The last stop on my solo trek. And boy, it was a toughie.
I spent a couple days in Lima. My plan was to overcome any potential jet lag as I was coming from South Africa. Turns out I’m amazing at traveling and did not get any jet lag. What I also did not get is my checked bag. But that’s another story that involves whining-so I will save it.
I only toured around a very small amount but I had my first Pisco Sour. Pisco Sour is made with Pisco liquor and lime juice and egg white and simple syrup. Think Peruvian Margarita. And think delicious.
I managed to grab my checked suitcase while at the Lima airport on my way to Cuzco. Cuzco is the city in the mountains- located at an elevation of 3400 meters(11,200 ft) above sea level. So this means a lot of people get sick while in Cuzco while adjusting. I felt a bit out of breath and headachey for the first couple days. But otherwise I was doing ok.
I just loved Cuzco and would love to spend more time there. Its a very safe and cute city.
I mostly just toured around Cuzco settling into the altitude. I also did a Peruvian Cooking course where I learned how to make a Pisco Sour and some other food.
After a few days of acclimating, I met up with my group and we headed out. We didn’t actually start the Inca Trail until a couple days into the tour, so we toured around the Peruvian countryside a bit and saw more ruins and experienced some more culture.
We went to a village community that is sponsored by G Adventures. We learned how they make scarfs, gloves, hats and other knitted products from the shearing of the alpaca to the dying of the wool to the actual knitting.
The Inca Trail
So after the tours it was time to prepare for the big hike. We would be hiking for 3.5 days. Its a 45 km hike and has a lot of ups and downs. We go up to 4200m elevation, but Macchu Picchu is at 3200m. And we started at 2700. Ups and downs. I’m not sure what was worse. Just kidding.
We only carry a small day pack with some water and snacks and maybe a jacket. The porters in the group carry a bag limited to the 6kg of our personal items and sleeping bag. They also carry our tents and all the food and the dining tents. They pass us on the trail, set up for lunch/dinner, then cook for us, then we leave and they take everything down and pass us again and get ready for dinner. All while wearing sandals and being quite nice to us. At first I felt bad, but then I just felt really tired.
We made it on our first day and imagine our surprise when we found an enterprising lady willing to sell us a beer at camp.
During the hike we had to share the trail with other groups of hikers and donkeys, horses and llamas. You cannot ride any of these on the trail- I heard someone ask someone at some point.
So turns out Peru only has 2 seasons. Rainy and Dry. So lets say you book a trip in December and you think, “Oh, its December and Peru is in the southern hemisphere so it must be summer there”, you would be wrong. Its summer in Lima but its RAINY in Cuzco. And cold. We had rain every day but the 2nd day it rained hard all day-and that was the hard hiking day. I also did not bring my waterproof hiking boots. Just these cute hiking sneakers that would look good in Europe when exploring things and hopefully would work for the Inca Trail. I did not get blisters, but I did not keep my feet dry.
When you reach the 4200m point, its at the Dead Womans Pass. I think they call it that because as a woman, I wish I was dead when I reached it. I took this great photo to commemorate arriving. I had to take it myself because there was a couple behind me and I didn’t wait for them to arrive to take one of me. I was so cold.
The Inca Trail is also made of stone. Which does not get muddy, but it gets slippery. And the stairs are uneven. Some are high, some are narrow, some are short. I had a lot of words with the Incas in my head while struggling up and down some of their trail. I will say, no wonder the Spanish didn’t find Maccu Picchu…
We got to camp and our tents were set up for us every night. We had absolutely stunning views at each campsite.
Our group was great. We had one couple who were on their honeymoon and had all brand new hiking gear. I watched them closely for signs of disaster-like who’s idea was it to come on the Inca Trail-but no cracks. The only thing I heard them say, “I thought it was summer in December in Peru”
Overall, the trail was really hard but it was also beautiful. I am so glad I was able to do it and I highly recommend it.
The last day meant we were up at 3am to wait in line to hike the final 6km to the Sun Gate. We were hoping the cloud would be gone when we got there.
After hanging out at the Sun Gate we made our way down to Macchu Picchu to get the views. I will say you could tell the people that hiked to Macchu Picchu versus the people who arrived by train. All of us stinky, wet people looked in disdain at the clean, dry people.
So that completes my epic adventure. It took me a bit to get motivated to get back at the ol’ blog and finish what I started.
I learned a lot of things. Some deep, some not so much. Maybe I will sort out the learnings and write them down.
Happy New Year!