Peru 3: The Inca Trek part 2

Warning:  The following race report contains material that will be distressing to some viewers.

Waking incredibly early at 3.45 am, the group quickly readied themselves and walked to the official control point, the last for the Inca trail.  There they waited until gates opened at 5.30am and then commenced their walk to the Intipunku (the Sun Gate), to complete the “watch the sun rise” challenge.  The fast and hurried pace of walking was a fun break from the previous enjoyable days of easy walking.  All teams, including those travelling with other tour companies were frantically trying to make the gate in time to see the sun rise.  Simon and Ang power walked over a bunch of landslides and past slower moving people before ascending a vertical staircase of steps and along a flat section to finally arrive at the Sun Gate.

Owing to the misty cloudy weather, view was completely obscured.  After taking a few photos to commemorate the event, the group continued on to their final destination, Machu Picchu by which time the rain started and looked set in.  Arriving there, still very early in the morning, they retreated to the cafe at the entry to wait until the rain, clouds and mist cleared.  Luckily the sun came out an hour or so later and Caesar, their guide, then took the various teams on a grand tour of the Machu Picchu site. Both Simon and Ang thoroughly enjoyed the tour and Caesar’s great performance.

The racers arrive at the sun gate, in time for sunrise, but mist prevents them seeing Machu Picchu Racers arrive at the Machu Picchu checkpoint and celebrate
Simon points out Huayna Picchu The various teams resting ahead of their respective next legs
Panorama of Machu Picchu

With the Inca Trail completed, Simon and Ang received their next clue.  They were to return by train to the city of Cuzco where they would receive their next clue.

The racers from the various teams come together for one last group photo

With some time before their train back to Cuzco departed, Simon and Ang spent hours taking photos of the Machu Picchu site  and enjoying the fantastic view. Both Ang and Simon were in awe of the place’s majestic beauty and did not want to leave. But they were racing, so in the late afternoon they made a quick dash to the Inca Bridge, and then returned to the site entry to catch a bus down to the small Pueblo of Aguas Caliente. There they enjoyed a fun, but expensive group meal before boarding randomly a half hour earlier train than all other teams back to Ollyambanto.

An Inca doorway An Inca window
An Inca bridge
Simon and Ang admire the view

The advantage of this was the team was able to see the valley they had walked above during daylight.  All other Exclusive race teams were forced to wait in Aguas until the later evening train.  The disadvantage was Simon and Ang would either have to make their own way back to Cuzco or wait until the rest of the group caught up. Arriving there, the Team opted to wait until the rest of the group caught up on the later train, strategically saving some funds for later legs of the race.

Having completed the Inca Trail and returned to Cuzco, the team received their next clue in the Cuzco markets.  This clue was for the second part of a viewer suggested road block provided by Jo and Alex.  One of the team would have to try the local delicacy, Cuy al Horno.  Simon opted to be the one who did as Ang’s sister had a guinea pig as a pet and she was not keen on eating another “Devine”.

Jugo stands in the Cuzco markets Simon is amazed at the delicious juice selection
Simon completes the wear a ridiculous hat challenge A working Singer
Lady selling beans wearing an Andean backpack

At lunch time, the day after finishing the Inca Trail, Simon and Ang raced to the local restaurant “La Chomba”.  There, meals were ordered with Simon getting the Cuy and a big glass of frutillada, a strawberry chicha (fermented corn), to drink.  Simon steadily worked his way through the fiddly cuy dish and drank most of the fruitllada.  Eventually the judge accepted that all the ‘tasty’ meat had been eaten and gave the team their next clue.  Simon said later that “it was one of the most disgusting combinations of food I’ve ever eaten.  If I have a choice, I will never eat another cuy again”.

Completing the drink fruitllada challenge Simon is shocked when the eat Cuy Al Horno (Roast guinea pig) is revealed
Horrid guinea pig! Simon gets over the initial shock and decides to eat
Simon completing the grizzly task

For their next task, the team would have to make their way to the city of Puno via train.  Unfortunately this train only left every second day, meaning they would need to wait until the next morning before departing.

Full of cuy (and in Ang’s case, fish), the team waited out the rest of the day before meeting up for drinks with the other teams from the Inca Trek.  They then packed and prepared for the journey ahead.

…To be continued.

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