The 4-Day Inca trail to Machu Picchu

Trip Start Jun 09, 2010
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Trip End Aug 04, 2010


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Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Sunday, July 4, 2010

1st day

We all woke up very excited about the 4-day Inca trail ahead of us. Freddie and Jako, our guides, picked us up at 7:30am and about an hour later we were at Km 82 where the trail starts. We got the first stamp on our passports (!) and started the 45Km journey to the lost citadel. Apart from us 10 there were also 15 porters carrying all required equipment, 2 cooks and 2 guides. And so the marathon began!!!

The scenery was beautiful along the way and the great weather helped to enjoy it. The view of the valley, the river and the snow-cap mountains was just unforgettable. Our first stop was at the Inca town call Llactapata, which was used as checkpoint in old times for people crossing the valley. About 40min later on we had our fist lunch break, where we discovered the amazing skills of our chef, Marko. Seriously, the trout we had was better than many of the dishes we have had in normal restaurants so far in the cities. We left in a rush in order to watch the World Cup semi-final between Holland and Uruguay. We reached Wallabamba, which would be our camp site for the first night early enough to watch the second half. It was the most surreal place to watch a soccer game. We were packed in a room 3x4m with 20 people. An old lady was serving pisco sour, millions of flies flying around, guinea pigs and chickens wandering around between our legs but no one really cared cause the semi-final was on!! 3-1 to Holland and we headed back to our tents. Thomas and Dries joined Freddie and Jako for a soccer game with some locals. It proved to be both a very passionate and a very challenging game due to the altitude (3200m), the dust and the lack of any internationally accepted rules! Good fun overall. Cold shower, dinner and sleep at around 8pm.

2nd Day

5:30am wake-up call with coca tea and hot water in bowls to wash our faces. By 6:30am we had started our way up to the most difficult part of the trail. The ascent to Dead Woman's Pass at 4200m. The first part of the climb was OK and a break came after about 1,5hrs for cookies and some rest. The second part of the ascent was representative of the Andean microclimate, with sub-tropical vegetation despite the 3700m above sea level. Inca steps were also starting to make our life more difficult. The third part of the way up was just exhausting!! We climbed from 3900m to 4200m on quite steep steps, stopping every now and then to catch our breath that was asking for more and more oxygen. The view of the valley we were leaving behind was definitely rewarding but those steps were torturing us more and more as we moved up. One way or the other, we made it to the top, where we had well-deserved snack and some rest enjoying the view and the feeling of success! The Dead Woman’s Pass went down on our log book; next stop the camp site for the second night, Paqaymayo.

With shaking legs we made our way down to the bottom of the valley on the other side of the mountain. Marko had prepared apple and cheese pies for us as a reward for the tiring day. A dive in the freezing-cold river was our -optional- shower. A nap under the beautiful afternoon sun was perfect to get us through the rest of the day. Dinner and card games in our dinning tent led us to our tents very early at night. We could hardly keep our eyes open anymore.

3rd Day

The rooster and some coca tea woke us up around 5:30am for the start of the longest day of all; today we had to cover 16Km. After about an hour’s hike we were at Runkuraqay, which is one of the many temples that the Incas built along the Inca trail. The temple combines the shape of the sun and the moon and was strategically placed on the trail in order to control traffic in the valley. We were now very well trained in uphill hiking, so the ascent to the first pass of that day, Runkuraqay pass at 3760m came much easier than we thought. We had beautiful views to both valleys from that point.

We started our way down and later on we stopped at Sayacmarca temple, which means "inaccessible", due to its position which was difficult to reach by potential intruders. After a short break at a nearby camp site we made our way up to the next high pass for that day. We were now walking on 95% original Inca trail, well in the Andean forest and the view over the valley was breathtaking. The stunning scenery with snow-cap mountains all around made the 1,5hrs hike to the next pass very enjoyable. We also went through 2 or 3 Inca tunnels on the way. By the time we reached the pass, Marko had already prepared for us an amazing lunch. From that point we had panoramic views of the Urubamba valley and right in front of us we could see for the first time the Machu Picchu mountain, however from its back side.

After recharging our batteries we made our way to the last part of the long day trek. It was a descent on Inca steps, quite demanding for our knees. On the way, we made a 45min detour to visit a temple with beautiful terraces that overlooked the valley. We just laid on the grass, enjoying the view and the sun. After 16Km we finally reached the last camp site, which was much more organized than the previous ones, with a mini-market, alcohol, music, hot shower (vital after 3 days of hiking).

Later on that night all of us gathered in the dining tent with all porters, cooks and guides to thank them for all their amazing efforts that made those three days such an enjoyable experience for us. Had it not been for them, we would have no food, nowhere to sleep in, no water to drink, in a nutshell no chance to make it to Machu Picchu. We are so grateful to these local men who helped us so much.

We went to bed early because it would be a 3:30am wake-up on the next day. It was the day that we would visit Machu Picchu…
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