May 3, 2012 by Amie M
Day 1 of the Inca Trail. We started out bright eyed and busy tailed. Pulsing with excitement. It was happening. We were finally going to hike the Inca Trail!
Carlos (our wonderful guide) picked us up bright and early at 5:30 a.m. We weighed our duffel bags he provided. We needed to be under 6 kg so we didn’t put the porters overweight on their limits. My bag was 4 kilos, Paul’s was 3. I think we were safe. In our daypacks we had water, sunscreen, bug spray, all the meds, sunglasses, camera equipment, scarves, hats, ponchos, rain jackets, snacks and layers. Lots.
We piled into the mini-bus and headed to Ollantaytambo. A quick stop there to pick up the rest of our crew, some more supplies, and an opportunity for us to grab anything we forgot that we may need on the Trail. We didn’t need anything. We were set. So we stretched out legs after our 1.5 hour drive.
Then we packed back into the van with the crew and headed to Kilometer 82. The official start of the Inca Trail. Again, we were vibrating.
We enjoyed the view and waiting while the porters, Carlos and the chef got the gear packed and ready to go. Yes, we had a personal chef. How amazing is that!
We snacked, and packed more snacks in our daypacks.
We took the obligatory before photo at the trailhead, then headed down to Km 82, and the boys headed to their checkpoint.
All porters packs are weighed at the start of the Trail. They are not allowed to carry more than 20 kg. And companies have tried to put more on their porters. This results in heavy fines and suspensions for companies to operate on the Trail. It’s good to know that porter welfare is taken very seriously.
Just before the bridge to cross the Rio Urubamba, there is the checkpoint for the Trail Passengers. Here our passports were stamped (yay!) and trail passes were checked, and Carlos’ identification and permits. All was good.
We crossed the bridge and officially started the Inca Trail. We walked until 1 p.m.
We passed a lot of locals who use the Trail as their main route into and out of the town at Km 82. Quite a few donkeys, llamas and horses crossed our path. All to our delight.
We passed a set of ruins, on the other side of Rio Urubamba, just before we lost sight of it until Day 3.
This place is called Patallacta, or Llactapata. Which means town above the terraces. Here was housing and crop production for the soldiers who manned Willkaraqay and other wayposts.
Shortly after, we passed another set of ruins, Willkaraqay. Carlos explained that this was a watch tower and waypoint along the trail. It felt like Weathertop.
We stopped for lunch, and Achilles, the youngest of our porters, was also apparently our waiter! He served us and Carlos in a cute vest and dress shirt. The other porters were bugging him about it. Apparently it was new to Intrepid. Achilles didn’t wear the vest again.
The dining tent was set up in a little field above the farm houses. Our lunch spot was on a little farm an hour past where everyone else stopped, which was in a little town we just passed, Hatunchaca. Carlos said he likes to stop in the more private areas, and give us more of a head start on the other groups.
The flora and views were amazing that day. It was also hot. Which makes sense because we were in the chaparral of the Andes. Dry and hot. Much like Manitoba in the summer. But because of the altitude and the hard work we were doing (or I was doing) it was exhausting.
We kept walking, and walking.
The path wasn’t too bad. A little uphill once in awhile, but it was even and gravel. I knew the bad stuff would start tomorrow.
I pushed myself really well on Day 1. We got to camp just a little past the scheduled time. Our campsite was past the last town of Wayllabamba, at the quieter Yuncachimpa. We ate a wonderful meal prepared by Esteban the chef, and served by Achilles the waiter. But Day 2 was hanging in the air. I felt a little off after Day 1. Exhaustion and anxiety were starting to set in. What was Day 2 going to be like if I was already starting to feel Day 1?
I tried to ignore my nerves, and just enjoy the view. The Southern stars were amazing! They really lit up the sky.