Published: September 9th 2012September 9th 2012
The start of the Inca Trail begins with a 5.30am wake up call and a two hour drive to a little town to have breakfast and purchase last minute supplies of coca leaves, water, sweets and the ever so essential walking stick. The first day of the trek consisted of around 5 hours of walking plus stopping to learn about numerous well preserved Inca Ruins along the way. The scenery is breathtaking, passing small villages, valleys and different fauna.
The porters and cooks are amazing. Short, little Peruvians running past so they can set up camp and start cooking before we arrive at base. The food is of a very high quality, cooked in very basic conditions. Definitely not what I expected on a four day camping and trekking excursion.
The 6am wake up call from the porters was an unpleasant way to wake up on day two. But, all is forgiven when they wait outside your tent with a hot cup of tea to warm you up and breakfast already prepared and waiting in the food tent to get you started for the day. Today’s trek consisted of three stops at different peaks, the highest being about 4200m
above sea level and a total of seven hours walking, definatly the longest and hardest day of the Inca Trail trek. The last peak pass (Dead Women’s Pass) was the hardest due to the altitude and thin air. For me it was the light headiness and occasional shortness of breath, but that only lasted a couple of minutes and after stopping for a little rest I felt fine again. Reagan and another guy on our tour were still suffering from upset stomachs caused by the altitude, but once we started to descend they came right. I was surprised by how fit I was, I guess the last year being spent ‘healthy living’ in Vancouver, going to the gym, walking and biking helped prepare me that little bit more. Reagan and I both found it easier than others and at some stop points we were 30 minutes to an hour ahead of others in our group.
The last two hours were all down hill and steep steps. Unfortunately a guy in our group fell and cut his knee at this point and had to be piggy backed. For the rest of the days trek porters half his height carried him
in a blanket folded like an old school cotton cloth nappy complete with his long legs nearly dragging on the ground.
The third day is suppose to be the easiest part of the Inca trail. To be honest I struggled because of a sore hip and shins. But after taking some pain killers and chewing on coca leaves for the entire day, the pain eased and my energy levels were back. The scenery on the third day is again spectacular and even more greener than any other day. At times you are walking along a trail with a cliff drop below on one side and greenery for miles ahead. After three days of trekking and with no access to showers we braved a freezing cold shower to give the skin a good cleanse. It was good to see my skin go back to its normal colour. The third day is also the final supper so we thanked the porters and guide for all their hard work and help along the way. They were always on hand to help, carrying 20kgs of gear and cooking all our meals to perfection.
The final day of the Inca Trail is a very early start at 3.30am arriving at the Sungate early enough to see the amazing view of Machu Picchu with the sun rising behind it. The four days of trekking was worth it when we saw Machu Picchu. It is a truly spectacular site and very hard to describe the sheer size and preservation of it. Wlaking around the site and taking in all the information on the Incas and how they lived was truly fascinating.
A few of us were up for the 24 hour challenge which involves staying awake from when we woke at 3.30am to start the final day of trekking to 3.30am the following morning. Our bodies were exhausted and it was definitely a struggle to keep the eyes open. At 2.30am we headed back to the hotel where we were hoping we could find some beers. No luck. So we sat outside talking rubbish and determined to stay awake to complete the challenge. Although we technically weren’t out drinking till 3.30am, in our minds, we did stay awake and complete the challenge. Inca Trail…Success…24 hour Challenge…success!