Day one of the Inca Trail! We got picked up from our hotel around 5:30 a.m. We had set the alarm for 4:30 so we had time to get our stuff together, check out and get breakfast at 5:00 right when the breakfast room opened. Most of the group was already on the bus when we got picked up so we were soon on the road to Ollantaytambo. We arrived in Ollantaytambo around 7:30 or 8:00 and had time for breakfast and to buy water and walking sticks. At breakfast we started getting to know the others in the group – LeeAnn and Christine, 2 girls from Vancouver – and Christine’s dad, Murray; Persis and Allen, a couple in their 50s/60s from Cairns, Australia; 3 girls from Norway – Kathrine, Hanne and Janne; and Dave from Melbourne. There was alos another couple, Rebecca and Jacek, who didn’t join everyone for breakfast and we instead met them later in the day. Jacek is Polish and Rebecca is from Wales.
From Ollantaytambo, it was a short drive on to Km 82, where we would start the trek. We hit a slight traffic jam on the way as the roads aren’t really wide enough in some places for buses to pass and we nearly came face to face with another bus. After a bit of manipulation by several vehicles on a nrrow road next to a raging stream, we were on our way again. Anyway, at Km 82, we got our tickets checked and passports stamped and officially started the trek. Before that, though, we had to get our duffles weighed, and I was really annoyed because they initially said mine was too heavy! They had told us the max was 6 kg, including the sleeping bag which was 2 kg and the mat which was 1 kg. Which left 3 kg for our stuff. I ahd weighed mine very carefully with my luggage scale the night before, but the guy who weighed it said it came to 7 kg total! I raised a bit of a fit which I instantly regretted, feeling like it made me seem a little high maintenance or bitchy. So I took some stuff out, he weighed it again and it was only 5 kg, so I put the same stuff back in and somehow it ended up at 6!
Anyway, the start of the hike was a decently easy, slightly uphill climb following the Urubamba River. The group mostly stayed together and went at a similar pace. We stopped at a rest point overlooking some Inca ruins called Llactapata or Patallacta. There, our guide, David, wen through a lot of Inca history and Peruvian history and culture that I can’t even begin to recount. As with the other Peruvian tour guides we’ve had, David seems to like to repeat himself. After that, we kept going until we hit a place where we could climb up even nigher for a great lookout point over Llactapata. I did it, but I was definitely huffing and puffing. It was only me, Kelsey, Dave and the 3 Norwegian girls who did it.
We stopped for lunch at a campsite along the way – I don’t recall which or at what time. It was quite nice, though. A dining tent was set up with a table and stools for us. We had an avocado salad to start, followed by soup and trout (I went with a veggie option since I don’t like fish). Also hot coca tea. Very nice for a portable lunch! It started to drizzle just as we finished up lunch (to that point, we had a beautiful sunny day – I was in short sleeves). So I whipped out the rain poncho so my backpack wouldn’t get wet but ended up taking it off again not too long after. Overall, the hiking went by really fast – in part because it was a lot of chatting with people and getting to know everyone in the group. We got to our campsite at Wayllabamba around 4 p.m. It was in a nice clearning with all the tents set up already and a dining tent of course. Toilets weren’t too far away and of course they were the “squat” kind. But at least they were flushable! Most people thought they were completely disgusting, but compared to some of what I saw in Egypt, I didn’t think these were so bad.
We had some time to hang out before dinner at 7. I had my first “sponge” bath with bathing wipes which, while it probably helped, didn’t exactly make me feel all that much cleaner. But it did feel good to put on some fresh clothes. There was a woman at the campsite selling drinks – Gatorade, water, even beer! I passed on the beer, knowing that the next day would be the hardest. Most everyone just sat around on the stools in the middle of the campsite until dinner was ready. It’s a good group. Despite the varied ages and nationalities, everyone seems to get along very well and there were a lot of laughs.
Dinner was very good: soup, rice, a vegetable quiche and chicken and fried potatoes. Bananas and rum was for dessert. Once we finished dinner around 8, it was pretty much straight to bed since it was dark out and we had to be up early.