This is one of the most difficult and one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. The trip was amazing but not for the faint of heart. Grueling trails with lots of physical and mental challenges. Make sure that you are in good aerobic condition and are used to hiking. Day two is a killer where we climbed over 10,000 feet in elevation over a 5 hour period. What a victory though when we reached the top. The weather was perfect and the sites breathtaking. The 2nd night was a cold one that required extra layers. I wore a toque and gloves as well. The ground is hard and rocky. A thicker mat would have been wonderful. A special thank you to Mabel who made the planning of this trip very easy. From accommodations to transportation she was only a keyboard away and always available to answer questions and put concerns to rest.
The porters, cook and guide were amazing. Raul was very knowledgeable and experienced. We were his 521 group to have reached Machu Picchu. He made us feel like a family and took great care of us. Simon out did himself. The meals were more than I had imagined, one of our group was having a birthday and there in the middle of the jungle he and his crew cooked a birthday cake by using a pot. It was iced and still warm when we celebrated her special day. The porters spoke Quechua and although we were unable to communicate in a traditional way they always seemed to know exactly what you needed. We were greeted with celebratory clapping, fresh water to wash up with and our tents were always ready for us to use. Talk about rooms with a view from snow capped mountains to perfectly clear night skies with moon and stars brightly shining. We were lulled to sleep by the sounds of rushing river, babbling creeks and ribbiting frogs. In the morning we were greeted with smiles, coca tea and warm water to wash up. It is amazing how good of shape these fellas are in. Bathrooms...lets just say they really make you appreciate the traditional toilets and even the outhouses in Canada are the "Ritz".
I think that the only thing that does not ache is my hair, but worth every moment.