The Inca Trail is a perfect introduction to mountain trekking for first timers. The four-day hike through the Andes has its fair share of steep climbs, peaks of high altitude and tricky terrain. However, it’s not a track exclusive to athletes or mountaineers. Instead, the track calls hundreds of first-time trekkers each year, who with a bit of training and a can-do attitude, achieve the trek with no major difficulty.
The trail takes in a limited number of trekkers per season, which means the path is clear from other groups until you reach the Sun Gate on day four. The opportunity to have the Andes to yourself as you walk through four different eco-systems, from cloud forest to high jungle, is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for all of your senses.
Machu Picchu is a must see for any traveller, and trekking your way through the Andes is the most authentic way to experience this ancient wonder.
After a long flight from Australia to Lima, we woke up early to board a flight to Cusco. The entire city of Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. The Incas described the city as The Sacred City and as soon as you arrive you can feel it has a special spirituality to it.
Although it has become the leading tourist destination of Peru, Cusco never felt crowded. Instead, the city was calm and slow in pace. The streets are covered in cathedrals and dotted with cobbled stones, with the town cuddled by nearby mountains.
At our first lunch, half our team ordered Alpaca burgers, swallowing them down with Peru’s specialty – Pisco Sours. We spent the first few days acclimatising, and exploring this beautiful city at the pace it deserves.
This morning we set off to the starting gate of the Inca Trail. After receiving the first of four official stamps on our passport, we crossed a small bridge and began our journey retracing the footsteps of the ancient Inca civilisation.
Today’s walk was a perfect introduction to the trail. We were blessed with the comfort of flat surfaces and being able to look up from our foot placement to take in our first 7km of the trail. As we stood above a cliff top, our guide, Jose, asked us to look down and to the right.
“Here is where we will be sleeping tonight,” he said. The sight of our first campsite was a moment for us all. For many of us we were first-time trekker, some had never even camped before.
Trekking Day Two: Llactapata to Llulluchapampa
Niceties are over. Any sign of paved steps or even real ground have been left behind. It’s a day of ups and downs … literally. Although we stare at our feet for a lot of the day, our Jose does make sure we stop to look up at some amazing sights we cross along the way. From Inca sights and ruins, to the unique botany and birdlife and the cloud high, snow-capped mountain peaks that surround us.
Trekking Day Three: Llulluchapampa to Phuyupatamarca ruins
After waking up to coco tea and a delicious breakfast of oats and fruit, we a very quickly reminded of what we are here to do. Within the first few minutes of today’s trek, the group is stopped for a rest by our guide. The incline is tough, we’re stopping every 40m for a break on our way to the highest peak of the trek, Dead Womans Pass at 4100m.
Today is known as the ST day. It is the longest distance, the hardest terrain, however, it is also the nicest scenery. As we reach the peak at Deads Womans Pass there is a sense of achievement, we’re well over half-way through our journey. From here, it downhill. The terrain proves just as demanding as our uphill challenges, but as we have done for the past few days, we take each step one at a time.
Tonight’s campsite was a definitely highlight for the team. We arrived as the sun was setting and we literally slept amongst the clouds and stars. Even for those who resisted the idea of camping, the natural beauty around us brought a real feel of luxury to the adventure.
Trekking Day Four: Phuyupatamarca ruins to Aguas Calientes
It fascinating how quickly you can adjust to things. It feels like waking up at 5am, trekking all day, showering with a bucket of water and having small sips of air is the most normal and natural thing in the world. By day four of our trek, our bodies and mind were so adjusted to the many challenges, that we could really take everything in. The best word to describe this day is euphoria. Everything looks and feels like such a well-earnt blessing. We all found enough energy to talk and share in the elation we all felt today, instead of the usual silence during our walks.
This was it, we were on our way to Machu Picchu! Just moments away. We held hands, and crossed the Sun Gate as a team. There it was, an ancient wonder of the world, Machu Picchu. There were tears, laughs, and many hugs. Despite the aches and pains, we all agree we would not want to see Machu Picchu any other way.
- Tackle the Inca or Lares trek! See our Inspired Adventures Inca and Lares Calendar for more details
[mgl_instagram_user username=”inspiredadventures” cols=”6″ number=”6″]