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Wa trails 01-06Ancient Trails A classic trek: Peru’s 28-mile Inca Trail takes hikers to the ancient city ofMachu Picchu. The high-altitude routecrosses three passes, each at elevationsover 12,000 feet.
(elevation 11,207 feet) several daysbefore the hike to allow for acclimatiza-tion both to the altitude and the culture.
Flying up from sea level, most of usdeveloped pounding headaches andmild nausea within a few hours ofarrival. We were advised to try the localcure—copious amounts of hot coca tea(reminiscent of green bean water,certainly an acquired taste). Theevening before the hike, our guidejoined us at our hotel and discussedequipment and answered our questionsabout the trip.
at 4:30 a.m. in a private bus to collectus for the several-hour trip from Cuscointo the Urubamba River Valley. As thesun came up, we got our first jaw-dropping glimpse of the high Andes onthe far side of the river. The pavementgave out at Ollantaytambo (where webriefly stopped to pick up our porters)and 8.5 miles later the residual gravelroad dead-ended at the trailhead(elevation 8,528 feet). The trailhead canalso be accessed by train from Cusco,but this journey takes considerablylonger than by private bus.
camping gear while we “clients” carriedjust our ten essentials, plus personalitems such as cameras and binoculars.
The porters quickly disappeared up thetrail to prepare a picnic spot for lunch while we got into line at the entry gateto gather our hiking permits (US $50 commonly—as a trek in the classic style for the trail and access to the ruins).
from the Urubamba River Valley (a.k.a.
and GAP, are available on this route.
The trail is extremely popular, so access Picchu—ran along the opposite bank.
with cacti and scrub along the trail.
to school. The trail then turned upKusichaca Canyon as it passed a coupleof modest-sized Inca ruins that werestill being excavated.
along a lively stream for 4.3 miles to thevillage of Wayllabamba (elevation10,137 feet). This was the last commu-nity that we would encounter—andhere we stopped for lunch. We weredelighted to discover that our campcook was also a chef in a respectedCusco restaurant during the off-seasonand so we were treated to the first ofmany excellent multi-course meals thatincorporated local produce and meats.
The porters who were not part of thelunch crew went on ahead to set up our Pass”) We didn’t quite reach it on the first day. Here we saw the first evidence of Inca handiwork on the trail itself.
series of waterfalls and a well- restored the Inca Trail’s second pass only about WASHINGTON TRAILS
other to the horizon. I felt certain that trail builders—must have enjoyed living flashlight. We showedour park permits to a Low-maintenance trails: dating back perhaps 700 years, the stone-paved trails created by the Inca are a bit more enduring than those in Washington state.
lower peaks on the northern horizon.
into solid rock. It was glorious hiking— a little bit Nepal and a little bit Hawaii.
steeply into the next canyon. All told, we hiked for only about 5 miles (a leisurely 5 hours) this day before calling it quits Inca guard station below Runkuraqay pass. The at a large trekker’s camp (at 9,200 feet) ancient trail was used to access Machu Picchu, which served as a a retreat city for Inca nobility.
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