During breakfast the morning of Day 4 our guide, Saul said to us “I have good news, and bad news,”. Foolishly, I didn’t believe that there could be bad news in Peru, especially not while on vacation!
I was wrong.
On Day 4 we would be transitioning from the Salkantay Trail to the Inca Trail. Horses are not allowed on the Inca Trail, because their shoes break up the rocks used to pave the trail. We would be saying goodbye to our horseman, Juan, and hello to four new porters that would take the place of the horses. I promise you, I have never felt more ridiculous than I did on the Inca Trail with not just a guide and two chefs, but also four men carrying all of our stuff. As the Inca Trail became steeper and steeper I felt less and less ridiculous, and more and more grateful that I didn’t have to carry a fully loaded backpack – or cook any food.
The bad news, our four porters had gotten jammed up with the small army of porters that would be caring the gear for a 12 person trek just starting out on the Inca Trail. Our porters were supposed to meet us at 10 a.m., but due to the mix up they were going to be two hours late. The worse news, this meant our lunch would also be two hours late, as they were bringing fresh groceries with them.
The good news, our guide had a surprise for us. As a way to kill time we were going to go to an Inca site not on our itinerary. For those of you paying close attention, you guessed it. This meant that we would be hiking for two additional hours – without lunch. My poor lonely tummy!
The hike was of course, beautiful and it was well worth the extra time hiking. The site too was very cool. The other nice part was that because it was a down-and-back trip, we dropped our packs with a local store merchant allowing us to cover more miles in less time.
After our detour, we collected our packs and then hiked up the mountain to the first of many check points for the national park that contains Manchu Picchu. The number of people allowed to enter the gates each day is very heavily restricted. We purchased our permits a year ago, and I’m so glad we did!
The terrain from this point on changed dramatically. It was mind blowing! Our guide called it a micro-climate, but one moment we were hiking a river valley, and after only a few hundred feet of elevation – JUNGLE! And steps. SO. MANY. STEPS! The Inca were as extra as any one group of people could possibly be. Why build a dirt trail when a trail paved in stones and carved steps would do just fine?!?
When our dear chef’s reached us, they were so upset at not having fed us on time. They scrambled and within minutes had a four course lunch ready. These guys were beyond amazing!
After our quick lunch we hiked only two more hours to our camp site. It was during this leg that we started to run into other groups and porters. Up until joining the Inca Trail we had had the trail all to our selves and in the process had gotten quite spoiled.
This camp site also had a bathroom! It was referred to as a proper toilet, to be clear I was quite fond of the original Squatty Potty. Unfortunately, the bathroom pictured below was one of the cleanest toilets I visited in Peru. In fact I have an entirely new bathroom rating system after Peru. I used to think that the dirtiest place I had ever pee’d was a Starbucks in Paris. Again, I was wrong.