Talk about spectacular! The 4 day/3 night Inca Trail trek was the most amazing thing I have ever done. It started off the first day at the check point and off across the river and onto the trail straight away. We hiked through the beautiful Andes Mountains, past ancient Inca ruins. There was a bit of an uphill climb that I wasn´t quite expecting the first day, but it was actually worth it. We stayed the first night a little farther along the trail than the other groups that had started the trek on the same day, which at the end, gave us more time on the last day to relax and enjoy each other´s company.
As promised, the second day was the most difficult. We climbed the long and toiling trek over Dead Woman´s Pass and down the other side, where lunch was waiting. Then we headed off and crossed the second pass (which wasn't as tall, but certainly felt like it). As we crested the second pass, the group I was trekking with decided to stop and have a little snack. I´m glad we did because we were able to watch the eagles soar over our heads. What an added treat! This second day was certainly a rigorous and exhausting day of climbing, but it is all certainly worth it. Our group had an older gentleman in it and he had some trouble carrying all his gear over the two passes; our guide stayed with him the entire time to assure he was ok, and even called ahead to our campsite and had two of our awesome porters hike back and help carry his gear! That, in my mind, is certainly going above and beyond the call of duty.
The third day was the easiest as far as trekking went. We went through the mountains and saw spectacular landscapes, brilliant flowers, and awe-inspiring ruins. We arrived in our campsite early and had plenty of time to take in the nearby ruins and just relax as the sun went down over the snow capped mountains in the distance.
The last day started way early! Like 3:00am early! But we had to rise (and be greeted with a mug of hot tea) in order to reach the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu in time to see the sun come up over the mountains. Standing at the Sun Gate, watching the early morning sun creep across the world-famous citadel of Machu Picchu was enough to leave me breathless! That was the defining moment of the trip for me...it made the grueling uphill hiking, the cold temperatures, sleeping in tents on the ground, and sacrificing the other creature comforts all melt away. I stood there with a comfortable smile on my face until my guide snapped me back to reality and then we had to move on.
Our guides were great and well informed about the ancient Inca culture and ruins! I could not have asked for a better guide! The chef was truly talented to say the least...the meals he prepared for us while on the trek was delicious and surprising that it was ¨trail-food!¨
If I had the whole thing to do over, I would in a flash! I was quite sad to see it come to an end. As a few words to the wise: I did this trek in mid-July (which I recommend) because during the rainy season, I think that some spots on the trail would become quite precarious...especially for novice hikers such as myself. Also, I would recommend having a hiking pole. Lastly, I think it is important that the temperature is considered as it does get considerably cold at night (like freezing!) and in the mornings when the hiking begins. Layers, layers, layers!
Thank you Inca Trail Reservations for a world-class experience that I will certainly keep with me!