Inca Trail: The Warm-Up

We started our morning by waking up at 5 AM as we had to meet with our trekking group by 6 AM to begin Day 1 of our 4-Day trek. After hopping on a bus for a 1-2 hour ride, we paused in Urubamba to pick up last-minute essentials such as ponchos, Cocoa leaves/candy, and water, before grabbing a quick breakfast and heading on our way. (Side-note: The breakfast was essentially a croissant filled with scrambled eggs and tomatoes, it didn’t particularly wow me or Tom and I had expected something more filling for our first day of trekking)

We then continued on our way for another hour to Km 82, the start of the trail. It took some time for us to sunscreen up, SAS to divy out any rented sleeping bags, hiking poles, and air pads, and weigh the porter duffels.

Thankfully, thanks to my overzealous excel spreadsheet and Tom’s weight-estimating skills, we did not exceed our 8 Kg limit and therefore did not have to pay extra unlike some of my peers. 

With the porter carrying most of my clothing and some joint items like sneakers and cliff bars, Tom’s pack ended up being around 15 lbs (excl. water) with him carrying all of his own clothes and sleeping gear, and mine ended up being around 10 lbs (excl. water) with me carrying my sleeping gear and some of our joint daily items in addition to my camera gear.

With the sun high, we put our packs on and headed onwards to the official checkpoint. 

From the checkpoint, we had a brief climb before the terrain leveled off. For about 3 hrs we enjoyed a casual stroll along the Urubamba River with plenty of time for scenic photographs of the nearby Mount Veronica (5,750 Meters) and the local vegetation of cactus and bushes.

We then started a gradual climb up to Willkaraccay, where we encountered the first Incan Fort, a control point for the Cusichaka Valley. Our guide, Freddy, gave us a tour of the fort explaining the significance of the structure during Incan times in addition to the circular terraces that we could see far below us before we continued on our way.

Lunch was only about 20 minutes down the path and boy did it exceed our expectations! Somehow the chef managed to pull off 3-course meals which were extremely filling and plentiful, almost to the point that we all felt bad not being able to finish it all.

After a nap, we continued on our way for another 3-hrs deeper into the forest passing flowers and bromeliads on our left and mountains on our right. Eventually we reached Hatun Chaka Camp, our stopping point for the night.

Each pair of us claimed our tents and started setting up our sleeping areas for the night. SAS provided us with hot Macho Tea and clean water to wind down and de-grime with in the one-hour break before happy hour and dinner. 

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