As there are no roads in or out of the area, or pack animals allowed, all our provisions had to be brought in by porters, and all of our garbage hauled out. Our group of 14 tourists had 21 porters and two guides. The porters were amazing! Each morning, we were cooked and served breakfast (including tea in our tents), then the porters would take down the campsite, overtake us on the trail and have the next site setup for us by the time we get there. And they did it carrying up to 20 kgs (seems more to me). Our favorite porter, Miguel, with a mouthful of gold teeth, is a part time porter and full time local farmer. Incredibly he is 58 years old and still races past all the tourists on the trail! We were told actually, that in a race, one of the porters did the whole 4 day trail in 3 hours, 45 minutes. Wow!
The trek in itself is not overly difficult, but the altitude makes it a rough go for a lot of people when you are climbing the irregular, rocky stairs. On the second day the climb to the summit of dead woman's pass at 4200m was about as difficult as it gets, with the down hill part of day three called the gringo killer being a close second.
I have to say that the terraces, which really contrasted with the surrounding forest were my favorite sight.
We did the tour with Peru Treks, and we really enjoyed it. The food was always good, and there was always tons of it. They even applauded when each tourist made it into camp, which was a little embarassing, since they all did the trek in much less time than us, and with way more weight on their backs.Machu Picchu is going to have to have it's own entry. Coming up.