The Inka Trail

I had the oppor­tu­nity to join a cou­ple of friends some months ago, and travel south to the land of Peru. This coun­try is rich in nat­ural resources I tell you. The weather was nice. We were blessed with mostly partially-cloudy to sunny days in our time in the Andes. I could only imag­ine how it would have been if most of the descent on the Trail were wet and slip­pery due to rain.

Mean­while, I made a quick iMovie video slideshow show­ing most of the high­lights of the trek. I was orig­i­nally going to use Ani­moto to do it but find­ing the right music might have been the lim­it­ing fac­tor as you can only select from a select library from their end. I fig­ured I might as well use what I have and pro­ceeded to cre­ate the following.

Here’s the video. Enjoy!
YouTube Preview Image

The Breakdown

In case you are curi­ous, inter­ested in doing the Inka Trail, or about to do it… hope­fully the fol­low­ing helps.

Inka Trail Infographic

We went with SAS Travel, and had Wil­fredo (Eddie) & Hugo as our guides. Here is a photo of Eddie (bottom-left) at the Run­cu­ra­cay Viewpoint.

Runcuracay Viewpoint

Here’s Hugo (smil­ing on the left) chop­ping it up with the sub­ject of fut­bol over­look­ing the Val­ley as the Sun goes down dur­ing day-2 of the trek.

Enjoying Day-2's Sunset

Along with them, we had the oppor­tu­nity to be escorted by 27 Chasquis (porters). These guys were amaz­ing. They ranged from 18–55 years of age, and were from the local high­lands of the Andes. From our expe­ri­ence, these guys were very orga­nized and well taken care of ver­sus the other ones from other tour com­pa­nies. They were all in SAS Travel’s blue uni­form and were dressed warm when it counts. That, and just car­ried the right amount of weight through the trek. They made the trek easy to eat, sleep, and live well on.

Our Awesome Chasquis

What to pack?

Other than what is sug­gested on most travel boards, SAS Travel info page, etc., here’s what I have found to be the bare-necessities. Trust me… less weight, eas­ier to breathe and hike up 4200-meters (over 13,650-feet). Keep in mind that this was early June (dry sea­son), and luck­ily, we didn’t see any rain through the 4-days of the Trail. That, and we opted to get a Chasqui (porter) to carry an addi­tional 9kg. We rented a sleep­ing bag and pad from SAS Travel, which left us with about 7kg left and some space in the duf­fel bag that they have provided.

  • A water bot­tle, and/or Camel­bak blad­der.

    2L is more than enough. I brought my 1L Sigg which was okay as we get a refill dur­ing our lunch and dinner/night camp­sites. Didn’t have to bring water pills as they boiled water for us (in the morn­ing, at lunch, and at night). There are some legs where I found that I needed a bit more like on the sec­ond day. I ended up fill­ing another bot­tle with 0.5L.

    A plus bring­ing a Camel­bak blad­der or vari­a­tions there of would be that you won’t have to fum­ble around or stop to reach the water bot­tle, and would just have to bring the straw to sip on. I opted with the water bot­tle as we were doing more than the trek itself (Cusco, Lima, The Sacred Val­ley, etc.).

    Mean­while, on most of the breaks/stops, you’ll have a ven­dor nearby in case you need some refresh­ments (bot­tled water, Gatorade, etc.). I can’t stress enough that unless you are from the imme­di­ate vicin­ity of the Andes, and have a stom­ach made out of steel—drink liq­uid from a bottled/sealed source. If you opted for water: “Sin Gas” is plain, old water; and “Con Gas” is like club soda. They’re about 1-Sole.

  • A head­lamp, and/or a flashlight/torch.

    You’ll def­i­nitely need this when it gets dark. I brought an extra flash­light to use in our tent to save our head­lamps’ bat­ter­ies. You can opt to bring some extra bat­ter­ies if you please as well. Also, I used a cara­biner to hang it on the ceil­ing of our tent.

  • Carabiner(s).

    These are use­ful to hold your water bot­tle, trekking poles, and like I said… to hang your light in your tent. I brought a cou­ple of Nite Ize S-biners from REI. They did the job.

  • Shades, or sun­glasses.

    Help your eyes keep their focus.

  • A sun hat, or cap. As well as beanie.

    I found the sun hat to be more use­ful as its full brim pro­tected more than a base­ball cap would while trekking under the Sun high up in the moun­tains. I bought this one from Colum­bia via REI. It was well vented, light­weight, and went back to its orig­i­nal form after pack­ing it.

    As for bring­ing a beanie, this would be when its cold, usu­ally at night. I found myself using mine in dur­ing break­fast, at din­ner, and while sleep­ing on some nights. You can either bring your own from home, or track down some ven­dors in Cusco, Ollan­tay­tambo, or other towns before the trek that are sell­ing the ones made from Alpaca wool. They go for about 15-Soles for the reversible ones. You can barter/haggle and get them down to 8-Soles (or lower).

  • Bandana(s).

    Helps keep sweat out of your face. Can keep your neck warm. Blocks the Sun from the back of your neck. Helps keep dust par­ti­cles and/or insects away from your face. The util­ity of it goes on.

    I wish I brought another, as there was a part of the Trail where I had it on my head (absorb sweat) under my sun hat while hik­ing through a dusty part.

  • San­dals, or flip-flops.

    I found myself only using mine on Day-3 to go shower with. Other than that, I was in my boots most of the time.

  • Toot­brush, tooth­paste, and den­tal floss.

    Yes, to clean your teeth with. Use a travel-size tube of paste if you can. Saves you some weight and space. I brought a Steri­pod as well, which clipped to the brush and helped san­i­tize it at the same time. Def­i­nitely use­ful for travel.

    To note, be sure to use bot­tled water to rinse and brush with; as well as clean your tooth­brush with. This is a pre­cau­tion so you don’t get any nasty bugs that’ll get you sick with the runs.

  • Unscented hand san­i­tizer.

    Sure you can bring hand soap but this is more effi­cient dur­ing the Trail in case you don’t want to waste water. Use it when­ever you can. Try to keep it unscented, will help unat­tract insects. They seem to like the fruity-smell.

  • A roll of toilet-paper, and dis­in­fect­ing wet wipes.

    You can prob­a­bly bring along some plas­tic bags to store your trash just in case nature calls along the Trail. “Leave no trace.”

  • Facial tis­sue.

    In case you have a runny/drippy nose. Hap­pens as the cli­mate changes quite often.

  • Sun­block lotion and lip balm.

    You’ll be under the Sun most of the time. Yes, even when its partially/cloudy, put some on. Help your skin out.

If I remem­ber any­thing else, I’ll be sure to post an update. But those are objects I remem­ber using the most and being of most utility.

I hope that helps on your trek. And with that: safe trav­els; take your time to take it all in (sight and sound); enjoy your sur­round­ings; and have fun. Cheers!

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