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17 May, 2013

Inca Trail Day 1 - Getting Started

Sexy Llamas and Caballero on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Sexy Llamas and Caballero on the Inca Trail
The buzzing sound of my alarm clock wakes me up at 5:30 am, still half a sleep and a bit disoriented I put the alarm off, turn around and I'm about to fall a sleep again when it finally hits me ... today is THE DAY, the day I have been looking forward to for so long. Today, 6th of May 2013, I will start hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. During this 4-day hike, I will follow this ancient trail through the Andes and hopefully on the 4th day before sunrise I will arrive at Inti Punku, the Sun Gate to see the wonder of Machu Picchu appear below me. All of the sudden filled with excitement, I jump out of my bed and into the shower. I already packed my duffel back last night, so after a quick breakfast I am ready to go ... 


Railroad K82 Bridge over the Urubamba River Inca Trail
Railroad K82 Bridge over the Urubamba River
Our guide and driver arrive sharp on time at 7:00 am to pick us up. I'm very happy with the size of our group, just us and 4 British ladies. In the bus we get to know each other a bit better, Jessica and Anoushka are two 19 year old students currently taking a gap year traveling around in South America. Kathy is Jessica's mom, who came over with her friend Suzy to do the Inca Trail together with her daughter and friend. They are all very friendly and look like great people. As we are nearly all women in our group, our guide Paul calls us the Sexy Llamas and Caballero hiking group :-) 

The bus enters the sacred valley in Pisac, passes Maras and Moray and makes a quick stop in Ollantaytambo where we use the facilities and buy some additional snacks. We continue for another 30 minutes with the bus and arrive at Railroad K82 where the Inca Trail starts. Here we meet our porters and cooks, have our group photo taken, go through the check point, have our passports stamped, cross the bridge over the Urubamba river and start finally our Inca Trail experience.


Part of Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Day 1
Part of Inca Trail Day 1
We start our hike at an altitude of 2700m and will gradually climb to our first campsite at 3000m. The Inca Trail runs through the Andean Mountains and crosses many different microclimates from high dessert to cloud forest to subtropical jungle ... This is my first time in the Andes and it amazes me how different these mountains are from the ones for example in Austria. When you are in Austria at this altitude, you will be surrounded by snow. Here there is hardly ever snow under 5000m and agriculture is done till about 4000m. The only snow we see is far away on top of Mount Veronica at an altitude of 5830m. 

It is a beautiful sunny day and I am really enjoying this hike. Most of the trail today is "Peruvian flat" which means it goes up and down through the mountains. It is an easy and relaxing walk, our guide Paul is very knowledgeable and explains us all about the fauna and flora. Every now and then we meet another group but for the majority of the trail it is just our group walking on this amazing ancient path.


Llactapata or Patallaqta Ruins Inca Traill to Machu Picchu
Llactapata Ruins
When Hiram Bingham discovered Llactapata he asked his guides how this town was called , because they did not know they responded "llacta" which means town and "pata" which means on a height. Ever since that day these ruins where called LLactapata (town on a height) or Patallaqta which is Quechua for town on a platform. The builders from Machu Picchu probably lived in this town which is build in the form of a flower. The legendary Manco Inca Yupanqui destroyed this town in 1536 so the Spanish would never discover the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Again our guide Paul impresses us with his knowledge, this time his knowledge about Inca civilizations and Inca legends.


Inca Trail day 1 landscape Peru
Inca Trail Day 1 Landscape
Short after our visit to Llactapata, we arrive at our lunch spot. Our porters and cooks, who went ahead, already put up a tent where we enjoy a delicious 3 course lunch. WoW just incredible how they can prepare such a great meal in the middle of nowhere. After a well deserved break we continue the trail. The one stunning landscape follows the other, I feel really privileged hiking around here in the Andes.

When we arrive at Wayllabamba, our campsite for the night, our porters already put up the tents and the dining tent. Our camp site is a cute private place and we have even a private toilet here, although it is a turkish toilet it is OK. We have tea and play a game called "foolish hands" with our guide. Everybody is in a good mood and again I'm very happy with this great little group. It gets dark here really early, around 6 pm so we have an early dinner and go to bed around 9 pm. 

I sit for a while in the dark in front of my tent and admire the stars, it is just amazing how many stars you can see from here and they all shine so bright, incredibly beautiful. I look satisfied back at today and think about tomorrow, day 2 of the Inca Trail also known as the hardest day of the Inca Trail as we will have to cross Dead Woman's Pass. I was really surprised how easy today went for me but what will tomorrow bring?



Freya - Holiday Nomad, a Travel and Photo Blog.


28 comments:

  1. Stunning!

    The Inca Trail is high on my list of to-dos in the next few years. We'll be making our way South at some point from our home base in Mexico...and it's up in my top 5.

    Great shots and story :)

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    1. It was on my list like forever and I'm so happy I finally did it. It was a great experience.

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  2. That has been a proper hike, girl! I am going to wake up tomorrow at 4 am so I know the pain, but it's absolutely worth your sweat when you seen the scenery like that... Stunning!

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    1. Hi Agness, did not have an issue with the early starts as I always was full of anticipation of what was to come. yes, it was definitely worth it :)

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  3. peru with manchu pichu inca traditions and believing , i like it freya...happy traveling ..and so incredible destinations place .

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  4. I can't wait to see more of your photos! I would love to hike the Inca Trail someday!

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    1. Hi Lisa, it is definitely worth it. It was an incredible experience.

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  5. It only gets harder from here!I hated day 2 but day 3 is beautiful...

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    1. Hi Andrea, yes day 2 was really hard and exhausting but still very beautiful, day 3 is indeed incredible.

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  6. A 4-day hike.

    Adventurous, exciting, and challenging!

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  7. I'm so glad your first day was wonderful. A great guide and a wonderful group of people always make things a whole lot better. The scenery and history is beautiful and looking forward to seeing the rest of your hike.

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    1. Hi Mary so true, having a great group really makes a big difference.

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  8. This looks incredible! I hope to do this one day :)

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  9. Those terraces and canyons are so beautiful - completely worth the early morning start.

    Gorgeous photos!

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    1. Thanks Maria and yes no issue with the early start it's all worth it :)

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  10. Wow, what beautiful pictures. We're going to visit Machu Picchu this summer, though I'm not sure whether we'll do the Inca Trail too. I can't wait to read about the rest of your hike.

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    1. Hi Linda, Machu Picchu is wonderful, so great to walk around there.
      The Inca Trail is quite hard but amazing.

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  11. Visiting ancient sites makes me wonder about the people who used to live and work there. It's inspiring thinking that you're looking at the place where the builders of Machu Pichu lived their whole lives, and then of course how the route was destroyed and we get to see the remains of that history.

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    1. When you do the trail and visit Machu Picchu you indeed wonder a lot about how the people lived, what were they doing there ... different guides will tell you different stories as nearly everything regarding Inca culture was destroyed by the Spanish so many things are just not known. This makes the Incas one of the most mysterious cultures.

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  12. Beautiful pictures! The scenery is simply stunning and most definitely worth getting up at 530 in the morning for! I hope to make this hike some day !

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    1. Hi Samantha it was indeed totally worth it.

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  13. What a great blog! It is very helpful for me to envision what it will be like. I leave in 3 weeks!

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    1. Hi Sheri, thanks !
      Hope you'll have an amazing experience.

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  14. This looks amazing, my friend is "harassing me" to join her for the inca trail in 2015... I want to go, but I'm a bit worried about how hard it's gonna be.

    This really does make me want to go though ;-)

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    1. It is really worth it. I think it is very feasible to do but make sure you are in the area a few days up-front to acclimatize and to do some acclimatization hikes.

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Freya - Holiday Nomad