Painful Starts, Inca Sites & Incredible Scenery
Day three was definitely the nicest out of all three days. Some of our group woke up an hour earlier to maintain a good speed and the rest of us woke up at about 5:30. The trek to the first Inca site was quite difficult first thing in the morning, however it only took about 30-45 minutes. We all were suffering from lack of sleep, aches/pains and of course, fatigue.
After that the rest of the way was slightly uphill or flat, with some really nice forest scenery. Ricky got to lead the rest of the way because he is the fastest walker alive; we also got to stop at quite a few of the Inca sites before arriving at our camp site.
We had our first wildlife scare as well while trekking. Our Head Inca Warrior sprinted past me looking for Ricky about half way through the day. I later caught up with the guy after he had taken rest to warn the rest of the group. Apparently someone had radioed to him that there was a poisonous snake on the trail, so he tried to catch up to Ricky to warn him, luckily enough he actually ran into the snake (the warrior, not Ricky) and it had already been killed. He showed me the snake and it looked no more than half a metre, but it can apparently kill you within 2 hours. He told me that if someone was bitten, that was it, and that it would take too long for someone to reach the victim to help.
Our guide, Edith, also gave us a few challenges. The first one was whoever found all of the secret water fountains (most not running) within the Inca Sites and the second was, whoever spotted the orchid first. You needed photo evidence to receive a free pisco sour.
Our lunch was incredible on day 3, we legitimately had a buffet of various dishes. The porters also baked a cake (yes a freggin cake was baked in the middle of nowhere) and it had our group name on it… totes yolo. I wish I had a photo to share, but it was an epic cake.
That night we had to say goodbye to the porters as they had to be up at 3:30am to catch the 5:30am train, so we gave them our tips and said a few words.
Early Wake-ups & Goodbyes
We woke up at 3:30; yes that’s not a typo, three-motherfucking-thirty in the morning. Luckily for me, I had to pee all night so I was wide awake by 3am. We quickly packed our bags for the final time and helped the porters with packing up our sleeping bags and tents. We had a quick breakfast (bread and hot drinks) and then the porters said goodbye to go go on 5:30am train.
First Checkpoint & Sun Gate
We arrived at the checkpoint around 4:30 after walking in the dark and then had to wait around for an hour before the checkpoint opened. We then headed off on the final leg of trek and arrived at the Sun Gate around 7:00-7:30.
Prior to the sun gate is the “monkey stairs” which is another thing you’ll be warned about but it’s really easy compared to day 2. Ricky ran up it in about 30seconds with our tour guide. We may have pissed off the other group who was walking up and stopping to take photos because we all ran/walked up quickly and other members in our group were yelling at them to hurry up. The monkey stairs is about 50 stairs or more, super steep, again, easier than day 2.
Machu Picchu – FINALLY
Walking down to Machu Picchu Ricky ran into someone from work which was completely unexpected – she came on the train and was walking up to the sun gate from Machu Picchu. Arriving in Machu Picchu was actually amazing, better than we both expected, even though we were exhausted. We spent about 2 hours walking around and taking photos and then headed off.
The Inca Trail is definitely an experience we’d recommend; very humbling. The only down side is all the tourists from the train. After trekking it feels like it’ll be special and just for the few small groups, however there are thousands of tourists everywhere which ruins it.
When we left, we took the bus to Augus Calientes to have lunch. Everyone’s meal was terrible, except for Ricky’s pork and some of the group tried Guinea Pig. WARNING: the guinea pig is given whole, including teeth. Ricky said it tasted kind of like chicken, but he wouldn’t order it again, it wasn’t worth the hassle of pulling the meat out from the tiny carcass. He ate some of the scalp, rib and cheek. Edith gave the group another challenge, whoever ate the head with photo evidence. A couple of people tried, but none succeeded.
After playing with the head and scaring half the group, we got ice-creams and then money out from a Multi-red ATM. We then took off to get the train back to Ollantaytambo, and then the bus back to Cusco (arriving around 8 pm that night).