The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail Travel Blog› entry 3 of 7 › view all entries
October 17th, 2005 – by: rosemary_mcandrew
It is no longer possible to hike the Inca Trail independently. You now have to join a group tour for the duration of the hike. There are many companies that do this, and the average price for the 4 day trek is just over $600. Our group had 8 people in it and also 2 guides, 8 porters, and 2 cooks.
At Km82 we were swamped with ladies selling hats, water, snacks, woollen gloves, hats, and walking sticks. We all bought walking sticks for 3 soles ($1.50) which proved invaluable for hawling ourselves up and down the mountains.
We were also introduced to our porters who then proceeded to load themselves up with all the gear.
Two porters were responsible for the 8 duffle bags of the group. The rest carried our tents, sleeping rolls, tables, chairs, cooking pots and pans, and a lot of food. After they had loaded up, they started running (yes, running!) the Inca trail to our lunch spot to set up the dining tent and start preparing lunch. The amazing thing was that they all simply wore flimsy sandles.
The porters were very quiet, obliging people (with amazing strength!) that did absolutely everything for us.
However, we were shocked and a little dismayed to hear that of the $620 we each paid, only $35 is paid to each porter for the 4 days running the Inca Trail with heavy loads and doing everything for us.
They rely heavily on tips to supplement this income and we all agreed to give a bit more than was suggested to us by the guides.
After the checkpoint, we were ready to start the Inca Trail. Day 1 was considered 'easy' . It was 12km but the terrain was mainly flat with only a few uphill climbs.
Day 2 was called 'challenging' and it was. It was uphill walking for 5 hours to 'Dead Woman's Pass' at 4200m. Our camp the previous night was 3000m, so it was a long way up. We had to walk very slowly (like snails) which was the best technique according to our guide. Otherwise you were prone to exhaustion and the effects of altitude sickness. The track was quite steep with steps most of the way. It was now the Inca Trial, though the scenery was beautiful, high in the Andes.
Close to the pass, I started to get the altitude headache.
After this it was all downhill for the rest of the day until we reached our camp site 2 hours later. Believe it or not, going downhill is very hard too. My calves are killing me. It is also very hard on the knees. Cameron and I both had splitting headaches. Cameron took an alititude sickness tablet (Diamox) - which he swears by, as it fixed him up in no time.
Day 3 was described as 'unforgettable' (by our map). There were 2 more passes (3900m and 3650m), but we were starting from an altitude closer to that mark so it was easier. Day 3's camp site was only 6km away from Macchu Piccu (the whole Inca Trail in 46km). So we were almost there when we camped for the night. Our tent opened onto a panoramic view of Maccu Picchu mountain. Maccu Picchu itself was behind it.
Day 4: We got up at 4am to get to the final checkpoint where our tickets were once again checked. We wanted to get there early to get close to the start of the line. On this day, everybody would be trying to start at the same time to get to Macchu Picchu for sunrise.
Seeing Macchu Piccu finally was an awesome sight. It was half covered in mist at first. It was only discovered in 1911 and you could only imagine coming across something like that. We sat looking at it for a long while, taking lots of photos. The two Japanese girls on our tour were overcome and were in tears for quite a while. We didn't cry, but it was an amazing sight. Having somewhere like that as a finisher to a 4 day trek, which was spectacular in itself, was fantastic.
After touring around Macchu Picchu for a while, we hauled our weary muscles back to Cusco on the train. Having a shower after 4 days was great!
We have now just arrived in a place called Puno. It is in the south of Peru, close to the border with Bolivia. It is on a beautiful lake called Lake Titicaca where people live on floating islands made out of reeds. We are going out on the lake tomorrow.
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