Thursday, January 01, 2009

Day 5: Miercoles – Llactapata

Our tent in La Playa was right next to the Turkish toilet outhouse, which you actually had to flush by pouring a bucket of water into the hole. The outhouse was right next to the water pump. (I didn’t let myself think about that too much.) For whatever reason at five in the morning or so some people were up and cutting wood by the outhouse, or less than five feet from our tent. We then had to get out of bed at 6:00. We were going to climb the Llactapata trail – up the mountain in the background.

Llacta means town and pata height. Even though Hiram Bingham (the discoverer of Machu Picchu) found the ruins at Llactapata they are not well known or excavated very much. One ruin there could be the Sun Temple for Machu Picchu, with the rest being a ceremonial sanctuary and retreat.

We started the hike walking on a road when the bus with our gear passed us. Willy told us to get in the bus and it would take us a short distance to the start of the actual path. Instead we hopped on top. There were no seats or anything resembling a proper place to sit and it was incredibly uncomfortable. We had to duck for the branches along the way. Paul had the worst problem with it. Willy ran ahead and took some shots of us.

We got to the trail, which is from Incan times. We were climbing 850 meters in elevation, and so the path was all switchbacks straight up. The going was mighty slow, but the scenery superb. It was a walk through the forest, but sometimes it would be clear so we could see the mountains in the surrounding area.

We didn’t go to the peak of Llactapata, but to a clearing on the side of the mountain where there were the ruins and a view of Machu Picchu in the distance. When you first come out of the forest there is a building which you think are some Incan ruins (last picture above). But it is a reconstruction and the actual ruins are to the side of it. They are not that impressive since they aren’t fully excavated or kept up. Apparently they are sizeable but work hasn’t been done on them yet. These are the actual ruins.

It’s hard to see, but Machu Picchu is in front of the mountain that is sticking up in front of the ridge.

We stayed here for a while and Willy told us about the Incan civilization and about the ruins. We hiked straight down all the elevation we climbed up.

Although you can’t really see it, on the last picture there is a house more than halfway up the mountain. I’m not sure who set up camp that far up or is willing to take the switch back road up and down to go anywhere, but there they are. We then walked along a creek/river past a hydroelectric plant. The plan of the power plant confused us though. They pumped water up the mountain, then shot it out a hole they created in the side of it.

We eventually made it to the train station area. We ate lunch at a little restaurant along the way and had fried cauliflower.

Willy then taught us a fun card game that we dubbed Slick Willy in his honor. After lunch we got on a train to go to Augas Calientes, the town by Machu Picchu where we were spending the night. For whatever reason partway through the train ride the engine disconnected itself from the rest of the cars and we got a new engine. Willy said that happens all the time, but we were all confused about it.

We arrived at Augas Calientes where we each had our own hotel room. We showered and ate dinner at a local restaurant then went to bed early to get ready for Machu Picchu the next day.

Here is Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6 Part 1, Part 2, Day 7, Day 8


JennyW said...

This has been most informative so far ... I believe the most important thing I've learned is that Warren and his friends are in much better shape than I am at the moment ...