A buddy and I decided on this trek because the Inca Trail passes were sold out. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise because this was one of the best experiences in my life. Our guide Ramiro was wonderful, funny and thoughtful. We started the trek at Mollepata, with just a day pack. The horses carried our overnight packs.
The first part of the trek was a fairly steep uphill, and immediately I felt the effects of the altitude - I was short of breath within a few hundred meters. Luckily the trek flattened out soon after and it was a fairly easy but long trek to the lunch camp.
I was immediately struck by the sheer beauty of the trek and the snow capped mountains - Mount Salkantay and Mount Umantay. The weather was brilliant - azure skies with a few picturesque clouds and there was a cool crisp breeze. Really heavenly. At the lunch campsite, I was pleasantly surprised to see a flushing toilet, and a large outer tent within which our tents were set up. This is great to protect you from the wind and rain (if any).
After a delicious lunch, we trekked up to a glacier lake, which is an optional round trip from the campsite. It was incredibly difficult for me, because of the steep altitude and my lack of acclimatization, but the reward at the end justified the hardship - what an incredible site! A clear blue lake all to ourselves, surrounded by the white snow capped mountains. That's where we filmed our ALS ice bucket challenge video which you can see on YouTube.
That night was freezing! Make sure you have your warm gear because you will need it just to go to the toilet at night. The night sky is absolutely amazing, and it was the first time I've seen the Milky Way in such clear detail.
The second day was hardest because of the uphill and downhill distance that you have to cover. It started very cold but became warm quite quickly after a fairly steep uphill, and I had to remove all layers except my base layer.
Near the summit, it becomes cold again, and you have to put back all the layers. Then on the way down, it warms up progressively, so you will need maybe three layers to play with for the day. The trek to the overnight base camp is really long, and the day ended at about 5.30 pm where we thankfully collapsed in our tents. There is a hot shower at the campsite which you can use for about 10 Soles.
We only did the 4D 3N trek, so the 3rd day for us was quite easy. Just a longish downhill walk to take the bus to hydroelectric, and then the train to Aguas Calientes - a lovely little town.
A couple of practical points - there are spots to buy food, water, drinks, toilet paper even souvenirs along the trek, so there is no need for water purification tablets. The prices were quite reasonable. Also, keep drinking sufficient water because you may not feel yourself sweating or getting thirsty, although you will be losing water constantly.
It was one of the hardest but most memorable treks I've done, and I am really happy and proud of myself for completing it. It was absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend it. I think if I can do it, then anyone can. Like Ramiro, our guide told us, it's all in the mind. Hope this review helps, and good luck for your trek!!