The Inca Trail Day I

The Inca Trail Day I

The Inca Trail is seen as a rite of passage for trekkers, and is the classic route to Machu Picchu. It was a route to the famous ruin taken by its inhabitants from centuries ago, and the exact same route and brickwork is largely still intact. 24 miles in length, the path undulates wildly, dipping and peaking at various high altitudes, and breath-taking Andean scenery comes as standard, with regular ruins thrown in enroute to the crowning glory of Machu Picchu itself at the end of it all.

We were obliged to start at about 4:30am to ensure we got breakfast in before our group, with a trio of guides and a huge army of porters overseen by our chief guide Diego, was bussed to the starting point of KM82.

Our group consisted of a diverse range of ages and nationalities. There were quite a few Brits among our number, plus quite a few Europeans – German, Danish, Swedes – and a couple of Americans and an Egyptian thrown in for good measure!

Our group at the official start of the trail – looking fresh-faced and clean!

There was strict weighing and measuring of the duffel bags those of us who had opted for superior service had passed on for our porters. My friend who was accompanying me around Peru on this trip tried to cheat at this point by smuggling his extra water in to his duffel bag, but our crew was having none of it. He was duly told off once he’d been caught out!

Once formalities and passport checking was completed we were underway. The route starts gently enough by crossing the bridge and a gentle incline on to a path that passes between the lush walls of the Sacred Valley, rising above the rushing Bamba River below.

Verdant, lush vegetation, including mint tea leaves that Diego picked for us to sample, was everywhere. In glorious sunshine, we spotted our first ruin, Meskay. This was some way from the path and so not especially close up, but was a beguiling appetiser for a more tantalising ruin awaiting us a little further along.

But first, as the sun intensified and the mercury soared, we had two separate steep climbs up rock terrain to negotiate, the first true ‘testing’ section of the Inca Trail. The reward was some fine views of mountain peaks – rocky ones in the foreground, snow-capped ones in the far distance – shrouded by the occasional cloud, as well as some river ranges.

All of this is a prelude to the magnificent ruin at Llactapata, which serves as a reminder that the route is worth taking for everything that goes with the experience beyond Machu Picchu itself.

As we sat above, Diego explained how it was a strategic ruin for its fertile land and the ease with which it could be defended. He also expanded on how forts such as this are constructed in animal shapes and to match the movement of celestial bodies. He was also sure to passionately advocate for the ruins at Choquequirau, which Llactapata resembles, which – yep – he said were arguably better than Machu Picchu. I guess if in the years to come we all start hearing more about it, he’ll be proven right.

After a delicious lunch – our cook was fabulous, and consistently whipped up truly excellent food for us throughout – we headed to our first campsite, at Wayllabamba. The sun had slid behind the clouds now, but it was still warm. The porters saw fit to award us with a guard of honour and a round of applause when we arrived at the campsite, as if we’d achieved something already! We knew to take this with a pinch of salt. Tomorrow would be a much tougher day!

9 Comments

  • Naomi

    June 12, 2017 at 5:34 pm Reply

    The pictures look amazing but also looks gruwling! I’m pretty sure I made the right decision by taking the train to MP. Curious how you’ve survived your 2nd day on the trail!

    • Joe

      June 12, 2017 at 6:11 pm Reply

      Hahaha, well it’s not for everyone. Taking the train sure can be a good option! As I say at the end, it only got tougher…

  • Amanda Keeley-Thurman

    June 12, 2017 at 6:33 pm Reply

    Wow. I just watched an episode of Expedition Unknown about the Inca Trail and I would love to do this. Be honest, how hard was it?

    • Joe

      June 12, 2017 at 10:15 pm Reply

      Well…I would say it’s all down to your trekking ability and experience. A seasoned trekker will probably find it quite straightforward; for everyone else, it’s tough, but doable!

  • Bistra Yakimova

    June 13, 2017 at 1:41 pm Reply

    Reading about your experience on the Inca Trail just gives me the goosebumps! Wonderful!
    Bistra Yakimova recently posted…Сенегал – красотата на изкуствотоMy Profile

    • Joe

      June 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm Reply

      Thanks 🙂

  • Kaila Yu

    June 13, 2017 at 5:38 pm Reply

    I don’t know if I could last Machu Picchu! I’m so out of shape!

  • Tarah Vongbouthdy

    June 14, 2017 at 5:08 am Reply

    Wow, it looks amazing but I’m sure it was so challenging! Was the hike worth it? All the photos look incredible!
    Tarah Vongbouthdy recently posted…The Best Place to Stay in Santorini: Our Ultimate Guide to SantoriniMy Profile

    • Joe

      June 14, 2017 at 5:52 am Reply

      Oh yes, very much so. It got tougher but there is lots to see entourage, and seeing Machu Picchu at the end is something special, no doubt about it 🙂

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