In the footsteps of the Incas / Inca trail

When planning our trip we knew we wanted to hike the Sacred Valley. During rain season some trails are closed(eg Salkantay) but the Inca trail is still open.

After extensive research, we chose Wayki Trek because they are indigenously managed, certified by ISO and listed as one of the top 10 providers. We never regretted our choice.

Day 1:

One day before the trek we met with our group and guide for the briefing where we received valuable information as well ask equipment for the trek.

After the briefing the two of us left for our home stay. This so called Wayki experience is a visit and overnight to the porter village. Together with a guide we took local buses to get to Huayllacocha. We met the brother of the owner as well as his family. They live right next to the school built and financed by Wayki trek.

After a snack of popcorn in a kitchen full of guinea pigs we headed out to the fields to learn about farming. A few sweat drops later we went to the farm of the head porter for dinner, live music and dancing. A fun-filled night that we concluded with giving small presents to the kids of the village.

Day 2 :

We started the morning early with a solid Andean breakfast (beans, porridge, broccoli, quinoa juice) but without a shower (no running water).

2 hours bus ride later we arrived at the starting point of the Inca trail. We hiked on a rather easy and slightly uphill path towards our first basecamp.

We had beautiful views of the canyon and spotted our first Inca site that was lying down in the valley at the start of the Inca path. We had a quick but intense stop for lunch with 4 courses including guacamole, soup, main courses and dessert.

As we had some delay to our start, we arrived at the campsite as one of the last teams just before sunset. We were welcomed with popcorn and tea with our tents all ready and set-up. Shortly after we had our first 5 course dinner prepared by the chef. After that we fell happily onto our sleeping mats and passed our first night in the tents.

Resume: 12 km, 4-6 hours hike, lowest point: 2600 m, highest point: 3000 m. campsite altitude: 3000 m.

Day 3:

A loud BUENOS DIIIAAAS woke us at 5 in the morning and came with a porter handing us coca tea and some warm water to wash our faces. We quickly got ready to take a seat in our dinner tent for breakfast. After fruits, pancakes, porridge and oast we were filled with energy for a long day of hiking ahead.

We hiked upwards for around 2 hours until reaching our snacking point overlooking the valley. The walk led steeply uphill on the Inca trail, winding through jungly forests. At our stop our group had to split as two group members were not dealing well with the altitude and had to take it a bit easier.

The rest of us started the ascent to the Warmiwañuska pass (dead woman pass as the mountain resembles the face of a woman). A tough and steep way up but we felt so happy reaching the 4215 metres on top it called for a celebratory photo and snack pause.

On the other side of the pass a narrow path down full of steps awaited us. Unfortunately it was drizzling so we hurried up to get to our campsite at the bottom of the valley. It took us around 1.5 to descend down to the camp. We arrived as one of the first groups and  enjoyed the afternoon relaxing in the tent. At dinner time the last 2 people had just arrived with about 6 hours delay. We celebrated the X-mas evening with some wine and a delisioso meal.

Resume: 16 km distance, 7-8 hours walking, lowest point: 3000m, highest point: 4215m. campsite altitude: 3000m

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Day 4:

Merry Christmas! Since the porters spent Christmas working they prepared a nice surprise for all of us. In the morning we enjoyed pannetton (yes similar to the Italian one, was brought to Peru by Italian immigrants), and hot chocolate together with the entire Wayki team. What a way to start the day!

We needed the extra amount of energy for our first climb. Many stairs and a steep path led us up to a mystical Inca site that is believed to have been used as a sun temple. Our guide Franklin gave us some information about the architecture of the Runkuracay site and its possible use.

A few more metres up we reached the highest pass of the day with amazing views on the valleys on both side. Going up means that you have to go down again, which we did on the other side. Passing by crystal clear lagoons and large inca temples we made our way to the cloud forest that welcomed us with jungle and fog. This was one of the most beautiful stages of our trek due to its diversity of views and microclimates.

We reached our lunch stop from which we saw the back of Machu Picchu mountain already. It seemed so close!

After lunch our second Christmas surprise awaited and we got to enjoy a sip of local cidre together with the crew.

The view of Machu Picchu motivated us for the long descent of the afternoon. It started off easy with a tour of an Inca site on the way but then led on a steep path full of stairs down into the valley. After a couple of hours we finally reached our destination – massive ruins of Inca terraces were we hung out for about an hour enjoying the breathtaking views.

When we left the site one of our porters was already awaiting us to guide us to our last night’s camp. This was the most crowded campsite as all of the 500 people allowed on the Inca trail per day camp here (around 200 tourists, 300 porters and guides). There would have been the possibility of a shower to glam up for the pictures the next day but the freezing cold water was just a bit too much for us.

We enjoyed a beautiful dinner and even a cake for our last dinner. To be honest, we were quite tired and the hike has had its effects on all of us. We went to bed really early to rest our sore muscles.

Resume: 16km distance, 8-10 hours walking, lowest point: 2650m, highest point: 3900m, campsite altitude 2650m

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Day 5:

Wake up at 04.30 am -the earliest during our hike but other operators wake up their goups as early as 02.00am. All groups have to wait at the camp gate until it is opened at 05.30.

We arrived just before the opening and 10 minutes later we were already on the other side making our way to Machu Picchu mountain. This was a rather easy hike but we were all exhausted so we took our time.

One of the fun parts of the path were the monkey steps up towards the Sun Gate, where you literally crawl up a steep set of big stairs on all fours.

We finally arrived at the Sun gate “Inti Punku” after about an hour of walking. The sun gate is located on Machu Picchu mountain and was used for ceremonial purposes. First Machu Picchu was covered by fog but within a few minutes it lifted and revealed the impressive site. Our longed-for destination was finally in sight.

We headed down to the Machu Picchu Citadel for a 2 hour guided tour with our Wayki Guide Franklin and explored every last corner of the site. As it was still quite early there, not many of the maximum 2500 tourists per day had arrived yet.

After the tour we took the  bus down to Aguas Calientes, from where we took the panoramic train back direction of Cusco.

We arrived tired but happy at around 9pm in our hotel where the first thing we did was shower!!

 Resume: 6km distance, 3-4 hours walking, lowest point: 2040m, highest point: 2650m.


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