In a sign that we’re well and truly in the grips of a midlife crisis, my partner and I have decided to hike the Inca Trail to celebrate our 50th birthdays this year.
We thought that a trip to the 15th century Incan city, Machu Picchu, would make us feel young. After all, there’s nothing like standing beside a 600-plus year-old ruin to make you feel like a spring chicken.
Admittedly, after hiking for four days across mountainous terrain, possibly battling altitude sickness, we may feel like 90-year-olds.
We researched the various ways to visit Machu Picchu. One option is a day trip from Cusco taking a train and then bus up to the ruins.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous you can walk the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, both multi-day treks taking you through breathtaking scenery, with the highlight being the final walk into Machu Picchu as dawn breaks.
We decided on Intrepid Travel’s seven-day Inca Trail Express which includes trips to the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo, followed by the four-day Inca Trail hike.
You need a permit to travel the Inca Trail and the Peruvian Government limits the number of permits they issue, so make sure you book early.
The best time to visit is during the dry season (April to October). The most popular, and therefore busiest time, is June to August.
We’ve chosen to go in September so that we’re travelling outside peak season but still during dry season. We’re packing rain jackets just in case!
So now we’ve made the decision it’s time to put on our boots and start walking – we’ve got a lot of training ahead of us if we’re going to conquer a 45-kilometre hike through the Andes!
After all, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.