The Inca Trail
Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
83Trip End Aug 11, 2012
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Where I stayed
What I did
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
Once we were all up and ready we got a bus through Cusco and into the mountains. After about an hour and a half we stopped in a little town for breakfast. It was already sunny and warm so me and Alex went for a little walk and found our first ruins. These were just some small farming terraces on the side of the hill but straight away gave us a sense of what was in store a long the route. After our walk we joined the rest of the group for breakfast and I was extremely happy when I found a fried egg sarnie on the menu for 2 soles (50p). Alex was more impressed with the fresh tea and she soon woke up (you know how she is without her tea in the morning).
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
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
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. I think Alex left it in the last blog that she had to kill Dave the driver, well she did whilst on the way to dinner. Unfortunately though she let her gaurd down afterwards and was killed by Kat with some onion whilst drinking a vodka orange. This now meant that Kat got who Alex was meant to be killing, which turn out to be me. I was stood minding my own business at the top of Dead Womanīs Pass when Alex came over and gave me a hug and held my hand. I thought she was being affectionate, but little did I know that she was working for Kat who subsequently came up and killed me with a guide book. Thanks Alex!!!
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
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
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 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. Tomorrow we head off to Puno, near lake Titicaca. This blog is just for the trail and so in the next installment Íīll catch up on the very amusing night out last night and how we get on with our night spent with a local family by the lake, which is happening on Tuesday. Iīve also heard rumour of a karaoke bar so that should be a good laugh.
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.