Hiking the Inca Trail: Day 1

It was definitely a restless night of sleeping. Since we had to meet our group by 4:30am, I kept waking up in the middle of the night worried we had overslept. The last thing I wanted to do was miss our bus to the Inca Trail. Even though we were early, everyone else was already on the bus at Plaza Regocijo. As the bus took the winding road down to the river, we ran into some vehicle issues. This set us back by a few hours, which meant that we would do less hiking the Inca Trail than originally planned on our first day and hike longer on our second day. We would also be sleeping at Wayllabamba campsite instead of Ayapata camp, which made for a two hour difference. Being at around 11,200 ft and going down to 8,923 ft from Cusco to start the hike was quite the change in altitude for one day. My stomach was really uncomfortable. The nausea finally got to me, and I had to pause for a moment to let it all out. I instantly felt better.

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Stopping in Ollyantaytambo, the group had a buffet breakfast and sat together at the table wondering when we would finally be on the road again to start the Inca Trail. While we had time to spare, we walked around town. Being the explorers we all are, we tried to maximize our time by seeing as much of the town as possible. We were just so anxious to get on the trail!

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Our fantastic group we hiked with

Once our passports were checked the group went over the bridge, crossing the Urubamba River. As we started on the path I remember thinking to myself, “Alright, here we go!”. I also remember those first few steps I took on the trail as I fumbled with my walking sticks, trying to get used to how to hold them. We passed through small villages and it got quieter as we hiked higher, only hearing the roar of the Urubama River. 

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Right after our short snack break it started to rain. Mike put on his poncho, and I put on my rain jacket. The rain let up shortly after and Mike faired better in his poncho because it was much cooler – even though we teased him about how he looked. It was an easy hike so far and then we came upon the first ruin site of Llactapata. There was only a short amount of time spent here since we were behind the other groups on the trail for the day. It was beautiful getting that first glimpse from above, seeing the river, the ruins, and train go by. 

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Lunch was set up on someone’s land. There were pigs and other livestock roaming nearby. It was so nice to sit and take a long break with the group, even though lunch was also quite short. We could not believe how much food they served us each day and evening on the trail. First, providing snacks like (popcorn) or soup before serving the multi-course meal. After our late lunch, we packed up and set out on the trail again. In order to reach the camp for the evening, we would have to hike a little quicker than we originally were going, so we did not capture as many photos on the second leg. For this portion, we were hiking on a mostly covered trail, making it darker than it actually seemed. As we reached our campsite for the evening, the sun was just setting. The porters already had our tents set up and ready to go, which was fantastic. We sat as a group and marveled at the incredible view of the snow capped peaks, which seemed as if they were just in front of us. And after another delicious meal, we turned off our headlamps and sat in the dark to gaze up at the stars while talking to our fellow trekkers. Knowing that we had an extra 2 hours of hiking to do the next day compared to the other groups, we settled in to bed early.

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Read about the secondthird and last day on the trail. Looking for tips on what to pack, how much it costs and how to make it through the hike?

  • Michele

    So awesome to relive the journey through your words!!! Can’t wait for day two, HELLDAY!!!! Hahahahaha :^)

    • justcherished

      Thanks! Yes, I have lots of words for that day! 😉

  • Wonderful photos and great description of what to expect on day 1 of the hike. The Inca trail is on my bucket list and I hope to get there within the next few years. Looking forward to your next posts!

    • justcherished

      Thank you, Howard! It certainly a trip to take!

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