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Inca trail death hike: Day 1

Let me preface by saying- The Inca trail is the hardest thing I've ever physically done! The Classic 4 day Inca trail is a legend when it comes to being one of 'The most amazing hikes in the world'. Amazingly difficult, sure. Have you heard of the Burj Khalifa? It's only the tallest building in the world. If you've seen the movie MI3, that's where they filmed the scene where Tom Cruise was sticking off the side of a building. The total hike ascent is equivalent to climbing to the tip of Burj Khalifa 2.5x!!! After doing the trail, I'm beginning to think hiking the 4 day trail is just as crazy as the MI3 scene (especially since there's a train!). Anyway, the first day which is supposed to be the easiest is not too bad. It's only like hiking TO THE TOP OF PETRONAS TOWERS!
Highlights: Beautiful scenery!
Cast of Characters: My fellow tour mates, Edwin & Jimmy our guides. Mel flaked out on me! Hah! Mel- if you think I forgot, you're wrong! I'm immortalizing this in my blog!!!
Logistics/ Links: Inca trail pack listWikitravel. Inca trail Day 2, Inca trail Day 3, Inca trail Day 4. If you still want to do the trail- make sure you book your spot with the trek company at least 5 months ahead for May-Sept. I went with Peru Treks. They are excellent! Top-notch! I've never had a camping experience so luxurious! We had multi-course gourmet meals & get a 'hot beverage of your choice' wake up call. The guides are fantastic!

Alternate ways to do Macchu Pichu:
- I heard of some other travelers doing the multi-day "Inca Jungle" trail which combines bicycling, river rafting, hiking to get to Macchu Pichu. And that is only about $200 all in (compared to the $600 for the classic trail). You don't even need to book this in advance. You can just book it the day before or something.
- The most popular way to experience Macchu Pichu is a day trip by train. You take a train to Aguas Calientes then take a bus up to the top. I love adventure. I thought this might be too boring for me. When we got there I realized there's already plenty of hiking just in the attraction itself. You can (buy your tickets in advance) hike to the top of Wayna Pichu or hike to the Sun Gate. Fyi: the views along the Sun Gate trail are better than at the Sun Gate. So if you don't make it to Inti Punku, you're not missing much.

When: I went from May 7-10, 2012. The weather was sooo beautiful!!! It was just perfect for hiking. Our guide said it rained the week before. I was exploring Peru & Bolivia the whole month of May & weather was great. Temps were about 0-10' C during night time & maybe about 50-60's during the day. See Inca trail pack list for what to bring. If I were you, I would brave the crowds & go during the Inti Raymi festival (around June). I saw a video clip of it & it looked freakin' amaayyyzing!!!  
Location: Macchu Pichu, Peru
Cost: I paid about $600 to kick my own ass. Ass whoopin' includes guides tips, entry fees/ tickets, transpo, food, guides, everything.
Trip Report: If you're wondering what kind of people hike the trail- here it is. One of my fellow hikers runs 6 miles over her lunch break every day (& still has time to shower, freshen up & eat). =O   I heard of another group that just hiked Cordillera Blanca by Huaraz the week before to train for this trail. Omg. One my tour mates had a busted knee, but she was still walking better than me! Most of my fellow trekkers hike or work out regularly. I was definitely the minority. Ok! I can do this. I did not train. I just discovered recently (I arrived in Cusco 2 nights before) I react poorly to high altitude. The only thing I had going for me was a positive attitude! Haha! Yes, you can survive the trail on that alone!

Day 1 was very scenic. We started off by registering at Km 82. There was a bit of a line. Afterwards we started walking. Day 1 was pretty easy (relatively). Path was mostly dirt with the occasional up & down. Not too many intimidating inclines (that I can see). Our guide taught us how to chew coca leaves. We all bought a pack before the hike. I tested it out. Munch, munch. Its ok. Edwin says chew it regularly. I did. It did not do anything for me. Chewing coca leaves is supposed to have about 1/4 of the effect of a shot of coke. Hm. Interesting.

We hiked for about 3-4 hrs & then stopped for lunch at a camp site. Our tents were already set up. There's some fresh fruit juice drinks waiting for us. We could smell the food being prepared, oh boy. Lunch was amazing! I just do not know how they prepare the food. Its magic. After lunch, we took a bit of a break then proceeded back to hiking another 3-4 hrs. We got to camp & collapsed. The end.

Day 1 is supposed to be the easiest but the altitude made it very, very tough for me. I mean, just walking around Cusco gets me winded. I recommend doing the Inca trail towards the end of your Peru/ Bolivia trip, versus at the start, for 2 reasons: 1) You're already acclimatized after having been to the other high altitude places like Puno, La Paz, Lake Titicaca. 2) After the trek, all you want to do is go home, relax & sleep on your own comfy bed. Your feet will have blisters all over, you knees are still gonna be shaky, your legs are gonna be super get the picture.

Day 1 hike is a total of 12 km, ascending +/-400m. Fun, fun.
The crew at the start of the trail. They only issue about 500 trail permits per day. About half of that or more goes towards the porters.

En route to Km 82 we drove past Sacred Valley. Beautiful!

Me at Km 82. Little did I know...
Start of the trail

Exotic plants along the trail
Start of Inca trail

A river runs through it
Share the trail. There's some dogs & burros hiking the trail as well

Inca sites- not ruins- sites
Edwin demonstrating the proper way of ingesting coke (not with a syringe kids!)

Some cool landscape along the trail
There's a lot of cute little bridges like these along the way

Beautiful landscape along the way
Incan checkpoints for controlling access to Macchu Pichu. The ancient Inca king built their town all the way up in the mountains cause he's one paranoid, sadistic, s.o.b. that wanted his own people to suffer the trail. Lol. Just kidding. There's actually several ways to get to Macchu Pichu. Only masochistic fools like us go through the Classic way. The first western 'discoverer' actually just went up to Macchu Pichu via Aguas Calientes (like an 8km hike total). Psh.

Camp site for lunch. Little bowls for hand washing.

Some more wildlife along the way. I think the first day is the most scenic. From the 2nd day on, I was so bored with the trail I kept fantasizing of being attacked by a wild puma & wrestling it to the ground with my walking stick. Didn't happen. Sigh.

Rest stop.

Little town by our camp site.

The crew getting ready for camp. Actually the porters got everything ready so all we had to do was lay out our sleeping bag & collapse.

The crew having some appetizers & tea

Day 1- yeey!


  1. Hi there!

    This might be a silly question, but how fit were you prior to the trek? You did NO training at all?

    Another silly question: how did you make sure you had enough batteries for your camera to last four days??? I'm assuming there are no charging stations?


    1. Hi Isabel! Not silly at all! My experience was torturous because I had no training! I'm fine with 2 day/ 9 hour hikes as long as its not high altitude. So this was my first experience with high altitude/ 4 day hike. I know I should have trained but I just could not be bothered, lol! Highly recommended you train to fully enjoy the experience. If you're a slow hiker, bring a friend who is willing to walk slow with you, hehe!

      As for batteries, there were no charging stations available for campers. My camera uses 4x AA batteries. I think I brought at least 3 fully charged change of batteries. I took a LOT of photos. The batteries lasted but my memory cards didnt! Waaah! Lol!!! =P

      If you're doing the trail I hope you have an excellent time! =

  2. Vivi10:29


    Loved reading this, so helpful - thank you! Quick question though - not sure if your packing list is still available to view? Can't seem to access it, but would love to see what you packed!

    Thanks a million!


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