Final words from the first Bolivia team this year, thanks Gen!
After 4 days of cold trekking near Huaraz, we were off on the night bus to Trujillo and then to Huancacho for 2 days of surfing and soaking up the coastal weather. Everyone actually proved to be alright at surfing, with everyone managing to stand up at least once! In the midst of the Peruvian elections, we were faced with a nation wide ban on alcohol (we presume so that the locals didn´t get too rowdy and bugger up their voting…), however! our beach front hostel was hosting a house party with over a hundred people and where the alcohol was certainly flowing! Some went to bed, but the magnificent, balmy night chilling and drinking on the balcony left Ciara, Gen, James and Tiahna feeling content and as high as the clouds. An excellent trip to the coast all round!
The following day we were on a 9 hour day bus to Lima where we spent another quality afternoon refuelling with the essential foods at McDonald´s. Then, we all met Greg at an Irish pub…which curiously didn´t have a single Irish beer…and began our all nighter before a 6am flight to Cusco. Being nearly the only ones in the pub, we took over – choosing the music, getting free drinks for no reason…they loved us!
Slightly out of it, we got taxis to the airport and boarded our plane. Ciara and Gen were awkwardly told after 2 minutes to ´please be quiet. its actually really annoying´…some people just aren´t morning people…
After a free day and a trek prep day in Cusco, we met Ozzie, our white water rafting leader. An hour and a half on the bus later and we were at the Urubamba River donning wetsuits, ready to take on the rapids. Super team – Gen, Max, Greg and T were in the first boat to crash through the great white water, closely followed by ´the best team ever´of Emily, Matt, Jess and James. No dramas on the first day until just before the end when Super team staged an almighty effort to oust Greg from the boat. This backfired. The result was Gen being thrown in to the river, pulled out by Ozzie, only to be shoved back in again by the angry Gregster. Not ideal. Camp was set up, as was a campfire which we all sat around listening to some classic tunes from Ozzie´s ipod, including the Sugababes and Blue. Excellent.
The following day, we awoke to find out that all of the food had been stolen…not great…but luckily all the gear was still there so we took to the river again. This time the rapids were a bit bigger and everyone was in the river at some point – even Emily who was scarily good at repelling enemy attempts to get her in, one in particular when Max jumped at her and she picked him up and threw him over the back, scarcely losing her balance. Insane. Max and Gen bravely took on the mighty Urubamba out of the boat for a solid 5 minutes before being hauled back into the Super boat for some Class 3 rapids. A bridge jump was also a highlight of the 2nd day of rafting.
Our final day, Oz made the decision to let us take on a Class 5 rapid. Hearts racing and with him saying ´guys, this isn´t a game anymore, you´re paddling for your life´, we took on the beast and beat it spectacularly! An excellent voyage all round.
That afternoon, we began the illustrious Inca Trail. With T donning a Scooby – Doo outfit and Gen dressed in a furry leotard snake costume, we met Gato, our cheeky guide and started the final trek to Machu Picchu. The first day passed without hassle. The second day was dubbed ´the death day´ due to us having the climb up to Dead Woman´s Pass (alt. 4200mt). Slowly and steadily we climbed, but 25 minutes before the top, torrential rain set in. Not great. On the other side, we descended at the speed of light and set up camp in the driving rain. James and Gen ripped their tent twice and everyone had huge puddles in theirs. All clothes were soaked. Morale: very low. Dinner was great though.
The third day saw us undulating up and down for a solid 6 hours, passing a number of Incan ruins along the way. Again, rain set in at lunch time and morale hit its lowest point when Greg said ´ok, lets head off…we don´t want any hypothermia´. We continued onwards, overtaken by many porters who literally run the whole thing with 30kg on their backs! Nuts! We left the campsite last and arrived first at the final camping site, ready for the 3.45am wake up to complete the final 5km to Machu Picchu.
Arriving at the Sun Gate (Jess dressed as Batman, Gen as a snake and T as Scoob), we saw a brilliant view of sheer mist, then decided to continue to meet Ciara and Emily who had taken the train the day before.
A huge sense of achievement upon completing the trail – especially as we were easily the quickest walkers (overtaking 52 people on the last day) AND the only people to not have porters. Huge, huge achievement. We then did a 1.5 hour tour of the ruins with the every knowledgable Gato, before spending another 2 hours taking in the site in the finally beautiful weather.
We spent a night at Aguas Calientes before heading back to Cusco to prepare for the final party!
Emily dressed as a wolf, Gen as the snake, T as Scooby, Kiki as a parrot, James and Max in tailor made tweed suits, Matt as a Peruvian Aladdin and Greg as Indiana Jones, we arrived at Fallen Angel – a quirky and kitsch rife restaurant for a night of celebrating. Alcohol was flowing, prizes were handed out, Ciara and Gen performed their Quest song. Following dinner, we headed on out to Mama Africa´s to spend the rest of the night boogying. Everyone there LOVED us and our costumes. The ultimate moment came as Emily and Gen led everyone up nto the bar to dance to Bon Jovi´s It´s My Life. The barman poured rum down our throats and more ad mre people jumped up onto the bar to join us! Just an excellent way to end what has been a sublime trip.
We couldn´t have asked for more in a leader than Emily. Her knowledge of the places, language and culture was incredible, sense of adventure and fun parallelled by none and rapport with everyone we met simply amazing. A paragon of kindness, generosity and genuineness, thankyou for everything you´ve done for us over the past 3 months!
Greg, despite joining the group at the start of expedition, fitted in to the group as if he was there from the start and his knowledge and expertise in trekking and outdoor activities rubbed off on us. Always a good show on a night out and ever enthuiastic and supportive, thanks to you too for making our Expedition phase absolutely brilliant an unforgettable!
We hope youve enjoyed the Bolivia Team 1 blog, summing up what has been for most of us the best 3 months of our lives, filled with fun, adventure, challenges, learning, growing and friendship. We couldn´t have had a better time and wish it wasn´t all over!
Signing out for the final time,