4d3n Inca Trail

Trip Start May 12, 2013
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Trip End Jul 30, 2013


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Flag of Peru  , Cuzco Region,
Monday, July 1, 2013

We prebooked the inca trail tour back in March with Cuzco Explorers, which was the cheapest in the market at usd360. Got picked up from our hostel at 7am and the tour followed. Itinerary is pretty much as with all other inca tours, and as I can't recall the weird names of the villages and inca sites, I'll write about aspects of the tours instead.


The Trail:

Only 500 inca trail permits are available per day, hence the need for early booking especially since its the high season now. There were many companies (more than 100) around and even more travel agencies (over 1000). On the trail we saw many different companies with their own porters and tour guides.

The trail itself is moderate. The first day was pretty much a stroll, we ended the day around 3pm. 1 or 2 inca sites along the way. The second day was supposed to be the toughest with 5 hours of uphill climb followed by 2 hours down. I took lots of breaks along the way as there was a loose screw in my camera and I tried to fix it along the way. Maybe that's why I thought it wasn't tiring. Reached the highest point (first pass) in around 4:25. Reached the camp site for lunch at around 2.30pm after waiting for the rest of my group to catch up. 3rd day was easy, 2 hours of uphill followed by ups and downs. Supposed to end at 5pm but we finished at 3pm. The last day had to get up at 3.30am as the porters had to catch a train. Hiked to the sungate and arrived around 6.45am, and waited for the first glimpse of light to hit the Machu Picchu.


The Inca Sites:

Those on the first and second day were average at best, none too noteworthy. The most pretty ruins were those on the 3rd day. There was this ruins just before the campsite called Intipata, where I took the unofficial way by walking down the terraces of the ruins rather than around it, to mingle with 3 llamas grazing on the terraces. After setting camp, went to another ruin Winaywayna which was amazing as well. Large terraces and places for living spaces. In general the ruins got bigger and bigger as the trail went on.


The Porters, and the food:

We all 'had' one porter each, not meaning they carried any of our personal belongings, but there were a total of 8 porters(including the chef) and 8 of us. The porters were amazing: some wore just sandals and carried gigantic sacks of equipments(tents, food, tables and chairs, gas tank!!!), and always arrived at the camp site before we did. The chef was great as well: I loved the food prepared. There was 4 meals a day: breakfast consisted of bread, pancakes/eggs with coffee/tea, lunch consisted of the typical soup main, tea break which had popcorns, biscuits and tea, and dinner was pretty much similar to lunch. More notably, we were served Quinoa during one of the meals: the super grain which consisted of lots of nutrients, and it was prepared perfectly like rice. The food served was not any worse than those you get off the cities, and the utensils were always clean.


The group:

There were the 4 of us, an Argentinian couple Sabrina and Sebastian, a Canadian Korean Esther, and Venezuelan Leo. We had some good time together and sharing stories of our travels. Several interesting incidents as well: Leo went missing on the third day, only to find him at the lunch site (from then on he was nicknamed Speedy Gonzales); a hole along the path which a lady almost fell through in front of us, and we created a danger zone to warn people of the hole.


The tour guide:

Percy, our tour guide was insightful and focused. Always cheered us on and paced as well. Good explanation of the inca sites along the way, and almost did a perfect job of taking good care of all of us.


The nights:

Living in a tent wasn't gonna be comfortable, but it was definitely better than my Torres Del Paine tent as we had a 4 man tent for 2 of us.
More space for movement. The nights were cold for the first two nights due to the higher altitude, but the sleeping bag was good enough to keep me warm.


Machu Picchu:
We arrived at the majestic lost city at around 8.30am. Percy gave us a tour of the area before leaving some free time for us to explore ourselves. It certainly didn't disappoint. It was huge, with large agricultural and religious/administration sectors. The ruins was completely off the radar of the conquering Spaniards and no one from the outside world knew about it from 1600-1900, until it was discovered in the 20th century by an American. No one actually knows the actual name of the ruins (Machu Picchu is the name of the mountain of which the ruins is situated on), and many hypotheses surfaced on what the ruins could have been used for (university, observatory, holiday resort etc). There were also several interesting architectures with fine craftsmanship, speculated for religious and important structures. After we were done exploring the ruins, walked down to the town Aqua Caliantes where the train leaves for Cuzco.

Machu Picchu, Peru
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