April 2018

In the footsteps of the Incas

By: Frederik Overgaard
Projects Abroad Volunteer

The four day Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu is a walk through the story of the Incas and the way their civilization worked. The work of Machu Picchu and their runway from the natives once lost city of Machu Picchu are an amazing view and experience, and it is no wonder the city made its way to the world's seven wonders.

Day one of the trip starts early but luckily you get informed, that there is about two and a half hour bus ride until the real start of the Inca Trail Trek. The vehicle seems to go straight up-wards all the time except for a quick visit through a low laying city. It is also necessary to keep going uphill to reach the heights of our start point.

Starting at the top of the journey at Malaga High Pass in approximately 4500 meters above water is amazing. It is early morning. Beneath you will enjoy the view of clouds and above you will see tops of mountains covered in snow. The view above will explain why you are freezing in your shorts and a good recommendation will be to bring warm but easy changing clothing for the first day.

The bikes are getting checked and pumped and within five minutes you are on the way with your group in line. It is freezing cold for the hands even though you are wearing gloves, and it is hard to separate the rain from the wet air that exists within the clouds. In advance you have been worrying about heights and heart rate but fortunately the trip is going down ways.

At some point the climate is changing. The warmth is increasing slowly as you pass one hun-dred meters after the other and before you realize it you are appreciating the chills from the water that are splashing at your feet while crossing a watercourse from the mountain. You will reach a point where the roads will get hillier and if you have not kept in shape you might want to get inside the bus. There is no shame in quitting.

Normally will the day end in a river raft. Unfortunately Mother Earth wanted it different and we did not get the experience this time. The rain had been too heavy and the currents would expose us to too much danger according to our guide. Better safe than sorry. You will spend the night at a "basic" guesthouse, and I would be lying if the little swimming pool in the middle of the garden did not come as a pleasant surprise for the group.

Day 2 will be the hardest experience on the trip. The hike will last for approximately eight hours and will last 17 kilometers. You will have to bring water but along the way you will meet plenty of checkpoints to buy some more water – and it will be necessary. You will end up swimming in your t-shirt but the views of the lake, forests and mountains will definitely make up for it.

The hike is long and at some point you might just want it to come to an end. Luckily the day will end in the hot springs of the mountains near Santa Teresa. You can choose free between four pools of which the temperature swings between +40 to around 30 degrees Celsius. You will end your day in the little but cozy town Santa Teresa where you definitely will fall asleep easily.

The last day before Machu Picchu will offer you the experience of zip lining and the last day of trekking. The zip-line will not bring you any closer to the Machu Picchu, but if you are looking for an adrenaline rush and the feeling of being alive, I guess you have to try the 80 km/h in 150 meters height - personally I would just pinch myself. I know I am alive.

The rest of the day will be spend alongside the train rails that leads the lazy travelers to Aguas Calientes which is the last stop before Machu Picchu. Every sign on the way tells you to stay off the rails, but to the hikers luck the train will announce it before turning corners.

The last day will start at four in the morning. You have to catch the first bus at 5:30 to have the best views, most space for exploring and see the sunrise at Machu Picchu. The clouds had gained control of the Machu Picchu before our arrival so the sunrise was not an option. We stayed until 12 o´clock and luckily for us the sun broke through. If you have to upload the mandatory picture for any social media you have to be patient. Without the sun it is no fun.

The trip back home is nothing to write home about. The only thing you are longing for is your bed. Four days with very little sleep and more than 70 kilometers completed by foot and bik-ing, your body is longing for a time to rest before you head out to other adventures along your way.

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