on April 27, 2005
At 6am, nature's alarm clock begins to ring - roosters. With that, I knew I was not in the comfort of my hotel anymore.
Soon after leaving the camp at Huayllabamba, you pass through a checkpoint. From there, every step is uphill for a good part of the day. Within a couple hours of hiking, you pass through a rain forest. It is not like the fake rain forests you see at zoos. Although rather small, it is still amazing. Around mid- to late morning, we stopped for some tea and snacks.
The trail snakes along the side of a mountain. Aside from spectacular views, you are overwhelmed with exhaustion. I was taking only about 10 steps before having to take a break for a few minutes. Reaching the peak, all the pain and exhaustion I felt from the climb up was gone. It felt amazing knowing I had made it to the top of this 4215m peak. With each hiker who made it, trekkers from other groups and myself gave them a round of applause.
Once our entire group and guide were at the peak, our guide explained to us that it was entirely downhill from that point. I usually walk/run much quicker going downhill, so I ended up getting very far ahead of my group on my way down. Eventually, I found myself at a point where I could see no one in front of me - and no one behind me. I felt like I was living during the Inca civilization. I looked around and saw nothing but the mountains, animals, streams, and waterfalls. This was the Inca Trail experience that I was looking for.
About one hour after leaving the peak, you reach the camp in the valley below around 3pm. Like the previous day, the porters and chefs were there waiting, and they gave me a round of applause as I reached camp. Now all I needed to do was relax and wait for the rest of my group to make it in. After they made it in, we had lunch, then napped until dinner.
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.
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