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!

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!