Waiting until the final week for our trek was brilliant planning on our part! We really didn’t know how perfect it was until it was all done.
On Sunday night after a meeting with our guide and a description of our trek, we were off to bed since we were going to be picked up at our hotel at 6:00 am. Our trek began near Cusco so the van drive was quick. As soon as the van was unpacked, we witnessed the porter magic that would be our reality for the next 48 hours. In a short period of time, they had a table set up with simple food and drink.
Julian, our guide, was a perfect match for our family. He held an amazing pace as we trekked and provided amazing Inca and Andean information along the way.
Our hike began around 12,000 feet. The Inca trail that we were hiked is Huchuy Qosco. It connects Cusco with the Sacred Valley. Back in Inca time, it was an important trail to link the two areas. Currently, it is an important trail for the Andean farmers. We walked through small farming villages, herds of llamas, and potato fields.
Surprisingly, it did not take us too long to get the groove of hiking. We were a bit worried about the altitude after living at sea level, but it wasn’t a huge factor. I think we all had a solid fitness base that allowed us to hike with ease.
We had been hiking for a bit when we were finally caught by the porters. In their huge packs they carry stools, tables, cooking gear, our gear, food, etc… As I said before, they work magic–when they unpack their packs, it is like a magician pulling out more and more things that seem like they should not belong. One thing that attracted us to Llama Path beside the name 🙂 was their philosophy of sustainable tourism. As we read more and more as well as information supplied to us by our guide, the company provides a lot of support to the porters. One example is that Llama Path built a dorm for the porters to sleep in the night before the trek. Most porters live 3-5 hours away from Cusco in small Andean towns. They need to report to work the night before and many porters had to sleep in parks or on the street since they had no place to go.
After our morning snack break, Liam had the experience of a life time (we all loved it). One of his favorite animals is the llama and the next kilometer had us hiking through through a herd of over 100 llamas.
After the excitement of the llamas, our next stop was lunch. We knew it was soon, but not quite sure when. Sully and I turned a corner and saw the most beautiful sight of 2 red tents! As we got to camp, the porters had set out our sleeping mats, bowls of hot water & a towel, and greeted us with Chicha Morada (warm purple corn juice)–amazing! The food was some of the best we had in Peru–stuffed avocados, rice, trout, ceviche, coco tea–incredible!
Twice we saw a lone figure in the distance. Twice the person moved at remarkable speed to catch us. Twice it was an older lady out in the mountains tending sheep. In case they see hikers, they carry hand-made goods to sell. Twice, we bought things we really didn’t need 🙂
After lunch, it was a bit difficult to motivate. Slowly we found our groove again and before we knew it, we reached the top of the pass–14,100 feet!
The next part of the trek was mostly downhill and we went through an Andean towns, incredible canyons, and the scenery was out of this world.
The last kilometer or so took us through an Inca gate and to the ruins of Huchuy Qosco. One of the porters left lunch early to secure the best camping spot. We were surprised to see two other companies setting up tents because we saw no other hikers on the trail! We were treated to another fantastic meal. Nighttime comes quickly near the equator so we were able to star gaze for a bit. A huge highlight was seeing the different constellations including the Southern Cross! The Milky Way was incredibly clear and mesmerizing!
We were greeted with a Buenas Dias and a hot cup of tea delivered to our tents! At breakfast, the cook had baked a cake! The boys were psyched (this was the second time we were given cake for breakfast!
Our next hike was around 6k and downhill! We had barely digested breakfast when we had our final lunch on the trail. We said good-bye to our porters and started the final stage with Julian to Agua Calientes.
The next day was Machu Picchu!