Inca Trail – Day 1
Today began with an early 5:15am wake up call, even though yet again we were awake before this.
We packed our stuff, made a mad dash for breakfast, checked out of our hotel and met up with our Inca Trail tour guide Herbert at 6am.
The good news was that we were the only 2 in the group, so we got the full VIP treatment.
There were 4 porters and a tour guide all for us. Not bad considering some groups have as many as 15 people.
About 20 mins into the bus trip the unexpected happened and there was a collision with another bus which resulted in some heated Spanish fireworks.
At one stage we thought it was going to kick off but apparently these busses cause so many accidents that it only took about 20 mins of arguing before the bus driver took the blame.
Back in the (slightly dented) bus we travelled along a tiny dirt road to the start of the Inca Trail where bought a few last minute essentials off a nice old Peruvian lady, slapped on some sunscreen, insect repellent and we were rearing to go!
The scenery was mind blowing, nothing that can be put into words or taken by camera. One minute you are looking at an icy glacier, the next some 1800 year old Inca ruins, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
We continued on foot walking up and down hills for the next 4 – 5 hours, stopping every now and then for water, M&Ms and some fascinating stories from Herbert. He told us about a parasite that lives on a cactus.
He scraped what looked like white powder from the cactus, squashed it between his fingers and out burst a beautiful purple colour which he used to mark our faces. We were now Australino warriors.
Our lunch was waiting for us at one of the check points and to say it was delicious is an understatement.
It was the best food we had eaten since we have been here, and dinner was more of the same, we even got popcorn! They also made up some special peppermint herbal tea of which we found from leaves along the way.
By the time 7:30pm come around we were all tuckered out and made our way to the tent, to rest ourselves.
Tomorrow is another 6am wakeup and is infamous as being the toughest day of the tour where we will be heading to 4000 metres altitude which will take all day and it is pretty much all up hill.
The thin air will make it tough to breathe as well, so it should be interesting, but fun and challenging at the same time.
Inca Trail – Day 2
Our day started with some room service, or should I say tent service, of coca tea followed by some delicious desayuno (breakfast). It included porridge, omelette with some roasted banana, coffee and jam toast. It was absolutely divine.
Day 2 had been described as the hardest day of the tour so we set off slowly to preserve our energy. We left at about 7am and headed down kilometre after kilometre of windy paths, until we hit the big sucker.
It certainly lived up to its name as the last 30 minutes was steep, steep stairs and high altitude which sent our hearts racing and our lungs burning. Added to that the hot sun beaming down on us with no shade.
It was fair to say it was the hardest exercise we have ever done and to push through the wall of pain coming from everywhere was certainly something that I won’t forget.
When we hit the top we were were greeted by applause from all the people that had already made it.
This, as well as the amazing view, made it all worth it. The view was absolutely stunning!
All in all we walked a total of 10km for the day, but we walked up 1000m in altitude to a height of 4200m in the air which is the highest point of the Inca Trail and you have amazing views over 360°.
But as always what goes up must come down, so after a long rest we went down in the form of 2 hours of steep rocks, stairs, slippery stones and dirt. Thank god we had our walking poles!
It was a rough walk down which was hard on the knees, no stair was the same neigh or width which meant you had to concentrate on every step.
Majority of the way down we could see our camp site which was layers and layers of tents and a lovely aroma of our lunch that we would soon be devouring. This kept us motivated.
We arrived at around 2pm and lunch was waiting for us. It was pasta and steak mixed with salt n vinegar flavoured vegetables. The cooks here keep raising the bar to a new level every meal.
After lunch we had a bit of downtime in which we passed out in the tent for a little siesta.
Then we explored the camp grounds and ran into some Aussies, as well as a Spanish girl that was also heading to the World Cup. In a way we were rivals, given Australia play Spain in the group stage!
Time passed pretty quick at the camp site and before we knew it, it was 5:30pm and time for afternoon tea.
We had an epic mochachino as well as some popcorn and tortias with delicious sauce.
Next up we were served dinner which we ate with Herbert, we ate all our meals with our guide which was great, he always had something to wow us with from all his times being on the trek, this time he gave us a detailed history of the Incans, I had no idea how smart these ancient people were.
Then it was off to bed to rest up for another big long day. Tomorrow is another 6am wakeup call, but we are walking 16km and it has plenty of steep parts.
However there will be plenty of Inca sights to see and it is meant to be the most beautiful day of the tour, we are very excited!
Inca Trail – Day 3
Today started again with more tent service at 6am, a nice coca tea to start the day. We were still feeling the effects of yesterday’s monster climb and didn’t know how we would pull up for the day, but we didn’t have to worry as it was one of the best days yet.
We started off all rugged up because it was freezing, but within 10 minutes walking we were down to singlet and shorts with the sun shining.
It can be rather strange weather on the mountains up in altitude. Herman later told us they have 27 micro climates up here, which is high given there are only 32 on the planet.
It was a great day as we got to visit a heap of different Inca sites and getting to explore inside, while getting a history lesson from Herbert who turns out to be quite a funny bugger.
Having just us two in the group made it much more personal and I think we would have learned more than what some of the bigger groups did.
The day was a long one which included 16 kilometres of walking, mostly downhill causing havoc on our knees and calves, there was also a massive steep walk for an hour at the beginning which wore us out.
All in all, we were walking from 7am to 5pm with a lunch break and few stops in between to more Inca sites.
Some of the scenery we saw today was breathtaking. We have included some photos in this post, but they don’t do it justice.
Every time you turned a corner there was something new to see. Whether it be a new Valley, an Inca site, an ice glacier or another enticing path that just begged you to walk through it.
Walking inside some of these Inca sites though was incredible. Knowing that they were created nearly 1000 years ago with the very limited tools that they had was an unreal experience.
Again, the food was incredible. Tonight we even got a cake which was decorated with a Machu Picchu design, it was truly touching how much effort the cooks put into our meals, with such limited space and having to carry everything that they use, you could see just how much heart they put into it.
We finished the night by saying thank you to our porters and chefs with Herbert translating for us, much respect goes to these people as the amount of weight they carried all the way was unbearable to think of. These guys are truly warriors.
By now it was about 8pm so we decided to get an early night. Our final day kicks off with a 3:30am wake up call and we will need to rest up for what should be a truly breathtaking day walking through the Machu Picchu site.
Inca Trail – Day 4
Our last day on the trail started very very early, our porters had to be all packed up and out of there so they can get the first train home and get back to their families. We said goodbye again and then it was off to the final checkpoint to wait until they let us through.
At about 5:30 they opened the gates and let us though, we knew that in about an hour that we would be able to see what we walked all this way for, the massive sacred city of Machu Picchu.
The vibe was electric throughout all the groups and we all took off at a very quick pace.
The terrain was relatively flat until the final climb, once up and over we could see it, and with the sun not quite up yet it was a sight to behold. It felt allmost eerie.
So we sat on the side of an old wall and ate our breakfast with quite possibly one of the best views in the world.
We walked the last part of the trail until we stepped onto Macchu Picchu, it felt amazing to know we had made it but sad at the same time.
It didn’t take long until Herbert was guiding us though the whole city, every building had a purpose, for such an ancient city it was actually so advanced.
They had calendars, sundials, speaker rooms, different climates for planting certain crops, they had intricate canals running through the whole place, the sun tower which can tell you when the wet season is coming, I was left feeling so blessed to even be standing there in the presence of such history.
My favourite part was the monument to the condor, the symbol for strength, the head was carved into a flat rock which then flowed into two big shards of natural rock which formed it’s wings that then went on to hold up an entire wall, it was inspiring and I could feel the strength that it depicted.
After we soaked up everything that Herbert could tell us about the city he left us to explore on our own, even though we were so tired from being up so early and the effects of the last 3 days were starting to take it’s toll
It didn’t stop us exploring every last square inch, it was like being in a movie it was so unreal.
It was time to say goodbye to the great city and go and meet back up with Herbert for a beer in the city below called Piskacuchu. We caught he bus down, found Herbert and had lunch together.
After spending nearly a week together we were really going to miss his encouraging words and fun sense of humour, we brought out the deck of cards and he taught us one last thing, a card game called shit head which was great fun.
We got on the train which wound through the valleys that we had just walked through, it had windows everywhere so we could see everything as we went along, it was one of the nincest train trips I had ever been on.
We got off the train and then the 3 of us jumped in a car that took us back too Cusco, after some hugs and kind words we left Herbert and headed for our hotel. It had been an amazing 4 days that I know we will never forget.
I can still feel what I felt as I walked through the city, I will never forget it and if I can recommend an experience to anyone, this one would be it. Amazing.