The Inca Trail is a 4 day, 3 night hike on ancient pathways laid by the Incas ending at the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu. The hike is so popular that they only allow 200 people a day on the trek, so dates can be sold out up to 6 months in advance.
We booked our trek with Llama Path back in October, promising ourselves that after Christmas we would spend 4 months training for it. Six weeks before the trek and still no preparation, Carrie started running a few times a week while Seth still did nothing. We set off for Peru half wishing we’d just been lazy and booked the train!
A 4:30am bus from Cusco took us to Ollantaytambo and Km82, the starting point for the hike. The porters loaded up their bags and set off first while we passed through the checkpoint and onto the start of the trail. All smiles and excitement at this point!
The first part of the day wasn’t too bad, through valleys, across rivers and our first Inca ruins. In the afternoon we began the first part of the ascent towards Dead Woman’s Pass which gave us a taste of what was to come the next day.
By no means an easy day in the intense heat but beautiful scenery and we were glad when we finally reached camp at Ayapata.
Distance hiked: 14km
Highest altitude: 3300m/10829ft
This was the day we knew would be the toughest. Two mountain passes to climb and descend, including the highest point of the trek – Dead Woman’s Pass at 4215m/13828ft.
I’m writing this as me (Carrie) as this was a particularly traumatising day for me. The porters woke us up with Coca tea in our tents at 5:30am and we all gathered for breakfast before starting the ascent. This was where the problems started.
I’d picked up a stomach bug in either in Cusco or Arequipa, potentially from some dodgy Chicharrón or more than likely all those fresh juices I’d been drinking that I hadn’t realised were being made with tap water.
Dosed up on every tablet imaginable it caused no problems on Day 1, however Day 2 was a different story. Sparing you the grisly details it involved several emergency toilet situations and the inability to eat any food. This made Day 2 the most physically and mentally challenging day of the trek for me, with no food and no energy, just putting one foot in front of the other was a struggle. Climbing to the top of Dead Woman’s Pass, with less and less oxygen in every breath seemed impossible.
It was just steps. Constant steps. For hours.
This would have been tough anyway, but being sick made it so much harder. Luckily I had Seth with me, carrying my backpack on his front and willing me on each step of the way.
Somehow, after several hours we made it to the top. A few of our group were already there and we sat a while taking photos.
We’d reached the highest point, a massive achievement, but it was still hours downhill to the lunch camp with another peak to climb in the afternoon. Going downhill was much easier on the lungs. The scenery was breathtaking but at the time I just couldn’t appreciate it.
After not being able to stomach any food at lunch we set off on the second high pass of the day. Several hours and a couple of Inca sites later we reached our camp for the night. I went straight to sleep in the tent feeling absolutely horrendous hoping that I would wake up on Day 3 recovered and full of energy. How wrong I was.
Distance hiked: 16km
Highest altitude: 4215m/13828ft
Part two coming soon…