When my daughter invited me to join on her the popular Inca Trail hike to Machu Pichhu, without hesitation I said yes! We have been on countless adventures together and I was not about to miss out on one. Plus, exploring Peru has been on my bucket list.
In order to prepare for the strenuous four-day hike I started walking about 6 miles a day. I did not want to be the one to hold back the other hikers! It was required we stay in Cusco for two nights prior to the hike in order to adjust to the altitude (13,828 feet). This advice is paramount. Both my daughter and I agreed Cusco was high up enough to get altitude sickness. My daughter, who lives in Colorado, felt sick our first night. Looking back, I’m grateful I splurged on the room with oxygen at the Belmond Hotel Monasterio- it may have saved our trip!
My camping experience thus far has been at summer camp where we stayed in a cabin with a shower and toilet. To say I was unprepared is an understatement. As if my age wasn’t a big enough strike against me, I soon realized I never really camped before! It didn’t register with me prior to the trip that I’d be in a tent, sleeping on a sleeping back on the ground. The luxury loving traveler has gone wild.
The first day of four my lungs felt like they were going to break. We left the hotel that morning at 4am to get to the start of the trail early enough to make it to our first campsite. It drizzled most the day. Hiking in altitude is so much harder than walking in Florida! The scenery was beautiful, but it was difficult to fully appreciate the views of the Andes while I was in survival mode. All I needed at the end of a long day was the comfort of a warm bed and roof over my head, but instead had a cold and damp sleeping bag. I was so cold I slept with all my clothes on. I cried just thinking about three more days of this. My daughter told me to toughen up, so that is what I did.
The next day was dryer and I was grateful to have the company of the group as we motivated each other to continue. This was the toughest day on the itinerary- we summited 13,828 feet (Warmiwañusqa- also known as Dead Women’s Pass). This was the highest I’ve ever hiked in my life. It was a 2.5 hour straight up-hill climb, and I had to take many breaks. But the rewarding views at the top made the effort worth it.
I was grateful to the 11 porters who carried our heavy gear and cooked us food every day. Each meal was delicious and three courses long. How they achieved that in the middle of the Andean mountains is beyond me! They even managed to bake my daughter a birthday cake on our third night at high altitude…. very impressive! We had a lot of fun with the two couples that were on this adventure with us.
The hike was exhausting, but I’ll never forget the unbelievable scenery from sunup till sundown. Passing by ancient ruins expectantly was certainly unforgettable. I exceeded my athletic capabilities by climbing over five-foot rocks and not slipping off the trail. Playing UNO with the Spanish speaking porters was a riot. And even though we had to get up exceedingly early every morning to begin trekking, by far my favorite morning was waking up at 3AM to watch the sunrise over Machu Pichhu. I finally understood what all the hype was about.
After four long days on the trail, we finally ended up at the gorgeous Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel- situated just a few miles from the famous ruins. This is a best-of-the-best virtuoso accommodation and it lives up to the reputation! We got a free upgrade and our room was grand. Hundreds of bird species surrounded us, and it literally felt like we were situated in the serene forest. I did not know what to do first- shower, sleep in a bed or go to the bar! I did all three- in that order.
Although the adventure is over, the memories will last forever. Thank you MicheleTravels for an unforgettable journey to Machu Pichhu!