on April 27, 2005
The first day on the Inca Trail began with an early wake-up call, something I would soon be getting used to. The tour company picked me up from my hotel at 5:45am, and then we drove 2 hours through the Sacred Valley. At Ollantaytambo, the chefs stock up on bread, and then it is another 45 minutes on dirt roads to Kilometer 82, the starting point for our trek. There, we stocked up on last-minute provisions, such as water, hiking sticks, and candy.
After checking in at the control gate, we crossed a shaky bridge across the Urubamba and were officially on the trail. Only after we crossed the bridge did our guide tell us that someone had fallen off the bridge a year ago and the body had never been found. From there, we began the hike up and down some rolling hills, stopped occasionally for our guide to explain to us the plants and creatures around us and how to properly chew cocoa leaves.
Along the way, you pass through some tiny villages with residents that use the trail every day. It's amazing, and it really makes you feel like you're in a whole new world. About halfway into the days hike, you will see Llactapata from a bluff overlooking the site. Please see my journal entry for Llactapata to learn more about it.
After this point, the trail turns away from the Urubamba and you begin to hike into the valleys and mountains surrounding the Urubamba. In the late afternoon, you reach the campsite for the night, the village of Huayllabamba. Here, you can buy food and drinks for the next day. According to the handwritten sign painted above the window opening where this food is sold, they accepted Visa and MasterCard here. But, looking around at where you are, I found that hard to believe.
Tired from the day of hiking, I was in bed around 8pm, ready for my 6am wake-up call from the roosters next to the campsite.
There are many tour companies around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco that offer treks to Machu Picchu. With these companies, you can always walk up and make a reservation. However, you may need to wait a week before you can get a date you want. And, during peak season, it might even be a longer wait. Another option is to book online through a trekking company. I booked through Andean Life (www.andeanlife.com) 3 months in advance. Booking online may cost a bit more, but the experience may be better with a reputable company. Just because a company in Cusco has a cheaper price does not mean it is the best trekking company. If you would like to arrange a trip with my guide, please contact me and I will gladly give you his contact information.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009