Here I am arriving at Machu Picchu. If I am not mistaken, this is the third or fourth time I’ve been to this marvelous place; but on this occasion, it’s different, and the way I got here made it more special. I now see Machu Picchu in a totally different light.
The four day trek on the Inca Trail is an unforgettable experience. The first day, we got up very early and were driven from Cusco to Km marker 82 in the Sacred Valley, where the adventure truly begins. We hiked past the Canabamba, Patallacta, and Llactapata ruins where we had an amazing view of very well preserved terraced hillsides fashioned by the Incas. We continued our trip to the town of Taralloc and stopped to eat lunch and take a break after having trekked for 4 hours. Afterwards, there were another 2 hours of hiking before reaching Wayllabamba. We found our campsite already set up, had a cup of tea, and ate dinner. A total of 11 km hiked on the first day.
We got up early the second day, and after a delicious breakfast, walked for 5 hours to reach Llulluchapampa (what a spectacular view!) just in time to eat lunch. Our guides told us to get ready since the most demanding section of the journey: a 1.6 km ascent to the highest pass on the path: Warmihuañusca, elevation 4200 m. When you get there, you feel as if you are standing on top of the clouds. You really sense a drastic change in the weather and the vegetation the higher you climb. Everything is extremely dry, and the only thing growing is wild grass. A real treat was seeing llamas and alpacas along the way. Then, we descended for 1.5 hours to Pacaymayo, our next campsite. We ate dinner and spent the night. We were so exhausted; we slept like logs. Total distance covered: 7 km.
On the third day, we hiked one hour uphill from our camp site to the Runcuracay ruins, where we got a great view of the Warmihuañusca Pass in the distance that we had visited the day before. I said to myself, “Wow, I really have hiked a long way!” Awaiting us among the buildings was an army of mosquitos, so I recommend using plenty of bug repellent. We continued our uphill march towards the second pass: Runcuracay (3950 m) and continued to the Sayacmarca archeological site, an Incan checkpoint and perfect place to take lovely pictures. After hiking for 5.5 hours, we made it to Puyupatamarca to eat lunch. We rested for a bit and started the trek again. We passed more Incan ruins, like Intipata. It is amazing how you find these sites scattered throughout the trail. Finally, we reached our campsite at Wiñaiwayña, ate dinner, and spent the third and last night. We went to bed early since the next day’s trek started at 3:30 a.m. Total distance covered: 6 km.
After eating breakfast in total darkness, we headed towards the Wiñaiwayña site to enjoy the sunrise, another unique experience.
This was the last day, and we were all charged up to reach Machu Picchu. The route became easier and the country around us greener. After 4.5 km, we arrived at the Inti Punku (The Doorway of the Sun), where the view really pays off. There before us was Machu Picchu, and the 4-day trek, the fatigue, every drop of sweat were well worth it. I think this is one thing every person should do at least once in their lifetime.