Inca trail Day 1 - Cisco to Wayllabamba (12km)
The Inca Trail is a stunning 43km (26 mile) trek that combines Inca Ruins, magnificent mountains and exotic vegetation. The trail goes over high passes with unforgettable views, through cloud forests, and finally into subtropical vegetation arriving on the 4th an dfinla day at Machu Pichu - The Lost City of The Incas. Combined with high altitude passes (4200m) and rapidly changing weather it is considered to be a diffuclt trek.
After being picked up from our hotel at 5am in Cuzco we joined the rest of our 16 man group and began our 2.5hr bus journey through picturesque villages of Chinchero, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. We stopped in Ollantaytambo for breakfast then carried on by bus to km82 the start of the Inca Trail.
We start the trek at mid-morning. I seemed to be the only person carrying a 60ltr backpack. Woops. Maybe should have arranged a private porter!
We saddle up and set off, crossing the Vilcanota River and follow the trail to the right as it climbs steeply up from the river. After passing through a small village, the ruins of the Inca hillfort of Huillca Raccay came into view high above the mouth of the river Cusichaca ("happy bridge"). The Incas, when they conquered the area built a fort here since the site commanded an excellent view up and down the Urubamba valley and controlled the entrance to the Cusichaca Valley. It is a simple descent down to the Cusichaca river. From parts of this trail there are amazing views of the Cordillera Urubamba (Urubamba mountain range) and the snow capped peaks or Veronica (5860m).
From here we had great views over the extensive Inca ruins of Llactapata (also known as Patallacta on some maps). Llactapata means 'upper town' in Quechua and was first discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and was primarily an agricultural station used to supply Machu Pichu with maize, the staple crop of the Incas. The settlement comprised over on ehundred buildings, houses for the workers and soldiers including five baths.
For a further 7km the path follows the left bank of the river up to the small village of Wayllabamba (3000m). The name in Quechua means 'grassy plain'. First nights camp was in Wayllabamba in beautiful lush surroundings.