Winning an Intrepid Lima to Cuzco trip for himself and 10 friends was the beginning of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for Joseph Wee. With flights and transfers included as a part of their Facebook prize, Joseph and his posse touched down in the Peruvian capital, ready and raring to go for eight days of exploration and fun…
“Day 1: The fatigue and tiredness after 40 hours of travelling disappeared almost instantly when I landed in Lima. Each friend that I’ve chosen to join me comes with a different purpose. As for me: it will be the greatest reunion and adventure of all time.
Day 2: City tour around Lima. The single most important word we’ve learnt in Spanish is Mas Barata (cheaper!) and we’re told it can be used everywhere, from money changers to markets and restaurants. Our guide Ale gives us briefing about the Inca trail, and after hearing about the challenges some of my group members start to turn pale. There are butterflies in my stomach. I love butterflies in my stomach, they made me feel alive again. Bring it on Inca Trail!
Day 3: A llama spat on us! One of our guys was flirting with the llama while another lady chatted to the woolly creature. Well, it turned out that obviously the llama didn’t appreciate being disturbed during meal time. Plus I’m officially a legend for being the first traveler in Ale’s tour guiding history to eat a cuy’s head (cooked guinea pig), and its eyeball!
Day 4: Visiting the community weaving centre was an eye opener. I’ve picked up a little Quechua language together with its history and culture. After the women offered us a special local delicacy for lunch, you guessed it – cuy! – it was a locals versus visitors football match. We willingly handed over 20 soles to buy soda drinks upon our defeat (we all blame it on the altitude!).
Day 5: Start of the Inca Trail! The guide said it was the training day, but I say it was the surprises day. Everything was a surprise for me, from awesome lunch, hot water for cleaning, to our amazing dinner. I’ve never experienced such glamorous camping in my life! (so we called it “glamping” instead).
Thanks to Intrepid, people from different communities are given job opportunities. I was amazed by the porters, ranging in age from 18 to 65 years, and they worked with such enthusiasm!
Day 6: The challenging day. It was the longest hiking day with highest elevation up to 4215m, and we were all exhausted by the end of the day. The hike itself was amazingly beautiful, with the clouds below us most of the time. I felt in awe of the glorious creations God has given us and realized how small we humans are, and how important the environment is to us. Every time I tried to take a picture, the mist/cloud would appear, shrouding the mountains and valleys, as though telling me that this could only be a personal experience that no one else could share, and it was indeed.
Day 7: Since we did a really long hike yesterday, we had a shorter walk today to our final campsite. We had the opportunity to take cold showers, and I have experienced external brain freeze for the first time in my life. We had to say goodbye to the porters rather unwillingly (how we wish we could bring them along for the rest of our trip!). We did an Inca song for them, and they did one for us as well. They even made us a cake with jello for farewell! How on earth can you make jello in the middle of Andes? I pay my respect to the awesome cook we had!
Day 8: Day of the Machu Picchu. It was amazing to be able to see the lost city of Inca, a city above the clouds. One huge tick on my bucket list. The greatest experience I had was not because I’ve seen the destination, but because I have been through the journey together with my mates. With all the sweat and blood that we had paid, Machu Picchu became a special trophy to all of us, a memory that cannot be erased, an experience that will not fade. We are the conquerors of Inca Trail!
Day 9: The farewell day. With all the places we’ve been, people we have met and things we have done together, each experience is now slowly inked into our minds as reality (so is our muscle ache). We really did finish the Inca Trail. It’s a farewell for each other, as we depart our separate ways. 9 people, 7 countries, it was indeed the greatest reunion of all. Thanks to Intrepid, we now also have friends from Peru, and the next gathering will be even greater!”
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* photo by Joseph Wee