Following in the footsteps of the Incas

One of the highlights of my tour around Peru was doing the Inca Trail. There are lots of different Inca treks in Peru, but the Inca Trail (el camino inka) is the original and the most sacred one.

 

I felt lucky to have gotten a permit for the Inca trail, as its so popular usually you have to apply for one about 6 months in advance.

 

Starting the Inca trail, we were told our porters would carry duffle bags for us, with a weight limit of 6kg, and we’d have our day packs too. You can’t get away with making your duffle bag any heavier as there are checks along the way. The porters also carried our tents and food too, and all the utensils needed for eating and cooking.

 

At the start of the trail, we had to show our passports and permits, and we received a stamp in our passports too. Then off we went on the 26 mile trek that lasted 4 days. About 1 hour into the walk was the last proper toilet (I wrote about my reservations on the toilet facilities along the way- ‘The Inca trail toilet facilities!’, to which I will do a separate follow up post). We had a few more rest stops, then it was time for lunch, which was ready for us, with a mess tent to eat in that the porters gad put up for us. The lunch was excellent, a sure sign of what was in store for us throughout the trek. After lunch, it was only a couple of hours until we reached our campsite for that evening. The first day wasn’t too bad, but then again it was referred to as our training day by our guide. Luckily we made it to our campsite just before it started to rain. Our tents were already set up for us by the porters, who’d overtaken us along the way since lunch.

 

We had afternoon tea, then we done introductions with the porters and cooks. I learnt that the porters ranged from 19 years old, to about 63. The amount they do and carry is incredible, especially the older ones. 

For the second day, we were told we had an uphill walk of 5 hours, then 2 hours downhill. We had to get up at 5am, and we left the campsite by 6.30 to get a good start to the day.

We done the uphill part in three stages- the first as an entire group, that was fairly easy and took us less than an hour. The second 2 stages we went at our pace, meeting half way up then again at the top. I must admit, I did find it a bit of a struggle. I had as lot of mini rests. We did climb about 1000 metres in altitude too, so of course that will make a difference.

Finally reaching the top, the highest part of the walk, was a great feeling. We had a rest there, and as it was so high it was quite cold. Then we started the ascent downhill. That was quite difficult too, because we were going down uneven stone steps. I found it quite painful for my knees, and my calves and thighs were aching by then from the uphill climb. We made it to the next campsite by around 2pm, and that was our walking done for the day.

At dinner, we all had a hot today to celebrate getting through 70% of the walk, and doing the hardest part.

The third day our longest walking day. It was quite an easy walk, especially compared to the previous day, but it was long. It was broken up by stopping at Inca sites and our lunch stop. In the afternoon we saw quite a large Incan site, and there were llamas there. After all that walking, we made it to our final campsite, where we were just a 2 hour walk from Machu Picchu.

We had dinner almost as soon as we got to the campsite, then afterwards we thanked the cooks and porters and gave them the tip that we’d all collected for them. The cook had made us a lovely cake for our lunch too by way of a goodbye. After saying thank you and goodbye to the cooks and porters, we were ordered to go to bed. It was 8pm, which was ridiculously early, but given that we had to get up at 4am to get a good start on getting to Machu Picchu, it wasn’t too bad.

After getting up ridiculously early on our last day, we had to wait for security to open the gates to the final part of the trek, when the sun came up (it’s dangerous to walk on the paths in the dark). We then started our 2 hour walk, and reached the Sungate by about 7am. We got a nice view of Machu Picchu, but it was a bit cloudy. We then continued on for another 45 minutes and finally reached our end destination of the trek- Machu Picchu.

It was so rewarding to finally get there, knowing our hard work of trekking had finally paid off. We got lots of time to explore the amazing site, and we saw yet more llamas. The llamas are used to keep the grass on the terraces short. The Incas built their sites on hills to protect their buildings from earthquakes. This is partly why the Inca trail is uphill and downhill.

It really was so amazing reaching Machu Picchu after the 4 day trek. It was a nice reward for walking all that way. Now I only have 6 wonders of the world left to see.

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