4 days - 23 hours trekking - 46 km - but worth every aching muscle to see Machu Picchu and some of the other amazing Incan sites along the way.
Our first day we got as bus as far as Kilometer 82 (on the railway line) where the trail begins.
We started off mostly flat that day with a few gentle uphill bits. It was nice to break us in gradually. After lunch was a different story though, especially the last 2 hours, they were tough going. But at least we knew we were finished for the day when we arrived at our campsite.
It was an early start the next day. Wake up call was at 5.30am and we were on the trail by 6.15am. I don't think I've ever been up and active that early in my life before! This was definitely the hardest section. About 3 1/2 hours to the top of Dead Woman's Pass (4215m above sea level). It was torturous. By the time we could see the top I was so worn out and it was so steep it was literally 20 steps, take a break, 20 more, catch my breath ...
We made it to the top just in time to admire the view before the clouds set in.
After the struggle to get to the top, what else would you do only go back down. We had about 2 hours of really steep down hill to our lunch spot.And of course that was followed by another massive climb to the second highest pass of the trek, where we had a break
It poured rain that night, but luckily we woke up to clear skies and a great view of the valley in the morning.
We started off with a nice gentle section that would have been easy if our legs weren't in bits after all the up and down the previous day. Luckily it was only a half day of walking until we got to the Intipata site, and our campsite was very close.
That afternoon we visited Winaywayna. This was my favourite site along the trail. we just rounded a bend and there it was. Really outstanding. All the terraces were for farming. Our guide told us they layered gravel, then sand, then soil to make it more fertile and improve drainage. At the top of the site is a natural spring and they built a seies of fountains and channels to bring the water down as far as the houses.
On the last morning we were up before the sun and started the final leg at 5am. At Intipunku (Sungate) we got our first glimpse of Machu Picchu through the cloud cover.
We hung around for a bit and luckily it cleared up.
By the time we got down there it was scorching. We had a guided tour of the site first and then had some free time to wander around ourselves. It's a really amazing site. It's hard to comprehend the scale of it from the photo's and even in real life. They reckon that maybe 500 people lived there in the Incan period.
So that was the Inca Trail. A challenging but fantastic experience.
Jan and Paul