Finally it was time for the icing on the cake – the Inca trail. There are few different options to do the trail – one can choose from a 2, 3, 5 or 7 day trek. Also, the trek needs meticulous planning – the best months to do the Inca trail are from May to September when the conditions are fairly dry and the weather generally sunny. The trek itself is guided by a special team consisting of a guide, chef, mules and a few other guys if needed. The chef is in charge of preparing all the meals three times a day along the journey and one thing I can promise – they were some of the best meals I’ve ever had.
We chose to do the Salkantay trek, which usually lasts 7 days , but we chose to do it in 5 days. We drove to the small town Mollepata from where the chef bought all the ingrediets needed for the trek. After this we were given a lift,a few more kilometers away to a town called Challacancha from where it was time to start hiking. The altitude we atarted from was 3670 m. After 2-hour walk it was time for the first snack break. So far everything had been super simple – it seemed that I was overtly anxious about the altitudes. The only thing that made me lose my breath was the view. Almost tangible clouds, snow capped mountains, wild horses – hard to put all this into words. Later we continued walking along the Umantaycocha lagoon, had a picnic, took loads of photos, pinned a tent and soon after that it was time to call it a day. We spent the first night on an altitude of 4140 m; the temperature was -4 degrees the lowest, which was nothing for a northerner, but not so pleasant for my fellow hikers from sunnier climes.
The second hiking day started at 5 am with a cup of coca tea. Great way to start your day! This day was the most demanding day, in relation to altitude and physical effort, as we ascended to the Salkantayjasa Mountain Pass at 4650 m and descended along the Wayraqmachay Valley. And it really was hard! I lost my breath after every ten steps, my heart was racing and mouth drying – everything just refused to cooperate. It seemed that my year-long training hadn’t had any effect on my physique. I remember asking the guide that what would happen to someone, for who even 10 steps at a time is too much? A mule will carry him. And if this is not enough, then they will call for a helicopter that takes the person back to Cusco. We spent almost an hour on top of Salkantayjasa, admired the views, took photos, rested and then started descending. We had lunch in Wayraqmachay after what we continued walking towards our camp on the Benched Terraces at the altitude 3300 m.