The Inca Trail is arguably one of the most famous trails to hike in the world and as someone who loves to stray from the beaten path when traveling I was wary that I would find the trail to be a cliched tourist attraction instead of the awe inspiring history filled journey it is promised to be. Fortunately, from the moment we had our pre-trek briefing with Explorandes the experience surpassed my every expectation.
The natural beauty of the trail was astounding and was made even better by the fact that for most of our time on the trail we didn’t come across any other groups of hikers. Explorandes´ longer itinerary and privately-owned campsite on the first night meant that we were sticking to a different itinerary to other groups. We had Inca ruins and spectacular views over mountain ranges all to ourselves. The longer itinerary also meant that on the 4th day on the trail we weren’t rushing to leave camp at the same time as everyone else. We got to take our time enjoying our final kms on the trail and relishing the achievement of walking through the Sun Gate and getting our first glimpse of Machu Picchu.
The food on the trail was an absolute highlight and has set me up with very unrealistic expectations for all future hiking trips. Cups of hot coca tea and warm breakfasts woke us up in the morning and fueled us to hit the trail and make the most of the day ahead. At lunchtime, we would sit down to bowls of hearty soup and a delicious main course and dinner was always three courses of flavorful and interesting food. As if this wasn’t enough, we were also treated to teatime each day once we arrived to camp with hot chocolates, popcorn and a favorite Peruvian snack, tequeños with guacamole. The cook and his team were incredibly resourceful and the promise of delicious food at each stop kept us motivated even on the highest passes.
Our guide, Harry, was professional and had a wealth of knowledge about Inca history and the flora and fauna on the trail but at the same time was always up for sharing a joke and joining us for our nightly card games. We were all amazed at the strength and speed of the porters and at the measures that all the Explorandes staff went to to ensure our camps were set up before we arrived and that we had all the facilities we needed. They even went to the effort of including some extra comforts for us such as warm water to wash up with every morning and evening, hot drinks served to us in our tents first thing in the morning, and our own toilets for every lunch break and at all the campsites. This was all managed far from any town and at altitude too!
Explorandes was the first company to guide treks on the Inca Trail and throughout its many years of operating has created strong relationships with the local communities. Their staff who work on the trail come from the local communities and the company uses as much produce as possible from these communities. When you see how hard everyone works to make sure you have a great experience on the trail you will certainly appreciate that your trek is contributing to the communities whose lives are impacted by the tourism on the trail.
Another added bonus of choosing to trek with Explorandes was knowing that the trek was being managed in the most sustainable way possible. Explorandes endeavors to use as little plastic as possible and provides natural environmentally friendly soap, insect spray and hand sanitizer to be used in camp. They also divide their waste into organic and non-organic categories so that it can be processed properly once it has been carried out.
The Inca Trail has easily become one of my favorite travel experiences. If incredible scenery, fascinating history, great food and traveling sustainably appeals to you then hiking the Inca Trail with Explorandes is an absolute must.