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The Inca Trail Trek

As we headed south, I shifted gears from follower to leader. In a way I felt like a cheater. I was now on my third “trip of a lifetime” and had barely any experience trekking in the U.S. or along any less grand trails. I guess it didn’t bother me too much as the lure of the world’s treasures pulled me back on the trail. We flew from Philadelphia to Lima, Peru, and directly on to Cusco, the primary access town for the Inca Trail. It was perhaps one of the great surprises of the trip.

Inca Trail, Cusco, Peru

Inca Trail, Cusco, Peru   Inca Trail, Cusco, Peru

We spent a few days acclimatizing in Cusco, before rising to start our trek at 4:30 am. We completed some last minute packing and hopped in a cab to meet the group of ten trekkers with whom we would share the trail. Of all the Great Treks, this was the only one where I formally hiked with a group. We were quite the menagerie, an award winning author and his wife, two students, a French couple, a BBC executive and his wife and ourselves. We were as matched as the passengers aboard the Minow on Gilligan’s Island. After early morning pleasantries were exchanged, we were on our way by 6:00 am.

A cab took us to highway marker 82, where the trek began. We had to sign in at the park entrance, which was a sea of porters and hikers. Unlike many treks, on the Inca Trail the porters are strictly monitored as to the limit of weight they can carry. This greatly increases the number of porters and creates quite a chaotic scene for the start of what should be a tranquil hike.

Inca Trail, km 82, Peru

Inca Trail, km 82, Peru

The story continues...