The Inca Trail Day III

The Inca Trail Day III

The ‘tough day’ may have been in the rear view mirror, but the bad weather was still very much swirling around us. A soundtrack of rain drummed on the tent rooftop again in the early hours, and whilst it teased us once more by letting up when we were ready to set off on the trail again, it resumed shortly afterward.

It wasn’t long before we came across our first ruin at Runkurakay, which I’m told commands sublime views over the landscape around, which is something I’m naturally unable to verify as the scenery was wiped out by cloud again. So we pressed on in the hope that it would improve, but as we continued the cauldron of mist brewing in the valleys and rising up to much of the Andean peaks around meant we only got fleeting glimpses of jungle-clad mountainsides as we continued the ascent – much gentler than yesterday’s – toward the next ruin at Sayaqmarka.

Our guide Diego explained the functioning of this former Incan town, which manages to be both expansive and tightly-constructed across the acute mountain peak. It’s certainly much bigger than it looks at first glance, and exploring the hidden corners and hidey-holes of the complex is undeniably great fun.

When we pressed on the rain seemed to redouble, and the twisting paths up toward an Incan tunnel was certainly a bit of a challenge. At this point I managed to both fall behind the pace-setters and pull away from those bringing up the rear, completing this section on my own. The rain was so bad that I barely noticed Phuyupatamarka; the weather can certainly induce ruin-fatigue to a higher degree than usual!

Thoroughly soaked with no part of my body feeling like it wasn’t drenched by rain, we all sat, shivering and pretty miserable, at the third and final pass of the trail for lunch. With the rain continuing to hammer down, there was a general air of reluctance to leave the tent, and when a girl sat next to me started shivering so badly that I had to give her an impromptu back and shoulders massage to get her circulation flowing again, there was a bit of a temptation to ask if we could just camp here for the night…

Well, would you want to walk in this?

But press on we did, and this meant going down some 3000+ steps to the Winay Wayna campsite, which I’d anticipated being hell on the knees. However, with the rain gradually easing away, I actually found this bit reasonably easy and straightforward, and by the time Intipata swung in to view, in much clearer conditions, moods were considerably lifted at what was a truly spectacular sight.

Intipata is an optional part of the route, but is strongly recommended.

Be sure to turn left at the fork in the road to check it out. It only adds about 15 minutes to the walk, and is so worth it. Descending from the top to its sheer, terraced, ziggurat-style structure is akin to descending something like Chichen Itza (I imagine!), and it helped that the weather had sufficiently cleared for us to enjoy some great views, across to our campsite and beyond…including the mountain that guarded the entrance to Machu Picchu.

The campsite, split across various levels, had stirring, cloud-wraithed mountain views, and represented our last chance to thank our great porters with suitable gratuities and an early night for a very early start the next day. This was the big one!


  • John

    June 26, 2017 at 6:09 pm Reply

    Sounds like an amazing trip despite the rough weather! The views are gorgeous.

    • Joe

      June 26, 2017 at 6:16 pm Reply

      Thanks John 🙂 It was an uplifting end of the day, but we were a little anxious about the next day and if we would see Machu Picchu…

  • Tarah Vongbouthdy

    June 26, 2017 at 7:05 pm Reply

    Its too bad the weather wasn’t on your side! Im sure it was a little disappointing to not have clear views while hiking. Still looks incredible!
    Tarah Vongbouthdy recently posted…Hotel Marmorata: A Cliffside Oasis Along the Amalfi CoastMy Profile

    • Joe

      June 26, 2017 at 10:06 pm Reply

      It undoubtedly was, but our mantra was ‘we’ll take it if it means we get good views for Machu Picchu’. Which, of course, we had to wait and see for…

  • Gary House

    June 26, 2017 at 7:35 pm Reply

    Even in the gloom, the scenery is breathtaking!

    • Joe

      June 26, 2017 at 10:07 pm Reply

      Thanks, it was, and in some cases the cloud added to the overall effect!

  • 33andfree

    June 26, 2017 at 7:36 pm Reply

    These pictures are stunning! I love the darker look to the trail. I appreciate that you wrote about the struggles and challenges. Most people seem to make it out to be the perfect day and an easy trail. This trail has been no. 1 on my hike bucket list.

    • Joe

      June 26, 2017 at 10:08 pm Reply

      Perhaps it is easy if the weather is in your side- I wouldn’t know! Just wanted to show that it can be a great experience, even in grey and miserable weather where it can be a struggle …thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Claire

    June 28, 2017 at 12:39 am Reply

    Glad you got to see some of the views when the rain cleared, it is magnificent up there, but sooooo tough in the rain! At least it didn’t snow 😀

    • Joe

      June 28, 2017 at 6:02 am Reply

      Well that would be an all together more difficult proposition! Hope you enjoyed the trek too 🙂

  • Maggie

    June 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm Reply

    Even with the rain, it looks so beautiful there! And it’s nice to read that while you enjoyed the experience, there were some rough moments. Many people leave out the bad parts and I love your honesty!

    • Joe

      June 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm Reply

      Thanks Maggie 🙂 The rough parts were an integral part of the overall experience – grim at the time, but it’s what made it what it was, looking back!

  • Ada

    June 29, 2017 at 6:40 am Reply

    Ahh too bad about that weather but I am sure it was still amazing! The views are breathtaking! Wonderful photos ! Can’t wait to visit Inca Trail one day!

    • Joe

      June 29, 2017 at 4:34 pm Reply

      Thanks, and yes, it was amazing 🙂

  • Susan R

    June 29, 2017 at 7:44 am Reply

    This sounds like an epic adventure and you managed to capture great shots despite the rain. The terraces are beautiful, so green and lush. How fit do you need to be to walk the trail?

    • Joe

      June 29, 2017 at 4:35 pm Reply

      Thanks Susan 🙂 I would say you definitely need a reasonable level of fitness, but there’s no need to be a fine athletic specimen or anything. I did no specific training for it and I was fine.

  • Rachel Elizabeth

    June 29, 2017 at 7:37 pm Reply

    Too bad about the weather!! I’ve always wanted to hike the Inca Trail, but I need to get into better shape. Maybe I’ll actually get around to training this year, haha.

    • Joe

      June 30, 2017 at 6:23 am Reply

      It’s never too late 😉

  • Nisha Jha

    July 1, 2017 at 5:57 am Reply

    Great adventure. The bad weather only seems to have heightened the sense of adventure 😉 The pictures are amazing even in this weather.

    • Joe

      July 3, 2017 at 4:44 pm Reply

      Thank you Nisha! 🙂

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