The Inca Trail is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Not only did I want to see Machu Picchu but I wanted to get there by the Inca Trail specifically. Reason being is I have heard it is beautiful and because of the challenge it presents. I had never done a multi-day hike before so this would be my first. Hiking all day, camping, and repeat the next day. Sounds great, doesn’t it? It was.
The days leading up to my hike I was a bit nervous that I was underprepared. I didn’t really know what I would need so there was a lot of googling and blog reading going on. I came to the realization that I will probably never have everything so as long as I have enough to get by I will be fine. My most important requirement: snacks. I am a snackaholic (new word?) and I can literally go nowhere without snacks. When I packed my day bag for the trail three quarters of it was filled with snacks. I ended up not needing those snacks because the food on the trail was so good and there was so much of it. I was constantly being fed and it was awesome. If you think you will loose weight on the Inca Trail, think again.
There are so many trekking companies to choose from and making sure you find a good one is key. I would say the most important factor is how do they treat their porters? Try to find an ethical company. It matters. I went with Llama Path and it was the best decision I have ever made. I cannot say enough good things about this company. From the moment I first inquired to the moment I arrived back from the trail their customer service was exceptional.
The first day on the trail was nice and easy, a great set up for what was to come. Beginning at Km 82, we checked in to the Inca Trail. This is where it sunk in and I became very excited for what was ahead. We covered 14km of the trail today ascending gradually. We passed by a variety of plant life and Inca Sites along the way. We arrived to the campsite to cheers from the porters congratulating us for one day done. I felt like a rockstar but really like I should be cheering for them instead.
Today is the most difficult day. With two high passes to cover I knew I had my work cut out for me. We covered 16 km and reached an altitude of 4200m (Dead Woman’s Pass). I took it slow because not only were we reaching high altitude but the scenery was so beautiful with stunning views of the high mountain range, I wanted to take it in as much as possible. When will I ever see this again? There was no rush for me. I was so happy to finish today knowing that the most difficult part of the trek is behind me. Once again we were greeted at the campsite to cheers, juice, hot water, and a delicious dinner. It always amazed me what the cooks could prepare in the middle of nowhere.
Today we passed through some of the most beautiful scenery. Compared to day 2 we covered a relatively short distance with manageable ascents and descents through the cloud forest with spectacular views of the Andes along the way. It rained in the afternoon but once the sky cleared up we were met with a beautiful evening. We visited two Inca Sites along the way, Phuyupatamarca and Winay Wayna. Winay Wayna was probably the most memorable moment of the Inca Trail for me. It was the most beautiful Inca Site I had seen and our guide Rudi led us through a spiritual ritual. It was a really moving experience to be there knowing that we have almost completed the Inca Trail and tomorrow we will be seeing Machu Picchu.
The final day of the Inca Trail, what has been one of the best experiences of my life. We woke up at 3:30am to wait for the gates to the final section of the Inca Trail to open at 5:30am. Once we made it through the checkpoint we began our final 45 minutes of trekking to the Sun Gate. Once we made it to the Sun Gate it was too cloudy and we could not see Machu Picchu. This is a reality in the rainy season and we knew it was a possibility. I had 6 more hours at Machu Picchu and since I had grown to learn the weather changes every 30 mins in Peru I was hopeful I would see Machu Picchu eventually. We were led on a guided tour of the site and then I went off to climb Huayna Picchu, a mountain that rises over Machu Picchu offering the best views of the site. It was a steep, slippery climb to the peak and it was unfortunately still cloudy. I waited up at the top for 1 hour when the clouds finally rolled over and revealed Machu Picchu. Patience is key in Peru. I cried when I saw Machu Picchu, I was so happy. It was so beautiful and I was just so happy to finally see it. It was a lot of work to get to this point but every moment was worth it. The sun came out and I had great views of Machu Picchu, finally.
I cannot say enough good things about my guides Rudi and Michael. They were everything I needed in a guide. Motivational, inspiring, funny, smart, informative. I feel like they made the experience truly special for us. The whole team of porters, cooks, guides not only made me leave the Inca Trail feeling full-filled but they made me leave the Inca Trail wanting to be a better person. They work so hard and it is really inspiring.