This trip is simply amazing, hard work in places but as our guide said, "Take your time" and you will get there. The stunning views and the whole experience is worth your hard effort and this has to be one of the best trips I've ever done.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Many things made this trip inspirational; admiration for our porters, getting to know my fellow Exodus travellers, the amazing Inca architecture, the stunning vistas round every turn ... but the highlight for me was reaching the Sun Gate after four days trekking up and down passes. The first views of Machu Picchu were simply awesome; made all the more impressive as we had worked really hard to get there and felt like we owned them more than the day trippers! It was a special moment that will live with me for always.
- What did you think of your group leader?
"Fab" was a good group leader, always there with practical information and local knowledge. His patience and encouragement on the trek was appreciated and for me he found the right balance of leadership with a laid back style. He also managed to stay looking pristine on the trek ... we want to know his secret!
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Follow the trip notes! The advice they give is accurate and a good starting point. In addition take ‘baby wipes’ which help keep smells at bay, especially as it can get quite hot in the day. We were glad we'd taken a fresh t-shirt for each day and sports (moisture wicking) ones are best ... you will sweat with the effort even if it's cooler, particularly on Trek Day 2! It can get cold at night and at the top of Dead Woman's Pass, so don't forget the layers too. A poncho is also a worthwhile investment as it will cover your day pack should it rain. They're cheap enough from Cuzco.
Trekking poles were a godsend for me as I have an old knee injury. The descent after Dead Woman's Pass in particular is difficult if you do have bad knees and it will take you longer to get to camp, so do think about this trip if you would not be able to get down steep uneven stone steps that continue for ages! However, if you can manage it with poles, even if it takes you longer than the group, in my opinion it's still worth it. Get practicing beforehand though by swapping any lifts for stairs!
Don't forget spare batteries for your cameras ... and even an auxiliary compact camera if you have one! Whilst I didn't need to use mine myself, it came in handy for a fellow trip member whose camera packed up whilst walking round Machu Picchu itself!
Oh, and if you like your cocktails, do try a Pisco Sour!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
I was amazed at the number of toilet facilities (albeit basic, and sometimes smelly) along the trek. Our guides kept us informed of where they were and so there was no need for any emergency bushes stops along the route ... which was just as well as some places were quite exposed, and so would I have been!!! Camp is also set up with its own attended toilet tent each time. Having said all that, ladies, it may still be worth investing in a "she-wee" just in case and don't forget your toilet roll and hand sanitizer for the trek!!
Also, I hadn't expected to come across the odd pop up shop, which allowed you to buy bottled water and other drinks. Admittedly they are few and far between after Trek Day 1, but do have some local money to hand should the opportunity arise.
Finally, remember to get your passport stamped! Whilst Machu Picchu has the prettiest one, others are available at checkpoints you go through, though you sometimes have to ask.