Hiking Peru: The Inca Trail

One of the many things I swore I would do during my lifetime was hike the Inca Trail in Peru, an ancient pathway leading from the town of Cusco to the ruins of Machu Picchu, the still-standing pre-Columbian fortress. I had finally saved up enough money one year to actually accomplished it, and it was worth every penny! The adventure of the walk and the sites themselves were well beyond anything I could have even imagined, and highly sanction to any adventurer who enjoys a combination of phenomenal scenery and ancient mystery.

I arrived a day early at Cusco to accord myself time to acclimate myself to the thin air at the 11,000 foot high starting point. As part of my group tour, I was greeted by a bus the next morning, who delivered me and several others to the trailhead, along with our tour guide. I was surprised as I walked along at the number of peoples living along the trail, as I had expected it to be occupied only by hikers. Bikers rode past in both directions, and many of the locals had set up kiosks to sell food and crafts.

After bedding down for the night, I set off day two of the journey, and by early afternoon had reached Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point of the trail at almost 14,000 feet. The terrain at this point became rugged and the air chilly, but the scenery was spectacular, none-the-less. By day three, I was deep into the jungle, and ancient ruins began to emerge sporadically along the trail. Many more people also began to appear along the way, tourists as well, and by that evening our group was back in a established area with hot water and cold beer.

On the final morning of my journey, I got to the entrance of the Machu Picchu ruins just after sunrise, and the morning light sending shadows on the ancient remains gave the whole area a feeling of mysticism unlike anything I had ever felt. I spent the day walking around the ruins, finding many side trails lightly traveled and heading off on them for some solitude, trying to imagine what it was like to live here thousands of years ago.

A train picked us up back in the town nearby, and we traveled back to Cusco. Although it was a lot of walking, and maybe more exercise than I was used to (especially at those elevations), it was completely worth every step I took. I have spoken with some friends, and we are planning on doing it again very soon so they can experience the same things that I did, and I will get to enjoy them all over again. Don’t miss this opportunity. It is invaluable!

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