The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail. The road to the famous Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu has been a bucket list item of mine since I learned about the Inca Empire in school. I told Maxwell this and he suggested we go for our honeymoon. Little did I know that we would get to Machu Picchu his way… Post coming on how our honeymoon (luna de miel) went in Peru 🙂
We decided to go on the 4 day hike though there are others ranging from 2 days – 8 days. The 4 day hike follows the pilgrimage path that the Inca Kings took twice annually for the Summer and Winter Solstices. That little fact was a lot to take in- how are we so lucky?
The Inca Trail is highly regulated so you have to go through a trekking company- we chose Alpaca Expeditions. There will be a separate post on them.
The day started out early- 3:45am wake up call with the shuttle service picking us up at 4:30am. We were exhausted due to the altitude both the previous day in Cusco and getting ready in the morning. Not a fantastic sign when you are winded by packing a bag…
The shuttle picked us up and it was 2 hours to the start of the trail. Though we attempted to sleep, the roads are bumpy and it was near impossible. One of our trail mates was able to sleep almost the entire time, which I was jealous of!
After a stringent entering process to the trail because of it’s severe regulations, we were ready to set off! Bonus: You receive an extra passport stamp upon entering and exiting the Inca Trail!
Here is a picture of the 4 of us at the beginning of the trail.
*We are smiling because we had no idea what was ahead of us*
The trail started off relatively flat, which was good for us because we were still getting used to the altitude. Our hiking partners had been in Peru for 5-6 days already and had experienced their altitude adjustment, so they were sympathetic to our pain and wheezing.
The climate was hot and dry with scrub/desert plants. Cactuses, prickly pears, and aloe vera plants were abundant. The scenery was beautiful. Mountains on either side, the Urubamba Valley is a sight to see. The Urubamba river cuts through the valley and has some of the brightest water I have ever seen.
Prior to coming to Peru, Turn Right at Machu Picchu, was a must read. I would recommend reading it before hiking the trail so there is some familiarity to the names. It was surreal to be walking in the Sacred Valley of the Incas that I had read about both in the book and learned about in Primary school, High School, and University.
Along the way, there are Inca ruins. Many structures that have stood the test of time and are still standing strong to this day. The beautiful scenery paired with great weather made the structures even more breathtaking.
Throughout the day, the incline of the trail increased. Not such a coincidence- my lack of breathe also increased. I am notoriously bad at drinking water throughout the day, but water was one of the only things that help with altitude sickness. Keep drinking!
A few hours of hiking at altitude really takes it out of you. Luckily food was provided right when I needed it!
The second half of the day increased in intensity, hence why there are a lack of pictures. I was thankful to see our campsite for the night. We camped at Ayapata which is at roughly 11,000 feet. We started the day around 8,000 feet so there was a serious elevation change. My legs were beyond tired and my lungs even more so. Needless to say, we slept a solid 10 hours.
As we were laying in the tent, we spoke about our day. There was a sense of, oh my goodness- that was terrible and we have to do it again tomorrow. Then we smiled because we were so lucky to be there. My #1 bucket list item was going to be checked off and we were able to do the pilgrimage to get there.