Oddly enough, this day was probably my favorite part of the trail.

I was exhausted and un-showered, yet I was running on adrenaline because we were so close! We had also been told that Day 2 was the hardest, so I assumed today would be a breeze.

Not really. Actually, I found it harder. This was a loooong day. I think it was my favorite because it wasn’t what I was expecting (in a good way).

DAY 3 

Once again, we were woken up with some hot coca tea at 4:30 am.

We all groggily ate breakfast and started on the trail. The first part of the morning was uphill, though the rest of the day was downhill. I thought downhill would be easier, but my legs were shaking by the end of it. It was really misty and kind of cold in the morning, so I was half shivering yet sweating under all of my layers. Then it started POURING rain, right as we approached these cool ruins on top of a hill.* Our guides said we could split up and those who wanted to see the ruins up-close could take the detour, and the rest could head to lunch. Being the lazy fool that I am, I skipped the ruins so I could sit down at lunch and immediately regretted it. By the time we got to our tent for lunch, we were soaking wet and the rain kept coming down. The rest of the group arrived shortly after and said it was amazing, beautiful, so worth it, etc. Ugh. I took of my shoes and tried to dry my clothes as much as possible for the 30 minutes.

*I was tempted to look at an itinerary or something to find the names of all of the ruins we passed, but I figured that was inauthentic because I wasn’t even paying attention to the names at the time

After lunch, we put our damp shoes back on and started the trail again. Then we spent HOURS hiking down wet stairs – scary! For the rest of the day, the beauty of the trail truly shocked me. I knew that we had the big finale tomorrow, but I wasn’t expecting all of the stunning views we saw today! We started walking through a jungle type area full of Incan passageways and trail openings that peaked out in to the clouds. It’s referred to as a “cloud forest” because you’re in a jungle microclimate high up in the mountains.

After lunch, we put our damp shoes back on and started the trail again. Then we spent HOURS hiking down wet stairs – scary! For the rest of the day, the beauty of the trail truly shocked me. I knew that we had the big finale tomorrow, but I wasn’t expecting all of the stunning views we saw today! We started walking through a jungle type area full of Incan passageways and trail openings that peaked out in to the clouds. It’s referred to as a “cloud forest” because you’re in a jungle microclimate high up in the mountains.

After more and more walking, we reached the Winay Wayna** ruins. They were huge, sprawling terraces overlooking this insanely beautiful valley. Something about it was just so majestic, yet serene. The pictures don’t really do it justice – the view was breathtaking. I think I deep down enjoyed this part of the hike more than Machu Picchu!! The best part? We could see Aguas Calientes, the little town, far far down. That means we were close! Or so I thought.

**OK, I looked the name of these ruins because I had to know. I knew it was Winya something because that’s what the campsite was called.

We hung out on the mountainside soaking in the view for a bit, but we were chasing daylight and had to continue on our way. I think we hiked another hour or so (it felt like more), and arrived at the campsite after dark. This campsite was HUGE. There were so many tents set up that it took us a while to get to our tents. Surprisingly, there were working showers throughout, but we all chose not to shower because we were pretty cold at that point. Luckily when we got to our tents, the porters had set up warm buckets of water for everyone to wash off with.

Dinner that last night was really fun, the guides gave us some detailed history about the Incans, their growth, and how the Spanish acquisition basically destroyed the advanced civilization they created. It was really interesting and I’ve been meaning to do some more research about it. After the meal, they whipped out some sort of Peruvian liquor, and we all did shots!

Before bed, we had the chance to say goodbye to the porters. We went one by one and told them what our favorite part of the trail was, and how thankful we were to have them with us. This was our last opportunity to tip them, because they would run ahead in the morning to get to Machu Picchu and catch the train from Aguas Caliente back to Cusco with our stuff.

Our guides told us to be ready at 4:00 am for breakfast so we could get to the front of the line before finishing the rest of the trail. We had a longer day ahead than I expected.

 

To be continued…..

Related Post : Hiking Inca Trail day 1 & 2