The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru. In order to reduce trail erosion, the government sets limits of 500 trekkers per day and a handful of companies that can provide guiding service. Most people go for the Classic route, starting the trail from Km 82, reaching the highest point at Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman Pass) on the second day, passing by Andean cloud forests and Inca ruins on the third day, and ending the trek at the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu at sunrise on the fourth day.
At 05:30, a 4×4 from Peru Treks came to our hotel in Cusco to pick us up for our 4-day trek. They took us first to Ollantaytambo for breakfast, and then to the trail-head at Km 82, the starting point of the Inca Trail. At Km 82, we left our rented sleeping bags, mats and warm clothing to the porters. With a small day pack of personal belongings, water, broad brim hat and a pair of hiking poles, we followed our guide Freddie to embark for a full day of challenge. As we departed for the hike, a tourist train ran ahead of us into the valley towards Machu Picchu, taking a train load of tourists (70% of visitors of Machu Picchu) who rather skipped the magnificent Inca Trail to reach the lost city in about three hours (train + shuttle bus).
Our trek started off with an easy hike into the mountains. After some uphill walking, we arrived at the first Inca ruin Patallaqta. It was an Inca settlement for ancient travelers and soldiers located at the intersection between two valleys. Our guide Freddie called this the Valley of the Wind, because of the constant strong wind. An optional climb up a hill gave us a better view of the terraces of Patallaqta. We continued to hike towards our camp site of the first night at Wayllabamba. Along the way, we get glimpses of the Cordillera Urubamba. After about 12km of hiking and a few resting spots where water and gatorade were sold, we arrived at Wayllabamba in mid afternoon. The camp site has a great view to the Cordillera Urubamba.
At Wayllabamba, we were assigned with our tents, one tent for two people. We settled ourselves and took a short break. Our guide Freddie, porters and some local villagers decided to play a game of football (soccer) on an open field. I joined them for the game but retreated after playing for about 30 minutes. It was extremely tiring to exercise on high altitude, no wonder I was the only one from our trekking group willing to join the game. After the game, we went to get water at a nearby village, and passed by a community church as we headed back to our camp. At night, the entire group (16 of us) and the guides had dinner in the dinning tent. The meal was very impressive given we were high up on the mountains. We got to have a good sleep to gear up for the toughest challenge of the Inca Trail, the 1100m climb to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman Pass) in the next morning.
Tourist train rushing ahead of us at Km 82.
Beginning of the Classic Inca Trail near Km 82.
The Kusichaka Valley led towards the magnificent ruin of Patallaqta.
The ruin of Patallaqta, at the intersection of Kusichaka River and Willkanuta Rivers.
Patallaqta was once an important Inca settlement in the Sacred Valley.
Snow-capped mountains of Cordillera Urubamba often came to sight.
The community church near our camp site at Wayllabamba.
Our camp site at Wayllabamba.
A nearby settlement from Wayllabamba where we could use the toilets and get water.
The mighty Andean peaks dominate the backdrop of Wayllabamba.
* * *
Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010
1. Peru Trip 2010
2. Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3. Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4. Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5. Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6. Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru