The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu – Part 1

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!

DAY 1.

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!

Inca trail

Our group, ready to go!

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

DAY 2.

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…

7 Comments

  • denise gittens June 6, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Wow those photos are fantastic, so sorry to read how ill you
    Have been Carrie.
    Can’t wait for part two!!!!!

    Reply
  • mattman2000 June 8, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    It’s hard enough without a bad stomach…I had a toilet emergency on the last night but thankfully not during the walk. Can’t even imagine that. Great pics – how do you do the collages?

    Reply
    • travelchowdown June 8, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Yeah, it certainly made it extra tough!

      Thanks! It’s a built in feature on WordPress, if you select more than one pic it allows you to create a ’tiled mosaic’ 🙂

      Reply
  • Arielle Demchuk June 14, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Sorry you fell ill on the hike – it’s challenging enough without any ailments! I did day 3 and 4 with a knee injury after falling on day 2. But on the bright side, it looks like you had far better weather than I did – it poured rain all day 2 (hence slipping and falling and hurting my knee) and we got hailed on at the top of Dead Woman’s Pass, so all that effort and we couldn’t see anything or take good pictures! Congratulations on finishing though – it is a huge accomplishment and definitely teaches you a lesson or two, both physically and emotionally! 🙂

    Reply
    • travelchowdown June 14, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Thank you, it took a few days to get over the trauma of it all to realise what an achievement it was! Congrats to you too, I can’t imagine how painful a knee injury would be with all those steps!

      Reply
  • Marilyn July 19, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Hi my grandson is very ill, or he was two days ago, he took himself to hospital, stayed overnight, cost about $500.00, but apart from that he is recovering in a hotel near the airport as I’m typing this, he is alone, he’s girlfriend had just left for home as planned, that’s when he became very ill. He will meet his dad, and uncle in Mexico,

    Reply
    • travelchowdown August 2, 2016 at 2:23 am

      Hi Marylin, that sounds terrible. Hope he is ok now?

      Reply

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