The Unbelivable Inca Trail!

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South America » Peru » Cusco » Inca Trail
December 17th 2011
Published: January 9th 2012
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Note - This continues on from the last blog....

Day 3 –

Today was the day we had been waiting for. It was the start of the Inca trail, and day 1 of the trek. After a decent breakfast from the hotel, we departed in a minibus towards the entrance of the famous trail. After sorting out our gear (our porters were to carry the bulk of our belongings, and we were left to carry only a light day bag) we were ready and rearing to go. So after the obligatory group snaps outside the ‘start line’, jeering at the ‘lazy’ train passengers as they went by and getting our passports checked, the walking began and we were finally actually trekking the Inca trail. Both for us, and many of our group, this was something we had wanted to do for some time now and the excitement among us was intoxicating.

We had been told that Day 1 of the hike was to be fairly easy, with just a couple of slight climbs uphill. This suited everyone just fine, as it was a great chance to get to know people in the group a little better, as well as being able to enjoy the fantastic scenery. The fact that the sun was shining just about made it perfect.

After a few hours or so walking on fairly straight terrain, we were greeted with our first climb uphill. It was tough, and all of us were really out of breath due to the climb as well as the lack of air up here, but the view from the top was worth it and looking down at the valley and the trail we had just climbed was a great feeling. Whilst taking in this wonderful view, we noticed a lone porter literally running up the hill we had all just struggled to climb, and it was the first glimpse of how superhuman these porters really were. He was around 5ft tall, wearing sandals and carrying a bag weighing around 25kgs…incredible!!

Our next stop was at a small Inca village sight where the remains of a building were still very much standing. It was here that donkeys were roaming round free, grazing on the land. It was then, after a small talk from Fernando, that we turned round to see Jason from the group riding a random donkey….it was a pretty amusing sight and we realised from this point that Jason was going to become quite the entertainer throughout the trek.

From here, we had a choice, to go the normal way, or the dangerous way. It wasn’t really a difficult decision and therefore half of us set off down the ‘dangerous’ trail. To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as it was made to sound, although there were parts that were quite scary, where the trail was thin, and the drops would have meant certain death! It was at the end of this trail where we were able to stand on a lone rock that had a sheer drop below, if we felt brave enough. It took a while, but eventually, Donna and I plucked up the courage, and braved the rock of doom!

After a bit more trekking, we made it to the base camp for lunch, and it was here that the respect for the porters we already had increased immensely. On arrival to the camp, there was already a lunch tent waiting for us as well as a separate kitchen tent that was chucking out smells that were making our mouths all water with anticipation. How these guys got here so quick, and how they managed to knock up the amazing food that we ate was nothing short of incredible and after a hearty, beautiful lunch, we were back on the road again for some more trekking.

Finally after a few more hours, we had reached our camp for the night. This time, all the tents for sleeping were made as well as the tent for dinner and the food was already on the go. Dinner was scheduled for 7pm. When we asked what we did after that, Fernando replied ‘We sleep’. This was a source of amusement for many of us, as sleeping at 8pm just seemed crazy? But, once the amazing food had been consumed, and the coca tea had been drunk the day had caught up on everyone and the thought of sleep became a very nice idea indeed. This was especially true after we had been briefed that evening that Day 2 was the killer day, and the point of no return…..

Day 4 –

Today we were in for a big day, and the toughest of the trek. We were due to climb to the
This was from the Summit of 4200m This was from the Summit of 4200m This was from the Summit of 4200m

We trekked all the way up the valley that you can see in the distance!!
highest point of the trek of 4200 metres, which wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. After waking up, we found out that three of our group had been violently ill during the night, and were really struggling this morning, and was therefore touch and go as to whether they would be able to continue. When it was finally time to leave camp to get the climb on the way, it was clear that one of the girls wouldn’t be able to continue, and would have to return to the town located at the start of the trail, which was a real blow to her of course, but also, to the group. The other two guys that were ill started the trek in hope they would feel better after a little while. After around an hour though, it was clear that we were to lose another member, as one of the guys that was suffering in the night nearly passed out, and seriously needed to return also in fear he may get even sicker if he continued, so with another sad loss to the group, we were down to 14.

The other guy who was ill in the night managed to keep down some pills and struggled on with us, and eventually, after a few hours climbing, made it to base camp (also known as the point of no return). There, we refuelled on soup, ready for the toughest part of the mountain that was yet to come. After the yummy pick me up, we set off in a group of 5 ready to help and encourage each other during our ascent to the summit of 4200 metres. Every time we got to the top of a blind bend, we expected to see the top, but more hills greeted us instead. It was a real test for everyone physically and mentally, but eventually we rounded a bend, and there it was….the Summit! We were all so relieved and made it a mission to get there by setting ourselves targets of no more than 4 stops to catch our breath and reach the top. Finally, when we were within ten metres or so the feeling of reaching the top was overwhelming, and so, for the last step, the 4 of us that had been trekking together stood in a row, held hands, and finished the last step together, before whooping and cheering hysterically. Here, we met up with the 5th member of the group who had powered on ahead of us and was at the summit already and altogether we shared a few well deserved hugs and high fives…..a truly awesome moment.

The rest of the day was spent navigating a couple of hundred meters down steps that had a tiny stream running down them making the descent slippery and more difficult than a downhill walk should have been. But after a few hours of navigating these treacherous steps, and chatting away, we finally made it to the camp, where we were also staying for the night. Here, we had a really nice amount of time to relax and reminisce about the fantastic day we had together and congratulate each other on what we had achieved so far….

Day 5 –

Today was to be an easier day than the one before, and where we could see up to 4 Inca sights on the way. It was also going to be the longest of the trek so far at 16km. The start of day delighted us with yet more climbing however we knew that it would be nowhere near the scale of yesterday’s struggle and once we reached the top it was downhill all the way. Speaking of going downhill, this is exactly where the tone went. Upon arrival to our final summit our regular entertainer Jason decided to celebrate in a rather unconventional manner by climbing a huge rock and stripping naked in front of around 100 people! It was something none of us were expecting (although Jason was the king of the unexpected) and neither were the other trekkers, who then all decided to capture this moment and began to take pictures!

The rest of the trek from there was about 1000m downhill and just to make life a little harder for us, the heavens decided to open and didn’t stop for a good few hours. However, the walk through the rain wasn’t too bad and again the conversation was flowing and this kept the spirits up for everyone. Eventually we stumbled upon the next Inca ruin that was high up on a hill and again hosted spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It was here a big group of us chilled, snacked and generally larked about taking cheesy photos and sat in amazement at what we had seen and achieved so far. That night, after dinner, we had a big ceremony dedicated to the porters to thank them for their amazing work throughout the tour as well as thanking Fernando for being an absolutely awesome guide. It was a big moment in the tour, as tomorrow we were to rise at 3.30am in order to trek the last 6km of the trek to the Sungate for our first glimpse of Machu Piccu, so although excitement was the emotion taking over, we knew we needed to sleep as tomorrow was going to be a long, but unforgettable day……

Additional photos below
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