The 4-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
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The Inca trail is something most people strive to do in their lifetimes. I put it on a list of things I wanted to achieve in that year so I booked my flight to Peru and booked Inca trail trek with SAS travel. I’m a very light traveller so I only took the bare essentials in a school sized rucksack with one pair on trainers which were on my feet. On the night before my trek the whole group had a meet about what to expect.

I looked around and saw everyone with their hiking sticks, hiking boots, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, flash lights, I had a pair of Fred Perry trainers and jeans. I was grossly underprepared compared to everyone else. I wasn’t too worried though. I like a challenge and I was a lot fitter than most people there (the pregnant women and the pensioner).

Machu Picchu

The next day we boarded a bus to the start of the trek, when we got there I was able to buy a hiking stick for something around £4 which is much better than thee $20 the tour companies charge to hire one for four days. I also hire a sleeping bag from the tour operator. I didn’t need anything else as far as I was concerned.

Machu Picchu

Day 1 
An easy stroll through the Sacred Valley started us off. Described as ‘Inca Flat’, the trail starts alongside the Urubamba River, the scorching heat and rising altitude soon hits you with how challenging the trek will be.

We stopped often at various points along the way to learn the history of the ruins along the trail and the Incan people. Our tour guides were very friendly and knew how to have a laugh, I guess we were lucky.  I was also lucky to be on a tour with some lovely people from all around the world. The porters had set up camp ready for our arrival and we stopped for the night.  Every day 200 people begin the Inca Trail; every day 250 porters climb the Inca Trail carrying a heavy load. It really puts things into perspective what some people in the world need to do earn a living. We enjoyed a meal together and got some shut eye before another early start.

DAY 1: CUSCO-WAYLLABAMBA:

Distance: 7.45 miles / 12km
Estimated time: 5-6 hours
Maximum altitude: 9,850 feet / 3,000m

Machu Picchu

Day 2

We awake at 5am, it was going to be the hardest day of the trek. It was hard, a lot of steps to climb up and down and I’m thankful for having my hiking stick. The hard leg workout was rewarding with stunning views. I made sure I was first in line, me and my new Swedish friend were well ahead of the pack.

Machu Picchu

The afternoon saw us climb before dropping into another valley that was more jungle than scrub. We crossed the valley to find our campsite overlooking a set of astrological ruins. We also bumbed into a few llamas and I bagged myself a famous llama selfie. After 16KM of hiking we set up camp for another night.

Machu Picchu

DAY 2: WAYLLABAMBA – WARMIWAÑUSCA – PACAYMAYO:

Distance: 6.83 miles / 11km
Estimated time: 
6 – 7hours
Maximum altitude: 
13,799 feet / 4,200m

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

The group with the hardworking porters.

Day 3

Day 2 is about climbing, Day 3 is about descent – the climb down was why you need a hiking stick, the steps are very steep. The scenery was very much jungle. It was a challenging day. We covered a lot of ground to make sure we arrive at Machu Pichu very early the next day. We shared camp that night as other tour groups.  We had the opportunity to shower but I didn’t bother. I shaved my head before I started this trip as I knew I wouldn’t be showing too much (I was heading to the Bolivian outback after this).

DAY 3: PACAYMAYO – Puya Patamarka – WIÑAY HUAYNA:

Distance: 9.93 miles / 16km
Estimated time: 8 hours
Maximum altitude: 12,664 feet / 3,860m

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Our tour guides having a moment.

Day 4

We reached the Sun Gate which looks through it to the sight of Machu Picchu but it was pissing down with rain and foggy so you couldn’t see much. I was more concerned about the fact that I was not prepared for the rain. My bag was getting soaked trhough. Damn it. We eventually continued the trek and made it to Machu Pichu. Luckily the sun had come out by then.

Wandering around Machu Picchu for the rest of the day I was left in awe as to how the ancient Incans could have built such a formidable city in the mountains. Seeing a rock carved into the shape of the Incan Cross and then shown how the points match up with a compass, I was amazed at the knowledge that the Incans must have had. The whole city and the mountain backdrop was fucking incredible.

DAY 4: WIÑAY HUAYNA – Machu Picchu:

Distance: 2.48 miles / 4km
Estimated time: 2 hours
Maximum altitude: 8,923 feet / 2,720m

Machu Picchu

Tips for the Inca Trek

  • Book well ahead. The Inca treks fill up fast, you need to book at least 3 months in advance.
  • Pack light, wear comfortable shoes (trainers are fine) and take or buy a hiking stick.
  • Take a waterproof coat and a waterproof cover for your bag.
  • Take a flashlight or head lamp, I had to follow behind someone when we trekked before sun rise.
  • Take as much water as you can for the first day, make sure you have a bottle to fill up along the way.
  • Take your own toilet paper, I preferred the natural way to using the toilets along the trek. But, I can do my business anywhere, I’m one with nature.
  • Take a good camera and take some amazing photos, make sure you have a spare battery too!

Machu Picchu

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