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INCA TRAIL IN JANUARY! I wrote “January” in the title because most blogs say that we shouldn’t do the trekking in January, due to the rain. But we shouldn’t trust everything we read on the Internet, so I ignored the bloggers and went on January anyway (haha). And it was awesome. Of course, if you go in January and find it terrible, don’t blame me, everyone has a different experience. I went in January just because I was planning this trip and wanted to visit all those places at once, so I put Machu Picchu on the list. Also, it is no fun going to Machu Picchu without doing a trekking like this. But of course, it is only my opinion as well. The trekking is reaaaly tiring, so those who don’t like to struggle in the wild should go the traditional way, by train and bus.
There are other ways to go to Machu Picchu as well, for example through Salkantay, which takes about 5 days. For those who don’t want to walk too much, but want to do a short hiking when visiting Machu Picchu can do the Huayna Picchu course or go to Inti Punku (Sun Gate), both take about 2 and a half hours.
I chose the traditional Inca Trail (Camino Inca, or Camino Inka). It is a 4 day and 3 nights trekking and we walk through many ruins and paths used by the Inca people many years ago. I did it in January, so it rained a lot and my poncho was very useful. Of course, it is very important to wear comfortable and waterproof trekking boots. There are no showers during the trekking, so it is also good to bring wet tissues as well. Later I’m going to write a post with the tips about what to bring to the trekking. The agency where I booked the tour had also hot water to wash our faces and put our feet to relax after walking a lot. To spend the night at this kind of place was amazing!
I booked the trekking with Condor Travel, a traditional and reliable agency. At first, I was a bit scared to book in advance, because it was quite expensive. The feedback about the agency were good, so I booked my place. The trekking courses are closed in February due to the heavy rain, so they do the maintenance of the paths during this period. I got in the last group of January and paid 815 dollars for the whole pack. It included all the camping equipment, food, cook, guide, porters, transport, return train ticket, etc. I found it very expensive, but it was worth it. Many agencies offer the pack cheaper, but then you have to pay to porters to carry some of your things later. Even to do the trekking with light bags is hard, so I can’t imagine what it would be like to do it carrying the tent and food in it. It was worth paying all that as well because of the food, which were delicious, and because of the gear, which were very comfortable and warm.
On the first day, the guide comes to our hostel early in the morning and we head to Km 82, where the trail begins. We give them a 5 kg bag (prepared by the agency) with clothes for the porters to carry. In our backpack we carry the things we are going to use during the day, like water, snacks, sunscreen, towel, camera, etc. The first day is very light, in order to get used to the trekking. We walk about 12 km from Cusco (Km 82) to Huayllabamba, where we spend the first night. The maximum altitude is 2.943 meters high. In my group there was a bilingual guide, a cook, 7 porters (yes, 7! They are incredible, they carry a very heavy bag and prepare our camp everyday), and a couple from Alaska, of about 60 years old. It was a very nice group.
We wake up early in the morning, with a hot coca tea, which we drink to avoid the altitude sickness.
Then we pack our things and have a full breakfast, because the second day is harder. On the second day we reach the highest point of the course, the mountain Warmiwañusca, which is 4.200 meters high. Then we walked to Pacaymayo, our next camp. This is a very tiring day, especially because of the altitude. We walk for about 7 hours, through paths full of stones and mud. Sometimes I had to walk a bit and rest, walk a bit and rest, because the oxygen wasn’t enough. But the feeling of walking in the nature, observing the valleys and birds was amazing.
The third day was also very hard, we walked for about 8 hours. On the third day we passed through the second highest point of the trail, Runcuracay, with 3.900 meters high. The third highest point is Phuyupatamarca, 3.800 meters high. On this day we felt tour knees, because of the downhills, and the accumulated fatigue. As it rained most of the time, we had to be very careful not to fall down.
We saw some wild llamas too! They are used to people, so they didn’t care about us.
Last day!!! This is the day we finally arrive at Machu Picchu. On the last day we walk for only 2 hours, but the accumulated fatigue and muscle pain make it hard to walk. We woke up very early, in order to get to Machu Picchu in the morning. We were very lucky, it had rained the first 3 days, but the sun decided to come out on the last day. So we were able to see that famous view, without clouds on the way.
After arriving in Machu Picchu, we walked through the ruins. When it was discovered, they were covered with trees and wild vegetation. They spent years cleaning the place to see what was hiding in there. Many parts were reconstructed, and they put stairs to the tourists pass, etc. We were very happy to walk in a plain path, because in the trail we had to walk through many difficult paths, going up and down, with many rocks in our way.
Machu Picchu is full of tourists, with large groups everywhere. So the expected highlight of the trip became just another place for us, after what we had experienced during the trekking. It was 3 full days walking in the mountains, it’s difficult to describe. I was very tired, but feeling like I had achieved something. I stamped my passport and took some classic tourist pictures. At Aguas Calientes I decided to get a massage to relax. It was great, I really recommend doing it after the trekking. Especially because of the shower, I really needed it haha. Then I got the train back to Ollantaytambo. The train is very comfortable, with drinks and a sandwich.
After I arrived in Cusco, I hurried to the hostel to pack my things, as I was going to take the night bus on the same day to Copacabana, Bolivia (Titicaca lake). This was another crazy decision, because I was very tired and my whole body hurt. I slept all the way, for about 10 hours in the bus to Copacabana. From there I went to Isla del Sol (Sun Island), a beautiful island in Titicaca lake. I’m going to write about Isla del Sol on my next post 🙂
Sacred Valley: SACRED VALLEY – VALLE SAGRADO, CUSCO, PERU IN JANUARY (ENG)
My TOP 10 of this backpack trip: TOP 10 – PLACES/EXPERIENCES OF MY LATIN AMERICA BACKPACK TRIP
How much I spent in this backpack trip: LATIN AMERICA BACKPACK TRIP! ～SUMMARY～
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