For the second night in a row sleep was hard to come by. This time it was a stupid rooster somewhere near the hotel. Apparently it thought sunrise was at 2 o’clock, and it had a one hour snooze button. It woke me up at 2, 3, 4, and 5 o’clock. By 6 o’clock, when I had planned to get up, I was ready to hunt it down and beat it senseless!
Day 3 of Our Inca Trail Adventure –Inca Trail
After a quick breakfast, Heather and I met up with Jesus and the rest of our group. Jesus had a large trash bag available for us to leave behind anything we did not want on the Inca Trail. This bag was then stored at the hotel until we returned.
At 7 o’clock we loaded onto our bus and headed for kilometer 82… the start of the Inca Trail. Here we met our porters and were given the gear we had rented yesterday. We loaded our last items into our duffel bag and turned them over to the porters. They then loaded the duffels into their packs and headed for the trail.
After one last stop to use the last “real” toilets we would see for days, Jesus said, “Follow me” and our hike was officially underway. Well almost. We had to first stop for the obligatory group and individual pictures under the Inca Trail sign. Then we had to stop at the trailhead checkpoint and show our passport and permit to access the actual trail. My understanding is that only 500 people a day are allowed to start the Inca Trail. Of this, only about 200 are hikers. The rest are guides, porters, or other support staff.
Checkpoint at entrance to Inca Trail
By way of reminder. I will be light on the details concerning the actual hike portion of our adventure. Why? Because the journey is the destination in this case, and part of the journey is discovering it for yourself. Read more about this here?
Our group was in great spirits as we enjoyed the scenery along the trail. Jesus stopped us a few times to point things out, teach us trail etiquette, or let us take a break. The most important thing he taught us was about half way to lunch. Our group had noticed that some of the homes we had passed had a pole with a red bag wrapped around the top of it. Jesus told us that this meant they were selling Chicha. Chicha is a corn-based beer that is brewed by locals in Peru. He had us at beer and we let him know that we had to try some. He said that if we did good on the after-lunch portion of the trail he would let us try, “a little bit”. That is all the motivation we needed!
Typical village encountered at the start of the Inca Trail Heather & I painted up as Inca Trail Warriors
When we arrived at our lunch spot the porters had already setup camp, taken a nap, cooked lunch, and probably had time for a soccer match. Lunch consisted of soup, fried fish, rice, and dessert. After lunch we had a little relaxing time before heading out on the second half of the day’s hike.
Our first lunch on the Inca Trail
Jesus held true to his word and near the end of the day’s hike we stopped to try Chicha. For just S.1 ($0.33) you can buy a large cup of Chicha on the Inca Trail. We passed the cup around and everyone in our group tried it. Most of us enjoyed the unique taste. Some enjoyed it enough to go buy a second round for themselves!
After the Chicha stop it took about 15 minutes to get to our camp for the night. When we arrived at camp all of the porters were lined up to cheer us in. Even though they had probably been there for hours, it was nice for them to acknowledge that this gringo has done something worth cheering today.
Porters playing soccer on Inca Trail
Heather & I enjoying a spectacular view on Inca Trail
As we settled into our tents, Jesus came around to let us know that the porters would be playing soccer. We were welcome to join in or watch if we chose. After the soccer game we had dinner and then hung out in the dinner tent playing Uno and laughing until our sides hurt. As darkness fell, fatigue started to set in with our group. There were no arguments from anyone when Jesus suggested it may be time for some sleep. Our wakeup call would be at 5:30 the next morning.