A Travellerspoint blog

Inca trail experience

An amazing trip, I did 3 times and everytime is different ...

6 °C

There are some options to get to the ruins of Machu Picchu. All of them departing from Cusco. The world famous Inca Trail is just one choice! Here I’m going to talk about it and also about the “Biking through Málaga” program, the “Mollepata/Salkantay”, the “Lares”, the “Huchuyqosqo” and the “LLactapata” trekkings. They vary according to a number of facts such as duration, type of views, difficulty etc.
1) The Inca Trail trekking : 4 days / 3 nights
(one day prior, the guide visits clients in order to set last details for the trekking)
First day: Usually around 7 am the guide catches clients at the hotel and, in a touristic bus, go to Piscacucho, where they serve the first breakfast. On the way, it is time to watch the Sacred Valley (Chinchero, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo) pass by. Here, at the 82 kilometer point, we check in to the trail showing the passport and trekking voucher (that’s the importance of giving the agency the correct number of passport, age and complete name). Near the start point office, crossing the train line, there is a sign pointing where the trail starts. After taking a picture by it, groups are off to the trail around noon. 9 km from here is the first campsite - Waillabamba, to be reached in about 4-5 hours walking. After an hour and a half, we pass through Misscay village: donkeys, chickens, small houses and children playing with their balls are part of the scene. At some point the Llactapata ruins can be seen and the guide explains a little about it. Time to take great pictures! About 45 minutes more or so, we get to the campsite to see that porters and cooks have already settled our tents and dinner is almost ready! Food is served around 5 p.m. It’s time to get to know each other and to learn more about the second day of the trekking. Before going to the tent, the guide serves us a cup of coca-leaf tea for the soroche – altitude sickness – because the second is the toughest and highest day!
Second day: this is the toughest day of the trek! We go from sea level to 4.200 meters! It’s a 7-9 hours walking day (depending on how fit people in the group are), and the path is full of ups and downs on steep and rocky terrain. So, at around 6:00 am we get our hot coca-leaf tea from the guide, even before leaving the tent (nights on the trail are usually cold) and get ready for breakfast. Leaving at around 7:30 am and stopping at some points (every 20 steps or so…) to catch the breath and enjoy the view, after 4 hours going up we get to the Dead woman’s pass (Warmiwañusca in Quechua, the indian language). It’s said this name comes from the fact that the landscape has the shape of a woman lying on her back. The path goes through her “breasts”. Take a look at this picture of it!

See her breasts?
After a break of half an hour, we start the climb down to the campsite of Pacaymayo (3.600 meters). The precariously arranged 3.000 stone steps ask for a stick, in order to help knees and ankles… After an hour and a half down, we reach Pacaymayo. It’s the biggest camping site on the trail and there are real toilets there. Once there, lunch is served (thanks to the porters again!) and for those who still have some strength left, we are off up to the Runcu Rakay resting Inca place (3.900 meters). It’s an amazing half-moon shaped Incan ruin with an awesome view of the valley below! Back to campsite we had time to rest. Tomorrow the trekking continues through Runcu Racay again: the first of the three passes of the third day!
Third day: Some say it is the easiest day, others say it is also a hard one. Maybe because legs are still tired of the former day… The thing is: today we reach the last campsite where there’s a bar open up to 10:15 pm!
Well, after an early wake up at 6 am again, the coca leaf is still advised because the trail is always above 2.500 meters. Breakfast is served and, at 7:30 we are off to Runcu Racay pass, 300 m up steep stone steps, from last camp in Pacaymayo. A little after leaving Runcu Racay, we get to the Second Pass and the mirador (3900 meters), from where we have a great view of the surrounding snow-covered mountains in the distance: the Veronica and the Urubamba. On the way here there are waterfalls and two lakes to take pictures! Going down on concrete steps, to the Third pass, we pass an Incan tunnel and in the distance we can see the ruins of Sayac Marca (it means inaccessible place), where we are headed next. No one knows its purpose yet but it is worth the effort of climbing up the steep steps! On the way we can spot our last campsite! Sayac Marca is bigger than Runcu Racay and from there, if weather permits, one can see the Amazonia far on the horizon! The remains of an aqueduct can still be seen going off the ruins. From Sayac Marca to the third pass it takes about 2 hours walking and this part of the trail is through jungle-like vegetation and canopies of trees. The trail goes on boarding the “precipice” so, be careful! Beyond the pass we can spot the ruins of Phuyu Pata Marca (city among the clouds). The ruins are a series of terraces and baths (not public ones), built for ceremonial purposes. In one of the baths, it is the only advisable place along the trail, where we can fill our bottles with pure water! On the way round the mountain, following the terraces there’s a kind of castle, from where a real staircase goes down some 1 km (they say there are 5.200 steps). Down on the Urubamaba valley, the railroad gave back the signs of civilizations for the first time during the trek! The next ruins are Intipata: it is a set of agricultural terraces and communication post. Researchers came to these conclusions due to the fact of it being close to Machu Picchu itself. There are not many “things” to explore here, the views are magnificent though. A couple of hours more and we get to our last camp at Wiñaywayna. After dinner it is time to say good bye to the porters. We collect tips (there’s not a fixed amount) and the guide symbolically gives it to the porters representative. It’s done not because they are underpaid! Not at all! They have their own association and salaries are fixed and better than the guide’s! The real reason for tipping them is their job: they not only carry the heavy gear (lots more than tourists could carry). They go faster than us so that, when we arrive at the campsites, the tents and food are ready for our joy! They are the real reason for our “comfort” during our journey! After this small celebration, some people go to the bar, others go to their tents. The greatest day is only a few hours ahead!
Fourth day: Why wake up at 3:30 am? The simplest answer: to watch the sunrise over the Machu Picchu ruins! After the last breakfast we head off to the Intipuku (The sun gate). It’s a stone fortress from where we can see the worldwide famous ruins of the Lost City of the Incas! Those famous pictures of a person pointing to the ruins is usually taken from here lol They say it is aligned with sunrise in important days of the year! The view of the sun slowly coming up and enlightening the ruins is indescribable! Well, 15 minutes walking down and we reach Machu Picchu!
The citadel is divided into 3 main parts: the living place, the ceremonial place and public place. Also, there is the Huayna Picchu to climb! It is the high mountain in the complex. If you pay attention to the whole site from the distance, it’ll look like the face of an Indian lying back. The Huayna Picchu is the Indian’s chin lol Only 400 people are allowed to climb it up a day. So if you intend to do it, go there first and wait in the line. You will surely have time after that to explore the ruins. This climb takes 2 hours going up uneven and narrow steps which are not for the faint-hearted! Although the view is really worth the effort, don’t go there if you’re not well prepared!
After some time exploring the ruins, around 3 pm, we headed to Aguas Calientes village (by bus departing from the Machu Picchu bus station), where we had lunch (usually not included in the price for the Inca Trail. Check on it with your agent!) There is a “restaurant” up in the ruins but it is not for ordinary travelers, due to the prices. It is better to wait and eat in Aguas Calientes. Once in Aguas, ask your guide about restaurant options. There are all kinds, serving all types of typical and international food! You can eat with your group or choose your own option! It is important to pay attention to the time the guide sets for meeting again at the train station. This is the time to get the train beck to Cusco. Also very important, is to be sure if your package price includes transfer services from the train station in Cusco to your hotel there!
All places, every ruin, the crew, the travelers; every single detail of this adventure is unforgettable!
In order to better fulfill one’s needs and enjoy the 4 days/3 nights of the trekking, one must bear in mind that the respect for others and their cultures is a MUST! Also, knowing the complete travel program (what it includes or not) is crucial, so that complaints don’t take part of these terrific moments!
In addition for making reservation visit this web site
http://www.andex-adventure.com/english/inkatrail/incatrail04d-3n.asphttp://www.andex-adventure.com/english/inkatrail/incatrail04d-3n.asp

Posted by Carlaperu 03:44 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

SURFING IN LIMA - NICE WAVES

Miraflores is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods of Lima and it's located south of the city center, near the coast. It's a commercial district where visitors find upscale accommodation options, culture, adventure, restaurants, shopping centers and the 8 busiest beaches along 5 km of coast. Las Piedritas and Makaha beaches are surfers favorites and they are the ones I'm going to visit today.
I met the surfing guide near the La Rosa Náutica restaurant pier at 8 am. The views of the Pacific Oncean and the restaurant itself, from the pier, are amazing. From here, we walked for 10 minutes to get to the "teaching" point at Makaha Beach. Our boards were already there! After half an hour of explanations, we started surfing! Water temperature was around 17 degrees Celsius and the tour price includes the clothing for cold weather! There were a bunch of experienced surfers and a dozen beginners like me lol Makaha beach is a very clean and safe place! Besides surfers, there were some bodyboarders in the water as well! The sun was a bit shy today, and ordinary tourists stayed on the sand, taking pictures and jogging. We had almost 4 hours to enjoy Makaha beach and at 12:30 pm we boarded the van to go to Manos Morenas restaurant to have a typical lunch (not included). At 2 pm, we went to Las Piedritas beach where some of us started surfing again and the others (me incuded), only enjoyed the beach. Thanks God the sun was happily shining and we could sun tan! Las Piedritas is also a beautiful place and waves are a bit "lighter" than in Makaha. I only surfed a bit because I was really tired of the tough morning lol and at 6 pm we went back to our hotels.
After a shower and a nap lol at 9 pm, I went out for dinner at Calle de Las Pizzas in Barranco neighborhood. There are great pubs and discos here. Be careful not to look so much like a tourist here and to have your belongings out of sight. This is a very crowded place! You'll see many tourists in this area! Try to blend with them and when you return to your hotel, take a taxi. Don´t venture yourself into walking there, it may be really dangerous!
Ah! During your beach time, don't take too much money with you: US$20 is enough for the lunch and water/juice (make sure the surfing equipment is included in the tour price). You should just be dressed like a surfer (bathing suit, shorts and a light shirt), take your sunscreen, sunglasses, cap, towel and put your money where only you can notice it!

Posted by Carlaperu 19:36 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Mollepata Salkantay

More information about Mollepata Salkantay

If there’s another trek option worth being called “The second Inca Trail to Machu Picchu” it’s the Mollepata/Salkantay one! National Geographic classifies this route among the 25 best trekkings in the world http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/photography/south-america/peru/brent-stirton2.html)! It starts in Mollepata town and goes through the Salkantay snow-covered mountain at 4.600 masl! It’s a 5 days and 4 nights trail, crossing rivers and valleys, watching the sun rise behind the mountains, observing the rich flora and fauna and learning a lot about Incan and Peruvian cultures! All this to get to the “Lost city of the Incas”: Machupicchu!

Like all the other trails to Machu Picchu, this one starts in Cusco, with the transfer from the hotel on a tour bus through the Apurimac Valley, to the town of Mollepata (northwest of Cusco), where we stop for a nutritious breakfast, while our porters mount our camping gear and personal belongings on mules and horses that will come with us! For that we have to wake up at 4 am because the transfer leaves at 4:30 am! The bus takes around 4 hours arrive in Mollepata and the breakfast is served at a picturesque local “coffee-shop”. It’s the last opportunity to buy any supplies before the hike begins! Time to start sipping coca-leaf tea to avoid altitude sickness! The first day is a climb up through the mountain valleys full of exuberant vegetation and great opportunities to see humming-birds and other fauna examples! At around 1 pm we stop for a very-well prepared lunch. From here to Soraypampa, it’s another 2 hours-hike, to reach campsite at 3850 masl! The porters and their assistants – their horses and mules lol – do a great job setting camp before we arrive! At 7 pm we are ready to rest in our tents and freeze our butts! The first day is the coldest of the 5! Remember to bring warm clothes, gloves, cap and a good sleeping bag!

The second day starts early around 6 am with the wake-up call of the porters and guide, delivering our hot coca-leaf tea! After an energetic breakfast, we start walking uphill! It’s time to observe the snow-covered Huamantay mountain and a bit further, the beautiful Yanacocha “Black” lagoon. Here we can rest a little and take awesome pics! The dark color of the water comes from the “humus” in it and its position is like a volcano-crater. The lush of green in this area is amazing! Another 1 hour more and we reach the highest point of the entire trek. It’s the “Abra Salkantay” at 4.600 masl: a mountain pass between the Salkantay and the Tukarhuay mountains. Time to enjoy the glaciers of the Andean mountain range. The photos taken here show a great number of mountain peaks! Here we start a short descent to our lunch stop! After lunch we continue going downhill to arrive at Wayrapata at around 6 pm, in time to watch sunset over the mountain range! This is our second campsite, a little warmer then yesterday but still a bit cold! Dinner is served around 6:30 pm and we have time to blend with the others in the group by a bonfire!

At 6:30 am on the third day we had already had breakfast and headed off to La Playa (The Beach). The path today is through native communities and their coffee and fruit cultives, watching waterfalls in the mountains and enjoying the company! We’ll walk around 5 hours until we reach La Playa, our third campsite where we’ll have lunch and enjoy the time to refresh in the river waters! La Playa is the biggest village in the region and offers small stores, snack places etc. We’ll have plenty of time here to rest, enjoy and blend with locals and other tourists, until camping time!

After the earliest breakfast (just some hot tea and snacks, the real breakfast comes afterwards) of the entire program at 5:30 am, we walk for 10 minutes and board a truck to Santa Teresa (1 hour), where the real breakfast is served: a nutritious one! We do more walking – 3 hours, that’ll take us to La Oroya – a place where we cross the Urubamba river. It’s Tarzan style lol It’s done via “flying fox”: 2/3 people in a “cage”, sliding through an iron cord! Try not to pay attention to some crosses by the river indicating somebody died there… This cross is very safe because the men who run it, are professionals! On the other side we start a 3-hour hike that will lead us to the “Hydroelectric” village. Here we can watch the artificial waterfalls of the complex and some Incan ruins. On the way we cross a suspended bridge over the Vilcanota river. At 2 pm we have lunch and rest a little, to re-start the final leg of our walking: 4 hours by the railroad heading to Aguas Calientes. At 6:30 pm we are checking in the hotel where we’ll have dinner and spend the night. There’s also time to explore the village: the thermal baths to the north, souvenir stores, restaurants etc.

The trek in this fifth and last day is the shortest. After breakfast at 5:30 am, we spend 1 hour and a half going up to the ruins. At the entrance our guide shows our entrance tickets to the clerk and we enter the magnificent complex of the Lost city of the Incas! The view of Machu Picchu so early and before crowd arrives, is unforgettable! The Huayna Picchu seems to look us in the eye asking what we are doing there lol In case you want to climb this highest mountain of the complex, take the line and wait to climb up steep and irregular steps for 1 hour and 30 minutes. It’s not for fainted-hearts but worth every drop of sweat or fear! (only 400 people a day, can climb it). After this amazing tour, we’ll have time to explore the ruins for about 3 hours before taking the bus back to Aguas Calientes. Besides the 3 sectors of the citadel (the urban, the religious and the living) the must-sees are the Inti Puku (gate of the sun), the Inca bridge and the guard house at the entrance for who comes from the original Inca Trail! At 1 pm we arrive in Aguas to have lunch at a chosen restaurant and at 4:30 pm we take the train back to Cusco. In Cusco the guide will transfer us to our hotel, where we’ll arrive at around 9:30 pm.

My last tips are:

> don’t forget your personal first-aid kit and be sure the guide has one for the whole group!

> make sure of the inclusions of the price you’re paying and pay close attention to the details on them!

> don’t litter the track!

> be nice to the natives and try to blend with them respectfully!

> take the best photos of your life!

> take care and be responsible!

Posted by Carlaperu 19:11 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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