The classic Inka Trail is 45km long, and usually covered in four days. Following major overuse and abuse of the trail, the number of people starting the Inka Trail (the classical Inka trail to Macchu Pichu) was limited a few years ago, with guidelines instated regarding porter (or chaski “fleet-foot messenger”) welfare, and limiting how much they can carry. It is not allowed to trek the Inka Trail independently, as you must have a trek permit and guide. So we signed ourselves up for a group trek a few months back, and ended up with a group of 14 trekkers (6 English girls, an English couple, and American couple, a solo American girl, and a solo Dutch girl), 21 chaskis, and our guide (David) and assistant guide (Gustavo).
After travelling in a bus from Cusco, with a breakfast stop at Ollantaytambo, we reached KM82 – the point along the railway line where the trekking begins.
Burros carrying a load wander along the train line by the start of the Inca Trail.
More than half the group elected to hire a personal porter to carry their sleeping gear and extra things, so they just had to carry a daypack. We were feeling sheepish enough at having someone else carrying our tent, food, and cooking supplies, so couldn’t bring ourselves to pay for a personal porter. This was all good until we saw the size of the sleeping bags we’d hired from the company. They were warm, but just a single one of them nearly filled up one of our 30L daypacks. Prolonged puzzling led to an attack forcing two sleeping bags into a single daypack, jumping on them repeatedly to make them fit, then quickly camming the straps on the bag to trap them in place before they could spring back into shape.
Walking by the Urabamba River on Day One.
We started off wandering along by the train tracks, cursing the lazy tourists who were taking the easy way in on the noisy trains, then swung up into the hills, following along the river.
We reached our first sizeable Incan site with Llactapata, an old village at the fork of the Urabamba River and Kusichaca Stream. At some point we stopped for lunch, and had our first experience of the lunch tent, and the three course meals that were to await us every day. I can remember that the entree on our first day involved avacado, and then there was soup, and the main course involved trout from the ponds nearby… I really miss the cook.
And now because I have far too many photos to post, click more for camp on the first evening…
We spent that night in Wayllabamba, a little valley farming area. As we walked in we were greeted by corn stored on corrugated iron rooves, and small signs on mud huts to let us know that they accepted Mastercard.
Fighting our way through the chickens, burros, sheep and cows, Alex and I wandered up to some ruins above our camp site.
The view from the ruins: the moon hovers over the hill
After lunch we were all wondering if we’d actually be hungry again at dinner time – faced with another delicious three course meal, I certainly was. There was even flambÃ© pisco banana for dessert!
This ridiculous chicken kept wandering around the camp site.
So early to bed, to the odd nocturnal noises of a farming community, ready to get up at 6am the next day.