About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Friday, November 2, 2012

The Lost City of the Incas is lost no longer!!!

The Bravo team has discovered it!!!  We just returned to Cusco after a 4 day, 3 night trek from Cusco to Machu Picchu.  Called the Inca Jungle Trek, we went with a great guide company, Lorenzo Expeditions.  At first we were hoping to go unguided, but its really tough to self organize treks to Machu Picchu.  The whole permit system seems organized around the guide services.  Permits for the original Inca Trail are booked for the rest of this year.  Climbs of Huayna Picchu, a mountain next to M.P. is booked during the busy dry months of July and August through 2014!!!

After reading a bunch of reviews about Lorenzo, we signed up for their Inca Jungle Trek, billed as an adventure travel trek on much of the same or alternate trails as the original Inca Trail.  Along with our terrific Quechua guide Wilbert, we headed out with 2 Germans, one Norwegian, and one Belgian fellow trekkers. 

The first day was a 54 km mountain bike leg, starting in a chilly mist at a Andean pass of Abra de Malaga at 4350m  (14,270').  The route was all down hill, as we wound around endless switchbacks, dropping down into the town of Santa Maria at 1430m (4690') a drop of nearly 10,000' !!!  The route would definitely have been more interesting if on dirt and single track instead of paving, but whatchagonna do??? 




The ride was fun anyway, as we got to know our fellow travelers and guide extraordinaire Wilbert, an incredible guy who shared his pride and knowledge of his people during the entire 4 day trip.  Without his experience and expertise of local customs and routes, the trip would not have been anywhere near as fun, if not downright impossible.  Trail signs are non existent, and available maps have no detail.




Looking back at our route up from the valley below.
After a night in a nice hostel, we left Santa Maria for the first, and longest day of trekking, around 17km.  The trail followed ancient Inca travel routes through the mountains, as we worked our way up toward the town of Santa Teresa, complete with natural hot springs to soak in.  Totally perfect after a full day on the trail, passing through Quechua coca and coffee farms and yards, with stops at local homes for snack breaks and lunch.






Coca grows everywhere



Another coca patch along the trail



Rest stop.  The pelt of the endangered jaguar above the door was a shame, but this is real life, and not simply a stop for tourists for these folks.






Fellow Belgian traveler Sidney stylin' up the trail

Ancient Inca trade route winds up the steep mountain



Typical lunch stop.  The food was fantastic!


The morning of day 3 started with a side trip to a zipline course.  With 6 lines, the course 150m over the Sacsara river is spectacular.  The first zipline course in Peru, and also the highest, we had a blast.  Guides let you fly upside down over the canyon, and strapping my GoPro camera to the helmet was "no problema"!!  Very cool, and different from the policies of some other zip companies we've tried in Mexico and Canada.  Unfortunately the video files bring this little netbook computer to its knees, so we'll have to post them another time.

After the zip course we continued hiking for several hours.  The route this day primarily followed train tracks, passing through a beautiful river valley surrounded by Yosemite like granite faces.  Definitely some amazing big wall climbing  here, though Wilbert said none is really done. 







Before hitting the tracks, though, the trail passed by a small Inca site, just recently discovered after hundreds of years lying beneath the jungle growth.  Archeologists have been working the site for only the past 5 weeks, with every day offering the possibility of great discoveries.  While we weren't allowed to watch them work, we were able to see a bit of the areas where the overgrowth has been cut back, exposing much of the same type of stonework that we'd be seeing in Machu Picchu.  Indiana Jones??????  You bet!!!
Cindi checks out the carved pools, believed to be "sun mirrors" at the solstice.  Yellow tape marks the archeologists work area.




Finally we arrived at Aguas Callientes, the tourist town created about 30 years ago as a staging ground for visits to Machu Picchu itself perched in the mountains above. A bit of a weird place, it reminded all of us of a mountain ski village, completely artificial, and created completely for tourism.  Its "big game" tourism, with people from all over the world, and the number of languages being spoken in the restaurants and trinket stalls was incredible. Everyone wants to cross Machu Picchu off their "bucket list".


After a great dinner we got to bed early, to get ready to be in the bus line by 5am in order to get to the Machu Picchu site by sunrise.


















With our terrific guide Wilbert, we made it in plenty of time, and spent an amazing 2 hours wandering the site together as the sun came up over the surrounding peaks, with Wilbert sharing his knowledge of the Incas, their history, religion, and customs, as well as the archeological "discovery" of the site by a Yale University / National Geographic expedition in 1911.  (Word "discovery" in quotes, because local Quechua people were living on the site when Hiram Bingham's team were led to the site by an 11 year old Quechua boy, after years of searching for the fabled "Lost City of the Incas").  As Wilbert said, in many ways the site remains an enigma.  No one knows for certain about the lives of these Incas who inhabited the site.  Their knowledge and worship of the sun and early astronomy is evident by the alignment of various portals and sun dial like structures with the solstice sun angles.  The masonry work is really unbelievable.  How they moved and worked the huge stones, with such accuracy, is a real mystery.  But the fact that the Spanish conquistadores never reached the Machu Picchu site has left it in amazingly well preserved condition.

After Wilbert left us to head home, we had the rest of the morning and early afternoon to wander the site, take pictures, and climb Machu Picchu Mountain, the peak overlooking the site.  We returned back to Aguas Calientas exhausted, but thrilled with our visit.  We took the 3:45 train to Ollayantaytambo, followed by a totally hairball night time minivan bus ride, with no headlights save one bright beam across the Andes back to Cusco.  All in all, a fantastic trip.....












Beautifully carved stone hinge detail

Stone used for animal and possibly human sacrifices


"Inca Bridge" trail crosses an incredibly steep, narrow cliff bridge.

Llamas grazing all over the site





Tonight we'll be taking an overnight bus to Arequipa, home of the Colca Canyon.  The journey continues!






2 comments:

  1. Wow! You guys are amazing. Love the beard Adam. Fantastic photos of an unbelievable trip We are definitely going to go there. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great, the old place still looks the same !! keep enjoying and see you soon.
    isabelle of Nanna

    ReplyDelete