As part the Peru chapter of our 8 month adventure around the world in 2010 Becky and I had signed up to hike the Inca Trail for 4 days ending up in the one and only Machu Picchu. This is my journal entry from those four days… with slight modifications! One thing I realised as I read through this post before publishing is how many exclamation marks I used and I worried about my integrity as a writer but then I decided not to change it as I thought the inca trail really is something to exclaim over! So here goes, exclamations and all:
The Inca trail begins! Luckily on our first day we didn’t have to get up too early, compared with the next few days anyway, so spent the morning psyching ourselves up.
Nothing could have prepared us though. It was tough!
We were told the first day was mainly flat. Emphasis on the mainly. The Andean idea of flat is totally not flat and we had to get up some pretty steep parts throughout the day! I think our main problem though was that we tried too hard to keep up with everyone else so walked too fast!
Despite the physical shock, it was an amazing day, the views were beautiful and the weather was gorgeous! We shared the path with loads of animals; alpacas and donkeys and cows…
And our first experience of Inca trail dining cheered us up no end! The porters and chefs run ahead of everyone with all the equipment to the lunch spot in the morning and then the camping spot in the afternoon so that by the time you get there everything is set up ready for your sweaty arrival. They give you bowls of water and soap and a drink and then you get soup to start and a main course. And this is just for lunch!
After lunch you hike again the rest of the way to the camp and then tea is served at 5, consisting of hot chocolate and tea and crackers and jams and popcorn… it is pretty impressive what these guys can do on the side of a mountain! Then you get dinner at 7; another 3 courses! It would almost be luxury if your legs weren’t constantly aching and your feet didn’t smell!
That night we slept pretty well considering we didn’t have thermo mattresses like everyone else… we like to scrimp and save!
We got woken up by a rooster the next day and then Roddy, our tour guide, knocked on our tent and gave us coffee in bed! Porridge and Spanish omelette followed for breakfast then we set off straight away at about 6am.
This time we found our pace…slow! Me, Becky and Emma called ourselves the tortoise club because we were the slowest for the whole trip, Emma even made up a song about it!
So the second day is meant to be the hardest, climbing over 3000 steps in total and reaching a height of 4215m above sea level…very very high! The pass is called dead woman’s pass (almost!) but only because the mountain looks like a woman lying down…apparently. But we reached it!
For the last half hour of the climb we all plugged in our IPods and that helped a lot- I reached the top with Shakira singing shewolf in my ear! I thought it might be a bit of an anti-climax reaching the top but it really wasn’t. It felt so amazing knowing we’d done so much to get there! Going down the other side to camp was horrible though…just steps all the way down and not good steps, big, uneven, stone steps that made you trip and stumble often. But when we did finally get to camp the porters had made us a cake for tea so all was well!
The days trek was pretty tough, a lot more downs and it started raining halfway through the day so it was pretty miserable. But you still get that accomplished ‘ah yeh!’ feeling at the end. And at this part of the trail there is infrastructure. With showers. And beer. So we got to have a hot shower at the camp! And then went for a beer after dinner! Our guides even bought me and Becky one! score.
The final day meant waking up at 3.45 in order to reach Machu Picchu. But we were only a few hours away and we all had so much random energy so it was actually really fun. I guess we were so excited about finally seeing what we’d trekked 3 days to see that it all got a bit much!
When we got to the sun gate, which is where you can see the first views of the city, it was really cloudy, living up to it’s name- the cloud forest! It was beautiful all the same and we were so pumped up we didn’t care. Becky and I stayed around for a bit until it lifted slightly which was so cool to watch, even though we never got a fully clear picture. And then my camera battery ran out when we got into the city- tip for next time: bring a spare!!
Machu Picchu itself really is incredible. So much bigger and better preserved then any of the other sites we’d seen; you could really get a feel for it as a working city. You can’t help but walk around and imagine what it would have been like back in it’s day. And it was made even more amazing because of what we’d done to get there. So yeh, it didn’t disappoint.
The whole experience was just incredible; we were completely out of our comfort zone trekking but the incredible guides and our porters and of course the stunning scenery made it all so easy! And as part of our GAP adventures 2 week Peru Panorama tour it was the best money I’ve ever spent!
Have you ever taken a tour? What about hiking the Inca Trail or visiting Peru? Is it on your bucket list?