This father-daughter duo just completed the Inca Trail together and shared their incredible experience with us upon their return. Continue on to hear about their transformative journey!
“This vacation was not only great for us because we achieved so much together (45km hike, 10,900ft in total ascent, reaching to 14,000 ft) but we feel that we bonded together in a way that has made us stronger as a family for decades to come.”
“Happy to complete the famous Inca trail together as a father-daughter duo. It was an amazing 4 day journey which led us to push our bodies and minds during the day and heal them in a camp under the sky, lit with the sight of the Milky Way. We highly recommend to all families hoping they’ll come out stronger individually and together as a family on the other side of the journey. Our humble and somewhat longer explanation is to share our experience to those who might want to explore the same path.
With a little nervousness and doubts in mind lingering from a myriad of challenges faced during our Kilimanjaro expedition last year, we started our journey with Km 82 milestone on first day. What was supposed to be a group trek turned into a private trek with our awesome guide Germán Gerardo Cruz Aguilar . The first day was 5-6 hours of hike, relatively flat terrain on banks of Urubamba river. Pretty easy and a joyful experience, except for a few moments of excitement when our guide yelled “Run, Run, Run. Bulls are coming”. It was a big festival day and running of the bull might be common for locals but had our heart raced up a bit. In the end, we reached safe and sound to our campsite and surprisingly we also had a flush toilet and hot water shower at the campsite. We took advantage of it but made sure that we don’t let that set our expectations for what lies ahead of us.
After good breakfast, we started our second day in high spirit. After all, first day hike felt like a walk in the park. Second day had about the same distanced of 9km as the first day except it was a constant ascent. The entire trail was made up of uneven stones, and most of these stones have lied in these locations from the Incan civilization thousands of years ago. You quickly realize that the challenge of the hike is not about the distance but the ascent. We continued our ascent slowly with small breaks but we remained strong to hike for 60-90 minutes between breaks. Fatigue was starting to show up on us but we had different ways to handle it. Keya gets in the zone and stays focused with her game face and less communication while I try to downplay by my humor and silly gestures. Our guide assured us that next day will not be bad as it will be both ups and downs rather than constant ascent we faced today. Nonetheless we still arrived at next campsite on time. I loved our routine of relaxing for an hour at the campsite then going to dinner tent for a tea and snack followed up by some bonding time between us in our tent, to reflect on today’s hike experience. We then would go for a dinner around 7:30, plan out the next day, and snuggle back in our sleeping bags for a well deserved healing sleep around 9pm. We thought that the worst was behind us until our guide told us that we want to hit the trail before 6:30 in the morning so make sure you are up by 5 am and have a solid breakfast. But before the feeling could sink in, we were up and ready to go at 5 am on the next day of our journey.
On the third day, the trail starts with 30 degree incline right from the campsite which is already at around 12,000 ft altitude. Most of you must be aware that highest incline in treadmill is 15 degree so you can imagine climbing up at 30 degree incline for two and half hours and going to 14,000 ft. Yes, that was the first pass of the day and highest point of our trail. The views of valley between snow peak mountains were breathtaking and sense of accomplishment was even more satisfying. We briefly hugged each other, took pictures and felt that now it will get easier. Quickly we realized that we are far from done for the day. We had a to go through steep 2000ft decent which we all underestimated, but it felt harder on this uneven and dangerous trail with lot of thumping impact on our knees. By the time we finished the descent in time for lunch, we were exhausted but we were not even half way to the campsite. We still had to go through another pass with 1500ft ascent and then a descent followed by additional 5km gradual ups and down to the campsite which we were promised that it will be breathtaking. It took us 11 hours to cover 15km hike, ascent 3500ft, decent 4000 ft and to pass through 14000 altitude. We watched orchids, visited Inca ruins and even sung songs along the way. It was the most challenging and most rewarding day so far. With a hearty meal and beautiful sightseeing of the campsite, we crashed with excitement of completing the track next day, meeting Avani and Rahul in nearby town and also taking a much needed shower.
We were pumped up despite of tiredness of last three days but start was slow. Day started with a steep (very steep) descent with a lot of opportunity to tumble down the mountain. We made sure that our excitement and impatience to reach to finish line does not make us take a sloppy step or else we can hurt ourselves badly. After a solid 4 hours of descending, we took a lunch at the great archeological site Waynewayaña (forever young). We felt eternal peace, a surreal experience which is hard to describe but can say that have only felt a similar feeling only at 2-3 other places in our lives. It was the last stretch to the Sun Gate (another archeological site) from where we’ll get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu. Keya picked up a speed and started going at a pace where it was hard for me to catch up but it lasted for only about 40 minutes and the she suddenly stopped uttering the words in frustration “this trail is just not ending!!” After strenuous four days and bare minimum living condition make you feel like a foot as long as a mile. After a few deep breaths, guide reached out to Keya and told her that he has nice surprise coming up for us. It was 75-100 steps at around 65 degree incline so time to bear crawl. Wrong timing but it makes you live through cliche of “one step at a time” and helps develop patience and perseverance. Keya aced the climb and soon we reached to Sun Gate. It was an instant reward – What a sight of Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu. We took a lot of pictures and soaked in the view before starting the last hour of a relatively easy hike and finally reached to the official end of the trail. We tightly hugged each other and I was especially proud of Keya who conquered her fear by taking on another adventure, even after what she went through during Kilimanjaro not even a year ago. We reached hotel and got a warm welcome from Avani and Rahul who gave us support and encouragement, which made our journey possible.
Last and fifth day started early at 5am to go to Machu Picchu where we had a guided tour for 3 hours and then Rahul, Keya and I started our final hike to summit of Machu Picchu mountain. It was a first time for Rahul to attempt the ascent of 2000ft in 2 hours at 10,000ft altitude. It was not easy by any means but he was determined. Hike was series of steps which were too high for his small feet at age of 13. At times, he had to stretch his legs to the fullest to get to another step which is not easy when you have to climb steps equivalent of 350+ floors in two hours. We all plowed through and reach to the summit and enjoyed the panoramas of the great lost city of Inca, surrounded by the jaw dropping mountains of the Andes.
This vacation was not only great for us because we achieved so much together (45km hike, 10,900ft in total ascent, reaching to 14,000 ft) but we feel that we bonded together in a way that has made us stronger as a family for decades to come.
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Your friendly South America expert,