I just carried 10kg for four days, hiking 42km to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. It was difficult, it was fantastic, and I can‘t believe I made it.
I didn‘t know that much about the trek before I started and had never done anything on that scale before. Our group was a mix of hardcore hikers – including a bison farmer, multiple marathon runners and gym enthusiasts – and the slightly less able. I was definitely in the latter group, but as a whole we were a quick bunch, making it to the campsite each night before the estimated arrival time.
Instead of bringing hiking boots all the way to South America for four days of use, I decided to hire a pair in Cusco. The first day they really hurt and I was longing for my sandals, but overall I paid 30 soles (the equivalent of about six pounds) and two blisters for my choice.
The walk was so beautiful it was breathtaking, especially on the third day. Winding paths with vertical edges dropping away into endless jungle, strange tunnels and rock formations, orchids and vines.
When we arrived at the Sun Gate, Machu Picchu was covered in mist. But after waiting for four days and countless steps, waiting a little longer was nothing. The city itself is incredible – perhaps what‘s most interesting is what we don‘t know about it. Theories abound, but new evidence and trails are being found all the time, and our ideas about what things meant are based on little.
What I will remember most of all, and probably the most unexpected thing, was how much we laughed. A mix of different nationalities and personalities led to a great number of jokes, and when you‘re at that high an altitude, exhausted and dazzled by everything, things just seem that much funnier.
I‘ll miss the people I walked with; the competitive Aussies and the chatty Americans, the pure comfort of talking to other Brits.