Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Amazing Inca Trail

Trail on Day 3 near the Jungle Cloud Forest

Let me say, I wouldn't have done this unbelievable adventure without my friend Ivy. She once said to me, "we can only do this while we're young, and the experience won't be the same when we're older," referring to a cancel trip to trek in Malaysia last year. So, when she told me about Peru, I jumped at the chance to join with her co-workers, knowing that this would be my only opportunity to do something adventurous this year.

The Inca Trail was an amazing and one of a kind experience I ever had. I would have never thought that I would be able to hike 42km in 4 days at 4,200m above sea level. It took a lot of positive thinking and encouragements from friends to successfully finish the hike.

Before trekking the Inca Trail, I've read many blogs and forums about it, so I won't bore you again with the same information. Instead, I will highlight some things that I found important or helpful for my trek.

Choose Your Tour Group Wisely
I highly recommend Engima Tour group. Not only are they a local agency (which helps the local communities) but they schedule a trek route that is different from most other agencies. This made a big difference for my hike. Most tour groups would have schedule 10kms on Day 1, 15kms on Day 2, 12kms on Day 3 and 5kms on Day 4. This means that Day 2 and Day 3 would be the hardest and longest days, leaving you with little time to explore. And trust me, Day 2 and 3 is worth exploring compared to Day 1.

Engima schedule their groups to hike at 6:30am on Day 1 for 15kms, 12kms on Day 2, 10kms on Day 3 and 5kms on Day 4. We made it to the furthest campsite on Day 1 before dark, while others made it to the closest camp site by 3pm, latest. The extra 3 hours hike to get futher was an advantage in many ways.
  • It allows us to be the only few on the trail, moving at our own pace -- something that is important since the trail is quite narrow.
  • It took the weight off of hiking for Day 2 and 3.
  • It left us more time to explore Day 2 and Day 3. We made it to Day 3 campsite by 1pm, and had time to explore Winaywayna before everyone got there. Also, gave us an opportunity to take a cold shower before everyone else. Most groups made it to camp by 5pm.

Check point at KM 82

Beginning of the Inca Trail. The only sign that you'll see as proof you trek to Machu Picchu.
Pack Efficiently
We made the mistake of over-packing, properly like most others. Here are a few things you need to pack, and share between 2 people. Distribute the items between each day packs evenly, or leave some with your porters if you've hired them.
  • 2 rolls of toliet paper. 
  • 3 packs of 10 toliet wet wipes. This is useful when using the "panorama" toliet.
  • 2 small bottles of hand sanitizer or 1 medium size one.
  • Gatorade powders to mix with water each morning and lunch. The gatorade water was more effective than just plain water.
  • 2 or 3 small snacks for each day. The tour group will also provide you with some snacks each day.
  • 1 pair of synthetic sock and 4 pair of cotton socks. To prevent friction and blisters, wear double socks; you need to change the inner socks daily, but the outter socks, you can re-use.  
Random Tips
  • Rent or buy expandable trekking poles. You can get them in Cusco for $20 USD/pair. Extremely helpful when going downhill, which is all of Day 2 and Day 3. The 2 poles will take the weight off your knees better than just the 1 pole.
  • Weather changes drastically throughout the hike. Bring a thin, feather light weight jacket and/or thermal shirt to wear during the early morning hike and for keeping yourself warm at night. The morning after Day 1, there were frost and icicles on our tent.
  • Arrive at least 2 days in Cusco before your hike. You will need to acclimatize to the altitude. The worst is having severe altitude sickness and being unable to hike the trail -- as experience by 2 members in our group who had to re-route back home after 3 days in Cusco. BTW, it was not easy getting a flight out to Canada when booked on Expedia.
  • Buy bug spray/insect repellent in Cusco, since they have higher DEET percentage. I believe the max percentage is 30% DEET in Muskol brand in Canada, but Cusco has 75% DEET. This is effective against the deadly mosquitos in Peru. I swear they have fangs. LOL.
  • There is no hot water at the campsite on Day 3 to shower as it is currently under construction. There is only 1 cold shower stall. So bring lots of wet wipes to clean yourself for those 4 days. Day 3 campsite will be full with all tour groups as this is the last campsite before Machu Picchu. So imagine the line ups to shower.
  • There are toliets at every campsite, but not the cleanest so be prepare to pee outdoor when necessary. The toliets are not American toliets, more like holes in the ground.
  • Hire a porter to share between you and a friend. This greatly helped reduce the amount you have to carry each day on the hike. The other couple in my group did not hire a porter, and each of them carried about 12kgs on their back each day. The extra weight made it more challenging for the girl to climb downhill on Day 2 and Day 3.
  • Bring some tip money, approximately $40 USD to give. The porters, cooks and guide are worth tipping. They are wonderful people, that made the whole 4 days an awesome experience. The cook was able to bake a cake, up in the mountains, with limited supplies. The porters all carried 18kgs of things and yet, arrived at each campsite before we did and set up. My tour guide made my hike much easier. He paced at our speed and explained things in good details.   
Remember, it's all about positive thinking, that you can do this and you will enjoy the hike. Email me if you have any other questions about the Inca Trail. =)

Lastly, I would like to say, Machu Picchu was everything I expected, but hiking the Inca Trail was more than I expected. I do recommend that you take the Inca Trail to see Machu Picchu.

DSC04881 DSC04911
Day 1 campsite. Breath taking view in the morning when you unzip your tent. Also, the coldest campsite since we were at 3,700m.
The porters left an hour or so after us, but yet they ran past us shortly after.

Day 1 campsite for most, but it was our rest stop only.

Winaywayna at 2650m, 15 minutes hike from campsite at Day 3
Our fantastic porters, cooks and team. They made amazing food for us, carried 18kg of stuff and set up the camp site before we arrived each day.
Walking above the clouds, on Day 3

See that small dark trail, it's where we came from. Campsite on Day 2 at the bottom.
Day 3 campsite. Last campsite before Machu Picchu.
DSC05234 DSC05376
DSC04904 DSC04996 DSC05309DSC05066DSC05292DSC05223DSC05150DSC04940

These next set of pictures are taken on Day 4 before arriving to Machu Picchu mountain.

IMG_0405 IMG_0422 IMG_0421IMG_0429IMG_0416IMG_0411IMG_0410
Here's the link to the Flickr Album



Recent Tweets

  • Twitter feed loading
Follow me on Twitter
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...