Inca Trail: Part One

By Morgan Pettersson.

Day one:  Excitement!

The group at the start of the trail

I had seriously considered hiking the Inca Trail whilst in Peru, but had initially decided against it because I thought it would be too expensive, I didn’t have any hiking boots or suitable clothes and I wasn’t fit enough.

Wrong on all accounts it seems.

My friend Felicity who featured in the Jungle Living series convinced me to go with her after we found a reputable company offering cheap treks because the trail closed for the season in two weeks.

We decided to go for it and after buying decent hiking boots for a good cheap price and some cheap rain jackets we were ready to go.

Felicity and I had only just come out of the jungle the day before so we were tired but still excited for the Inca Trail.

Day one consisted of an extremely early morning pick up in Cusco, and a long drive to the nearest town to the start.

Once we had breakfasted we were ready to drive to the drop off point.

The entrance to the trail is by wooden bridge across a raging river.

The first day is a really nice, gentle hike and we have been lucky enough to have blue skies.

Start of the trail, walking through small mountain villages

The scenery has ranged from corn and potato fields to rocky outcrops reminiscent of the Kimberly in Northern Australia.

There were a few steep climbs, especially at the end but it was fine.

I suffered a small bit of chest pain towards the end but managed to find the energy to make it to camp second out of the group.

Camp one is literally in someones back garden, which is slightly strange.

The family was killing an alpaca as we arrived and then skinned it which was interesting.

We also met the porters which was lovely and some of them are quite shy whilst others are very witty.

Day Two: Success!

Success, absolute success!

Today most defiantly lived up to its reputation of being the hardest day of the trek.

The first four hours up hill we excruciating, I instantly regretted carrying my bag myself and not hiring a porter as others had.

The air was so thin.

We began at 3,300 metres above sea level and climbed up to over 4,200.

The start of day two

I had so much trouble breathing and my bag for some reason was making my chest hurt.

Felicity having just turned 21 yesterday, and come of age, seemed to also come into some super human powers and took off almost at a run.

The first part of the day was the hardest by far, steeply uphill and through what felt like a jungle with dense foliage and streams.

It was humid and felt like the air was thinner because of the humidity.

It was beautiful though with waterfalls rushing past and so many beautiful purple and blue orchids.

I felt really bad though, with thirty minutes to go until our first big stop, our guide Edgar ended up taking my backpack off and said he would carry it because I was struggling to breathe so much.

So not only was he carrying my backpack and sleeping bag but his as well!

The minute he took the bag the pains in the chest subsided and it as easier to breath.

A couple from America who are in our group only arrived in Cusco the day before, and didn’t give them selves time to adjust to the altitude so are struggling really badly with altitude sickness.

During the trek Edgar gave me some vapours to breath in, from a local medicinal plant, and it helped to open up my chest.

I can only imagine this is how asthmatics feel, struggling to fill your lungs with enough air and you can’t breath.

Nearing the summit on day two

Once we reached the first stop and had a break, it was ready for the next part.

This part was uphill and easier to begin with as we were out of the dense forested area and quite exposed on the mountain.

It was a gradual climb at first but the last thirty minutes were so steep you thought you were not going to make it.

My chest pains had subsided, but now I was just trying to focus on breathing and staying dry and the heavens opened up and it started pouring with rain and hail.

Reaching the summit was such an exhilarating feeling.

Knowing that I had pushed through and achieved so much, and also knowing that the worst of the trek was over was so great.

It was freezing at the top and as the hail was getting worse we made a quick get away and started downhill to the second camp.

The descent was steep to begin with but was also smooth and gradual after that.

The path down was rocked steps and I made up for time on the way down, arriving into camp only five-ten minutes after Felicity, even though she had an hours start on me from the first break.

The Canadian fire fighter made it here to camp about two hours before everyone else, he even beat the porters.

The food is so great on this trip and the porters are so friendly as well.

Camp two

Three course meals three times a day with snacks and a ‘happy hour’ for afternoon tea consisting of tea and popcorn and biscuits.

Edgar was telling us that sometimes the porters have to carry people up the trek, if they cant do it.

He said this happened once when a really fat person tried to do it and the porters had to carry them and all of their gear as well.

The porters are incredible, they have all grown up in the mountains so the thinner air and altitude have no effect on them at all.

They practically run the trail because they are so fit, and have to reach camp before we do in order to set up.

The tent carrier has to be the fastest because if he doesn’t get the tents set up before the chef arrives no food can be made.

The rest of day two was just a rest day as we prepare for the 16km trek tomorrow, but there was news of another land slide last night on the trail so if it is still too dangerous tomorrow we will have to walk an extra four kms to Aguascalientes for the third night and get the bus to Machu Picchu in the morning.

Hopefully we don’t have to evacuate.

*part two can be read here*

3 Responses to “Inca Trail: Part One”
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  1. […] was reading Morgan Hannah’s excellent description of hiking the Inca Trail this morning when I came across a quote that made my heart […]

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