The Inca Trail

The Inca Trail, the famous path to Machu Picchu… who hasn’t heard of it before? From Cusco, there are many ways to get there: with a day tour, a jungle tour, a train tour and 400 other varieties. Of course, the official Inca Trail is the real deal we would say. Other travelers told us many times that hiking the official trail is almost impossible, as you have to make your reservations several months in advance. There are only 500 permits per day – 200 for tourists en 300 for staff & guides – for this specific 4 day/3 nights Inca Trail. From April till August, all permits are already sold out. Not in a million years will we be able to do this we thought, as we have no plan whatsoever. As it turned out, there are still some spots left for this week in March, starting tomorrow…! Please bring waterproof gear and good hiking boots. What would you do, if you were given such a chance?

Yeah right?!
(We’ll be allright wearing our Nikes and jeans…)

It’s 4:00am and the alarm goes off. Our adventure starts today! Full of courage, we start our day, with only the most important luggage in our so-called ‘duffelbags’ and our hiking sticks (no comments). They told us today will be an easy day, only 11km with not many differences in altitude. Together with 4 American girls and our two guides we soon form Team Coca, a close group with orange ponchos and war stripes on our cheeks. Here we go!

With only 1 hour of rain in the morning of our first day, we’re really happy when we reach our first campsite high and dry. The route has been scenic today, with amazing nature and splendid views. Because of its beauty, you almost forget you’re hiking! Tonight our first beer is well deserved; too bad Denise dropped hers instantly…

While we’re still snoozing in our mummy sleeping bags, our guides wake us up with a hot and steamy cup of coca tea. The staff is just amazing and treats us like we’re in a 5 star hotel! After a hearty breakfast we’re totally ready for our second – and toughest – day. At first, we climb for 4 hours and then descend a million stairs for 3 hours straight (all of this is done at over 3000m above sea level). And this is even before we have lunch! In the afternoon we’ll be doing another session of 2 hours uphill and 1 hour downhill. The day starts with good weather, but as soon as we reach the first hilltop it starts pouring for almost an hour. Thankfully we’ve been given orange ponchos that keep us dry. We don’t care about the rain, as our guide tells the most amazing stories about Incan history. He’s so passionate about it and it’s all super interesting!

Just before we visit our last Inca ruin of the day, we stop for a little photo session. We set the timer, and run back and forth to shoot some memorable pics. Our last photo should be a ‘crazy’ one: timer? Set. Everyone got their pose? Check! And as soon as everybody takes their position and the camera clicks, Denise flings her two months old Iphone into the ravine…

On day three we are finally punished for our tough ‘we will easily walk this trail on our Nikes’ -behavior. As soon as we wake up, it’s rain, rain, and… rain. Our first three hours are downhill on a zillion steps that turned into a live waterfall because of the heavy rain. Everything is soaked, our shoes, clothes, gloves, everything. We don’t even bother taking photos, however, we only make one exception when we see a llama at one of the Inca sights.

During our nice and cozy lunch break, the rain stops and the clouds slowly disappear. Normally we would stay the night at this campsite, but it’s not considered safe enough because of the heavy rain and risk of land slides. Therefore, we decide to continue along the track and finish the Inca Trail in 3 days instead of 4. This means we can see Machu Picchu this afternoon already when we enter the Sun Gate AND we will return tomorrow morning for a second visit. This is actually very cool! The sun even starts to shine, when we hike our last kilometers and climb our last stairs. Machu Picchu, we’re coming for ya!