The Inca Trail

An early start in the chill was our introduction to the 4 day hike to Machu Picchu. A bus took us 45 mins from Ollantaytambo to the start of the trek. It only costs around 300 soles (£75) to actually do the trek which isn’t a lot! After a bit of organising, we set off with our guide leading the way. There is a weight restriction on the amount of luggage you can take with you as there are porters who carry it for you to the campsite – they are absolute machines as they carry around 20kg on their back, leave after you leave, and arrive at the campsite before you do – I felt so inadequate! They are absolute machines and legends! It’s 44km over 3.5 days, which I know doesn’t sound too far, but dealing with altitude, varying weather conditions and steep ascents/descents makes it the challenge.IMG_2316IMG_2320IMG_2322IMG_2323The walk itself was only 11km but was up and down hill a bit. Reached an altitude of 3100m having started at around 2650m. It gave us a good idea of what to expect over the following days. We were fortunate enough to see a few Inca ruins along the way – they suddenly appeared out of no where and the views were stunning.

The food was amazing and continued to be for the whole trip – we were definitely spoilt! I was used to eating cold baked beans out of a tin, not having amazing soup and a plate of rice, beef stew and veg, along with “Happy Hour” which consisted of several cups of tea and cheese crackers and jam. Early nights on all three evenings was a necessity as we were all so tired.IMG_2327IMG_2336IMG_2344IMG_2352IMG_2358IMG_2394IMG_2395The second day was much more of a challenge – the morning was all about climbing. Went up 1000m to 4200m and reached Dead Woman’s Pass in under 5 hours. It was such an achievement – a hard one both physically and mentally. The altitude affects the lung capacity more than you may think although the recovery is a quick one. I also had a couple of odd dreams too. The rain came down when we started the descent so it was poncho time! It made the steep steps quite slippery. We had to keep ourselves motivated and the reward at the end was great. I thought I’d be a lot worse and find it harder than I did. The spin classes have clearly paid off! IMG_2369IMG_2372IMG_2375IMG_2376IMG_2379IMG_2383IMG_2390Day 3 was another early start – this was going to be the longest day (16km) and mostly downhill which isn’t easy sometimes – down 1000m to 2500m. My quads were starting to feel the burn on this day. I didn’t use walking poles on the second day so relied entirely on leg power. We started uphill which was ok but I was definitely slower – tiredness was beginning to sink in. The group tended to separate a bit depending on the different paces, but we all met again at various points. Going down was a huge challenge – I slipped over a few times down the wet steps and near some steep cliff drops which was frightening. Now have 2 elegant bruises on both bum cheeks. I ended up getting frustrated with myself that I kept on slipping over or coming close to it so got a bit emotional. But as the day went on, I grew in confidence and was fine by the end of the day – it takes a while to adjust to focus on where you put your feet. Everyone else was feeling the fatigue too.IMG_2411IMG_2420IMG_2421IMG_2425IMG_2437IMG_2438IMG_2447IMG_2451The final day – we were woken up at 03:30 to get through the final checkpoint as early as possible. This meant waiting in a line at the checkpoint for an hour in the dark. But it would be worth it. The views along the way were incredible. You were never tired of the scenery around you – 360 degrees of mountains, waterfalls, luscious grass – almost jungle like in parts. The walking on the last day was great in comparison. Easy up and down with some narrow parts. We finally reached the Sun Gate and had the most incredible view of Machu Picchu as the clouds cleared and the sun was rising. Another 45 mins on our feet and we made it! It was hard to take it all in. Of course, we were all shattered by this point and had to contend with a huge amount of tourists. Walking around the site made me realise how massive it is in comparison to other Inca ruins we had visited along the way. We explored the major temples and wandered around.The sun was fairly fierce and it was so early in the morning.IMG_2483IMG_2488IMG_2498IMG_2528IMG_2535IMG_2539IMG_2545IMG_2548IMG_2549IMG_2557IMG_2561_Copy(1)

Things I have learned to love and appreciate:

1) Oxygen

2) A toilet I can sit down on

3) The power of the legs

4) Face wipes & deodorant

It was the most amazing journey and I valued that more than visiting the big site itself. It suddenly hits you once you’ve completed it. Sitting in the town afterwards having a celebratory lunch was great fun. Back to civilisation – aka Wi-Fi!

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4 thoughts on “The Inca Trail

  1. Well done Lex what am amazing achievement you must feel very proud. The photos are amazing and you look as if you could climb Everest. Your cycling has enhanced your fitness. The altitude must of made the trek much more difficult how many miles did you walk each day. Did you sleep in tents and was there any beasties looking forward to your next adventure
    Take care Jill Xx

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    1. It was an incredible journey – I would recommend it to anyone! The altitude definitely has an effect. The distance varied each day but the longest was 9 miles. Was in tents indeed. Only mozzies! Nothing too bad 😛xx

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  2. From Jill’s partner Dave. Lex, We have always had Machu Pichu on our bucket list. However, I’m not sure we are physically up to it! Reading about your adventure though, makes me feel as if I’ve been there. The pics are fantastic too.

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    1. Doing the trek made it worth it. You can get there by train and bus if you didn’t fancy doing a trek. It’s definitely somewhere to visit while you can. It’s a shame there were so many people there when I arrived – I was used to a small company of travellers on the trek and was pretty exhausted! Hope you get there!

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