We had one final crepe, and left our hostel to go to our Inca trail briefing. After reserving 4 months in advance, the time was finally here. The time to trek the Inca trail and visit one of the seven wonders of the world!!
But first we were going to stay in our porters village. We left soon after lunch and drove into the Peruvian countryside. Our first stop was a small library built by Wayki (our tour operator) where we played games and read English books to the children.
Our second stop was our porters house (he was 63 years old and had been a porter on the Inca trail for 24 years) where we dropped off our belongings and walked down to the corn fields. Here, we helped the locals pick their corn as it was time to harvest. It was very interesting to see how the local people made their living and how their lifestyle was so orientated towards farming (they only get 3 days off a year). 1 kilo of potatoes here is sold for 10 pence.
We finished picking and walked back up the hill to our porters house for dinner. The kitchen was small with guinea pigs running crazily around the floor and a small fire in the corner – extremely basic living conditions. Dinner consisted of corn and corn soup which was not Michelin star but good considering where we were.
After dinner, we went into another room where there were around 10 children waiting to dance and sing with us. For about half an hour we jumped up and down dancing with them and making fools of ourselves. They then sang us songs in their local dialect (Quechua) and we gave a few renditions of ‘incy wincy spider’ and other similar songs that we all knew. It was very very sweet and the kids really enjoyed themselves. We gave them colouring pencils and coca cola as gifts for their hospitality.
After an evening of silly dancing and embarrassing singing we wandered back to our tents. A great day.
We left our tents and drove one hour and a half to the start of the Inca trail. This was it! No turning back. We were 6 In total – 5 Brits and one Canadian lady, all of us raring to go. Ruben (a macho Peruvian man) was our tour guide and there were 9 porters (carrying all our food and tents for 4 days). We set off with 12km in front of us, luckily it was mostly flat so the trek was not too hard. We walked 7 km to our lunch spot and little did we know, a feast had been prepared. There was an array of nearly 10 different dishes which lay on the table for us to enjoy after a measly 7km.
We carried on the trek and arrived at our campsite at 5pm. We had dinner soon after which was another feast. The food on this trip is going to be incredible. We had an early night as day 2 is the hardest day of the Inca trail. Day 1 completed
We were awoken at 5 30am, had a delicious breakfast and left camp at 7am to try to avoid the heat whilst ascending the mighty hills. We had to climb from 3000m to 4215m which is far harder than it sounds. The first few hours were better than expected, we were all in good shape.
The last hour was by far the hardest. The altitude was taking its toll and our legs were worn down after 4 hours uphill. Eventually we made it, and what a relief that was. We trekked to the summit in good time and sat down to appreciate the incredible views that the Inca trail has to offer. That was one of the toughest walks I’ve ever done.
We carried on for 1 and a half hours downhill to our campsite and lunch spot which lies at 3600m. We arrived at 1 30 (after what had been an extremely tiring day) to another feast. Wayki fails to disappoint. Hats off to the chef.
There was also a river in Pakaymayo (our campsite) so we decided to clean ourselves and wash off the Incan mud. Dan braved the ice-cold water first and it was hilarious to watch. The water was glacial! Seeing Dan, Sophie and Sarah squeal and squirm was amazing. One of the funniest things!! At least we were clean. We relaxed in the afternoon enjoying each other’s company and had another fantastic dinner.
Our last and longest day – 16km. We awoke at 5 30am and had left camp by 7am. Whilst trekking today, we visited numerous Inca ruins, including sites called ‘Runkuraqay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca and Intipata,’ all of which were astounding.
We trekked until two o clock on the rocky Inca trail passing the most beautiful scenery. The Andes mountains are spectacular!
We had lunch on top of the clouds at 3600m and then left for our campsite. We arrived at 4 o clock after a long day of mostly downhill walking and our legs and knees were starting to feel the pain of three days hiking.
Our last supper was great. We had a delicious dinner and after, the whole team including porters, cooks and guide came to the tent for a farewell goodbye and thank you as they were taking the early train the next morning. On behalf of the group, I spoke to the team in Spanish thanking and congratulating them for what was an impeccable trip. An experience of a lifetime! The cook also made a farewell cake which was so impressive as the kitchen consists solely of a gas tank and stove.
The porters are all farmers who come from small Andean communities. They do the Inca trail twice a month to make extra money for their families as farming is their livelihood. All of them carry 20 kilos on their backs and run practically the whole trail. The porters are also not young, the head porter is 63 and still in great condition. All 9 of them were so impressive. We left as big a tip as we could (even on our tight backpacker budget) as a token of our appreciation.
What I found so impressive whilst visiting these ancient Inca sites was the landscape. The Inca’s architectural ingenuity was years ahead of its time and merely gazing upon these ruins (which have remained intact through years of natures wrath) is unbelievable. Modern day buildings collapse after natural disasters and hardly live longer than a century. The Incan architecture was so great that after 500 years of rain, wind, earthquakes and mother matures torment, the majority of the building remain standing.
After learning so much about Incan culture and tradition, one cannot help feel awe and admiration for the supreme intelligence exhibited by the Incan people. The Inca’s did not trade in coins and money, they lived peacefully in the Andes before the Spanish conquered and destroyed their lands in the 1500s. They had unparalleled respect for their environment, never destroying the landscape, merely building around it. They worshipped Mother Earth; the land, the sea, the sun etc. Unfortunately when the Spanish invaded, the Incas fled in fear of their lives and so much of the history, language and culture was lost. Remaining amongst the elder indigenous people here is resentment toward the Spaniards.
Walking the religious path towards Machu Pichu and visiting these holy ruins is truly incredible. I have never felt such a profound, innate respect and appreciation for a people, religion and a race. The Inca trail demands respect, and to walk in the footsteps of the Incan people on their holy pilgrimage is humbling. This is one of the greatest things I have ever done.
Today was the day! We were awoken at 3 30am so that we could see the sunrise over Machu Pichu. We walked briskly to the sun gate where we caught our first glimpse of one of the seven wonders of the world.
It was beautiful! This holy site lies peacefully on the peak of a mountain. The Incas were very prudent and diligent in where they built their cities. Some wonder why they were built so high and not nearer to the valley. The reason being water; they built where there were nearby springs.
Once again, the architecture of Machu Pichu city is remarkable. Numerous terraces, temples and buildings all constructed using rock litter the mountainside. To find such a secretive, elusive site so intricately designed and maintained after 500 years, hidden deep in the Peruvian Andes is truly amazing. It is hard to merely visit Machu Pichu without being psychologically affected by its peace, beauty and tranquility.
After the most rewarding 4 days of my life, we solemnly took the train back to Cusco with the fondest memories fresh in our minds. We arrived back to the warmth of our creperie hostel just in time for two Nutella crepes. A perfect finish to a perfect trip.