We made it! The inca trail is completed!
The feeling of seeing Machu Picchu after having climbed the 50 stairs up to the Sun Gate, one of the scariest part of the trail due to it being literally a wall straight up to heaven, is hard to describe. The sun was shining, our hearts were beating and there it was – the purpose of our long journey, in its full majesty in between the huge mountains of the Andes. The beauty of Machu Picchu, the skills with which it has been built, the influence of the solar calendar and how well preserved it is still today, amazes you! It is impossible not to be spellbound by this place and its history and still, there are so many questions unanswered…
But getting there was not easy… we expected an adventure and an adventure we got! First we were met by a guide that had had too much fun the night before and was still on fire. After realizing, that it was this guy or no one, we started our journey a bit frustrated. Then it turned out that we had to do the Inca Trail in 3 days instead of 4 due to a local strike and the risk of Machu Picchu being closed. Luckily then, we did not know what this meant…
The first day was ok. We did 14 km instead of 12 and even though we were tired when reaching our camp and tent after 7 hours of walking, we were still in a good mood. The second day is known to be the toughest but for us it was brutal. Wake up call at 5 am and then the day began by climbing 900 m up to 4200 m. Yeah, quite a tough start of the day but we were all very happy when we reached the highest point of the trail 3 hours later and what we thought, left the toughest part of the journey behind. However, we soon got to know that we had 600 meters downhill, 500 meters uphill and another 500 meters downhill (approximately 4,5 hours) ahead of us before lunch.
Just to make it clear, downhill in these conditions does not mean rest. Being these steep, your legs starts to shake after five minutes. This was not only the case for me but also for Mr. Iron Man. Being afraid of heights the uphill part was a nightmare with its steep, narrow paths with cliffs on the sides with no bottom. The good news is, I cured my fear of heights forever – there and then!
It is asthonishing how your body and mind adjust to the situation, entering into a survival mood. Knowing that you have four hours of climbing up and down ahead of you, there is no reason to rush to the top or to the next corner, there will be just another path there, steeper than the current one. You try to save as much energy as possible, taking small steps, avoiding high or deep stairs, finding alternative routes and your mind slowly calms down, restlessness turns into patience – true therapy for your mind and soul!
As unlikely as it may sound, the last part of the second day made it all worth it. After a very late lunch and 8 hours of walking, we entered the original Inca Trail – the part not destroyed by the Spanish. This path was not only much better prepared and easier to walk but truly beautiful with breathtaking views. The sun, the mountains and MotherNature – all magic!. To our great surprise, the camp site turned out to be as beautifully set, 3800 m up among the clouds – a truly unforgettable experience!
And the true heroes of this trip were our amazing porters and chefs, not only making sure to get over the mountains but also carrying all the equipment needed and cooking impressive meals with almost no means.
Sitting in our Lima apartment and having recovered from this challenge we both agree, this was one of the toughest but the most incredible, stunning and magical adventure we have done so far! However, our strong recommendation is to do it according to plan in 4 days or to take the light version of 2 days…1919