Inka Trail to Machu Picchu, the mandatory trek


This was no ordinary day. In fact, I believe there is no such thing as an ordinary day, as each one is special and different. It all depends on you!
The moment when I would fly to the magical imperial city of Cusco had finally arrived. This would not be just any old trip. This time, a 4-day adventure awaited me. Hiking the Inca Trail had become a personal challenge for me, and I was very close to achieving it.
Everything starts in the imperial city of Cusco, and as a good travel agent, I had to arrive at least two days in advance in order to let myself get used to the altitude.
To avoid getting the dreaded soroche, or altitude sickness, the best recommendation is to eat light, drink plenty of water and sleep well on your first day.
On my second day in Cusco, I met the person who would be our guide during the four-day trek, as well as all the staff who would join us. After a briefing, we were told what to pack. (I would suggest following the staff recommendations to the letter, since after all, they are the experts.)
Finally the day arrived! We left Cusco early in the morning in a private bus, and after crossing the Sacred Valley, we reached Kilometer 82, the well-known starting point where the entire travel team was waiting: porters, cooks, and helpers, all of them key to the functioning of the trek.
Our guide explained that on our first day, we’d have a 6-hour “easy trek”, until we reach our first campsite in Huayllabamba. The trek began, and we took every step enthusiastically. However, we saw people returning to the starting point, apparently beaten into submission by nature. We kept on walking, and realized that with every step we took, the landscapes became even more beautiful. Our guide’s explanations were helpful, always encouraging us to keep going. Without realizing it, my thoughts centered on the lives of the ancient Peruvians, their physical strength and their ability to cover this trail in hours, while for us, it would take four days.
The second day of this adventure would be our “trial by fire”, since we’d have to trek from approximately 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level, up to 4,200 meters (13,779 feet) above sea level, through the Warmiwayñusca (Dead Woman) Pass, rock formations which resemble a lady in her bed. This uphill trek presented a real challenge for our lungs, which were accustomed to “sea level”. Once we reached the highest point, which as they said, was the most difficult, the landscape was simply indescribable. The next campsite was in Pacaymayo, where we had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of sleeping at 3,600 meters (11,811 feet) above sea level, while gazing at the starry sky.
Our third day of the Inca Trail took us to the ruins of Runkurakay, and then we found a perfectly preserved stretch of the old Inca Trail. This old trail took us to Sayacmarca, at 3,600 meters (11,811 feet) above sea level. We then followed the original stone Inca Trail, which reaches into the jungle, until reaching Phuyupatamarca, the place chosen for our last campsite.
Very early in the morning on our last day, we visited Wiñaywayna (eternally young), an archaeological site comprised of agricultural terraces and structures. After this visit, we regained strength and walked the last stretch of the trail before arriving at the citadel of Machu Picchu. The Gate of the Sun would let us know that the reward for our physical exertion was near. Finally, we were able to view from up high one of the wonders of the world. The perfect photograph was stored not only in our cameras, but also in our memories forever. 

Related itineraries:  The Inka Trail (4 days/3 nights),  The route of the Incas

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