The emotional roller coaster that is the Inca Trail!
Machu Picchu in Peru is truly magnificent. The moment you witness its pure historic and natural beauty is a moment you’ll remember for life. It rightfully is a ‘Wonder of the World’. However, as wonderful as it is, that’s the one emotion you won’t be experiencing while trekking for four days across the Inca Trail to see it in it’s glory! As spectacular as you’ll feel at the end of it, brace yourself for a series of intense emotions as you take on Peru’s most famous trek.
You’ve been counting down to this! It’s finally happening, the trek of a lifetime! All you can think about is how boss you look in your new trekking gear, all the incredible Instagram shots that you’re about to bank up in your camera roll and how crisp the air is you’re breathing outside. The excitement builds as you wait in the entry line to get that passport stamped. You take a quick picture at the welcome sign! You pass the bridge and start your walk! You’re smiling from ear to ear! This is going to be incredible!
Once you cross the train tracks and the welcome sign, it hits you. The first of the constant series of hills you’ll tackle on the way. You get to about halfway and you’re a little short of breath. You start to think about whether you’re fit enough for this? You though the first day was all about easing into it? Why are your feet hurting already? It all kind of hits you at once. Try not to have a major panic attack at this stage because, although it does get worse, the beauty that surrounds you is magnificent! Night one rolls around and as you zip up your tent and lay down on your uncomfortable pillow. You congratulate yourself on your first day’s success and dread the early morning ahead!
You wake up super tense and angry at your decision not to pay the extra $10 USD for a sleeping mattress. As you step outside and take in the incredible view at your tent’s doorstep, you’re now happy again. You’re tired, hungry and sore but also joyous, blown away and grateful. Day two is a confusing ride. As you walk up what feels like the 100th hill on one of the most physically challenging days, you ask yourself, who am I? When did you make the decision to do this? While you’re damn proud of yourself, you’re also very confused about it all. Oh look, there’s another hill!
Day two is one of the hardest days on the trek. You climb up and over Dead Woman’s Pass, which is the highest point you’ll reach on the trail! It’s 8 hours of pure physical cruelty that leaves your body completely exhausted. But on the plus side, there are some pretty impressive sites to be seen along the way. It’s like the trek is teasing you. You can’t believe what surrounds you every step of the way, but you’re kind of angry about it. Angry at the mountains, angry at yourself and angry at whoever’s idea it was to book this part of the trip! If you’re doing the trek with someone, it might be a good idea to walk at a different pace on day two!
By the time day three rolls around you’re absolutely gob smacked at how far you’ve come. You can’t actually believe how strong you’ve been throughout the whole trek and you’re pretty impressed with yourself! While eating breakfast to fuel yourself for the day ahead, a big surge of hope builds within you. You’re past the halfway point and it’s not too long until Machu Picchu is right in front of you! This renewed feeling of hope lasts for about 40 minutes until you hit a series of steps that lead you up to Runquraqay. Are you going to make it or will they have to call up the emergency donkey?
Positive feelings of excitement & anticipation start to roll in towards the end of day three. You’ve arrived at your final campsite and you can’t be any more relieved! The long, tiresome days are over and by 9am you’ll be at your prescribed destination. Tomorrow is the big day where you finally see the Inca sight of your dreams! You feel like cracking open a beer and celebrating into the beautiful night. That’s until you’re reminded of your 3am wake up call for tomorrow and realise you don’t have any beer because no one wanted to lug it around for four days…
You wake up at 3am kind of annoyed, but also so beyond pumped for the day ahead! Everything makes you smile. Even waiting out in the cold in the middle of the night in front of the entrance gate for the last bit of the trek. You’re excitement only builds as you approach the stunning Sun Gate and get your first glance of Machu Picchu. Another 90 minutes and you’ll be there! The anticipation only builds as you walk your final walk to the Inca sight! And once you get there, let me tell you your heart is just bursting with joy! You’ve bloody made it!
So sure, you can take the easy route and catch a train that takes an hour or so up to see the glorious Machu Picchu and avoid all of the above. But I’ll tell you now; the rollercoaster of emotions and hard work is all worth it. There is a whole new world to see out on the Inca Trail and a whole new side to yourself you’ll discover that you never knew was there. So put those hiking boots on, wrap a poncho around your waste and get ready for one of the toughest adventures of your life! Just remember to remain calm, keep going and take it all in!
Nikolina Koevska is a Radio/TV Personality. In the small amount of spare time she has, she loves nothing more than devouring a good cheese board, having a few cranberry vodkas with friends and binge watching tv shows. Follow her adventures on Instagram @nikolinak or via her website.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More India. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.