Christmas Day! 7am wake up call and Panettone & hot chocolate for breakfast - very nice. In the morning we were introduced to the porters that had been looking after us so well, putting up (and down) the tents, feeding us, and carrying 6KGs for everyone in the group. We gathered around in a circle and all introduced ourselves.
Day 3 is the easiest day and packed full of Inca sites. We had a short (only 4 hours) walk to our camp site which is collocated at the Inca site called Winay Wayna.
On the way we stopped at Phuyupatamarca and Intipata. Guido gave us another talk at each site. Phuyupatamarca was a ceremonial site and we learned about the use of natural hallucinogens used as part of human sacrifice rituals. It was the 'virgins of the sun', the prettiest young girls who were selected at a young age and told of their privilege to be sacrificed.
At Initpata, predominantly an agricultural site, we learned of the Incas astronomical technology, and how they were aware of the summer/winter solstices. They tracked the positions of the sun and the stars relative to their position on Earth and understood how crops were affected with the seasons and when to plant and harvest them. We also learnt about the technology in the construction of the terraces at Intipata which created controlled microclimates for specific types of crops.
We arrived at Winay Wayna in the late afternoon (approx. 3pm) in time for a late lunch. We got caught in a heavy rain shower just as we arrived, so huddled into the nearby Trekker's lodge. At this point the spiritual and mystical trek through the wilderness came to a halt. It was as bad as a local community centre fundraising event in the 1980's. Boy George was playing loudly on the makeshift sound system and the place was packed full with everyone on the trail. This was the last point before the final descent to Machu Picchu that we would undertake early in the morning.
We managed to escape the lodge for a couple of hours to see the Inca site at Winay Wayna which is only 10 minutes from the camp site. It was another agricultural site, required to feed the large population at Machu Picchu. It had a lot of terraces, east facing towards the sun rise, and was beautiful enough to be reported as a retreat for Inca Kings.
We returned to the lodge with most people opting for pre-dinner drinks. Dinner itself was as good as every other day, but in addition, the Chef had made a nice cake with "Happy Travels 2010" on it. Julie was nominated to cut the cake into 18 pieces for all.
One of the guys got his cranberry and raspberry vodka out after dinner, and this got some of us into the Christmas 'spirit'! One guy did a speech for the chef, assistant chef, and porters and the tip money that had been collected was handed over. We returned to the lodge again to carry on drinking. We went to bed approx. 10.30-11pm ready for a 3.30am start. It rained all night.