Peru, South America, Travel

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

January 27, 2015

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

From an easy hike to the tough stretch up Dead Woman’s Pass, the first two days along the Inca Trail were eye-opening. It was hard to believe that we were actually there in South America, finally ticking this adventure off the bucket list. Click here to read about my experience on the first two days hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. 

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Pacaymayo to Wiñaywayna • Distance: 16km

This morning began differently to the previous day. Disaster had struck. Rather than the usual morning wakeup call from the porters, I awoke to the sound of my churning stomach and an awful pain in the gut. I guess you could say that the chances of getting sick while travelling through South America are pretty high. Unfortunately for me, my spout of what I will just call ‘Peruvian Belly’ hit me on the third morning of the Inca Trail. Talk about excellent timing!

I was not in a good state at 5.30am, so that morning all I managed to do was quickly get changed into my walking gear, throw in my contacts and pack my day bag. Despite my best efforts to eat breakfast, instead I found myself making my way down in a scuffle to the filthy campsite toilets. It was in that moment that I knew today was not going to be a good one – healthwise anyways. All I could do was pop a few tablets and hope for the best.

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

We were in for our longest day of hiking – leaving the campsite at 7am and arriving at 5:30pm that evening. The first section of the hike was slightly uphill, but it was nothing compared to the previous day. We had a brief stop at the Inca site, Runkaracay. This would be the first of many Inca sites we would pass on the third day, a sign that we were getting closer to the one and only Machu Picchu.

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

We began on the Runkurakay Pass which would lead to the highest point of the day (3950m), before making our way down the descent. I stuck towards the back of the group for this section. We were determined to keep going, and we made it easier for ourselves by breaking the hike into different sections. With the aim of reaching a certain section of the trail insight, we continued on and would have a short break at each of our marking points. We were completing the trail quite well this way, and our constant short stops gave us time to enjoy the landscape of the trail, the mystical mountains surrounding us and spot the few lakes hidden within the mountains on the way up.

Making it to the highest point of the day was such a relief, it was only going to get easier from now on – even if my stomach was killing me! After a quick nibble of a muesli bar and rehydrating, I met the rest of our group on a higher spot amongst the rocks at the top of the path. One by one, I scaled the edge of each rock to the peak of the rock formation. What an amazing view of the mountain valleys on each side this point gave!

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

It was mostly downhill from there, this was made easier by my sister who lent me another walking stick to help me out. We reached the Inca site, Sayacmarca, which is only accessible by climbing up a steep, narrow staircase. Our guides explained more of the Inca culture and the purpose of the layout of this particular site, before our group was given time to explore. Many people of the group agreed that this was their favourite Inca ruin along the trail.

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Back down the terrifying steps we went, and veered left of the trail. I had previously read on other travel blogs that the third day is the one full of incredible views, and I was not disappointed; this part of the trail constantly left me in awe of the beautiful sights. We wound our way around the mountains, along the cliff side and through caves. We were literally walking amongst the clouds, it’s no surprise why they call this section the cloud forest. Surrounded by plenty of greenery and flora, the trail was so tranquil and lovely. It wasn’t too difficult either – no wonder it was my favourite part of the trail.

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

We stopped for our last lunch with the porters, with the chefs treating everyone to a special buffet meal. Despite how delicious it looked, I kept with some asparagus soup and tea (a mixture of black tea and celery) to help settle my stomach. From our lunch spot, we had our first view of the Machu Picchu mountain – we were so close!

We set off again just after it started to drizzle. It was only a light shower, so it didn’t warrant us to pull out our bright blue ponchos (unfortunately). From here, the only direction we would be walking was down! Picking up a great rhythm and walking speed, we absolutely gunned it down the slope and surprisingly, we didn’t have to rely on our walking sticks to keep it steady. After a quick stop at the Phuyupatamarca Ruins, off we went again at a good pace. Despite being known as the Gringo Killer, the trail wasn’t too hard or bumpy. Our main concern was being bowled over by one of the porters who would whiz past us at an incredible pace. We must have been moving pretty fast ourselves, with one group calling out ‘porters’ as we moved up to over take them – yes, what an ego boost!

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Passing by an electricity tower made us aware that we were getting close to civilisation. In the distance we could see a magnificent Inca site. Intipata and Wiñay Wayna would be the last ruins we visited along the Inca Trail before Machu Picchu. This site was the most impressive one we had seen along the Inca Trail so far. Not only were the staggered terraces on the steep mountain front quite remarkable, the view ahead of us of the mountain valley was majestic. From within the thick vegetation, we could see our campsite in the distance. Our group spent quite a bit of time just admiring the site and the view, as well as taking advantage of the time for the perfect photo-ops.

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

After settling in to our campsite and having our final dinner along the trail, our chefs and porters surprised us with a little something they had baked up. They brought out a chocolate sponge-cake with pink jelly and our family name Sexy Alpacas iced on the top in pink. We were all in bed very early this evening, with the final day starting very soon.

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Wiñaywayna to Machu Picchu • Distance: 11km

The final day actually began in the middle of the night, with our early morning wakeup call at 3.30am. We quickly scoffed down our breakfast and said our final goodbyes to the porters who would be leaving on the train back to Cusco at 5:30am. With our headlamps on, we set off down the dimly lit trail to the camp gate by 4:30am. All of the hiking groups were to queue up from the gate, and would continue in this order while hiking to Machu Picchu. We were amongst the first in line at the gate to begin the final leg of the hike at 5:30am.

We were warned by our guides to be careful in the last section of the hike, as it is notoriously known for being one of the dangerous areas. This is due to those who try to race each other to be the first person to reach the Sun Gate and get the first view of Machu Picchu. We set off along the trail at a faster speed than normal, which was a little disappointing because we didn’t really get the chance to stop and admire the beautiful scenery of the day. We tried to keep to the mountain-side of the trail, as many eager hikers tried to scramble past us in the dark on the narrow, cliff side trail.

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

It took us about an hour to reach the Sun Gate. In order to reach this point, we had to climb up a set of monkey steps with our hands. I would’ve taken a photo to show you how steep these steps were, but I was too busy concentrating on avoiding slipping and tumbling down the rocks. When we finally reached the Sun Gate and were able to get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu – there in the distance was the what we had been waiting for. All of the difficulties and challenges we faced during the previous few days were forgotten and every difficult part of the trail was completely worth it! After taking a few group photos, we continued on down the trail for an hour before arriving at Machu Picchu. We had conquered the Inca Trail and made it to one of the Wonders of the World  – without too many difficulties!

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

It was there that we were met with the sudden crowds of people who had arrived by train that morning. I think people felt a little sympathetic for us as we had hiked the four days here, and they could tell by the state of our appearance, despite our freshness from our baby wipe showers! Many of the other tourists, moved aside to let our group get the token ‘Machu Picchu’ shot before we headed down to the entrance for a quick refresher. We then realised how gross we were looking and feeling, and it’s funny, I don’t think anyone in our group had ever been so happy to see a clean, flushing toilet. Sorry to the people we frightened with our high-pitched squeals when we walked into the spotless restrooms.

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4 Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

After grabbing a bite to eat, we reentered the site and continued on a walking tour around Machu Picchu before exploring the site ourselves. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the site and discovering all of the different parts of the huge Inca city. No words are needed to describe this historic place, instead I will share with you how we captured it in pictures…

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Hiking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: Day 3 & 4

Have you hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? How did you find the trek?

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  • Reply Holly Hollyson January 28, 2015 at 6:15 am

    My sister did this. It looks amazing, I would love to give it a try before I get too old! It looks tough.

    • Reply Kelly Ross February 1, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Yes, go for it Holly! It’s a tough hike but not too difficult! 100% worth it 🙂

  • Reply Tara January 28, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Congratulations on completing your Inca trek, definitely a wonderful accomplishment! I hope to some day do it, when I visited Machu Picchu I took the train but I did hike up Wayna Picchu and that was definitely something I will always remember 🙂

    • Reply Kelly Ross February 1, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you Tara! It was a lot of fun and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I’ve heard that the hike up Wayna Picchu is super challenging! Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to do that while I was there, so I’ll have to go back! 😉

  • Reply Marie @ Life is a Highway January 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    What a grand adventure! Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos with us!

    • Reply Kelly Ross February 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      No worries Marie! It was such a great hike 🙂

  • Reply Stephen Jones - A Thousand Miles January 29, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Absolutely stunning! Though, I don’t know how I’d go at walking in the dark! But I’m not going to let that stop me. 🙂 Hopefully I won’t suffer from the same Peruvian Belly. But, as travellers, we have to put up with that all the time!

    • Reply Kelly Ross February 1, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks Stephen! Yes, it was a little difficult at first but it was only for a little section of the trail before the sun came up. I definitely wouldn’t wish the ‘Peruvian belly’ upon anyone. And yes, it’s the one thing that we have to put up with and I swear it always happens at the worst of times! 😛

  • Reply Leah February 3, 2015 at 3:34 am

    Aww these photos are so beautiful! They take me right back to my own trek on the Inca Trail. I found it to be far more difficult than I expected, but I think that was largely due to the terrible weather we had roughly 50% of the time. Numb (and wet) hands, feet and faces were hard to recover from. But when the weather cooperated, the views were so spectacular. That trip will always have a special place in my heart!

    • Reply Kelly Ross February 6, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you Leah! That’s a shame about the weather. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to hike along those rocky tracks in the wet. I’m glad you still had a fantastic time! 🙂

  • Reply Paula Wheeler @ A Travelers Postcard February 5, 2015 at 6:21 am

    What a wonderful journey and experience (minus Peruvian belly). I’ve looked into doing this myself – your post has inspired me not to take the easy route (train).

    • Reply Kelly Ross February 6, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      I’m glad this post has inspired you to do the Inca Trail! It’s incredible and you won’t regret it! 🙂

  • Reply Andrea @ GreenAndTurquoise February 6, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Oh I want to go to Machu Picchu so badly, I am insanely jealous!
    And hiking the Inca Trail looks like good hard fun, but I think I need to work a little on my leg muscles before I go! 🙂
    Thanks for inspiring me to start making serious plans.
    Happy Travels!

    • Reply Kelly Ross February 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Definitely put it up to the top of your bucket list! Yes, I do recommend a little hiking training before you go 🙂 You’re welcome Andrea! Happy travels x

  • Reply Travel Bloggers Reveal: Their Most Incredible Travel Moments • Endlessly Exploring April 22, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    […] me what my best travel moment is – this day always comes to mind. That is, the day that I finished the Inca Trail and arrived at the spectacular Machu Picchu in Peru. Visiting this remarkable site had been on the […]

  • Reply Angelika March 11, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Hi there,

    Just wondering how much you tip the porters/chefs/guides…and how it works??

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