A Day on the Inca Trail – Climbing Dead Womans Pass

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Early starts are customary on the Inca Trail, and the guide woke us with the sunrise at around 6am. Luckily, the guides also provided a bowl of hot water to help us wake and freshen up. The hot water didn’t fully wake us but the crisp mountain air certainly did. After a healthy breakfast, the guide handed out snacks for the day ahead and it was time to start walking.

We left the camp site at around 7.30am with the guide setting a gentle pace at the front of the group.  On day 2 of the trail, the entire morning’s walk is up-hill, climbing from the camp at 3,000m to the highest point of the trek at 4,200m. The first couple of hours were spent climbing through lightly forested areas, and the guide stopped from time to time point out local flora and fauna. There were also frequent breaks to enjoy the beautiful views and a chance to catch our breath.

By 11.30am it was time to stop for lunch; which was taken at a scenic spot looking down the valley from where we had just climbed. Lunch is taken early on this day as this is best place to stop before making the final climb to the top of Dead Woman’s Pass. For lunch the cooks served a delicious hot meal, and there was time to re-fill our water bottles and relax before the walking re-commenced.

After lunch it was the toughest section of the entire trek, a strenuous 2 hour up-hill walk to the infamous (Warmiwañusqa) Dead Woman’s Pass! For this part of the walk there was no shade, and it was surprisingly hot with the sun beating down on us. The pace was slow. However, after a couple of hours we finally reached the top. At 4,200m the views from the pass were certainly worth the considerable effort, with snow-capped mountains over 5000 metres high surrounding us.

After soaking in the views, it was time to begin the descent to the camp site in the valley below. We arrived into the campsite in the late afternoon, and were greeted by another bowl of hot water, and the tents already pitched for us. There was time before dinner to relax and enjoy the stunning mountain scenery. Although once we had stopped the sun soon disappeared behind the mountains, and the temperature quickly plummeted, and we had to put on several layers in order to keep warm.

The food on the Inca Trail was undoubtedly fantastic, which is no mean feat for cooking high in the middle of Andes. Dinner was a 3 course meal, with large portions and this was taken in a communal group tent.  After dinner, the guide briefed us on the next day’s walk, and it was a good chance to quiz the guide with any question’s we had. Late nights were not a feature on the Inca Trail, and most people went to their tent to get a good night’s sleep after a tiring day’s walk.

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