From 22nd September to 1st October 1012, a group of fundraisers will set off to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to raise money to fight Motor Neurone Disease in Scotland.
Each participant undertakes to raise a lot of money, over a period of about a year, and then takes part in the gruelling trek. It’s no holiday.
Fundraiser Sara Thomas will be going with the group, and writing this blog over the course of the next year to chart the experience – both good and bad – of organising and taking part in an overseas trek like this.
Glasgow – Lima
Morning flight from Glasgow to Lima (indirect via Amsterdam Schipol). Evening arrival and transfer (30 – 40 minutes) to overnight hotel. We have dinner on arrival.
Lima – Cusco
Early rise to catch a domestic flight over the Andes to the historical city of Cusco (3400m above sea level). Transfer to our overnight hotel where we’ll spend the next 2 nights. This afternoon is free to explore independently or take part in an optional walking tour of Cusco. Tonight we eat together and hear more about the week ahead.
Free day in Cusco to acclimatise to the altitude. Lunch is not included today. Dinner and overnight in hotel accommodation.
Explore the area around Cusco on a one day optional tour. This includes a visit to the Sacred Valley, the Inca site and market town of Pisac with a warm up hike over part of the Inca Trail. Lunch is not included today. Dinner and overnight in hotel accommodation.
Day 5 4 – 5 hours approx.
Cusco – Ollantaytambo – Huayllabamba
It’s a very early start by coach today (2 hours approx.) to the market town of Ollantaytambo. This is the last place we visit before reaching the trail so it’s a good idea to stock up on “magic sticks” (walking sticks), chocolate, coca leaves and resin etc. From there it’s a further 1 hour by coach to kilometre 82, which is where we start trekking at an altitude of 2500m. Before setting off we have to register for the Inca Trail and this can take some time. We trek for 2 hours until lunch. During the break there will be a cultural talk as we overlook the first of the Inca Ruins we see on this trail – Llaqtapata. From there it’s another 2- 3 hours to the overnight camp at Huayllabamba (3000m). Tonight we will probably have the luxury of our own campsite (as opposed to the next 2 nights where we camp at communal sites within our own area) but maybe with more limited facilities.
Terrain:1½ hours along fairly flat terrain following the River Urubamba into the valley of the Cusichaca River. Then ½ hour slowly ascending and a final short sharp uphill stretch to a plateau for lunch. After lunch descend into a valley where it is again fairly flat for 1¼ – 1½ hours before a final 15 minutes – ½ hour ascent to camp.
Day 6 7- 8 hours approx. Huayllabamba – Warmiwanuska (Dead Woman’s Pass) – River Paqaymayo
From Huayllabamba the trail climbs steeply along the banks of the River Llullucha. After about
2 hours we take a break beside the river. We continue for a further 2 hours through beautiful cloud forest to our lunch stop at Lulluchapampa at 3850m. After lunch we set off slowly for the last 2 hours which takes us over Warmiwanuska (Dead Woman’s Pass) at 4200m. This is the highest point of the trek and the altitude makes it a slow ascent with the air becoming increasingly thinner. From the top there is a steep and tiring descent to our camp in picturesque surroundings near the River Paqaymayo (3600m).
Terrain: Ascend for first ½ hour till check post. Further 1½ – 2 hours through forest and up steps getting steeper to lunch spot (3850m). Final 1½ – 2 hours ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass (4200m). From there 1 – 2 hours steep descent with many steps to camp at 3600m.
Day 7 8 – 10 hours approx. River Paqaymayo – Runkuracay – Phuyupatamarca – Winay Wayna
We start off with quite a 45 minute steep ascent to Runkuracay (3800m), a small archaeological site where we’ll be given a cultural explanation. This should take approx. 1 hour followed by another 45 minutes up to the Runkuracay Pass at 4000m. Along the way we trek close to a lake. From the Pass it’s a 45 minutes – 1 hour descent, starting with a short tunnel and then down steps followed by a gradual downhill stretch to the well preserved Inca ruins at Sayaqmarca (3600m). Along the way we pass another lake. We stop for a short cultural explanation at Sayaqmarca then continue into lush forest valley to the lunch spot at Chaquiqocha (dry lake). Straight after lunch it’s a fairly steep ascent then more gradual uphills with some level terrain. We encounter another short tunnel on the way. At Phuyu Pata Marca (Town above the Clouds) we stop to enjoy the views and another cultural explanation. Afterwards it’s a 1 – 1½ hour downhill section through beautiful cloud forest to a well known electricity pylon landmark. From there a downhill track leads to the campsite. Today is a long and difficult day, particularly at the beginning as it is still at a high altitude.
The campsite tonight is likely to be quite crowded as it’s the last place where camping is permitted before Machu Picchu. There is a good bar with music where people tend to congregate.
Terrain: 1½ hour steep ascent to begin with followed by 1½ hour downhill then gentle ascent to lunch. 1 – 1½ hours, starting with a steep ascent then more gradual uphill with some flat terrain. From Phuyu Pata Marca 1 – 1½ hours down steep steps to pylon. 1 – 1½ hours downhill track to campsite.
Day 8 3 hours approx.
Winay Wayna – Intipunku – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes – Cusco
An early start today (we wake around4am) in order to reach Intipunku (Gates of the Sun) for sunrise. The trail is undulating with a series of very steep steps up to Intipunku. From here it is possible to catch our first glimpses of the awe inspiring Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. It takes about 45 minutes or so to reach the site. After a group photo we will have a guided visit for 2 – 3 hours. We catch the bus down to the town of Aguas Calientes for lunch then catch the early afternoon train to Ollantaytambo (1½ hours) with great mountain scenery en-route. This is followed by a bus transfer (1½hours) to Cusco. Tonight we celebrate with a meal together in a restaurant in the town. Overnight in Cusco.
Terrain:1 – 1½ hours – mixture of uphill and level terrain to a series of 50 very steep steps. 15 – 20 minute mild ascent to Intipunku. 45 minutes descent to Machu Picchu.
Cusco – Lima – Glasgow
Morning flight from Cusco to Lima. Transfer to the city centre for some free time for lunch and last minute shopping before boarding our bus back to the airport to catch the overnight flight (indirect via Amsterdam Schipol) to Glasgow. Lunch and dinner not included today.