The Road to Rio; Day 4 Trek from Chinchero to Urquillos (Inca Trail)

This morning we woke up early to meet Louis (our hostel leader) for a morning trek from Chinchero to Urquillos along part of the historic Inca Trail. After a small breakfast at the hostel we made our way down to the bus/taxi street where cars were lined up to bring people up to the trail entrance. We joined a small taxi with 3 other hikers for 6 sol each. The driver was CRAZY!! Weaving in and out of traffic, passing the cars in front of us with on coming cars and hitting speed bumps at high speeds! On the bright side, he got us there in just under 20 minutes so we were able to enjoy the small market before starting the trail at 9am. The market was full of the usual souvenirs seen at the other markets around Cusco, Louis had us try a Peruvian “energy drink” made mostly from potatoes. I was not the biggest fan, so I let him have the rest.

At the trail entrance there was one last stop for bathroom breaks before starting the trail so I figured I’d go. I had heard that many of the toilets in Peru were just a hole in the ground, and here was my first experience! To my surprise the restrooms were very clean and easy to use.

(We followed the red path on the right side of the map)

As we began our hike, Louis told us a little about the Incas and their traditions. Explaining the energy of items and how they used an instrument similar to a sun dial to tell what time of year it was and when to plant certain crops. The beginning of the trek was all down hill, along foot paths dating back over 2000 years. The Incas were able to go from Chinchero to Urquillos in 30 minutes, it took us about 2 hours! The views were amazing, almost unreal! Besides us, we saw only 5 other people on the trail, it was amazing to be the only ones out on these gigantic mountains. After hiking down hill by water falls and terraced mountain sides we followed the river for a flat period where we saw cows and donkeys grazing in the fields. The hardest part was the up hill portion, I’ve never been at such a high altitude so when hiking up hill was difficult to catch my breath. Luckily the up hill part was short, reaching the small villages outside of Urquillos. We followed the dirt road into the city where we caught a bus back to Cusco.

(Inca terraces, used to help grow crops, retain soil nutrients and prevent land slides – took about 40-60 years to make)

The bus ride back was just as crazy as the one up, our driver was weaving in and out of traffic. Stopping abruptly and we even got pulled over by the police! (he just stopped us to check for our taxi drivers’ driving license and taxi license) Unfortunately I got sick on the way back, I think due to the altitude, bumpy roads and high intensity of hiking. But I’m all fine now- no need to worry!

(The Sacred Valley)

The bus dropped us off in the center of Cusco where we headed back to the hostel to get a shower and take a nap. Once we re-cooperated, we headed back to the square to have some dinner at a small restaurant; Fuegos. Since I hadn’t been feeling well, we decided on an American restaurant where the food would be familiar to my body. John tried one of the local Cusco Brews – a wheat ale by the Brewery of the Sacred Valley. We each enjoyed our American food – philly cheese steak for John and a grilled chicken sandwich for me. We walked through the square where large groups of people were formed listening to what we think mush be a political speaker.

When we returned to the hostel we had a short briefing with our Inca Jungle Trek leader about the trek and what to expect and bring along. We will be heading out tomorrow for 4 days/43nights. I may not have much internet connection so posts might be scarce until our return. We are excited to go mountain biking, hiking, swim in the hot springs, zip lining and exploring Machu Picchu!!!


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