We elected to do a 5 day trek to Machu Picchu. It is an alternative trek to the Inca Trail (3 days) since we weren’t able to book in advance (the Inca Trail is currently sold out until March)
I was extremely excited for this experience although I will admit I felt unprepared. This would be the first time that I would be doing something like this and I hadn’t camped in a while.
We chose a guided tour since obviously we were novice hikers. The guide would take care of leading us on the trail, arranging campsites and permits, arranging transport of gear, setting up of tents and hiring of a cook. Sounds easy and glamorous all we had to do was walk. Trust me. Walking was about all we could handle.
It was a small group of ten. The group was AWESOME! Seriously could not have hoped for a better group of people which is excellent news when you are going to spend five days with strangers.
We left Cusco at 4am. It was a two hour van ride to the trailhead. We were all mostly sleepy but the terribly repetitive Peruvian music kept us all awake. At 630am we were off all keen to start this walk to the lost city in the sky.
We start off slow. Today is considered the ‘training day’. It is mostly rolling hills with some steep inclines.
The weather is great. It gets progressively warmer so we each shed a layer. Then it gets progressively colder as we climb in altitude. We reach our first campsite! Just before it begins to hail. There are snowcapped mountains in the background and the camping will be cold tonight – approximately -10.
We wake up the next morning to do what will be the most difficult and longest day. It begins with the Salkantay pass which is the steepest 7km of the hike and at the highest altitude. Dani elects to take a horse.
I of course decide that it is necessary to walk this. Please note….I am the only girl.
Typically the horses leave about 15 minutes after the trekkers but arrive 30-45 before them. I feel fairly confident that I can do this but do find it a bit difficult to breathe. I am more than half way and still don’t see the horses and am getting confused and a bit dizzy. I stop for a short break. Now nearly three quarters of the way and only now see the horses! Me and the other trekkers managed to beat all the horse riders!!!
Now….only another 15km to go for today! The terrain changes quickly to cloud forest. It is lush and green but very humid and still a bit cold. It is difficult to walk because it is so rocky.
A lot of walking until we reach our campsite. Much warmer compared to the previous night.
It is so humid that all the clothes that were left on a clothing line to dry are actually more damp. Regardless, we have to pack these into our packs and hope for the best.
The following morning we leave again early. A short day, only 16km to get through. The climate changes again dramatically. It starts off cold and humid but after about our first hour of walking it is unbearably hot and humid. I am wishing that I had a tank top. The walking is much easier on this day and once again the scenery is gorgeous. Only a bit of rain at the end of the day and I am so grateful for the mostly pleasant weather we have had.
Then we wake up, the tent was so much hotter than the night before. Guess what…more walking! I will only include some photos here as they speak better than I do. Highlights include my birthday at camp, coffee farm where we roastes our own beans, hot springs where the sand flies destroyed Dani’s legs and delicious food.
Machu Picchu deserves its own post to follow!