Inka Trail day 1

Machu Picchu Travel Blog

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The beginning....
Our pickup time was between 5:30 and 6, so based on prior experience, we made sure to be ready for 5:30. As with most hotels in Cusco, they offer breakfast from 5am, so we finalised our packs and had a quick bite before waiting. In the end we got picked up at about 5:50.

Our bus took us to have a breakfast and do some last minute shopping (plastic poncho and walking stick) and grab a quick breakfast at the small town of Ollantaytambo before heading to Km 82 for the start of our hike.

Most points in Peru seem to be marked as km markers from one town or another. This is 82km from Cusco, and marks the village of Piscacucho.
Luckily not the path
We got out and headed across the railway lines for a quick group photo before getting through the first of a number of checkpoints which are on the trail. The cool thing is that you get a nice stamp in your passport when doing this.

Kat and I had decided that it would be a smart move to get a porter to carry our main pack (and sleeping bags) and that we would just carry a day pack and the camera. Smart move and well worth the money.

The first day was to be an “easy” day – about 12km of hiking past some ruins and then a bit of uphill at the end to our camp at Huayllabamba.

The ruins, Llactapata (town on the hillside), are viewed from on top of a hill, so not that easy to see, but still impressive. They were basically a farming settlement with some administrative area. Lobo, our guide, gave us a bit of chat about the history and different styles of buildings that we would see.
Day 1, the "easy" day
There are basically 2 styles – rustic/simple and Inka Imperial. Rustic is rough rocks put on top of each other and bound together with mud. Inka Imperial is stone on stone, and each of the stones are carved and polished so that they fit perfectly together. Clearly the second is much more time consuming so it is reserved for palaces or places of great importance. Llactapata (pronounced, for the Afrikaans/German speakers – jagt-a-pata, English speakers – yaght-a-par-ta) was made in the rustic style.

Along the way we got to know a bit more about the group, which was made up of: some young poms (Michael, Stefan, Raul), some Americans (Gregory, Mario & Christina, Miguel & Nora), a Brazilian (Thomas), some Portuguese guys from Madiera (Roberto, Alberto, Gilberto), and Canadians (Marilyse & Daniel).
Still looking quite confident and relaxed
A bunch of characters. Quite a lot a camera chat as Roberto is a photographer and has a very nice toy (Nikon D200) with some nice lenses and there were a number of other DSLR’s on display too. Lobo showed great prowess in handling all the cameras when doing the group shots – impressive.

The day was quite hot, so we got rather sweaty pretty quickly. Lunch was provided at a camp site and was amazing. This was a sign of things to come. When we arrived at the site we were greeted with water bowls to wash hands and then sat down to a meal of cream of asparagus soup and grilled trout, followed by tea. We certainly were not going to go short on food.

When you go through the original checkpoint, the group is allocated a campsite for the night. Ours was nearer the top of Huayllabamba, so it meant that we were a bit further up the hill than some of the other group (and hopefully would make the next day a bit easier).
The porters are awesome, carrying "only" 28kg's now
Our camp was finally at about 3,000m, after starting the day at about 2,400m (about 200m of this in the last stretch up the hill). A nice easy start. Hmmm.

When we arrived at about 5pm, afternoon tea had been set out for us. This included popcorn, biscuits and tea/coffee/hot choc. Dinner, an hour later was another massive affair. In between, Lobo introduced all of the 19 porters and the cook who would be looking after us over the next few days.

The porters are incredible. They have now been limited to carry “only” 28kgs and their packs are weighed at some of the checkpoints. Despite the weight that they are carrying, they literally run past you. They are carrying everything from gas bottles to plastic chairs, tents to rucksacks. Our porters had quite a range of ages too, from 19 to 54! As I understand, to become a guide, they need to be a porter for 6 years too.
Good to know that cards are accepted
It certainly gives them an appreciation for what is required.

There is a race every year which is open to all comers, although I assume that porters are the most common participants. The record time, for the course which stretches from km82 for 43km to Machu Picchu, is 3h34m. Bear that in mind when following what the course entails. Scary.

The toilets on the trail are one of the less pleasant experiences on the Inka Trail. Almost all are the hole-in-the-ground type of efforts. Charming. I hope they don’t give us too much fibre in our meals…..

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The beginning....
The beginning....
Luckily not the path
Luckily not the path
Day 1, the easy day
Day 1, the "easy" day
Still looking quite confident and …
Still looking quite confident and…
The porters are awesome, carrying …
The porters are awesome, carrying…
Good to know that cards are accept…
Good to know that cards are accep…
There are now about 25 different v…
There are now about 25 different …
Machu Picchu
photo by: NazfromOz