When I think back on my interaction with arguebly the cutest animal on earth -if you don’t get spat at- I think of the warm and fuzzy feeling I experienced.
As you may already know, I, along with Oli and Kate, traveled to Peru as part of a packaged tour with G Adventures. From the moment we booked our trip we were adamant on meeting these fluffy creatures and taking the perfect selfie – the internet would not be prepared for this selfie!
…And so our quest began…
We’d seen some llamas from afar on a 7hr bus ride from Puno to Cusco, but it wasn’t until we arrived in Sacred Valley that things really got exciting. We were taken to a women’s weaving co op in the beautiful village of Ccaccaccollo, and at arrival were given food to feed the alpacas and llamas. As you can imagine, I couldn’t quite handle the excitement (I had waited months for this moment), and began shoving leaves in the face of every animal in sight. It wasn’t until one aggressively flared its nostrils and threatened to spit at me that I realised it was time to back off. Luckily, our presentation was about to begin.
Traditionally dressed local women showed us, step by step, how they naturally wash and dye all the alpaca wool. It was intriguing to see how they don’t need to rely on chemicals to get the very best results.
Once the presentation was over I was eager to get back to spending time with the alpacas and llamas, and that’s exactly what I did. Admittedly, I still can’t tell between the two animals, even after being told repeatedly by our guide (I’ve googled it too).
So did I get my perfect selfie? No. Do I care? Not anymore.
You see, at first, I was so focused on looking picture perfect (with no double chin on show), that I was losing sight of where I was. I didn’t need to outshine a llama – Let’s face it, nobody can outshine a llama! And so I let myself enjoy the moment and treasure the experience. I have photos… just not that perfect photo, but you know what, I will always cherish that moment – selfie or no selfie.
My experience on the Inca Trail was simply amazing. I had my ups and downs (I cried) but I would do it all over again, just… better. For those of you who don’t quite understand what you are getting yourselves into, I encourage you to roam the internet and read the various posts available on this subject. Obviously, none of that should be done before reading my post first (I got the idea from here). I thought it would be fun to add on to the long list of things to expect on this dreaded but spectacular adventure. Also, please bear in mind that I did the trail as part of a tour and so there were 10 people in total, myself included.
Alright, let’s get on with it.
1.Red Light on Headlamp
Just in case you weren’t aware (I wasn’t), insects are NOT attracted to red light, they are, however, attracted to bright lights, so if you want to save yourself from any unexpected screams in the middle of the night, then you’ll want to make sure your headlamp has a red light setting.
2. Flip Flops
Depending on the time of year you are travelling, you will want to take either flip flops or some sort of comfortable footwear for when you get to camp after the day’s trek. Some may say this is not necessary but if you’re anything like me, and can’t stand to be in the same sweaty trainers all day, then you’ll thank me later for this tip. There was nothing I enjoyed more than getting to camp, cleaning up and changing footwear. Side note: You won’t want to wear flip flops in the toilets. Make sure you use your trekking gear for that!
3. There are showers but you won’t want to use them
Take wipes, plenty of wipes. These were my life saviour and I can proudly say that I did not, once, smell on the whole entire trail, thanks to my trusty wipes. Funnily enough though, I had actually taken a microfiber towel and shower gel with the intentions of using these so-called ‘showers’, but after inspection I carefully retraced my steps back into my tent. To put it nicely, someone had kindly emptied their bowels in the camp 2 shower. Just put it into your head that you won’t be showering for 4 days. The porters, however, will provide you with warm water to wipe yourself down each day.
4. You won’t want to poo either!
Warning! You should probably do your best to ‘evacuate’ the morning of your trek in the comfort of your hotel. I didn’t and I paid for it. As you can imagine, the toilets can get pretty filthy and you’re going to much rather use ‘nature’ as your bog, however, nature isn’t quite as appropriate for number 2’s, so you won’t be doing any of those for a couple of days. The Inca Trail is just not the place. Feel free to pee wherever your heart desires though, you’re surrounded by nature!
5. Forget Dead Woman’s Pass, Day 3 is harder!
If you’ve done any research then you’ve probably heard of the infamous Dead Woman’s Pass on Day 2. It definitely lives up to its fame but most of it is over in a matter of hours. Day 3, on the other hand, is the longest day and it’s just never ending, so you’ll need to be mentally prepared to face some challenges (I’ll be talking about this in a future post). My challenge was knee pain, which leads me to my next point.
6. Your knees may hurt
You’re going to be going up and down hundreds of steps, dare I say thousands? There’s a massive chance your knees will be a tad bit sore by the end of it. Make sure to take painkillers and something to wrap your knees with.
7. Your ankles may hurt too
If there is anything I’ve discovered on this trip it’s that I have extremely weak ankles. I twisted them a couple of times, but it was the final fall and twist that left me limping for 2 whole weeks. It left me in quite some pain and discomfort, so much so, that I ended up being the last person in my group to get to Machu Picchu . Prepare accordingly.
8. You may not feel hungry but you should still eat
If you’re going as part of a tour, as did I, then you’ll be glad to know you’ll be fed like you’ve never been fed before. Seriously, the cooks are amazing! The proof is quite literally in the pudding. Below is a photo of the cook and a cake he miraculously made for our group. Although the food is delicious, loss of appetite is a side effect of high altitude. That, along with the fact you probably won’t be defecating is a mix for disaster. So make sure you eat. It’s what’s going to keep you going!
9. It’s not a competition
I cannot state this enough! The Inca Trail is truly incredible, please don’t get lost in competitiveness and appreciate your surroundings. It’s so easy to want to rush it but you’ll only be missing out on the amazing views. Day 3 has to be the most picturesque day and if I could do it all over again, I’d tell myself to slow down, it doesn’t matter who gets to camp first.
10. Stay the night in Aguascalientes
If you have complete control of your itinerary then this suggestion is a big one. The day you reach Machu Picchu you will have woken up at around 3:30am, trekked for a couple of hours and also had a guided tour of the main grounds. You will be exhausted. You may not even appreciate that you have finally reached your end destination. If you are able to, stay the night in Aguascalientes and go back the next day. You’ll be showered, rested and ready to explore one of the most interesting places on Earth. Also, you’ll look better in your photos.
I hope I haven’t frightened you away from the idea of trekking it to Machu Picchu! If you’d like to know anything else about the Trail then please let me know as this is definitely a subject I will continue to write about. If you’ve already been, what would you add on to the ever-growing list?