The first hour was a steep climb up to the Inka trail that could have been very tiring. But for some reason our guide stopped every 5 minutes maximum to make sure that the whole group was together, making those of us in the front feel a bit frustrated (by this second day, to our relief, 2 guys from New Zealand who walked the 2 days in flip-flops, reminding us of the two Kiwis that we did the Colombian hike with, who walked the 5 days barefoot earning them the name 'the others', and a strange Quebecian girl had joined our group). Luckily, the pace soon went up a bit and we could enjoy walking in our own speed.
The Inka trail part of the hike was cool with all the stones put in place to create this trail - all that work - but the really cool part of the hike came after lunch as we attacked a path that has partly been covered by landslides.
We fairly quickly agreed that this trail would have been closed off in Europe, but here it was completely natural to hike over landslides of big chunks of rocks, and over mudslides which were still wet and made us sink down, and even through a mud & garbage slide as the mudslide had started from the garbage deposit of the village above. Lovely.
It was fairly insane actually. We first thought that probably some of these slides happened last year when the conditions around Machu Picchu were really bad with loads of people stuck in Aguas Calientes for several days due to landslides over the train tracks. And that the others probably dated back a couple of weeks at least. And then we asked. 'Ah, this slide? Don't worry, it took place 2 days ago.' No worry. Two days are indeed a long time and the rocks hanging over the path we were walking on, when there was a path, were not at all threatening... It was like walking on an avalanche, 2 days after it happened with the snow conditions more or less the same. Crazy.
For the last part of the hike, as the path had completely been swept away, we hiked through the river! Luckily in a side stream which was really calm as the real river would have been impossible to walk in. Ah, and I forgot to mention - but at one point we crossed the river in a funny looking metal cage. Normal we thought. Well not really, but the normal bridge was swept away by the river a couple of weeks earlier so this was now the solution.
In fact, it was just the kind of cage that was considered too dangerous for us to cross in during the hike in Colombia, when only our bags were allowed to go over in it while we crossed with a rope through the river. Well, here in Peru we went over two at a time and paid the owner a small fee for the pleasure at the other side.
The exhausting day finished with another cold shower and another great dinner in Santa Teresa, before we took off on the last part of the hike the next day. Would we actually make it all the way to Machu Pichu?