I love the ocean. Most of my travel revolves around beaches and the surf. However, when I got to Peru I knew I had to take a break from the sea and go see the infamous Machu Picchu. With friends in tow, I signed up for the 4 day/3 night Inca Trail tour. As in, we would be hiking, eating, and sleeping on a trail in the middle of nowhere for FOUR days. I was nervous and excited all at the same time. As I was mentally preparing myself, I knew we would encounter some brutal altitudes; maybe some rain, but also stunning panoramas. It was going to be rough but the tour company that we used employed a tremendous staff of porters who carried most of the camping equipment, cooking equipment, food, water, and maybe a few personal belongings too (hey, those leggings won’t carry themselves). They made me look like a little namby pamby.
The scenery on the trek is truly breathtaking. Around every corner is another beautiful vista straight out of a Nat Geo magazine. It almost made the pain of the strenuous hike and smothering heat bearable. Almost. And although the trail gets kind of a bad rep for being crowded and overrun by tourists, occasionally, we were able to find spots of total seclusion. I wish we had taken time to savor these quiet moments more, but we had our eyes on the Holy Grail: Machu Picchu.
On the last day, we woke up a little after 3am, along with the thousands of other people who also happened to be in the area that day. Nevertheless, the experience of walking up to the Sun Gate during sunrise, seeing the ruins in the far distance, and knowing that the last few days of pain and strain on our bodies were all leading up to something, was so worth it. It really is as picturesque as you see on postcards.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this trip was hard – both physically and mentally. If there had been an “undo” button halfway through the trek, I can’t say with certainty that I wouldn’t have pressed it. But, I’m glad I didn’t. Wherever my next travels take me, I will strongly consider venturing away from the beach. There’s more out there than just sun, waves, and babes. Like giant ancient Incan ruins that seem to have appeared out of nowhere.