After a rough night with very little sleep I decided that I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try to do the trek, so I took some more Pepto and tried to mentally prepare myself for hiking while not feeling well.
We were given an hour window when Peru Treks would pick us up, and it seems we were the second stop – they were there right at 5:20. We weren’t prepared for such an early arrival, but we managed to get our stuff together and get going anyways. We grabbed a couple bananas for the bus ride since we were at least 2 hours away from breakfast – and we were off.
We stopped for breakfast in Ollantaytambo. It was a buffet with scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, toast and jam. I was still feeling nauseous, so I ate a very light breakfast and had some coffee. Downstairs was a small general store where we could purchase any last minute items. I bought a walking stick and some spare batteries for my GPS.
The rest of the bus ride was an adventure. We still had an hour remaining, and most was on a very narrow dirt road that was barely wide enough for one bus, with a huge drop-off on one side. The bus came within inches of the edge multiple times, it was almost as scary as the motorcycle trip! This is the route that all tour buses take though, so we had to move over to let oncoming buses pass. At one point we were stopped for what seemed like forever because a vehicle ahead was broken down. There were buses lined up in each direction waiting to pass. Eventually we made it to the end, and started getting our gear ready.
We all posed for a group photo and then headed down to the trail where we waited in line to go through the checkpoint.
At the checkpoint they checked our passports and our Inca Trail passes and gave us a cool passport stamp. There was a second checkpoint where the porters had their gear weighed to make sure it wasn’t too heavy.Then, once we all made it through the checkpoint, we crossed the Urumbamba river and we started on our way!
The first day is advertised as the easiest day. It was around 8 miles of gradual uphill hiking. Although my stomach was still iffy, it was a pretty easy day. The weather was beautiful; the sun was out and it was very warm. The guides stopped us for breaks very frequently – much more frequently than I would have stopped myself – which made it that much easier. The number of rest stops were something I found surprising. The Inca Trail is supposed to be this strenuous hike, even the easiest first day, but at this point in the trip I was feeling pretty good about my (lack of) fitness level and ability to finish the 4 day trek.
Along the way we stopped to look at 2 sets of ruins, each in the distance. We also walked past several farms and houses where people were still living. This section of the Inca Trail is the only road that leads to these homes. We passed many locals leading their donkeys loaded with supplies heading in both directions. There were several places where we could stop and buy snacks, water or Gatorade and use the bathroom. This is when I discovered that the toilets on the trail were squat toilets, and they were horrible.
After a couple of hours we stopped for lunch. The porters run ahead of the tour group and by the time we reached the lunch spot they had set up two big tents, one for the “kitchen” and one for the “dining room”, complete with table and chairs. This was our first meal on the trek and it didn’t disappoint! First course was an avocado half stuffed with fresh veggies with some kind of vinaigrette over the top. Second course was mushroom soup. Third was trout with rice and steamed veggies, and for dessert some kind of rice pudding with chicha syrup. Turns out, every meal on the trek was a full four courses.
After lunch, we continued. Since we had gotten such a late start, it was looking like we wouldn’t make it to camp with much daylight to spare. The rest of the hike was pretty uneventful, but after eating lunch I started feeling a little sick again. When we arrived at camp it wasn’t long before I decided to skip the evening festivities (several locals were selling beer, Gatorade and water so of course that meant it was time happy hour!) and dinner and just go to bed early. I was seriously disappointed in missing out on happy hour! The tour guides and chefs were very nice and tried to bring food to the tent for me, but I declined, the thought of food was not sitting well with me that night.