RAF chef Richy Hartley recently completed a trek to Machu Picchu to raise money for our work. In this guest blog, Richy tells us how the trek went.
As I made my way to London from my hometown of Lincoln I couldn't help but feel a mixture of excitment and nervousness.
After arriving at Heathrow I had a short wait before meeting the rest of the people I'd be doing the trek with. Everyone was really nice and with the pleasantries out the way, we all dumped our bags at the check in ready to start our epic journey to South Peru.
Twenty-five hours later we were met with cocoa tea at our Peruvian hotel and then it was time for a rest in preparation for our first day of walking. It was a short local walk to help us acclimatise to the altitude and get our bodies ready for the trail itself.
The next day our trek began! Six hours of walking to break us in and we arrived at our first camp with tents for us to sleep in, a portaloo, a dining tent and a kitchen which served up some great food.
The next couple of days were fairly similar and saw us walking for a gruelling 12 hours each day. It certainly wasn't easy to say the least.
Then after what felt like a never ending ascent we finally arrived at an emotional, yet magical Machu Picchu. Beautiful is another good word for the place we had been struggling mentally and physically to reach for the best part of four days. But we had done it and the sense of achievement was fantastic for all of us.
Some of us were overcome with emotion at the top and understandably so, we had achieved something great, something that nobody could take away from us. And after all the hugging and congratulations we had a look around Machu Picchu, learning all we could along the way.
To be honest I wasn't sure what I was more pleased about, the fact that I had reached the end of the trail or all of the things I was learning about the Incas. But all that aside it was a mind blowing trip and one I would recommend to anybody with a passion for travelling, learning and meeting new people. And for me, what was even better was that I was able to do this trek for the great cause that is the RAF Benevolent Fund.
By Richy Hartley