I’ve recently been in contact with a friend who just came back from a 6 month holiday in South America. It made me remember the most epic experience that I had in Peru; trekking the Inca trail for 4 days to get to Machu Picchu - the lost city of the Incas!
I couldn’t possibly explain everything about my experience on the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu in just one post, so I have decided to write about my favourite parts of the journey.
Starting the journey is exciting
When I was in year 6, I had to create a poster about an ancient civilization that I found fascinating. I chose the Incas because they were such an interesting civilization that managed to build structures that were far advanced for their time. It was so exciting to be finally able to go on a trek to “the lost city of the Incas” decades after dreaming about it.
Machu Picchu is a city that is located in the Cusco region of Peru and was built by the Incas in the 1400s. Legend has it that the Incas kept this city a secret for so long because it enabled them to stay hidden from the Spanish during the Spanish Conquest. The trail starts in the mountains, which is where we took this photo. We dressed for all climates; zip pants that change from long to short, layers of t-shirts for cooler or warmer weather, a hat and sunglasses to shield us from the sun, hiking boots for the treacherous walk and walking sticks to help us move around.
It’s not what you do on the journey but who you are with
When we arrived to our first camp site, we met our wonderful porters and chefs. For 13 of us, we had 20 porters, 2 chefs and 2 tour guides. The tour guides spoke English which was helpful because my Spanish was limited and my Quechua was non-existent. These men were some of the most loveliest people that we met in Peru.
They were hard workers and always looked out for us. I remember a night when I was in pain as I had a terrible, red and very sore sunburn on my hand. I also had a bit of sunstroke and was becoming slightly delusional from the extreme temperatures. I thought that I had 3rd degree burns and was going to die from them (this was my first real camping experience, don’t judge). Ephraim, the tour guide, managed to make me feel better by telling me a little joke and letting me know that things would be fine. He also helped the other travelers who were suffering from altitude sickness by giving them fluids and monitoring them until they felt better. We always felt safe and that was important to me.
5 Star Camping
I will not lie, I don’t really enjoy camping which is the reason why my Inca Trail trek was like traditional camping but with extra trimmings. We slept in tents but we did not have to set them up or pull them down whenever we moved onto the next pittstop. We carried backpacks, but only for snacks and water. The porters carried the rest.
Our mission for the 4 days was to walk, stay hydrated and enjoy the scenery. We’d trek for hours until our feet felt like jelly. Then, as we arrived to the pittstop, we’d be greeted by our amazing porters who would give us a pat on the back and give us a drink of water as a refreshment.
To me, the porters were like super heroes.Their job was to carry all our things, the kitchen equipement, tents, toilets and food supplies on their back while running to ensure that they arrived at the next pitt stop before us! We would see them running at lightening speed down gravelly staircases and rocky ledges just to make sure that our lunch or dinner tent was set up so that we could comfortably eat our meals in locations that gave us a perfect view of the Andes mountains.
We would also have mini siestas during the day. The porters would often lay a large blanket on the grass that overlooked the mountains and we’d lie there for 15 minutes to rest and take in the fresh air. We’d then be given a snack bag to give us energy for the next leg of the journey.
The roads are random and can bring you to tears (good and bad)
The Inca trail trek was not always fun and games. There were times when we’d be trekking on a steep decline for 4 hours straight. To get us through, we’d walk for 100 steps at a time and then give ourselves a break for a few minutes before continuing the process again. The paths were not clean cut and would often cause us to slip if we made the wrong foot movement. I remember walking for hours and feeling so dehydrated that I just didn’t want to go any further. I just sat on a rock and cried. That moment lasted for a few minutes until Rick told me to get up and keep walking… and so I did… I was on the epic Inca Trail after all, I had nothing to cry about!
I kept walking and would laugh at myself to get me through the next few hours. We’d often walk past some other tourists who were resting and finding it difficult to continue. We’d make jokes and tease each other about the state of our clothes and hair to make the journey easier. Laughter can sometimes solve problems!
The weather conditions would change rapidly throughout the day but it was worth it! Especially when we walked through parts of the trail where there was complete silence, except for the sound of birds singing and the trees billowing in the wind. We walked through a small cave and through a rickety bridge in the middle of the forest and then through walkways where you had full view of the Andes mountains. Sometimes there would be desert and then sometimes there would be forest. We had the best of both worlds.
Then you see the light
One of the best moments of the Inca trail for me was when I could see Machu Picchu in the far off distance, just 20 minutes from the site. The city was in darkness until the sun started moving across the city, lighting it up and revealing it in all it’s glory. This was a wow moment for me. It was worth the wait and something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
We are at Machu Picchu, hoorah!
Can you see how excited we are in this photo? Well, multiply that by 1000 and you’ll be able to understand the pure excitement and sense of accomplishment that we felt when we stepped foot into the lost city of the Incas.
Immediatley after this photo was taken, we set off to explore every intricate part of this city. Being at Machu Picchu was surreal and standing there in the middle of this ancient city took my breath away. When you walk through Machu Picchu, you see fountains and water wells that still work today, toilets that bear resemblance to the toilets of our time and buildings that give you insight into the class hierarchies of the Inca people. You learn so much about how these people lived in the 1400s just by looking at the ruins.
I selected some of my favourite photos of Machu Picchu so that you could get a glimpse of how we felt and what we saw. Hope that you enjoy the photos…
Are you interested in seeing Machu Picchu? If you’re not interested in the trekking part of this journey, there are many other ways to get to Machu Picchu. Check out this link for more details.
Hope that you enjoyed this post about the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. If you’re interested in Peru, please check out my other posts where I went quad biking in the Andes mountains and exploring the beautiful city of Arequipa.
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