This post goes over days 3 and 4 of our Inca Trail Journey, if you need to get caught up on Days 1 and 2 Click Here.
Like being in real life Indiana Jones!
Continuing the Inca spirit one step at a time we started the day with another huge staircase! Many picture breaks later and we finally arrived at the Runkurakay ruins. Another prime location picked out by the Incas. Gorgeous views and interesting history and based off the staircase in our future, we were happy to take it all in here for a little bit.
After the ruins we headed up more stairs and eventually passed a couple lakes and made our way to the top of a mountain again. It’s crazy how different the scenery on each day of the hike really is! This was a perfect place for a snickers and to catch our breath and the views.
Day three really was amazing, there were many different Inca ruins through out the entire day, each with its own legends and history. It also had “proper” Inca trail or exactly what I imagined the Inca trail to look like. Stone path, surrounded by rainforest. Felt like real life Indiana Jones.
Our Guide To Peru, You can read all about that here.
The awe of the whole thing really started to slow us down. It was incredible to be standing in a place we had dreamed about for so long and for it to feel exactly how we imagined it to feel. This is where JR started to get a bit worried that if we didn’t pick up the pace we wouldn’t make it to camp by dark. We didn’t care, we were willing to hike in the dark if it meant we got every possible second on this trail.
Pachimama was team JR because after a short bathroom break she immediately covered all the views with a thick dense fog. Even with the fog, the trail was so interesting. We came upon a stone tunnel we had to “climb” through and quite a few amazing view points.
Eventually we made it to lunch and what a surprise. A picture perfect view and Donato decided to treat us to Andean Pizza Hut for lunch. How special! The pizza was amazing. Still waiting on Donato to get us that recipe. This would be our last lunch with the team and we were feeling very sad about it. Llamas were hanging out all over the lunch area which was a constant reminder of being somewhere very far from home.
After lunch we took a few moments to take in the view and attempt photos with our whole team. We were excited to see what was up ahead but also sad it would be ending soon.
We continued on the trail and as you can imagine, more stairs and more ruins. By day 3 we were pretty good at our 4 man little song and dance when the porters would come running through. We would make a tunnel with our hiking poles and sing “Hakuna Matata” and shake those little hips. I’m sure this didn’t help with our speed either but it was fun for us and the porters seemed to enjoy it as well.
After all the strife, our timing turned out to be perfect! We arrived at the final set of ruins just as the sun was setting and what a view. We took pictures and found another set of Llama friends. How Lucky!
We got to camp just as the last little bit of light was disappearing and again, great spot picked out by the team. Day 3 camp does have showers available and all 3 of us attempted but man, even after snorkeling in glacial runoff, we couldn’t manage that shower. We all decided to smell together one last day!
This was our last dinner and we all felt it. We reflected on no phone service or wifi the past few days and being completely immersed in the experience. It was the first time in a long time we were able to be so fully committed and involved in an adventure. We were sad it was ending but beyond grateful for the memories and new positive outlook on life. It felt good to shed all the negativity and leave in our footsteps along the trail. Exactly what the incas would’ve wanted.
After dinner began the weirdest part of the entire Inca trail. The tipping/gratitude ceremony. During this time, Donato and Team thank us for the time together and say nice words and then we do the same followed by passing along the tip for them to divide amongst themselves. Much prefer the old sneaky handshake pass the money type tipping exchange but we got through it. To be totally honest, we had never been so spoiled in our lives as we had been on this adventure and that was all thanks to our amazing team. So JR, Donato, Apo, Valentin, Augustine, Santos, Walter and of course Justino (Bieber) the ukuku, if you’re reading this, we thank you. Our forever Incan family!
They then presented us with the most gorgeously decorated chocolate cake, our favorite! You can tell they spent a lot of time on this and it was special just for us. We all loved this cake and enjoyed a good bit before JR snuck off with it to his tent. HaHa! I Kid. One last group photo with that sneaky Ukuku before bed.
Day 4 had the earliest wake up time ever! We had to wake up at 3:30am to have breakfast and pull ourselves together to get in line for the final check station. The goal is to get to the sun gate for sunrise over Machu Picchu and to give the porters a chance to run to Aguas Caliente and catch the first train out of there. We had so much caffeine in our system from the coca tea and all the energy chews that I’m not sure any of us slept this night. That was perfect because then we got to fully experience Justino laughing as he snuck up to our tent and finally attempted the Ukuku wake up! We heard growling and scratching as we all screamed and laughed. Pretty positive we woke up the whole camp.
The friendly wake up Ukuku brought us our hot tea and we pulled ourselves together. Breakfast was there but it felt like we had just finished dinner so we didn’t eat much. We said all our final good byes and off we were to wait in line. Didn’t quite understand this part but we did it and after about 2 hours of waiting it was finally time to hike through. Some groups ran to be the first ones there, but we were still under the mindset of making this experience last as long as possible so we walked at our normal pace. About 1.5 hours later we arrived at the ultimate staircase. Kind of like the final boss in video games, the monkey stairs! JR took our poles so we could climb up on all fours. This was funny more than anything and after reaching the top we were sure to enjoy the view.
JR must’ve hung back at this point because the last 15-30 minutes was just the three of us. We reached the end of the trail and how sad it was. We saw the couple steps up the sun gate and were excited to see Machu Picchu but also hesitant to be reintroduced into the real world.
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