By: Selene C. (Argentina)
The Inca Trail was the experience of my life. I thought that this way of getting to Machu Picchu was going to be unforgettable and I fell short because the adventure was much better. Every step I took was an incredible experience as I was surrounded by an incredible landscape. I booked the tour online with an agency that some American friends recommended to me. I was accompanied with my girlfriend and some friends. I am going to tell you how this adventure in Cusco went day by day.
Day 1: From Cusco to Huayllabamba
The Inca Trail is the most incredible way to get to Machu Picchu. The guys from the agency picked us up at the hotel door at around four in the morning. The guide and the other tourists traveled with us. We take the opportunity to sleep a little until we reach the beginning of the walk. We got ready, made a bar and entered the field. There was a bit of nerves but excited about the adventure.
And we started walking. We climbed slowly through more or less easy sections. After a few hours we spot the Inca site of Llactapata. The guide that always accompanied us gave details about this site. Then we continued to a camp where the porters and cooks had food ready for us. They, the porters and the cooks, also walk carrying the necessary utensils for the walk.
Then we continue walking along higher and higher paths until we reach the Huayllabamba camp. It would be four or five in the afternoon and we were already a bit tired, really. Dinner consisted of roast chicken with salad and green rice. The camps were comfortable although you always have to bring something for the cold. We slept tired but surrounded by a landscape that until now I have very present.
- Distance of the day: 13 kilometers.
- Difficulty: Moderate.
- More information: The tour includes entrance to the Inca Trail, porters, cooks, camps, tour guide, entrance to Machu Picchu, return to Cusco by train and bus, and some utensils. extras.
Day 2: From Huayllabamba to Pacaymayo
After a somewhat cold but comfortable night, we got up very early to restart the walk. First breakfast that included quinoa, a very sweet drink full of protein. The truth was that we needed a lot of energy because we always walked up hundreds of stairs until we reached the highest point, the Warmiwañusca pass. We were short of air due to fatigue, the height and the imposing landscapes!
In the Llulluchapampa camp it was lunch. This place is before reaching the Warmiwañusca so it gave us a lot of energy to continue walking. On the route the guide explained different species of plants, trees and flowers that adorn the paths. After reaching the top, all that remained was to go down and down the stairs.
After 7 or 8 hours of intense walking, we arrived at the Pacaymayo camp, a beautiful place full of mountain landscapes and rivers. There they had the camps ready for us, the dining room and everything tidy. Thanks to the guys who helped us and are essential for the tour. We slept comfortable and adapted to the walk and the mountains.
- Distance of the day: 11 kilometers.
- Difficulty: High.
- More information: The Warmiwañusca Pass is 4,215 meters above sea level. It is a wonderful place because everything is full of clouds and it seems that it is impossible to get higher. We all take photos there. Don’t forget to wear a windbreaker jacket because it’s cold and there are a lot of gales.
Day 3: From Pacaymayo to Phuyupatamarca
The third day was the route that I enjoyed the most because it was not difficult and included very interesting Inca sites. After having breakfast, as soon as we started, we find the archaeological site of Runkurakay. Afterwards we continue walking and arrive at the Inca site of Sayacmarca. The guide always accompanied us and we enjoyed the Inca history.
We kept walking and it started to rain. We take out our rain poncho and we are still happy. We had to cross an Inca tunnel in the middle of the mountain. Almost the entire route was downhill. It is necessary to carry poles because they can damage the knees. In the end we arrived at the Phuyupatamarca camp where, once again, everything was ready.
Phuyupatamarca was a camp that is very close to a camp of the same name. As we arrived early, we went to visit it together with the tour guide. The rain had already stopped, however, the place was full of clouds. Everything seemed so mysterious. We then returned for lunch and later dinner. That night the cooks prepared us a beautiful cake. We also say goodbye to the porters with tips. We fell asleep excited to be so close to Machu Picchu.
- Distance of the day: 7 kilometers.
- Difficulty: Moderate.
- More information: As the guide for the third night camp told us, there are two options: Wiñayhuayna and Phuyupatamarca. Phuyupatamarca touched us. However, the best is Wiñayhuayna. That camp is closer to Machu Picchu so it is not necessary to get up so early to get there. On the fourth morning, we had to get up at 4 in the morning.
Day 4: From Phuyupatamarca to Machu Picchu
And the last day came. We had to get up at 3 in the morning and get ready for the walk. Breakfast was brief but necessary to have energy. We had to use flashlights to traverse the dark paths at that hour. At dawn we saw the Wiñayhuayna. After an explanation, we continue along flat roads until, at about 7 in the morning, we reach Machu Picchu.
The first sight of Machu Picchu was unforgettable. The sun was splendid so we took amazing photos. That place was called Intipunku and, as the guide explained, it was the entrance gate to Machu Picchu used by the Incas. Then we had to walk downhill for almost 1 hour to reach the archaeological site of Machu Picchu.
After touring all of Machu Picchu together with our guide we went to a restaurant located next to Machu Picchu, the Sanctuary Lodge hotel. We enjoy a delicious menu and board the bus to the town of Aguas Calientes. In town we went with my friends to a bar to have a few beers. At the time the guide told us, we took the train to the city of Cusco. We arrived in Cusco at around 7 at night. Unforgettable!
- Distance of the day: 8 kilometers.
- Difficulty: Easy.
- More information: Not all Inca Trail tours include the same thing. As I learned, some do not include lunch on the last day. Others offer you the possibility of climbing the Huayna Picchu mountain within Machu Picchu. Train types can also be changed for better services. The truth is that the tour included what I expected so I have no complaints. Be well informed and choose the tourism agency that most convinces you.