Liverpool restaurant owner tackles grueling hike in Peru for hunger charity

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Liverpool restaurant owner Vince Margiotta prepares to embark on a grueling trek to Machu Picchu in Peru to help raise money for a world hunger charity.

Vince, owner of Cucina di Vincenzo on Woolton Road in Childwall, will join other hospitality fundraisers taking the Inca Trail to support Action Against Hunger.

He will set off in September for a 10-day trek, walking about five or six hours each day to reach a peak nearly 14,000 feet high.

This is Vince’s fourth charity challenge with Action Against Hunger, having first been approached to take part in a climb in Ethiopia in 2018.

“It’s a great charity, they do amazing, completely neutral work, and they’re overwhelmingly supported by the hospitality industry,” he says.

“Four years ago I was asked if I would consider doing one of these treks and there is nothing left to do.

“The first was Ethiopia, the Simien mountain range, which we never reached because when we arrived in Ethiopia there was civil unrest, so they sent us to another part of the country. Afterwards we did Nepal, the Langtang trail, and then just before confinement it was Jordan. We trekked through the desert for five days and on the last day we entered Petra, which was quite the thrill, it was the fantastic climax to a pretty epic trip.

“It’s the first challenge since the lockdown, they announced it about seven months ago and invited me as an ambassador to participate. At that time, they didn’t know where they were going, it could be Georgia, India or Peru and it wasn’t until about seven or eight weeks ago that they finalized Machu Picchu.

Vince says walking with other men and women in the restaurant industry makes the trip even more unique.

“On this one there will be two 10-day rides, one with people from the South West, Midlands and North, and one more London-centric.

“When you do these hikes and spend cold nights in a tent, at least your tent mate is someone you have something in common with, so we always have something to talk about…the staff, the dishwashers, the price of beer and the price of wine!

Vince on a previous charity hike

Since discovering the destination of this year’s challenge, Vince has prepared physically.

“I’ve been pretty resolute, although at my age it’s mostly simple stuff, so cardio, swimming, and the main thing is stretching and mobility – my back, my knees, my hips are all destroyed by years of rugby – that’s the key for me.

“I like to hike and walk uphill anyway, I do a lot in the UK, but you can’t really train for altitude, it either hits you or it doesn’t.

“In Nepal three years ago I was fine, although a few guys got sick. Machu Picchu is just under 5,000 meters high, but we have a few days to acclimatize, so we hike for 3-4 hours and then descend back to camp. The next day, we go back a little higher and go down again.

“Everyone should be acclimatized by then hopefully, but you just don’t know. It’s not a huge height, but you’re still in that thin air, so you really have to hope for the best and if you’re not awesome then even if it’s not dangerous you just gotta get down and call it a day.

Before the trek, Vince raised funds through restaurant donations. A discretionary £1 added to client bills has already raised around £1,700 towards his personal goal of £5,000.

Once the march is in earnest, the group will begin at 6am, hiking between 15 and 20 kilometers a day vertically until around 3-4pm, when they will set up camp in two-person tents for the night.

So which aspect is Vince most looking forward to?

“To finish it!” He’s joking. “But honestly, from a personal perspective, it’s the feeling of accomplishment. Some people might think that donating is contributing to a holiday, but we sure aren’t having dinner and dinner every night, that’s hard.

“For me, apart from being successful is being able to go somewhere and see something that I wouldn’t normally see – and do it and raise money for those less fortunate. We visit these people and the facilities created by Action Against Hunger and it is humbling to see how people live and what is being done to help them.

You can donate through Vince’s Just Giving page HERE.

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