I made a promise to write down my side of the story of the Inca Trail hike so here it is:
Inca Trail Tour Day 1
Today was the beginning of a very long journey up to Macchu Picchu. We got up early at our Prisma Hotel in Cuzco and made our way to the view point of the city with the statue of Jesus. It was a very nice view point to get a good view over the city. I recommend using your panorama settings on the phone, have a good camera with a tripod or even a wide angle lens or camera such as GoPro. Then again, often pictures cannot capture the whole view or feeling.
After a nice short stop we made our way to a women´s Coop. This is the place to by some real hand made alpaca wool garments, such as ponchos, sweaters, gloves, caps etc. I probably went a little overboard and bought a baby alpaca shawl, alpaca poncho and a few more items. Lára got this beautiful Alpaca sweater. I mean take a look at this beauty.
Julie, our new friend from the UK also went a little overboard but thankfully she didn´t leave Andy completely broke for the rest of the trip.
We didn´t just do some shopping at the coop, we were shown how they process the wool from the alpacas and lamas as well as how they naturally dye the wool to make such colorful garments.
If you want to understand the caption of the photo of the Guinea pig, read this post about the street market. We continued driving through the Sacred Valley and our next stop for today was one of many Inca terraces. I must admit these made one of the most beautiful pictures and it was a nice stop. Just look at this insane view?
We were also encouraged to climb to the top as a warm up for our first official day of the hike.
After a sunny and eventful morning we went for lunch at Parwa restaurant, one of Gadventures supported places where they served us excellent authentic Peruvian food. Everything was incredibly delicious and plenty of food to go around. Our last stop and resting place for the night was the town of Ollantaytambo. We got to see some more ruins and got an even better warm up for our hike.
We had some free time before dinner so we took an extra walk around the ruins with our new hiking friends from Ireland, Dawn and Neil. We decided to go freshen up at the hotel and then go for some drinks before dinner since there was plenty of time. Once we found a bar with free Wi-fi we went in and started chatting. This was the moment they told us they were celebrating their 10 year wedding anniversary and we got to share the evening with them! By the time we finished our drinks and the wi-fi session it was time to go meet the others at the restaurant. When we got there everyone had ordered drinks and food so we indeed seemed late. I just walked in and said we had pre drinks at another place. We celebrated some more and I learnt how to say cheers in Irish, Slinte! As we had an early day tomorrow, we all went back to our hotel around 8 pm and pretty much straight to bed.
Click here to read Lára´s story of day one of the tour.
Inca Trail Hike Day 1
Today June 17th was the National Day in Iceland so I must say I did a heck of a celebration today!
It was an early rise this morning for breakfast and then a short bus ride to our 82 km starting point of the Inca trail. Everyone in the group was smiling and pretty happy about starting the trail. I must admit I had been very nervous for a few days and I still was. I wasn´t sure how I would cope with the altitude, what the pace of the hike would be like and I could go on and on but I tried not to think about it too much so I wouldn´t psych my self out. We met our porters at the point and that is when we realized why there is a weight limit to our luggage (as we have mentioned before). They can carry a maximum of 25 kg pr. person (which is a lot by the way) this is to ensure safety and well being of the porters (who make about 150 soles drip b.t.w.,that is about 50 USD or roughly 5.000 ISK. For 4 days of extreme hiking!
After getting ready for the hike we had to go through the first checkpoint with our tickets and passport to make sure we have the permit to go and off we went. The scenery was beautiful, sunny day with blue skies and a few mosquitos (my favorite, NOT!).
On the way the porters overtook us and were all ready with a two course meal at our lunch stop.
It was wonderful and refreshing, it tasted really good too. After a refreshing lunch we continued our hike to the first campsite.
The hike wasn´t that hard but it didn´t feel that easy either. The groups pace was quite fast for my taste so for most of the hike I was by my self between the group in front and the guides in the back. It was quite a strange feeling since I honestly felt like I was the only one hiking at times since I could not see or hear anyone close by. A wonderful moment of solitude in the mountains!
When we finally arrived to our campsite in the afternoon the porters all clapped for us on arrival and the sun was about to set. A woman was waiting with Ice cold beer for us and the porters gave us some warm water to freshen up with. Very refreshing and such a luxury!
In the evening we were all jolly, played some cards and talked about how nice the bathroom was since we had been warned about very nasty bathrooms, well so far so good.
We all went to bed before 10 since again, we have an early rise tomorrow. By the way early rise means around 6 am.
Click here to read about Lára´s first day of the hike.
Inca trail Hike day 2
We had pancakes for breakfast! Yeah! I just had to get that out of the way. I mean who has pancakes for breakfast high up in the andes while hiking? Apparanly we do 😊
Today was definately the hardest day for me. It was very steep all the way up to Dead Womans Pass. Those stairs were just killing me. I did the same as I did on the first day, I did everything on my own pace and was again pretty much all by myself for the first meters. I know this is going to sound cruel and I am sorry Kat and Rob, but I was so thankful for not being the last person and being pushed by the guides to continue (yes, I have issues with being told what to do). However, you guys were champs and I will say more as we go on. As we got closer to the first campsite (rest stop) I gained a little on Julie and Andy but not for long. We all grouped up at first campsite and poor Rob didn´t seem to be doing all that well so we figured it was the altitude and the cluster headaches he got last night.
As we mentally prepared our selves for the second phase up to Dead Woman´s pass, Dawn and I decided to stick together and count our way up. 40-60 steps at a time, but that is what I have been doing the whole time to get me through and just looking at the next bush, rock or tree to get me going.
Soon Paul, Julie and Andy joined in and the five of us continued up the steep hill as a team. I had such a great time hiking with them and again the scenery was just insane! I must admit, I couldn´t have done this without them and I thank them for joining be on this part of the hike. Neil, Dawns husband however ran up but he has done iron man, triathlons and more so this was just peace of cake for him!
As we continued Dawn was feeling a little light headed and Ingrid, one of our assistant guides had something with a very potent smell to help with it. I just had some red bull and I was good to go. Ingrid was also very nice and took Julie´s backpack and carried it all the way to the top for her.
We were getting pretty close to the top when Neil suddenly appears and wanted to check on Dawn since we were taking such a long time to get to the top. He was such a gentlemen and walked with us all the way to the top (so he did part of the trail TWICE)! Insane I tell you, insane…
The top of Dead Woman´s Pass was amazing and we certainly enjoyed our time at the top. As everyone does, there was a whole photo shoot of panoramas, selfies, IG shots and more.
The rest of the hike for today was all down hill to the campsite below. I look at the route and thought to my self, this is the easy part for me. I almost ran, I say almost since I went way faster than uphill. Once I got to the camp the porters all had a big smile on their face and clapped for me as I entered and gave me juice and the tents were ready of course! Lára came just 10 minutes after me but the rest of the group arrived about 30-45 minutes later and finally Kat and Rob arrived. The rest of us were starving so we ate ahead since it was already 3:30 in the afternoon and we hadn´t had any proper food since breakfast.
The rest of the afternoon we chilled, chatted, played cards and attended to blisters, weak knees and all that.
In the evening I had a surprise for the group, which I had actually blurred out the day before, but anyway. My gym buddy in Iceland, Berglind, gave me some hiker´s cheesecake as a Christmas present and I have been carrying it around since the beginning of our trip back on February 11th. I finally got the chance to try it out and it was such a big portion I was able to share it with everyone in the group and they seemed pretty happy about it which made me super happy. Again it was bed time before 10 pm.
Click here to read about Lára´s second day of the hike.
Inca trail Hike day 3
What a start to the morning! Poor Lára had been sick since 3 am this morning, vomiting like crazy. I asked around if people had anything for her when I realized more people were sick! Lára, Alice, Alex (a.k.a. the A-Team) and Dawn were all down. Either up or down and even both. Honestly it sounded like they had food poisoning, but from what is uncertain. We had certain speculations that it might have been the rice the day before if they were reheated since we got there so late in the afternoon and the lunch was waiting for us for a while. It might also have been something else, like Noro virus but honestly we don´t know and we new will fully determine what it was.
After breakfast we went for the longest hiking day, 16 km in total. They said it wouldn´t be too mad and „mostly“ flat, yeah little did I know. It was not mostly flat. The up part from the campsite was honestly not as difficult as I expected it to be (thankfully) and I now felt like I was in better shape and I was up front with the first instead of being last. Pretty interesting to see how things reversed from day 1 and 2. I felt really bad for my sister and everyone who was sick, such a horrible feeling to be ill on such a long hike in high altitudes. On the way, I managed to twist my ankle and it hurt for a while but, I seemed to forget about it once I tied my shoes tighter but every time I stepped the „wrong way“ I could feel it.
As we reached the first campsite stop we were told we could continue to the lunch area on our own and at our own pace. We did as a team, Lára, Neil, Dawn, Alice, Alex and I joined forces and took our time. The sick people were getting better by the hour which was great to see and Rob and Kat reached us as well at one of the viewpoints.
However, Joseph the other assistant guide was there too and kept saying „Vamos vamos“ as in lets go. Again, I hate being rushed and pushed like that so I just relaxed and the others just seemed to do the same as none of us moved an inch (just look at how comfy we are in the pictures above).
By the time we reached our lunch spot, most of us were pretty exhausted and happy to have some food. Except those who were still queasy, like poor Lára who missed the wonderful cake that the chef made. I mean, pancakes, cakes, two course meals! We were being treated like royals!
I was a little cruel and took a photo of Lára and Alice sleeping on the ground (so did the others so I am not that cruel I guess?).
By this time, Paul and Neil seemed to be joining the group in some gruesome endeavors with the porter potty. We saw some more ruins on the way with a beautiful view and a few Alpacas.
I must admit a part of this hike was so long, I thought it would never end and by the time we got to camp I was so happy! My knees were hurting and I was overall exhausted after the day. This was our last night with the porters as well so we all gather up some tips for them and Julie made a wonderful speech that made us all find lots of dust in our eyes. It was a wonderful moment and she did a fantastic job on behalf of the group, so thank you!
As I was in pretty bad shape I took some strong painkillers and just as the speech was over I felt I should go straight to bed. We needed to get up at 4:30 AM in the morning anyway.
Click here to read about Lára´s third day of the hike.
Inca trail Hike day 4
The moment we had all been waiting for, final day! We woke up at 4:30 am and I had the best sleep of the whole journey. Probably thanks to the strong painkillers but it was such a difference waking up fully rested even if it was an inhumane time to rise.
We had simple breakfast, mainly toast and coca tea as usual. We were going to use the toilets before going to the last check point, however this was by far the worst smelling toilet I have encountered and I think this is what David, our guide meant when he said we should expect bad toilets. The smell was so putrefying that words cannot describe. Needless to say I was going to hold it for a while. By the time we got close to the check point those toilets didn´t smell as bad so it was now or the woods later on.
The hike was pretty easy and most of the group was all better after yesterdays endeavors. However it was Neil´s turn, the poor guy was not feeling well and it was strange to see the guy who ran everywhere struggling to get from point A to point B. Rob wasn´t feeling too well either. So the three of us stuck together, or more like Dawn and Neil were nice enough to stick with me.
The scenery on the way was none existent since it was cloudy all the way to the sun gate. We waited for maybe 10 minutes or so and decided it was best to just head down to Macchu Picchu for the money shot.
When we finally arrived it was still a little cloudy but it felt a little like Iceland because in just a few minutes it cleared up with bright sunny skies and again few more minutes it got cloudy once again.
The last part of our hike was a guided tour by David around Macchu Picchu, after we got our Macchu Picchu stamp in the passport of course. I must admit it was so hard to listen and I didn’t seem to take anything in since I was so tired and sleepy and a little hungry.
We were wondering about Kat and Rob since they didn´t join us on the tour and poor Rob was coughing up blood on the last part of the hike and they just stayed at the top and then went down to the town.
The place is rather crowded and you have people everywhere, thankfully it is a big place so I managed but I think they are about to do the right thing by limiting the number of people who can go at a time. It sort of ruins the whole experience to have tourists in every corner.
After the guided tour we had some free time and we opted to walk slowly out, took one group photo, Thank you Paul! And out we went. We decided as a group to just go down to the town for lunch before taking the train back to Cuzco.
In the train David, our guide, seemed very tired after everything and feel asleep on the train and of course the nice thing to do is take his picture and post it online for everyone to see. Thank you for the nice shot David 😉
Once we got into town some of us decided to meet up one last time for dinner in the town and David joined us as well. Lára got the best meal out of all of us and I was so jealous but thankfully she doesn´t always finish her food so I managed to grab some of her food which was delicious.
When we got back to the hotel we met Kat in the lobby and found out Rob was in the hospital with inflamed lungs which can apparently happen when you go up and down in altitude. So all along he was very sick but still managed to finish the hike. ROB you are incredible and I am so glad you are OK and went to the doctors to avoid further injury from the whole ordeal.
Click here to read about Lára´s fourth and last day of the hike.
This trip was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life. I am so happy to have had such a great group of friends on the journey and last but not least to share it with my baby sister who was such a champ! I will still remember her reactions after the briefing and what we were really in for regarding the trip.