We were getting closer to the part of the trip that I was most looking forward to, but at the same time was dreading the most, and that was the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu. The preceding day was spent touring the Sacred Valley and making ourselves comfortable in the small town of Ollantaytambo.
As mentioned previously, I was on a trip with G Adventures, a Canadian adventure travel company who are committed to providing sustainable tourism to such an extent that they created a separate organisation called Planeterra. To quote their website, ‘Planeterra is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and support of small communities around the globe’.
To that end, our journey took us on a trip to one of their local projects, a woman’s weaving project in the mountains at a very small place called Caccaccollo. It’s always difficult to work out how much of what you are seeing is reality and what is being presented for the tourists, but everyone was very friendly, there was no great pressure being exerted to purchase any of their woven goods (though of course, we all did) and it was actually interesting to see how they used all the natural materials at their disposal to produce such lovely items.
Another drive followed as we made our way to the town of Pisac where we would be getting up-close and personal for the first time with Inca ruins. It was also about to provide me, and the guides, with an early indication as to our group’s ability to walk up sharp ascents and descents. Let’s just say that as it was the day before the hike proper, I didn’t want to exert myself too much, too soon!
We eventually made our way down the Urubamba river valley to the town of Ollantaytambo, where we had further climbing to do as we ascended to the head of the valley and had a fantastic view of the town itself. At one point I was looking down almost vertically at a local football game from a height of about 100m. Here, we were able to get right up to some of the walls that had been created by the Inca and it was only by being this close that you could really appreciate the craftmanship that had gone into their work. Without using any mortar or cement the stones have been placed in perfect lines, in order to prevent them being destroyed by the frequent earthquakes that occur around here.
We checked into our hotel, where the lovely assistant to your left here helped make sure we were all very comfortable, and we spent a pleasant evening at a local restaurant where thoughts turned to what lay before us tomorrow. The Inca Trail was now very, very close and I, for one, was getting very, very nervous!