More humility and less much hubris are the words that we should aspire to live by. As I ascended Inca Trail, those words echoed in my ears. I had borrowed trekking poles from my then boss but neglected to bring them, trusting that my legs would carry me on this journey.
We had picked Alpaca Expeditions based on stellar reviews, and they did not disappoint, the food was great, guides were professional, and the equipment was clean. I would recommend them to anyone who is looking for a guided tour to Machu Picchu.
Over the course of the trek, we traveled through many microclimates with various flora and fauna. I was ill-prepared for this as well, as I had not packed enough warm clothes.
My initial impression, as we approached the first ridge for a break, was that everything looked very high-definition, without any haze from air pollution.
After the first night of camping, some of us fell behind, but luckily our guides encouraged us on and controlled the pace of the hike well while providing useful information about the environment as well as the cultural significance of the trail and the ruins that we came across.
As I climbed Dead Woman's Pass (4,215m above sea level), I needed some assistance and I had to give in to the fact that perhaps I was not as fit as I thought I was and ended up borrowing a trekking pole for the remainder of the hike. The guides would often yell out elbow height or nipple heightfor us to adjust the pole lengths, depending on whether we were ascending or descending.
At times it felt like we were truly above the clouds, and I had glad to have brought a heavy DSLR strapped to my neck. I wish I had taken better notes or tagged the photos as soon as I got back because I cannot recall any of the names of the species of wildlife or the names of any of the ruins that we came across, but I guess that is what I get for taking 3+ years to actually go through the photos.
Geo and voice tagged photos would solve much of my problems as I often struggle to remember names, like our guide, whose name I cannot recall.
Toucan, whose name I had to Google by typing the words birds of Peru. By the time we finished at Wiñaywayna, night had fallen, and I had neglected to bring a headlamp with me on this little detour. I took a misstep while walking in the dark with a very little illumination, which could have resulted in my plummeting to my demise.
Our group determined to be the first one to arrive at Machu Picchu, began the next morning at around 3AM. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at Sun Gate, it was too foggy for us to see anything. Disappointed, we descended into Machu Picchu where the magic happened.
It was still very foggy by the time we arrived, but they had started clearing.
After many countless photos to commemorate the successful journey, we began a slow descent towards the entrance where we got our passports stamped and headed towards Aguas Calientes where we shared a train with a group of Japanese tourists towards our next destination.
One thing I wish I did on the trip that I did not get to do this time was to climb Huayna Picchu. If I have a chance to visit Peru again, I would definitely check it out, with our without the full Inca Trail.