the Urubamba River before climbing steeply to a small village from where the Urubamba Mountain range can be viewed. Wayllambamba, the first night’s campsite, is at 3,000 metres and is approximately 12 km (8 miles) from KM 82.
View from a lookout with views over the town of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. Mountains can be seen in the distance. The Urubamba River can be seen running through the town below.
The town of Urubamba is located at an elevation of 2,870 metres (9,420 ft) and has a population of 2,700. It is approximately one hour’s drive from Cusco. Urubamba is the largest town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is also located near a number of significant ruins of the Inca Empire including Machu Picchu. The sparse remains of the Inca palace, Quispiguanca, are within the town.
Another view over Urubamba town from the lookout. In the foreground agave plants can be seen growing. These are probably Agave americana (also known as maguey). They look similar to cacti: each plant contains a clump of long succulent pointed leaves with sharp spines running down the sides. The leaves are typically 90 cm to 150 cm in length.
Tony at the lookout overlooking Urubamba in the valley below. The mountains beyond are part illuminated by the sun and part shrouded by cloud.
A decorative map on an irregularly-shaped multi-sided wooden board. It shows the Urubamba Valley (Sacred Valley) with the Urubamba River and various important sites such as Machu Picchu illustrated. Again taken at the lookout looking the town of Urubamba.
Tony eating an ice cream cone. He is with fellow hikers sitting on wooden benches under an open shelter. This is a refreshment stop along the route. It’s the first stop along the trail after roughly an hour’s walk/hike along the undulating gravelly and rocky terrain.
View outside the cafe with bottles of water and other refreshments for sale. The trail can be seen heading up hill in front. It is paved with uneven stones and there are stone walls along the sides. This is an example of what the Inca trail and Inca road system looks like from its inception over 500 years ago to the present. Tony attempted the Classic Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu, but The Classic Inca Trail is but a small portion of the 45,000km network of Inca roads connecting the whole empire to Cusco.
Tony sitting relaxing on grass with his rucksack along side. Other hikers can be seen resting in the background. This was taken at the lunch stop in a clearing below high mountains and rock steps up to terraces. Reached after roughly 3-4 hours hiking.
Tony on the trail with two local guides/helpers who are carrying large rucksacks. There is a stone wall running along the edge of the trail. Further back are terraces cut into the slope supported by more stone walls.
Tony continuing to head up the trail with a guide at his side. The trail is cut into the side of a steep slope which is covered with scrub vegetation. The mountains ahead are obscured by mist.
Tony, again with two guides/helpers, nearing the first camp site on the trail, situated at 3,000 metres above sea level at Wayllabamba. The camp is approximately 12 km (8 miles) from KM82. The photo shows the trail at this point passing through denser vegetation. Day 2
Wednesday, 18th October 2023
Tony preparing for the second day hiking the Inca Trail. Tony is in the foreground and other members of his party can be seen getting ready behind. A large information board with a map of the Inca Trail can also be seen along side: it shows landmarks along the route with altitudes and simple illustrations. Taken on the trail on the opposite side of the river from the village of Wayllapampa/Wayllabamba (“grassy plain” ).
Group photo of Tony’s hiking party: Tony is in the foreground and there are about 14 people shown in total. This is at the start of the second day’s hike. A steep mountain slope covered with small trees and scrub can be seen in the middle distance, plus a large open-side building to the left. This is the first checkpoint/crossroad on this section of the ‘Classic’ Inca trail where it meets with the Mollepata trail, the extremely steep climb, which eventually leads to Dead Woman’s Pass at 4200 metres. The location where this photo is taken is at roughly 3,100 metres above sea level, close to Wayllapampa. At this point, the trail that eventually leads to Machu Picchu turns west and begins ascending along a tributary of the Cusichaka River, gaining in steepness, roughness and altitude until it arives at Warmiwañusqa (“dead woman” Pass).
Tony riding on a horse along the first part of the Inca trail that he and his group hiked the previous day, 17th October. He is on an unpaved track with simple single-storey buildings with corrugated iron roofs at the side and mountain slopes partially visible beyond. Tony turned back as he found the steep climb and rough terrain and large uneven rock steps too difficult.
Tony again on the horse. The horse is being controlled by a local guide who is holding a rope which is attached to the horse. In the background a substantial stone wall at the side of the trail with notches or crenellations running along the top: this was probably originally built by the Inca civilisation.
View down into a valley from the Inca trail with the remains of the Inca site of Llactapata visible on the left side. Llactapata, located about 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) east of Machu Picchu, is thought to have been an important rest stop and roadside shrine on the journey to Machu Picchu. High on a ridge between the Ahobamba and Santa Teresa drainages, it was likely part of a network of interrelated administrative and ceremonial sites around Machu Picchu and probably had an astronomical function during solstices and equinoxes. The site was first reported by American academic, explorer and politician, Hiram Bingham III (November 19, 1875-June 6, 1956) in 1912. But it wasn’t properly explored and mapped until the Thomson and Ziegler expedition of 2003.
Another closer view of Llactapata seen from the Inca Trail. This Inca site is built into a steep mountain slope at the foot of a valley with a river running close by. The river is a tributary of the Urubamba River. The photo shows a series of terraces cut into the mountain side with the main part of the site at the top. This is made-up of a substantial cluster of excavated stone buildings with interconnecting streets and passageways.
Tony with a local guide named Rosa, crossing a river using a suspension bridge. The bridge is mostly made of wood with metal support cables. It appears wide enough for horses but not motor vehicles. This is near where the hike along the Inca trail to Machu Picchu begins. This is where Tony left the horse. The river is the Urubamba or one of its tributaries.
View of the river looking from the suspension bridge. The river is not particularly wide but appears to have a powerful flow with rapids visible. The sides are lined with large rocks and boulders. It is flowing down a narrow valley. A series of mountains can be seen away in the distance disappearing into the mist. From here, Tony and Rosa took a taxi to Ullantaytambo.
Again looking from the suspension bridge this time in the opposite direction where the valley becomes wider. There is a small settlement to the left containing a few houses and other structures. There are trees and bushes in the valley, but the mountains beyond are more barren with dispersed small trees and bushes only visible on the lower slopes. Train to Machu Picchu
Thursday, 19th October 2023
Tony on a path leading from the small budget hotel where he stayed, It is located near to the train station in Ollantaytambo. The path passes through a garden with a lawn, outdoor seating and flowering plants. Alongside is a tall shrub with red flowers. The lower slopes of mountains can be seen away in the middle distance. Ollantaytambo is a town and Inca Archaeological Site in the Sacred Valley, some 72 km (45 miles), by road, northwest of Cusco.
Another view of Tony in the hotel garden.
Tony on Ollantaytambo railway station platform waiting to board the tourist train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo Station. Other passengers are also waiting and a train is standing on the opposite track. Trains run from Poroy, Cuzco station, through Ollantaytambo station to Machupicchu Pueblo Station and back. Machu Picchu Town is also known as Aguas Calientes. This small, modern tourist town is some 6 km from Machu Picchu archaeological site.
Tony and other passengers with luggage are queuing to board the train. Ollantaytambo railway station is in the Sacred Valley of the Incas or Urubamba Valley and the foothills of the surrounding mountains can be seen beyond.
Tony now seated on board the train. There is a good view out of the window: this tourist train has extra large windows. The train is passing through the Urubamba Valley (Valley of the Incas). The steep barren rocky slopes at the foot of a mountain can be seen along side. There are a few small buildings down the edge of the valley.
Again the view through the train window. The Urubamba River is flowing immediately alongside the train. The river bed is quite narrow but deep and rocky. Plants, including cacti, can be seen growing on the river banks. A mountain starts rising up immediately beyond the river. The Sacred Valley, running generally west to east, is understood to include everything along the Urubamba River between the town and Inca ruins at Písac and Machu Picchu, 100 kilometres (62 miles) distant.
Another shot of the Urubamba River as the train travels up the valley. Here the river can be seen through gaps in a row of tall narrow trees.
Tony sitting on board the train. The large window along side is providing a good view of the Urubamba Valley (Valley of the Incas). The surrounding mountain slopes are steep and rocky with little vegetation. The valley is greener, with shrubs and dispersed trees, especially along the banks of the Urubamba.
Another excellent view of the Urubamba Valley from the train. The river is still immediately along side with the mountains towering beyond.
View down the train corridor. A man and woman, train staff, in traditional multi-coloured local dress are passing by. They presented a story of Inca heroic and romantic folklore.