The Inca Trail Day Three

By Issy Goode - 18:27

A day of Inca site seeing, making friends with llamas and watching the sun set over The Andes

We were allowed a cheeky little lie on day three right up to the wonderful hour of 5:30am...what a treat! 

Our trek was to start at 7am today but of course, it was still a very cold morning. I'd had a much warmer night after choosing to wear the entirety of my kit bag. Of course, it made taking layers off quite unpleasant but at least the cold hadn't kept me up as much. Michael on the other hand slept terribly. He woke feeling quite unwell likely from tiredness and the excessive amount of coco leaves he had consumed to get him up to the pass in such good time! 

We had semolina and peaches for breakfast which was one of the more disappointing meals of the trip, but still lovely and warm. 

After delayering I was really feeling the chill in the air. My fingers were numb as we started the trek and I kept leggings on underneath my hiking trousers. It wasn't long before that became a terrible mistake - the sun came out and it was boiling. 

Today was about site seeing. On route to Dead Woman's Pass the scenery had been incredible but as it was located more among the hills and mountains, the actual Inca sites had been scarce. The first site we stopped at was Runcuracay which was a look out post for the Incas. We were told it would have also been a stopover on the route to Machu Picchu. The slope up to this was still a little tiring and I could feel the hike from the previous day having an affect on my now wobbly legs, but we had a nice time to explore the relatively small site and select a rock to take onto the next peak to make a wish.
A serious rock slide that ran through our path and continued down the other side. Apparently this had happened a few years earlier but the damage remained. 
The view from Runcuracay
The view from Runcuracay below including an additional look out spot
Our highest peak today was 3,900m. On the way up we stopped beside a lake and rested for a short while. People passed by but no one else stopped in this area. We all had a snack and chatted for a short while and the day in general felt much less challenging. Bobby stayed with us for the whole day as everyone just wanted to take in the scenery and off we went up the next steep climb. We reached the lower level of the peak which was a lovely seated area surrounded by trees. We ditched our bags to hike up a little further and take some photos from a lovely high spot that only two other tourists had ventured up to. The Black family decided to take the opportunity to spell out Peru with their bodies which turned out to be quite hilarious for us onlookers. 
People carried small rocks from Runcuracay to the peak and made a wish. Stones were piled high around the area from years of the tradition
Don't mind me - just enjoying the view
The view from our high point for the day - it really made you realise how far the apparently unstoppable fire had spread 
The views were just so perfect. 

After going over the pass we came to another site, Sayaqmarka, which we really got to explore. The site was built in a perfect position to catch the sunrise. In the early hours from a certain campsite you could see the site spectacularly lit up by the morning sun. Unfortunately, it wasn't the campsite we were staying at but Bobby showed us his photos of said campsite and the view he had. It was spectacular. An aqueduct was built to this site from a local spring and running fountains were built within. Bobby told us that the closer the site is to Machu Picchu the more fountains there are. This is thought to be to do with cleansing oneself for the sacred site of Machu Picchu. 

We were shown around the site in real detail. Bobby showed us how the Incas built curtain hooks which they hung cow hides from the same way we would curtains. They also carved indents into the walls alongside steps to act as handrails. It was incredible to think what they had achieved. 

Michael and I started to feel a bit worse for wear at this point. We were right beneath a blazing sun and our bags, and therefore our camel packs, had been left at the bottom steps of the site believing we wouldn't be there for long. The dehydration began to hit us quickly and Michael still wasn't feeling great from the morning. We carried on exploring for a little but the group all headed down to begin the final stretch to our lunch spot 35 minutes away.

Unfortunately, due to how we both had been feeling we didn't capture many photos in this area, which is a real shame because if you follow this link, you can see how amazing it is! 

We were in a beautiful spot for lunch with incredible surrounding views and llamas. They were sat at the entrance to our pitch and I never realised how huge they could be until this point!

For lunch we had chicken noodle soup followed by shredded beef, rice and homemade chips. Let's remember for a moment we are 1 day away from Machu Picchu and miles and miles away from a shop or civilisation besides hikers, porters and guides! The chef and his team really did incredible things! 

Our campsite was a further two hours from lunch and our porters packed up and as always, sped on ahead running most of the way. The beauty continued as we walked to our campsite mostly descending. We walked through the most incredible scenery that it seemed more like you were in a beautiful garden in Asia. The rock faces had been cut away and the vines wrapped around the path with beautiful orchids springing out of the rocks and walls along the walk. We passed through a tunnel that had been carved through the rock which was astounding. The area we were walking through was called the Cloud Forrest. Most of this reminded me more of The Amazon than the Inca Trail I had experienced so far. The walk was leisurely rather than challenging like it had been the day before. I could see why Bobby thought it would be tough because of how much you descend and the pressure this puts on your knees and toes, but personally Dead Woman's Pass was the toughest for me. 

We hadn't descended an incredible amount, with our beautiful deserted campsite being 3,700m up. The fire had continued to spread but the smoke was heading in the opposite direction so we were told our route to Machu Picchu was clear. There was no one at this campsite, many had carried on to the next one as they were on a 3 day hike rather than a 4 - I'm very grateful we did a 4 day one because that would have meant Dead Woman's Pass and a steep descent all in one day! 
Phuyupatamarca from above - day four gave us the opportunity to explore this one!
Intipata from afar - on the other side of that mountain is close to where Machu Picchu lies! Intipata was once a massive agricultural site and it looks pretty big from afar but even bigger up close. Come back soon for day four!
Michael felt unwell still so he went for a good sleep whilst I watched the sunset with the rest of the group. It still blazed on us whilst it set but the moment it had gone you could feel an instant chill in the air. I woke Michael who reluctantly came and nibbled at a bit of his dinner before we all headed for another early night.
The smoke added for an eerie scene as the sun set over The Andes
A view from the other side where the last of the sun's rays glistened over Salcantay Mountain 
I remember feeling a pang of sadness on this night. It felt as though our time in Peru was going so quickly already but the anticipation ahead of the next day was beyond exciting. In less than 24 hours we'd be setting foot in Machu Picchu, a place Michael and I had always talked about visiting but believed we wouldn't until our late 20s. In that moment, I felt so grateful and so happy about the decision we had made to splurge away a bit of our savings on the trip of a lifetime. 

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  1. A lay in until 5.30am...? Blimey!! That rock slide looks super scary, I hope nobody was hurt in it! :( It's mad how quickly the weather changes there, from freezing cold to boiling hot. Those views look incredible, well worth the hiking I'm sure! xxx


    1. Ha yep! Sounds ridiculous right but other days we had been up at 2:30 - 3am when we were in The Amazon! All my colleagues at work say it hardly sounds like a holiday. Apparently the park was evacuated when the landslides were happening and closed off for three months. It was indeed - thanks for stopping by! xxx

  2. How exciting for you guys, seems like you had a great trip. The pictures are awesome, thank you for sharing. We travel but nothing like this, maybe one day... I'm just not a huge campig kind of person. :)

    1. Thank you - we did :) I'm not a big fan of camping either but I thought, if it's the only way I'm going to hike the Inca Trail I'll manage. It was certainly the part I enjoyed least! Thank you for reading :) x

  3. Wow, amazing photos xxx


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