In Christmas 2008, we hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. We saw lots of incredible flora and fauna on our four day hike through the Inca ruins. These photos show a glimpse of the journey with steps, a bird, and the ‘divorce orchid’. Yes that photo comes with a story.
We did the four day Classic Inca Trail and I’ll write more about the journey in future posts. For now, I’ll highlight a few things to understand the divorce orchid. The hike is at altitude, starting at about 2,800 m above sea level. I was bothered by altitude more than usual so was slower than expected – although enjoyed taking my time, experiencing the setting and getting lots of cool photos. My recommendation for others: spend at least 2 days in Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude.
The hike is full of steps. I expected the steps but I didn’t think that going up would be better than going down. The second day of the hike is traditionally the hardest day because you get to the highest altitude at Dead Woman’s Pass (4,215 m). My hiking partner and I were slow but steady and it was an OK day. The third day goes up a bit but it is mainly going down stairs. There are supposed to be 3000 steps at the end of day 3.
Most of the Inca Trail is the original construction! This is particularly true on the last two days of the trail and you can tell by the uneven nature of each step. We would often stop to marvel at the magic of this place (and to catch our breath).
I hope you can get a sense of the trail from the photo on the left. We were lucky to have misty weather instead of true rain.
During the third day, the surroundings change as the trail goes through a tropical cloud forest. It is actually part of the Amazon jungle! It has lots of fancy flowers, including colourful orchids. We kept hearing about this great fire orchid and everyone had their eyes peeled.
My hiking partner and myself got tired on the third day and kept asking when we would finish. (The answer was always 20 minutes – we heard that for a few hours.) Needless to say, we were focused on going down the steps, not looking for the flowers. When we reached camp after everyone else, we were exhausted and were just happy to be done. Our husbands had gone ahead with the group (with our permission) and met us at the entrance to camp. My hiking partner solicited a ‘congratulations’ from her husband but in response, she got the question, ‘Did you get a photo of the orchid?’ Not what she was looking for. Her husband took the camera and raced off to get a photo. She went in a different direction. My husband and I had a similar but less intense conversation – I was just too tired. So, we started the joke that the orchid was a ‘divorce orchid’. So, was it worth the fuss?
The orchid is beautiful. These splashes of colour in the deep greens were amazing. It is the Masdevallia, veitchiana, also known as the King of the Masdevallias. In Peru, the flower is known as Gallo-Gallo for rooster and its red comb. This flower is considered a national treasure of Peru and was cultivated by the Incas (said by Inca trail guides).
While researching the name of this beautiful orchid, I came across websites touting the power of orchid essence. Some were aromatherapy (some orchids are very fragrant) and others were more elusive. For example, one site said that ‘beneficial powers come from the life force inherent in the flowers themselves…flower essences actually take light particles into the electrical field…their DNA structure is the most highly evolved of any plants on earth…on the evolutionary ladder of the plant word, orchids are comparable to the animal kingdom species of dolphins and humans’. I won’t link to their site to give them more traffic.
This may deserve a longer post in the future but for now: DNA structure is the same in all things. And I’ve just written about the idea of some things being more evolved in others here – there isn’t a hierarchy in the evolutionary tree.
Two time periods
And just for the computer aficionados, I’ve included one of my photos from Machu Picchu showing two time periods = laptop in the centuries-old village.