BACKPACKER.com Goes to Peru

The trek to Machu Pichu begins
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The trek to Machu Pichu begins

Backpacker.com Editor Anthony Cerretani is on the trail with Serac Adventure Films and MountainVision for Serac’s Adventure Film School. The team will trek the Super Inca trail for roughly ten days with the goal of making a film on the adventure. Here, read updates and posts from expedition leader Jeff Evans, then, in 2009, look for more from the trip.

Safe arrival in Cusco

After a quick bite this morning in Lima we made our way back to the airport for the short domestic flight into the heart of the Andes, Cusco...positioned at 11,000ft. Whereas Machu Picchu was the "summer getaway" for the Emperor, high priests, and scientists, Cusco was the established permanent home of the head of the Incan Empire as well as the large bulk of the Quechan civilization. Even in today’s often diluted society, Cusco stands out as a lovely city still retaining its native charm.

Our first team meeting took place over a delicious lunch at an organic restaurant in the center of Cusco. I discussed with the group my main bullet point of expeditionary travel: Stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Our 6 day trek will take us up over some extraordinarily high passes and sleeping at no lower than 12,000 feet. For this reason, staying healthy is critical and at times, challenging.

The trek begins

Before starting the hike, we visited Ollantaytambo, an uncovered Inca site at the mouth of the sacred valley. This "fortress" was constructed at the confluence of three valleys in order to keep undesirables from gaining access to Machu Picchu. We will begin our hike in the morning from a site called Parspichu along the Vilcabamba River. After approximately 6 hours, we will arrive in the village of Chillipahua, situated at 12,200 ft, nestled deep in the sacred valley of Uribamba.

3,000 feet later, we collectively decided that today's hike was akin to flipping through a vibrant picture book of the Andes, complete with impressive geological features infused with the sights, sounds, and smells of Peruvian culture.

Building a foundation

We arose early in Chillipahua to participate in a blessing ceremony conducted by one of the most revered and respected shaman priests in all of Peru, Senor Sebastion. Then our day of service began in earnest with the construction of a new wing of the sole existing building in the village.

Each member of our team put in a solid days work on multiple different aspects of the construction—building the adobe bricks, digging the foundation ditch or placing the base layer of rocks in the ditch...all of us straining and sweating at 12,300 ft.

Lunch was an amazing feast of fresh (and I mean, like, 3 hours fresh) lamb, potatoes, and a wide assortment of vegetables. Lots of exceptional film footage and still photos were taken today and all of us will sleep tonight with a sense of accomplishment after a day of thanks and service.

— Jeff Evans

Stay tuned for more updates from BACKPACKER in Peru.