The Inca Trail
Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
83Trip End Aug 11, 2012
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So, we have done it, we have completed the Inca Trail. This was possibly the main reason that we came to South America on this trip and to put it simply, it didnīt disappoint.
The adventure started on Tuesday morning with an early wake-up call at 4 am. After the meeting on Monday evening we had gone out as a group to stock up on snacks and drinks. By the time we got back to the hotel and had finally packed our rucksacks and duffel bags, we were left with about 5 hours of sleep time, if that! In the duffel bags we were allowed to pack up to 5 kg of clothes and other things that we werenīt likely to need whilst walking, and these would then be carried by the porters to our campsites each day, but more about the amazing porters later.
After breakfast we were back on the bus for another 45 minutes until we reached the starting point of the Inca Trail. Here we had a good group photo underneath the starting point before getting our passports stamped and crossing the bridge to mark the start of the trail. We were told that the bridge was only built in the 1980īs and before then people, porters, guides and bags all had to cross the river via a pully, cable car system. I was very glad that wasnīt the case now.
The first stage of the trail was taken at a relatively slow pace. The weather was very hot and sunny and the gradient of the paths was very gentle. The trail runs beside the river and we stopped every now and then so that the guides could point out certain plants or ruins, and to give us another lesson in how to chew coca leaves
After lunch we had a couple of hours of climbing to reach our campsite for the evening. The trail in the morning was dirt track but as we started climbing they changed to mostly stone paths or large stone steps. The climb was pretty tough on a full stomach but very enjoyable as it was only a relatively short stint. We reached the cmapsite at around 5:30 and again the porters had beaten us there and put up all our tents for us. The rest of the evening was spent in the dinner tent playing games and eating the popcorn and snacks that were provided for afternoon tea. We also got tea, coffee and hot chocolate and following the guideīs advice, Ali, Jill and I had purchased a cheeky bottle of rum. This turned out to be a cracking idea and greatly improved our hot chocolates, so much so that we shared with everyone else once they saw ours. Dinner that night was soup, lomo saltado (beef dish), rice and spinach pizza. For dessert we had a local dish which was like a hot jelly with cloves. It was delicious! Again we were all amazed with the food, so much so that I think we all ate far too much, again. After dinner and with the prospect of an early start and a very long day ahead, we were all in bed by 8:30.
We were woken up at 6 am by the porters who came baring tea. We enjoyed the tea in our sleeping bags before getting up for a breakfast of pancakes, toast, porridge and suger puff type stuff
At the 2/3 point of the climb we exited the tree-line and had a rest with the rest of the group. We left this point at 11 and started the gruelling last third of the climb. This stage was very hard work and so we had our music playing to keep us going. We made it to the top by 12:15, which we were very pleased with, and then collapsed! The views from the top back down the valley were absolutely stunning. We could see all the way back to camp and it definitely looked as far as it felt. Once all the group had arrived at the top we had a group photo before contemplating what the afternoon had in stall.
On a side note, the game of Truck Murder was still in full swing
Back on topic, whilst sat at the top of the pass the weather had started coming in on the other side of the valley. Litterally as we decided to start heading down again it started raining... hard! Alex had her poncho and so was nice and dry whilst I relied on my Gore-tex jacket and got very wet shorts. The 1600+ steps down the valley meant that I wasnīt cold though. Alex spent the afternoon walking with Jill (and helping her off the floor), whilst I stayed with Fiona providing moral support. Her ankle was hurting, the steps were slippy and in places very steep, so we were towards the back. Iīm pretty sure I helped though by staying and constantly asking stupid qestions and conversation starters to try and stop us thinking about how wet we were and how far we still had to walk. We saw the amusing side once we reached camp though and had a chance to dry out
Day three again started with wake-up tea at 6 am and another hearty breakfast. Today was to be the longest day with over 9 hours of hiking in store. The first hour or so was up hill from the camp site and we stopped of at some ruins for a little history lesson. We then comtinued upwards until we reached the second pass. If the clouds had lifted we would have bee treated to a stunning view, but as it was we couldnīt see an aweful lot. When the cloud did part in brief periods though the views were indeed amazing. Half way through the morning we came across a very impressive Inca settlement, which we were able to wander around and explore. Just before I also got my first sight of a snake. It was a small green fella that was curled up in a tree below and to the side of the path. Once at the Inca site it started raining and most people, including Alex opted to carry on the the lunch site
I managed to make it to Lunch before the hevens really opened, and we all sat in the tent eating lunch and hoped that I would clear before we had to set out walking again... it didnīt! The walk for the rest of the afternoon is described as the most enjoyable with fantastic views and a steady gradient to the path. Even though we didnīt get the views because of the clouds, the walk through the rain forest was brilliant. Alex and I really enjoyed the dramatic forest surroundings and the original Inca paths kept the walk thoroughly enjoyable. The rain had stopped about an hour after lunch and so we we came to the ruins of Intipata we were able to stop and rest and got the chance to have a good chat with Julio, one of the guides. We found out that although it takes us 4 days to walk the Inca Trail, the record is 3 hrs 55 mins!!! That was set by a Peruvian athlete some years ago, incredible! We also found out that the eldest person that he had guided was 87 and the youngest was 6 years old.
After our little rest we only had another 45 minutes of hiking before we reached our final campsite. The evening was spent playing cards before dinner and talking about the last three days and how they had flown by. After another fantastic dinner we all got introduced to the team of porters and I gave a little thank you speach on the groupīs behalf
After the tour and a short look around on our own we took the bus down the mountain to the town of Aguas Calientes. Here we met the rest of our group in a restaurant/bar and we took over the the top floor where we were able to spread out, dry our kit and generally relax and unwind after four very long days. We spent the afternoon here with a bit of food and a few beers before getting the train and bus back to Cuzco. We arrived back at the hotel at around 11 pm and headed straight to bed. We were all absolutely shattered, stank of wet dog after no showers since Monday, and all craved our soft beds as apposed to a roll mat in a tent.
The last four days had certainly taken itīs toll on us all but it was absolutely amazing, and we shall definitely be heading back to Machu Picchu in the future. Maybe not down the Inca Trail route, as we have done that now, but it has definitely made an impression on us enough to want to come back someday.
Right, I think that is enough rambling about the Inca Trail for now
Hope you all stay well and have used your work time well by reading this essay.
Talk to you all soon,
Love us two
p.s. I know these blogs are lacking photos and I will indever to upload as many as possible when we have a decent internet connection. Sorry for the wait.