The legendary Inca Trail to the Machu Picchu consists of 4 days and 45 km of hiking in pure nature on a very well preserved Inca path through forests, waterfalls and along mountains, no civilisation anywhere to be seen and setting up our own camp every night! This was arguably the BEST experience of our whole trip so far and we absolutely recommend it to everyone!!!
The first day started at 5 am with a transfer from Cuzco to the entrance of the National Park, picking up our ‘Porters’ along the way. We were a group of 11 hikers, 2 guides and 18 porters. The porters were in charge of cooking, cleaning, setting up tents and mattresses, carrying all the gear, making tea etc etc. Basically a portable 5-star hotel. 🙂 After having our passports stamped at the entrance of the National Park we started our 12 km hike to our first camping spot. The trail first followed the Rio Urubamba but quite soon we started the ascent to the first peak at 3000m altitude where the Porters had already set up our camp (after having hiked the mountain twice as fast as we did, each carrying 30kg on their backs!!!). As soon as we arrived we were offered clean water, refreshments and snacks in a special ‘dining tent’, followed by a multi-course dinner with some of the best Peruvian food we’d had so far. Next to the dining tent were our sleeping tents, set up with comfy mattresses and sleeping bags, we didn’t have to do a thing! And we slept like babies…
The second day started again at 5am with a wake-up call from one of the Porters offering us home-made coca leaf tea, SO much better than coffee. After breakfast we continued our ascent first through a tropical forest and then through the pampa of Llullucha, up to the peak of Warmiwanusca, at 4200m, also called the ‘Dead women’s pass’. From the very windy top we could enjoy stunning views on the valley and the Inca Trail, but it took us quite some effort to get there. After a photo-stop we continued along the trail which took us down thousands of stone steps to the valley of Pacamayo where lunch was waiting for us. The afternoon was much easier and we reached the campsite in the late afternoon, after 11 km of hiking.
The third day started very early as we had 16km of hiking and the second and third major peaks ahead of us. We started with an endless ascending path of stone steps to the Ruins of Runkuraqay, which is like a mini-Machu Picchu, very well preserved and overseeing the valley. We then continued our ascent to a peak of 3950m and went back down to visit the beautiful ruins of Sayacmarca. From this point onwards the climate and vegetation completely changed: we felt a sudden drop in temperature, lots of wind and constant thin rain, and the plants and trees seemed completely out of control as if we were deep inside the Amazonian jungle. We continued our hike to the third peak at 3700m and to the mystical ruins of Putupatamarca, “the city in the clouds”. Finally just a few thousands steps were waiting for us to get to the grandiose Intipata ruins, which is where our camp was set up. As if the day had not been tough enough, Jean organised a mini Inca race up the inca stairs with our fellow hikers inside the ruins; classic! 🙂
The fourth and last day started in the middle of the night as we had to wake up at 3.30 am to get to the famous Sun Gate just after sunrise from where we had a breath-taking view on the long awaited Machu Picchu! With a completely blue sky and no cloud anywhere to be seen the view was simply breathtaking. There are just no words to describe it. After 4 intensive days we were struck by a feeling of extreme joy, victory and accomplishment, making the final descent to the ancient city itself a piece of cake.
The ancient city of Machu Picchu is still a mystery to historians around the world today. Was it a religious capital, residency of an emperor, home of the Virgins of the Sun or simply the Inca Capital? The city was only discovered in 1911 and many of its secrets have been lost over time. Still, the visit of the city is absolutely amazing and we could admire ancient houses, terraces, aqueducts,… After having visited the ancient city we raced up the Wayna Picchu (with the help of a few Coca leaves), which was an extremely steep ascent to 2700m from where we had a great view on the Machu Picchu and the Sun Gate. After having spent an amazing day in this ancient Inca city we boarded a train in Agua Calientes, to get back to Cuzco, completely dead, but so happy we got to experience this. BEST hike so far!!!
Last but not least, massive thanks to our 2 guides (Jose Luis & Roger), 18 porters and to our group of fellow hikers! We met amazing people during this adventure and they made the experience so much cooler!
- Llama Path agency – according to us the best organisation with whom you can book the Inca Trail. There are many many many agencies, all with very different price and quality. Llama Path had excellent guides, great equipment and good treatment of their Porters