Published: June 22nd 2012November 6th 2010
The 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is physically challenging but worthwhile, and one of the best but tough experiences I can describe in my life. It is a 44-km (27 mile) hike, with 3 high passes to be crossed, one of which reaches an elevation of 4200m (13776 ft). The trail is often steep, and physically challenging.
We depart Ollantaytambo for km 82 where we begin our walk in the footsteps of the Incas.
We are met by the 20 or so local crew of porters for the 9 of us, including cooks and guide look after us well for the duration of the hike.
The Porters carry the majority of the gear for the hike, we only carry a small daypack with water, rain gear, snacks, a camera, etc. weighing up to about 10 kg. (Porters carry a max of around 40kg which in unbeliveable, and they just run up the trial at ease).
As we walk the trail we admire breathtaking views at every step as we move from high plateau areas to dense cloud forest.
We pass several smaller ruin sites, the first of which is 'Llactapata'. The second day climb the
long steep path to Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass. At 4198 m (13769 ft) above sea level, this pass is the highest point of the trek. The second pass of the hike is at 3998 m (13113 ft) where we enjoy superb views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba.
The trail goes through the clouds and forest. On the climb to the third pass, we you will walk through a causeway and a tunnel, both original Inca constructions.
The highest point of the third pass is at 3700m (12136 ft) where we see the beautiful views of the Urubamba Valley below.
We soon reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, or the 'Town above the Clouds', at about 3650 m (11972 ft) above sea level. We will camp a half further along close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young) ruins, a terraced hillside site, with panoramic views of the valley below and just a short hike from Machu Picchu. That evening we have a small party in the small hall with all the groups to pre-celebrate the hard work with a few beers. . That night it pores down with rain.
On the morning of final day we
climb the steps to the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu. There is no way to describe the feeling of the first views of Machu Picchu, as the mist rises off the mountains early in the morning and the famous site appears in front of you, it is a great feeling, something that I will always remember.
There are more photos below