Inca Land Explorations – The Classic Inca Trail Trek

Now for the final part of my blog on the Inca adventure and the highlight of our trip, I chronicle the much looked forward to or dreaded trek which was called the Classic 4 day Inca trail or Pilgrimage that we had booked way back in February.

Map of trail: courtsey traveltocusco.com
Off we go!
The first day, we were still happy and had smiley faces in our photographs, as we started out from Ollantaytambo on the Inca trail. Here are some pictures from the first day of our trekking. It is certainly amazing what nature presents when out in the open outside of the din of the city. These photographs are certainly barely representative of the sights we did see there. Mountains, rivers, Inca ruins, Clouds and forests live in a 360 degree view is really quite difficult to capture on a lens. But well, this is what we have to do with once we get back to the city! We tasted Chef Caramello’s food for the first time starting with lunch which was an elaborate affair starting with an avocado starter, going onto a soup and entree of Pasta, Creamy Potatoes and Rice followed by some chocolate pudding for dessert. We certainly didn’t want to hike after that sensory meal! We fortunately did get a few moments of rest though after that before we started off again rejuvenated.
Day 1
Llactapata ruins
During the course of our trip, we got to know our fellow trekkers who were fortunately a wonderful bunch of people including Americans, Australians and other Indians! For 12 of us trekkers, there were 17 porters, one chef and two tour guides. I must say they all did a wonderful job despite how difficult it really must be. In fact, things like food which are a luxury during camping, actually became a highlight as we received full elaborately prepared three course lunches and dinners as well as breakfast and snacks. All we had to do was really, just climb, as all our food was cooked for us, stuff carried up for us! Even that was not easy I must say. Especially, since I conveniently missed the step of training in the gym forever before that! It was quite incredible, that while we climbed up, the porters cleaned up our lunch, washed up, scurried up with the tents and all those other hundred things, set the tents all up, cooked our dinner and we arrived only much later.

Porters scurrying up
Lunch!

The second day was the toughest part of the trek having to climb to a high elevation of 4.200M to the Dead Woman’s pass as it is called. Was that the high point otherwise for me? Well, honestly, it was the most difficult thing I must have ever done physically! I had to break after every 10 steps when I was some 100 steps away from it! The air being pretty thin at this altitude affected many of us in the group attacking us with migraines, nausea, sickness and the like. But well, we still grinned when the photo was clicked! :)

Dead woman’s pass

What goes up has to come down, and the next phase of the trekking was just down down and more down till lunch! Even that was tiring! And to think, while climbing up all we wanted was to go down! Going up is more work, but coming down is scary and makes all those muscles really ache! I had almost given up hope of ever making it through the day after which we not only made it to the camp for lunch but revived by Chef Caramello’s food, we hiked up the mountain for another 3 hours before we finally could celebrate the end of the toughest part of the trek with coca tea, popcorn and crackers!
Ruins at Phuyupatamarca – Don’t I love the names!
The third day of the Inca trail was personally my favorite, since there was less climbing up, and less steep steps although there was a lot of climbing down. We went through a lot of verdant jungles and took in breathtaking vistas every few steps. But then, it started raining. And rain it did, …it rained right till the moment and possibly beyond the day I took my taxi to the Cusco airport to depart Peru! The positive side of the rain however was the fact that everything looked far more mystical and magical with the floating clouds as we traversed through the hills and vales. We almost felt in the middle of an Avatar movie or an Indiana Jones movie amidst all that beauty. We reached the campsite early in the day and in time to visit a beautiful Inca site known as Winaywayna. Our chef made a special farewell cake for dinner as it was the third dinner together. Well, he certainly kept his high standards of food right till the last meal at the camp!
Runkurakay ruins
Mystic clouds
Rain Trek
Flowers on the way
Winaywayna Inca site
Happy travels to Machu Picchu!
On the last day, we had a short trek to our final destination Machu Picchu. Unfortunately it was still raining, and there was little hope of really seeing sunrise. But we all started off at 4:30 am to beat other hikers at the gate that opened at 530 am. Wasn’t an easy hike again as was expected. Plenty of climbing, and a lot more urgency to make it to the lost city soon. We crossed the Sun Gate, and there it was… Machu Picchu, in all its glory. The clouds that enveloped it, made it all the more ethereal, and we were enchanted.
 
Machu Picchu
Morning Haze
The lost city – Machu Picchu
The lost city nestled in clouds
Machu Picchu was indeed much bigger and far more different than the other Inca sites. It looked royal and awe-inspiring. There was an ancient aura about the place and amidst all the clamor of the tourists and the photo snapping din, it felt peaceful. Machu Picchu was surrounded by
mountains on all sides, and watching the clouds play hide and seek with it took our breath away.
 
Thus ended the highlight of our trip there, and we left with exalted minds thinking about all those who lived and fled there wondering how it must have been back then. I wonder, would it have been any different had the Spanish not forced them to flee? If they could create all these wonders in just a century, I wish I could imagine, the marvels the great Incas would have created had they ruled for longer. On a closing note, here are some beautiful words from a poem by Pablo Neruda that I read somewhere in Cuzco -
 
“Then on the ladder of the earth I climbed through the
lost jungle’s tortured thicket upto you, Machu Picchu.
High city of laddered stones,
at last the dwelling of what earth
never covered in vestments of sleep
Mother of stone, spume of condors
High reef of the human dawn
Spade lost in primal sand
This was the dwelling
this was the place
here the broad grains of maize rose up
and fell again like red hail
Here gold threads came off the vicuna
to clothe the lovers, the mothers
the king, the prayers the warriors.”
To read more about the Incas and Cusco, their capital city, do have a look at my previous two blogs.
To read more about Machu Picchu, here is a wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machu_Picchu.
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Categories: Peru, World | Tags: , , | 27 Comments

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27 thoughts on “Inca Land Explorations – The Classic Inca Trail Trek

  1. fascinating post with magnificent photographs and informative commentary!

  2. Mesmerizing post.The writing and photographs have perfectly captured the stunning mix of Inca ruins, mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest and rich subtropical jungle.This place undoubtedly is heaven on earth and would have made you forget the agony of the trek.

  3. Absolutely stunning! Wow, this is truly amazing, the place looks like a different fairy world altogether! Brilliant captures and great write up as well, absolutely loved your inca adventure series!

  4. that was a wonderful finale for a great series. Have you thought of becoming a travel writer? :)

  5. Dear Richa, We were eagerly looking forward to the third and final part of the travelogue and it is as interesting and lively as previous two episodes. The appropriate photos added to the blog treat. Happy that you and Sandeep could undertake the difficult yet interesting trek and everything went off as planned. Look forward to next blog as usual :) . Baba

  6. Appreciate your giving liberal credit to the tour organisers, cook and even coolies.These are the back stage actors who make the endeavour succeful, however, never get the credit.

  7. Excellent coverage of your journey through an unusual and mostly unexplored part of the world . if I ever happen to visit this place ..which is not likely.. I will have a feeling déjà vu . Aai,

  8. While reading you, I was remembering a trek I had done in Nepal for work, travelling between villages in the mountains, gasping for breath all the time and afraid that I was going to die of heart attack! :)Really nice post and beautiful images, enjoyed it very much.

  9. Read like the trek to heaven with Chef Caramello on the side :)

  10. Amazing travelogue! Loved reading every bit of it. First time here. Will frequent more.

  11. @everyone: Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate your reading on about my travels! I apologize for not replying early…was away travelling for a bit again!

  12. I didn't really read through all because I'm almost always short of time, however I'd like to add that you take good pics. Some of them are very promising.

  13. I like this egg fried rice very much. Now I am hungry. Really it is great place. It looks great. Nice to see.

  14. Thank you for posting this. One of the items on my bucket list is definitely to go see Macchu Picchu and your post sure makes it more difficult to push this item further down the pecking order…. it will happen soon!

    • When you go, be sure to do the trek if you can. It requires some advance planning but will make your trip worthwhile. This was one of the places that were more about the journey than the destination.

  15. Very beautiful pictures!

  16. Gosh! That was almost as if I had flown to a different planet. You made it all sound so real, those steep climbs, the exotic food, the lack of air, the mist, the rain and the jungles like Avatar and The Raiders of the Lost Ark! Those are all priceless images. ‘The Morning Haze’ and ‘The lost city – Machu Picchu’ and ‘The lost city nestled in clouds’ are my personal favourites. it is a beautiful, beautiful world. Hope to make it there some day.

    • Richa

      I am glad you liked the delineation. The place was straight out of the Avatar for sure. We did reference it during our trip :). Those two pictures are my favorites too. Ofcourse, pictures of the trek do no justice to what we actually experienced and saw, but they make for indelible memories.

  17. Richa the final trail was well worth the wait:) A fascinating account of this lovely trip made me feel as if I was there on the trip too:)Even with a cloak of clouds you have managed to capture all the pristine beauty of the mystic Machu Picchu!

    • Richa

      Thanks for visiting again Rahul. The journey was indeed an amazing experience. It was incredible at the end of the trek to turn around a corner suddenly to see a whole ancient city nestled in the mountain and clouds. As though we had come to wonderland :). Happy to have you on my site. Please do visit again.

  18. Very nice travel blog you have here! Your detailed account of the trek truly made good reading, Looking forward to reading future posts of your travels here!

    • Richa

      Thanks for visiting and will be happy to have you here again! Will tweet when I post :)

  19. Looks like fun. The photos are amazing.

  20. The Pablo Neruda poem was a fitting end to this wonderful trip to Incaland. PS. Do you think Peru can be persuaded to change their country’s name to Incaland?

    • Richa

      Haha! I wish. Glad you liked the name. It makes the land all the more exotic doesn’t it?!

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