Follow my route via the map and discover the amazing places I visited. More photos to follow later.
Manu national park
Rain falls on my naked skin. My body feels warm, embraced by hot spring water. After 3 days of constant strain on my muscles, my body finally can relax. When I look up I see the familiar views; mountains surrounded by clouds. My feet struggling to find rock-solid stones and my heavy breathing gasping for air also have become familiar. With one big tourist family I shared the famous inca-trail to Machu Picchu. Everyone has the same goal; to push to that single special moment to pass the sun gate and find this amazing Inca city hidden for so long. Step after step I push and pull myself up the mountains trails for three hours. Stories of other travellers who did the same trek, can not prepare you for your own experience. So also I can not prepare you. Mountain trekking brings out all the emotions you can thing of; from almost giving up, to wondering thoughts about life and death, to ultimate satisfaction when you made it. Don’t think about the distance or hours to go, just let yourself go, and you will find yourself.
The first day starts easy. Walking is easy and food is good. At the end of the day the first test uphill starts. After a few steps our muscles explode, breathing gets heavy and the group falls apart. The Dutch in our group do quite good which is surprising for people from a very flat country. At dinner our guide tells us, with a wide smile on his face, that we just did the first easy part of the second day….Dinner in the dark at our tents is a fun challenge as we hardly can see what we eat. After the long walk any food taste good. Most go to bed early. The thoughts of the tough second day weigh heavy on our thoughts.
The second day starts as the first one ended. Everyone does the tea at his/her own pace. Slowly we crawl along the steep path, with many other tourists. First hour is challenging but still OK. I have my first breaks and begin to wonder what I am doing. Still two hours of this steep trekking to go. The higher we get also the air will be thinner with less oxygen. Slowly I switch to the automatic pilot, placing one foot in front of the other, pushing on. Now and then I exchange a smile with another tourist, who also breathes heavily and looks as tired as me. It feels good that I am in front of our group with one other Dutch guy. We reach the top of the pass in 3 hours. This trek is not for people with a poor condition. Yesterday somebody told me that an American tourist died a couple of days ago. His heart just stopped! We wait for 2 hours before all of our group are at the lunch stop. After lunch we continue with a stretch that is easier, although we still have some uphill parts.
The third day is mostly down-hill. I hate down-hill! My knees start to ache and I have to adjust my pace. Porters are caring all camping and cooking equipment. It is unbelievable to see them running down the mountain. An American girl overtakes me who is also running down in a slow pace. Quickly I ask her how she can run down. She answers that it is much easier to slowly run, then to break on your knees with every step. So with nothing to loose I give it a try. And guess. yeah!, it really feels better. You have to be careful not to speed up to much, but light-footed I slowly start running down the mountain. Within half an hour I overtake most who did overtake me before. One of our group, Karen, shouts after me: “running man!”. Every time I start she smiles and calls me “running man”. Later that afternoon our guide decides that it is better to continue walking because of rumours of a train strike. We get an unexpected surprise. We climb another hill, pass the sun gate and there she is: Machu Picchu. Four days of waling to a climax at sun rise reaches it unexpected goal. After our first thoughts the beauty of this holy place enters our mind. The Incas have chosen the perfect spot for their hidden city. A mystical atmosphere surrounds this ruins in the mountains.
These days have been a special experience. Becoming one with history. Walking in the footsteps of so many who walked these paths in early and modern times.