Experience the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Inca Trail Days 1 and 2
I had always dreamed of hiking the Inca Trail in Peru — and when I arrived in Cusco to study Spanish in Cusco at AMAUTA Spanish School, I was lucky enough to get hooked up with a group of students who were in the midst of booking the trek with the in-house travel agency (Dos Manos Peru Travel). Fortunately, I was still able to join, there were still a few permits left! For me, this was a dream come true! I was truly going to Experience the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! I was so excited.
We met with our guide, Simon, for a pre-trek briefing 2 days prior to departure, and he gave us a complete run-down of what we would experience during the entire four day adventure on our way to Machu Picchu. After listening to and chatting with Simon, I felt excited, confident, and exceptionally prepared for what was to come!
Our group was collected bright and early on Friday morning from the student residence of AMAUTA Spanish School where most of us were sleeping, and taken to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here we had a quick breakfast, picked up porters, and continued on our way. We arrived at Km 82, the true beginning of the trek, had our passports checked, crossed the river, and were off! The first morning brought a pretty easy walk, mostly flat terrain in exceptionally beautiful scenery. After a slight uphill, we broke for lunch.
And what a lunch it was! I found myself rendered speechless at the sight of the elaborate meal that Lino, our cook, was able to prepare inside the cooking tent. Not only did the staff carry all of the ingredients on their backs, but they were able to race ahead of us, and have this feast ready upon our arrival. The meal was truly the best I had eaten in Peru thus far.
After lunch, we relaxed a bit, and continued to Wayllabamba, where we would spend the night. We reached the site by walking along a river by some remote Incan sites, including Ilaqtapata in its very impressive setting. The beautiful, picture-perfect scenery was of course a dominant theme of the trek, and we were able to see the snow-covered Veronica Mountain against the clear blue sky. We enjoyed another fancy meal, and laid down for the night in our tents for a well-earned rest.
Thankfully I slept well that night, because the second day of the Inca Trail was TOUGH! We started our ascent at around 3000m above sea level, and climbed to over 4200m over the course of the day. We began early, climbing immediately, and had already climbed what felt like a mountain when we arrived at the checkpoint that marked the start of the day! Yikes! The majority of this hike was up Inca-built steps, where we were constantly overtaken by porters in sandals, carrying 25kg of gear on their backs. This was humbling, and gave us the opportunity to varying levels of care provided by the tour operators. I’m happy to report that the Dos Manos porters were among the best cared-for on the trek.
The Dead Woman’s Pass
We continued the climb – the equivalent of 1.5 times Burj Khalifa’s, the world’s tallest building. Simon – our guide – paced us well and provided much-needed breaks along the way. When we got closer to the pass – called Dead Woman´s—we could see that it was aptly named — the landscape made it appear like a woman lying down. Upon reaching the top, I felt a great sense of achievement! But also a great sense of cold! However, it was worth it for the amazing views from up so high. We then had to make our way, with wobbling knees, down around 600 vertical meters to our next campsite, located in Pacamayu. We all felt tired, a bit sore, but great overall —not only had we had survived Dead Woman’s Pass, but we were about to eat another delicious meal and sleep like babies to the sounds of a raging river in the distance.
For more info on treks to Machu Picchu, Contact Dos Manos travel agency in Cusco.
And please, don´t forget to read part 2 of my adventure “Experience the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu” where I give you the details of Days 3 and 4 of this amazing trek, the 4 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!