Today we start our 4 day, 43km hike that is called the Classic Inca Trail. I have to be honest I'm a little nervous about this and it's certainly pushing my comfort boundaries. When booking this package as part of our 10 day Bolivia and Peru tour, I had not really given the hike much thought. I guess i thought since plenty of other people had done it there would be no reason why I could not. But now the day of, I was questioning this choice. After all, I know plenty of people that simply took the train up to the site, why had I not opted to do that instead. Today with rucksack minimally packed, hiking boots and snacks ready, this it seemed would be a far easy option. Too late now....
Our guide Jackson met us at the hotel at 9am with 6 porters and a cook in tow. The three of us felt really sheepish about having this much support staff to get us through the 4 day trek, but it seems this was the standard. Looking at my duffle bag (provided by the tour company), sleeping bag, plus all the food supplies, tents and equipment we appear to be taking with us, I'm not going to argue about the logistical staffing levels.
We drove to Kilometer 82 which is the starting point of the trek at 2730m. Today we are hiking 11kms and it was a pleasant hike with a good fast pace on the flat and a much slower pace on the inclines. It's clear that Brianna is in good shape (24 year old and just finished professional swimming in Canada!) and we made very good time to our first camp site. We passed some very small villages on the way, donkeys carrying goods and surprisingly only a few other hikers (I mention this as we were lead to believe the trail would be very crowded since 500 people (including porters) a day are licensed to be on it). We also saw our first Inca ruins (Patallaqta) which we looked down onto from our higher up vantage point.
It was when we stopped for lunch that we realized we were never going to be hungry on this hike and that the quality of the food prepared for us under the most basic conditions was to be quite frankly amazing. We arrived at our lunch spot and none of the three of us could believe it, there was a tent set up with a table and four chairs, we were given hot grape juice, then guacamole for starters (one of the best I have tasted) followed by vegetable soup and then pork in a sweet and sour sauce. Unbelievable. Hot water was provided to wash our hands (really!) and tea or coffee to finish. We are starting to really appreciate these amazing Porters and the cook and the work they do.
It was hard to hike on again after lunch (honestly we thought we would be getting some cheese sandwiches) but luckily it was only an hour or so to our campsite. The camp site was basic, it seemed to be a piece of land adjacent to a local families homestead, where just our group were staying. The toilets (no shower) were disgusting, but rather amusingly our site was also inhabited by a large number of chickens and a donkey.
At dinner time once again Genero (we now know the name of our cook) did not disappoint. We had popcorn, crackers, jam and hot tea around 5:45pm. Then for actual dinner at 7pm we had soup to start, chicken in sauce and white rice, with a poached pear for desert, tea or coffee again. The crew are also doing a great job of boiling water to make sure we have enough drinking water on us.
We were in our tents and after a few games of cards Betsy and I were asleep as about 9pm. It was not cold, but the rain in the night woke me up and left me praying that it would not rain during the day. After a pretty fitful sleep we were woken up at 5:30am by Victor (one of the porters) with a cup of hot tea.