Hiking to Machu Picchu

Hiking the 4-day Inca Trail was no doubt one of the hardest things I’ve done during my 24 years on this earth. When Derek and I began plotting and planning this trip back in March, neither one of us really knew what to expect. While I’d consider us quite “outdoorsy”, we had never done anything this extreme before. I mean, I knew making this trek would be by no means a walk in the park. But, man did it kick our tails, in the best way possible, of course. Looking back though, I wouldn’t have a changed a single thing about it.

I know I’ve already posted about our days spent exploring Cusco, and our via-ferrata and zip-lining excursion in the Sacred Valley, but I’m so excited to share photos of the main reason we traveled to Peru: Machu Picchu! Below are the pictures we snapped while at the Machu Picchu ruins, and then if you scroll down (and keep scrolling since there’s oh so many…) you’ll find images from the actual hike. But be warned: this might just be picture-overload.

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Ah, the beautiful ruins of Machu Picchu. By the time we reached our destination, we had hiked for four days straight, camping along the original paved Inca trails. And when I say camping, there was no “glamping” involved. For starters we couldn’t shower for 4-days/3-nights, since there were none at the campsites. After hiking for most of the day, we’d spend our nights falling asleep under all the stars shining bright above the Andes Mountains. Oh, and did I mention we even had to carry our own toilet paper? I know I might not be painting the prettiest picture in your mind, but looking back, these were the little quirks we’ll remember the most about this trek.

I cannot even begin to describe the feeling that came over my mind when we finally arrived at Machu Picchu. It was truly a sense of overwhelming accomplishment, that’s for sure. I’ll never forget, as soon as we trekked down the final hill overlooking the ruins, it was at that moment I knew we had made it!

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Thankfully, our exhaustion was somehow melted away by all the excitement as we toured the many layers of ruins. At this points, I couldn’t help but to smile from ear to ear, especially since I knew, a shower was only a few hours away

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What would a trip to Peru be without making a few new friends?!

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To make the most of our time at Machu Picchu, we decided to make one more additional hike up Waynapicchu. This is the tall mountain you always see in the background of Machu Picchu (like here.) This seriously was one of the steepest climbs I’ve ever done. No joke! I’m by no means afraid of heights, but there were some points during this climb where I’d look down, and instantly feel my stomach start to churn. But man, it sure did provide some incredible views of Machu Picchu from above.

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Below are some more photos from the hike itself. There were so many moments during those four days where Derek and I would just have to stop moving for a second, just to take in all the beautiful scenery surrounding us. The sky was such a calming shade of blue. And the air, it tasted so clean and fresh. It was so rejuvenating being able to truly disconnect from our normal, daily routines. No cell service. No instagram, or any other form of social media for that matter. It was just us and nature. And I loved every second of it.

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After this experience, I don’t think I will ever overpack again. Ok, well I’m going to do a better job trying not to, anyway. Having to carry about 15 to 20 pounds for about 10+ hours per day was definitely hard. There were so many times where I was so close to chucking away any of the clothes I didn’t need!

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One of our favorite things about the entire hike was how diverse the vegetation was. From dry, desert-like terrain, to lush greenery, each new hour brought forth new climates.

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And of course, the llamas! There was one moment we turned the corner and saw a cluster of three llamas resting on the path. The one below barely let us pass by. I made Derek go first though, just in case!

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Each group had its own set of porters, the men that sat up camp and prepared all the meals. As you can see below, these men were the heroes of the hike. I don’t know how they do it, but each carried about 60 pounds of weight on their backs, and traveled much faster than the rest of us. There were some instances where these men would run ahead of the group, just so they could have everything set up and ready for when we arrived at the campsite. What was so special about the porters we had was the sense of brotherhood they shared. With them, no man was ever left behind. They travelled in packs, which I greatly admired. These men were definitely some of the most hard-working people I’ve ever witnessed, and I firmly believe they are the ones that make this hike possible.

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You can see one of our campsites below. This actually was also the night where it poured down rain and we had a 3am wake-up call. Yeah, we all got soaked!

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Lastly, my favorite group photo pictured below. It’s crazy how such extreme experiences can bring people together. When we started the hike on the first day, we were merely fourteen people with the same goal: to get to Machu Picchu. Yet, over the coarse of four days, we grew closer than I ever would have imagined. From the highs and lows, we experienced it all together. And I truly am grateful I was able to endure this incredible journey alongside this group. This was one adventure I will never forget.

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If you are planning to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, I would highly recommend going through Llamapath. I have nothing but great words to describe this company. From the countless emails back and forth, to planning our excursions and accommodations before the hike, the staff was always so responsive and helpful. Not to mention our two tour guides were super friendly and hospitable. Thank you, Llamapath, for an unforgettable adventure!

To check out the video Derek created of our trip, click on the mini films page..

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