Inca Trail - Day 1 - Learning about ¨Peruvian flat¨ trails

Cusco Travel Blog

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The trek begins next to the Urubamba river

So up bright and early at around 6ish and we were on our way in a bus out to Ollayantambo for a last break before we hit the world of hiking.  By this point we had met our guides Fernando and Nelly, and had managed to ascertain from one of the books on the bus that Fernando's idea of flat did not match up to what is internationally consdiered flat.  Suddenly Fernando's assessment of an easy first day wasn't looking as good, however from that point on when 'flat' was mentioned we were sure to clarify if it was International Flat or Peruvian Flat.

This last break means a few important decisions had to be made.  Which snacks to get (lollipops were a popular choice), whether or not to get a hiking stick (I elected not to), all of course to be done while wearing your hat, gloves, beanie and water bottle carrier so that people stop trying to sell you them! :)

Here we also had our first introduction to the porters.

Some of the early hiking, on what we all agree is international flat trails at this point....
  The first thing that has to be said about these guys is that they are absolutely incredible!! Basically there are about 18 guys who load up all our bags (except daypacks), as well as all the other equipment needed for camping, tents, BBQ gas bottles etc on to their backs and then walk exactly the same trail that we do. Apparently they are restricted to JUST 30 kgs of weight, it used to be 50 kg. In case this is the only Inca trail entry of mine that you read let me stress, carry a significant portion of money with you so that you can tip these guys well, they deserve it.

So after overcoming the guilt of seeing our bags carried off by these guys we were under way.  A lot of the first day is spent snaking alongside a river, with a bit of a climb but it's not too bad (especially with the benefit of hindsight knowing what follows ;) )  After a couple of hours of skirting villages full of pigs and donkeys we had our first lunch stop.

Already some good views to be had

This was the first realisation that we were really in for some luxury style camping.  Firstly, not only had the porters gone on ahead with all that equipment on their backs, they'd set up a lunch tent with dining table, stools and cutlery lined out, then just to top things off they applauded US as we came in to camp.  I think we all we wish we knew how to say 'There is no way we deserve that' in Quechan.  As if that weren't enough they then laid out little tubs of warm water each for us to wash our hands before lunch! 

Lunch, as for all the food to follow, was just superb. However our descent to the depths of lazy gringos was complete when they laid out some sleeping mats so that we could have an afternoon siesta before continuing the hike. I'd love to say I held firm and didn't cross that line to complete laziness, but it was just too comfy to not lie down :)

The remainder of the hike wasn't too bad, just a couple of hours of gradual uphill and we were in camp getting accustomed to the acrobatic poses needed for the floor level toilets.

Snake along the river for a bit
After our 5:30 tea and a great 7:00 dinner we were getting in to camp mode.  Just as the cards were going to be broken out around the dining table, Gerogie realised that some of the porters were waiting outside and must sleep in the dining tent.  Suffice to say we thought they deserved their rest and vacated ASAP!

Quick roll call for our tour:

Americans

Mark, Mike, Devon, Josh and David (all work for Microsoft in Seattle)

Poms

Georgina, Bettina (teachers from London)

South Africans

Antoinnette, Andrea, Jannis

Irish

Shane and Emer

Peruvian guides

Fernando, Nelly

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The trek begins next to the Urubam…
The trek begins next to the Uruba…
Some of the early hiking, on what …
Some of the early hiking, on what…
Already some good views to be had
Already some good views to be had
Snake along the river for a bit
Snake along the river for a bit
A few hours in we can look back do…
A few hours in we can look back d…
Our first ruins!
Our first ruins!
Our guide Fernando explains a bit …
Our guide Fernando explains a bit…
The good views continue
The good views continue
We started to realise the tour was…
We started to realise the tour wa…
Our typical dining tent
Our typical dining tent
Now this was just too much, mats l…
Now this was just too much, mats …
We were skeptical that they did ac…
We were skeptical that they did a…
Onwards we go through the valley
Onwards we go through the valley
A shot when Nelly stopped us for a…
A shot when Nelly stopped us for …
Campsite for the first night
Campsite for the first night
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke