Cusco and the Inca Trail in October

Jan 3rd, 2014, 10:54 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 34
Cusco and the Inca Trail in October

My DH and I went to Peru the last part of October to hike the Inca Trail. We had limited time off for vacation, so the purpose of the trip was just getting to Cusco and then hiking with one day in Lima at the end of the trip.

We found out about the Inca trail online somehow and one of the first trip reports I read was colduphere’s. So thank you! This is not going to be anywhere as entertaining as his report. I have wanted to go to Machu Picchu for as long as I can remember and this seemed like a great way to cap off a big year (we had a baby and were turning 30).

We cashed in miles and flew Delta. Portland - Atlanta - Lima down and Lima - Atlanta - SLC - Portland back. Flights from Lima to Cusco were booked with LAN. All flights were pretty much on time and customs and immigration were a breeze. The only irritating part was when we were leaving Lima. We both had water bottles bought after security but we were not allowed to take them on the plane as it was a no liquid flight. We were not even supposed to have our quart bag of liquids. So boarding the plane took forever because they searched every single person’s carry on.

Bed and Breakfast de Kiki: Stayed at this bed and breakfast the night we arrived in Lima. It is very highly rated on TripAdvisor and was a great place for one night. Kiki was there to pick us up and he dropped us off in the morning for our next flight. His wife made us breakfast in the morning. Overall the place was very clean and the owners were very nice. It was $60USD for one night.

Casa San Blas: We stayed here for three nights before our hike and for one night after. It was a great location, only 3 or so blocks away from the Plaza de Armas but up a pretty steep hill. The staff was very nice and helpful. The beds were comfortable, bathrooms were nice and they had a rooftop terrace, unfortunately it was raining most evenings so we didn't get to enjoy the view. The breakfast was very good and there were eggs cooked to order. Through their website it was $120/night but we booked through and it was around $100/night.

Hilton Miraflores: This was the last place we stayed and it was probably one of the nicest hotels we have stayed in anywhere. We used Hilton points and stayed on the Executive floor. The staff again was very nice and attentive. The executive floor was great for happy hour food and drinks and a very nice breakfast. There was a rooftop pool and hot tub. We enjoyed the hot tub but the pool was too cold for swimming.

More to come!
Ayla_C is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2014, 01:04 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Ayla - great start. I look forward to reading about your experience. Hopefully the three days in Cuzco helped you acclimatize.
colduphere is offline  
Jan 4th, 2014, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
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I look forward to reading your your travels too, Ayla, and I'm planning my own trip there in July. Glad to hear you liked the Hilton as it's one of the hotels I'm considering. Did you spend any time in the Sacred Valley?
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 07:24 PM
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We had no problem with the altitude during the hike but about half of our group did. We definitely felt out of breath quicker but otherwise no other ill effects.
Ayla_C is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 07:26 PM
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Cusco and the Sacred Valley:
We spent 2 & ½ days in Cusco and the Sacred Valley before our hike. The first afternoon in Cusco we had to pay the remainder of our hike with Llama Path. So we walked around town and just checked out what Cusco had to offer. We also bought our tourist tickets.

The next day we hired a taxi for a Sacred Valley tour. Our hotel arranged this for us. We requested this the day before and they had a driver pick us up around 8:30am. We stopped in Chinchero to see how they make the beautiful textiles. It was interesting to see. Next up was Ollanytaytambo. We spent two hours wondering around the site. The third stop was the Pisac terraces. We spent another hour there. It was raining when we arrived which is why we agreed to be picked up so quickly. It cleared up by the end of the hour. We could have spent many more hours there. Then back to Cusco. Our driver spoke very little English and we speak little Spanish but he was very nice and told us facts about the different areas. We didn’t hire guides at any of the sites. I can’t remember exactly how much we paid but I think it was around 200 soles. I think it was supposed to be 150 but we gave him a good tip. We were back in Cusco around 3:30.

The next day we stayed around Cusco and went to the local Incan sites via horseback (100 soles total). I wouldn’t really recommend the horses unless you just want a good story. It was fun but I wouldn’t do it again, especially after a large rain storm (it was very muddy). We went out to Tambomachay then back to Q’ente. We had to walk from Q’ente to Sacsayhuaman which went by the white Jesus. It was a beautiful morning and unfortunately I got sunburned. Not the best idea before a four day hike. After lunch we bought a bunch of souvenirs for family and friends. Then we had our pre-trek meeting that evening.

We were both really impressed with the restaurants that we went to. While we didn’t go to the most expensive we also did not do cheap. We had pizzas, alpaca, trout, sushi, etc. Everything was very reasonably priced (between $15-40USD for meals for the two of us) and we didn’t have a bad meal. However, someone did steal our credit card information at one of the restaurants. We are not 100% sure which one but we have a good idea. There were only a couple that took our card and didn’t bring the reader to the table. Really there was no harm done other than some annoyance and having to use the ATM more carefully the rest of the trip. We are smarter than that but after a beer and being in the sun all day, we let them take the card… Oh well.

We found the weather very comfortable. It was in the 50-60 range the whole trip. It did rain at least once every day. The night before our trek it was raining incredibly hard that there was standing and rushing water everywhere. Our jeans and tennis shoes were soaking wet, it really wasn’t the best smell when we returned…
Ayla_C is offline  
Jan 8th, 2014, 03:17 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Sounds like a great temperature to hike in.
colduphere is offline  
Jan 8th, 2014, 06:08 AM
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Bookmarking. (I need to learn a lot by May of this year.)
mr_go is offline  
Jan 8th, 2014, 12:25 PM
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Looking forward to the rest of your adventure.

Enrique and Miriam are dolls, aren't they? It was interesting to see where the 'regular' people live in Lima. Except for the rooster wake up call at 4 am.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 11th, 2014, 06:43 PM
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They were so very nice. We really enjoyed chatting with them in our Spanglish. They had a great dog named Candi too that reminded us of our dog back home.
Ayla_C is offline  
Jan 11th, 2014, 06:46 PM
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Inca Trail:
We hiked the standard 4 day, 3 night hike with Llama Path. We were very pleased with everything. There were 15 hikers, 3 guides, 22 porters and a cook. The porters were absolutely incredible.

The food was also incredible and everything tasted so good. Every meal we had some sort of starter, a soup and then plates and plates of food. They were very accommodating with special needs, one hiker needed gluten free and one was a vegetarian. The meals were actually one of the best experiences about the hike. The food and getting to know our fellow hikers. There were 4 from the UK, 2 Italians and the rest were from the US.

The hike itself was very challenging in parts but overall we really didn’t have any issues. We did very little training as well. Throughout the summer we went on a few hikes and we tried to climb up a “mountain” we have here in town every week. DH was usually towards the front of the group and I was usually in the middle of the pack. The second day was the most challenging going over Dead Woman’s Pass. It was raining really hard at that point so that didn’t help with the altitude and all the steps. I suggest making the steep climb up to Sayacmarca. It was very cloudy and again raining but it was really worth it. Even though we were tired and close to the camp site we figured we are only here once and this was something you could never get back to.

The third day was my favorite. It started raining again late on the second night and was very cloudy so we couldn’t see anything around the campsite. We woke up to a stunning view and blue skies. The third day had the best weather of the hike. It was sunny all day long. We pretty much had the sites of Intipata and Winay Winay to ourselves. It was just stunning. There were a lot of steps down hill though. My legs yearned for stairs going up which was weird after all the up from the second day.

Unfortunately, the last morning was very cloudy and we couldn’t see Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate. We continued down to Machu Picchu where we still couldn’t really see anything. It was somewhat disappointing but I tried to keep a positive attitude. Finally the clouds lifted and there it was. Machu Picchu was very crowded. It was quite a contrast to the previous three days. I really enjoyed Machu Picchu but it made me appreciate the day before laying in the grass at Intipata with only our group of hikers, sun shining, with a stunning view.

After our tour, DH and I wandered around. After a while though we were hungry so we met up with some others from our trek and took the bus down the mountain into Aguas Calientes. We were to meet our guides and the rest of the group at a restaurant. We all ordered some celebratory drinks and we bought the group picture they sell from the start of the trip. Our duffel bags that the porters carried were stored here at the restaurant. So after a couple hours drinking, eating and chatting we collected our duffels and made our way to the train station. The train took a couple hours to get back to Cusco and then they drove us to the square where we met the first morning. From here we had to leave the duffel bags and carry our things back to our hotel. I suggest putting everything in a plastic garbage bag so it adds another layer against the wet and is easier to carry back when you are dropped off. We crashed pretty quickly after getting back to the hotel. The hot showers were really, really nice after that long without.

Next up a packing list. Sorry this is taking so long, I'll eventually get it done.
Ayla_C is offline  
Jan 20th, 2014, 07:25 AM
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Packing List for Hike:
This was probably my biggest point of anxiety about the trip. We packed some things that we didn’t need (mostly first aid type things) but overall we were happy with our choices.

Osprey Stratos 24L: I really liked this bag and it was a good size for my things during the day. It had a rain cover which I used quite a bit. It was nicer than putting on my poncho and protected the backpack. In the day pack I had:

-camelback bladder (highly recommend, so much asier than reaching for a water bottle)
-rain jacket
-poncho (I only liked the poncho when it was raining really hard the second day)
-camera (I just had a point and shoot)
-baseball cap
-fleece hat
-Bug spray

DH backpack: DH is a big guy (6’6”) so he used a bigger REI brand backpacking pack and carried pretty much the same things plus he has a dSLR. The camera bag made his backpack look very full. He also carried our toiletries as he wanted to have his contact solution if there was a contact emergency.

Duffel Bag carried by the porters:
2 pairs hiking pants (wear one pair, pack the other)
3 short sleeve hiking shirts (I got moisture wicking sports shirts)
1 long sleeve midweight base layer (changed into at night after day of hiking, slept in)
1 pair fleece lined leggings (changed into at night and slept in)
3 pairs of lightweight wool socks with liners
Sleeping bag (we brought our own from home)
Hiking poles with rubber tips (I bought cheap poles at Walmart and we bought nicer tips online)
Waterproof hiking boots
-Vasque Mantra 2.0 GTX
I loved these shoes. They were so comfortably and I was really glad I had waterproof shoes. Some people didn’t and their feet were drenched but my feet were never wet. It was great. My husband wore a pair of Merrell waterproof boots. He was also very happy with his footwear decision. They were great to wear walking around in Cusco on all the cobblestones.

Overall, we were pretty pleased with our packing choices. I could have brought one more shirt so I had a clean one each day but by the end everyone was stinky so it didn’t really matter. We packed everything in ziplock sacks and the sleeping bag in a white garbage sack. Nothing got wet while we were hiking.
Ayla_C is offline  
Jan 20th, 2014, 07:39 AM
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The day after the hike we flew back to Lima for one night. We had a nice lunch but otherwise stayed in the hotel relaxing in the hot tub and enjoying the executive lounge. The attendant in the lounge was very nice and she taught us how to make Pisco Sours and a few other Pisco drinks.

The next day we wondered around the Miraflores area. We walked to the ocean and went to Huaca Pucllana. We had a nice lunch and then went on one the city tours. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. After another nice meal and our last pisco sours, we collected our luggage and took a taxi to the airport.

The End
Overall, we had the most amazing trip. We both would love to return to Peru and see all the other things that it had to offer. There is so much to do there.

One of our fellow hikers is a travel blogger and has a really great site. Here is the link to her much better recap of our hike with some beautiful pictures. She also listed her packing list and logistics. There are three posts about the hike but for anyone going to Peru (or Ecuador or SE Asia) she has a lot of great information.

Thanks for anyone following along!
Ayla_C is offline  
Jan 21st, 2014, 11:27 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 32,129
I am happy for you your waterproof hiking boots worked. Our waterproof boots met their match in Iceland. Wet feet are no fun.
colduphere is offline  

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