Tomorrow, my cousins and I head out of Cusco for the main highlight of our trip – hiking the Inca Trail! It starts at a nearby town called Ollantaytambo and ends at the famous Macchu Picchu, four days later. It’s 45km in total, and involves quite a bit of summiting and descending mountain passes, our highest point being 4215m.
Altitude sickness is a bit of a threat, but we’re prepared. We’ve felt the effects of Cusco’s 3400m altitude the few days we’ve been here, with headaches, fatigue, and heavy breathing from little exercise. But, we walked a ton today, exploring archaeological sites nearby the city, going up and down plenty of stairs, so we’re hoping we’re a bit more acclimatized! We also have some “sorroche pills”- pills for altitude sickness – that a roommate in our hostel kindly gave us since she’s going home, along with an essence called “Agua de Florida.” We’ve used the latter quite a bit for our headaches – you put the water on your hands and inhale deeply three times. It sounds a bit witch-magic-y but it’s worked for us! It has a really strong fragrant smell that clears the nostrils and takes away altitude headaches pretty quickly.
Our guide for the trek came to give us a briefing yesterday and that’s what he recommended. We’re happy we followed his advice!
On our trek we’ll be eight people, plus porters and cooks who accompany all hikers of the Inca Trail. Day One is pretty relaxed, as we take a bus to Ollantaytambo and then walk only about four hours in the day. Our second day will be the toughest, climbing up to that 4215m pass steadily for about 8-9 hours. The third day is marked on our map as “unforgettable” – we’re hoping it’s for the incredible beauty and not for incredible difficulty! Finally on day four we are meant to head out of camp at 3am to get to Macchu Picchu around 8 or 9 in the morning. Fingers crossed it won’t be too rainy and we’ll get a nice view of the sunrise! After touring Macchu Picchu we’re planning to head to the nearby town, Aguas Calientes, to enjoy a good lunch and some hot springs for our achey muscles. We’ll then head back to Cusco to spend one more day here.
Cusco so far has been really enjoyable, although quite chilly at night. We did a free walking tour and saw some cool parts of the city, went to the Inca Museum, did some Alpaca wool sweater shopping (sooo soft!), and today explored four different nearby ruin sites before having a late lunch.
We spent our evening buying the last-minute things we need for the trail, packing, and mentally preparing. We’ve heard it’s pretty hard from a number of people, but we’re CRAZY excited. I’ll be sure to write about how it goes when we get back! Til then, wish us luck. 🙂