The Inca Trail
Along the Inca Trail through photos. I'm not going to dive into the details as I'm sure the internet can provide a better description so here's my photo diary of the trek.
Day 1 - "Easy"
Day 2 - "Holy $%^*"
Day 3 - "Inca Flat? More like Inca up and down and then up and down again..."
Day 4 - "Arrival"
Where did you stay in Peru? I stayed at the Pariwana Hostel in Cusco. The hostel itself was pretty central and was a 5ish minute walk away from Plaza de Armas. I opted to get a private room with my own private bathroom. I don't remember the exact price, but I think it was something around 20-30 dollars a night. The hostel itself felt really clean and everyone was nice. You can leave your bags there while you hike the trail. I met some really cool and inspiring people that stayed at the hostel. The hostel also has themed entertainment nights such as salsa lessons, beer pong competitions (which I won representing the USA and got two free nights!), table tennis competitions, and etc. The food at the hostel was also nice and cheap. What group did you use to hike the Inca Trail? I made my reservations with a company called Inca Trail Reservations. The company was pretty prompt with answering any questions and sending my permit documents. They also had a meeting with me the night prior to the hike, which was pretty assuring. My tour guide was excellent and the porters were amazing. The porters are the heart and soul of the hike, as without them, I feel most wouldn't make it. Also, don't forget to think about giving a tip to the guides, chef, and porters at the end of the hike. Others in my group also donated extra clothes to the porters. There are many other Inca Trail guide groups, and I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. Some other groups that stood out to me were "Llama Path" and "SAS". Essentially all the different companies hike together on the Inca Trail, set up camp at the same sites, so you'll definitely see other groups while you're hiking, but the trail never feels crowded as everyone hikes at their own pace. The groups also seemed the same, except the groups might differ in the food they cook, shirts they wear, and speaking points. Be sure to book with a licensed tour group: http://www.incatrailperu.com/inca_trail_tour_operators.html Did you stay in Agua Calientes? Nope, the hike ends in Agua Calientes and you get to spend a little bit of time in the town before you head back to Ollyantaytambo, but I do recommend stay in Agua Calientes if you get the chance. There were plenty of restaurants and shops to take up a day or two. It wouldn't hurt to stop by and relax in the hot springs after the hike either. There are shops that rent bathing suits, but that doesn't really seem too hygienic so I would probably bring something if you plan on partaking in this hot spring stuff. Was the hike hard? Personally, I don't think the hike was that difficult, but I'm a pretty active individual. I was always the first person to the camp sites in my group, but I had two Norwegian brothers in their 70s and two Norwegian women in their 60s that completed the hike. One of the brothers was due for a knee replacement a month later so there really aren't any excuses that should keep you from the trail. The most important advice I would give to any interested individuals is to give yourself 2-3 days in Cusco before the hike to acclimate to the altitude. I wasn't affected, but I definitely heard stories and saw some people struggle. I didn't have any problems, but I like to think I still have Colorado lungs. Also, lose the ego and opt in for porter services! We had two people in my group that didn't use a porter and they definitely had a more difficult time. How far ahead did you book? I completed the hike in June 2015 and booked my flight and Inca Trail permit in January 2015. Though, I would recommend booking at least seven months in advance as looking for permits in January for June hiking dates were getting pretty scarce.