5 steps to conquering the Inca trail…and enjoying it!

The Inca trail is one of the most popular treks in Peru. Starting from Chillca, it ends in Machu Pacchu, the lost city of the Incas. The Inca trail is however a moderately difficult trek, and preparing well for the trek would help in making the hike that much more easier and fun! πŸ™‚ Here are 5 steps to ensuring that you’re well prepared –

1. Plan your itinerary and book in advance– the hike to Machu Picchu can be done in as few as two days, to five days. We did a four day variant, covering about 45kms over four days. The distance covered and level of difficulty varies with the option you choose (the five day hike is easier but also longer, although it goes up till a higher altitude). Due to the hike being above 10,000 ft for the most part, it is also important to factor in a few days at Cusco to help the body acclimatize. Two – three days are usually enough for most people. Make sure you book well in advance as only 500 passes to the trail are released each day, and they tend to get over pretty quickly.

2. Health check and Diamox – make sure you get a health check up done. Get the necessary shots, and also a prescription for Diamox (helps you deal with altitude sickness). It is debatable whether you would need Diamox or not as different people react differently to the altitude, but unless you’ve done high altitude treks before, best you’re well prepared. Be warned though – Diamox has side effects such as tingling.

3. Get the right gear – although you don’t really need anything special for the trek, having a shell jacket and shell trousers can be very useful, especially if you go in the rainy season. Hiking poles, sleeping bags, gaiters are again useful to have. Three things that I found super helpful – hand sanitizers, baby wipes, and a headlamp!

4. Train! – While you’ll be able to do the hike even if you’re not the fittest person ever, a little bit of training before the hike can go a long way in helping you manage the trek and enjoy it while it lasts. At high altitudes, your fitness levels can definitely make a difference in terms of how quickly you get tired or exhausted. The second day of the hike in particular is fairly hard as it has a long and steady ascent to the highest point in the trek (Dead woman’s pass). Just half an hour of jogging a few weeks before the hike should do! πŸ™‚

5. Do your research – Make sure you do some preliminary research on Cusco, Machu Picchu and the trail in general before you go. This is an area rich in history, and having some background beforehand would really help you appreciate the beauty of the place.

Sounds hard? Here are some pictures that will hopefully motivate you. The effort is well worth it! πŸ™‚

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Hiking in Chile – The W trail

I hiked for five days in Chile before leaving for my awesome trip to Antarctica. Chile was a big surprise – for someone who has hiked in the Himalayas before and is not new to scenic beauty, Chile is a very beautiful country. We did the W trail, a W-shaped trail in the Patagonia region that covers the famous “Torres del Paine“. The three granite towers (Cordillera del Paine) are very much a worth-the-effort sight. I absolutely loved this hike. I come back from this trip with a new sense of how much I like traveling and being in the outdoors. I hope I continue to get the opportunity to go on such amazing trips for the rest of my life! πŸ™‚ And I would encourage everyone to visit Chile once in their lifetime – it’s not a very touristy country, which makes all the more beautiful!

King George Island, Antarctica!

I had one of the most memorable winter breaks this time – I was in Antarctica!! Through the Wharton Leadership Ventures, I got an opportunity to spend 6 incredible days in King George Island, Antarctica. It was cold, wet, and beautiful.

This was the first time I was hiking with all my stuff in my backpack, and my first time camping – and I loved every minute of it! Sleeping in a sleeping bag, making our own food, devouring as many as five SnickersΒ  bars in a day and still feeling hungry, it was awesome! πŸ˜€

My favorite part was the day we had to hike across a glacier to reach our next campsite. It was completely white all around, I’ve never seen so much white! Plus, the snow was knee deep making it not very easy to walk. I got very hot while hiking, but then the body would cool down really fast as we stopped. It was a delicate balance to maintain.

Overall, it was indeed a once in a lifetime experience. It will forever stay etched in my memory as one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had so far.

Sharing photographs in batches. It was not easy to carry an SLR especially with all the other weight I was lugging around. Also, I was always in a team trying to get to a destination so it wasn’t always possible to stop. And most importantly, each time I wanted to take a photograph, I had to remove many layers before I could handle the camera πŸ˜€ Even so, sharing what I managed to capture. Hope you enjoy them! πŸ™‚

Trek to Pindari glacier – I

I recently went for a trek to the Pindari glacier. The trek in itself lasted for eight days, and offered some awesome scenic views, especially towards the later half of the trek. We stayed in KMVN huts at various spots along the way. Our itinerary was as follows –

Day 1 – Drive from Bageshwar to Loharkhet. Trek 9 kms from Loharkhet to Dhakuri

Day 2 – Trek 7 kms from Dhakuri to a village called Khati

Day 3 – Trek 11 kms from Khati to Dwali

Day 4 – Trek 5 kms from Dwali to Phurkiya

Day 5 – Trek 14 kms Phurkiya to Pindari, and back to Phurkiya

Rest of the days, we just retraced Β our path back, with lesser number of stops and more distance covered each day. This was a fairly easy trek, as long as one does not have any knee problems. The scenery, while fairly usual in the beginning , becomes good Dwali onwards. We even spotted a bear on our way to Phurkiya!

Following are some of my captures along the way. Will be posting more soon! πŸ™‚

The trekking route near Dhakuri

One of the many waterfalls along the way

As one approaches the glacier. Imagine living in that hut!

Snow capped peaks

This photograph has not come out well, but I still loved how the pollen and insects glowed in the sunlight!

Found many sheep. They're really woolly to touch πŸ™‚

This was a fantastic sight! A herd of sheep crossing a glacier! Was amazing! πŸ™‚