Hello, I am crazy. I hiked the Inca Trail for 4 days to get to Machu Picchu. Alongside were 2 tour guides, 19 porters, and 13 strangers who are quite possibly even crazier than me. I’ll spare you the details about how I ended up roughing it in Peru with a bunch of people I’ve never met before. Long story short, there was a mix-up with my Inca Trail permit so I ended up being placed into a separate group from my friends. Needless to say, I did make it to Machu Picchu alive, albeit smelling a bit stinky and looking a bit greasy, but let’s try to focus on the being alive part. I even made some new friends along the way.
Here are 10 things I learned hiking the Inca Trail:
3. Tourists are weaklings. After seeing our porters each carry 50 pounds on their back, I felt like one of those obese amorphous human blobs in Wall-e. Some weren’t even wearing proper hiking shoes. Apparently a porter once completed the 30 mile trek in 3 hours and 45 minutes.
4. Chewing coca leaves with a ball of banana and quinoa ashes is supposed to help with altitude sickness and boost your energy level. It gave my tongue and cheeks a numb and tingling sensation. Don’t bring these home with you to the U.S. or else you’ll get arrested. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
5. Agua de Florida: A mysterious bottle of Peruvian liquid that smells like a mixture of mint & lemons with floral undertones. Pour generously on hands, rub, and inhale to clear up sinuses. Our tour guide calls it “condor piss,” it supposedly helps with indigestion, diarrhea, altitude sickness, and a whole scrumptious load of other aches, pains, and illnesses. I am not sure that I am a believer.
6. A cake complete with frosting can somehow be baked in the wilderness. We were also served 3 course meals throughout the hike. I don’t know how those porters did it, I’m just happy I wasn’t depending solely on Clif Bars and Beef Jerky for sustenance.
7. Kiwis (New Zealanders) are a funny breed. I met three on this trip. They like to wear matching outfits, and they like to say things like “Gee Whiz.” When we asked them what their favorite place in California was while they were road-tripping along the West Coast, their consensus was Safeway: “It’s SO BIG.”
9. Posing creatively with llamas can be a real challenge, but rocking a hat made out of llama fur poses zero challenges. 10. If they ask you if you want to climb Wayna Picchu at the end of your 4-day hike, say no. The view is perfectly fine without hauling your butt up another crazy mountain. I’m just going to lay here now thank you very much.