Climbing the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

by Ilana Balaban and Netiva Caftori, Aug. 2006.

This was probably one of our hardest experiences in life, and we did it!

Also visited Cusco, Pisac and Lima

At OHare

In the Admiral room

Lima's 1st night

Ilana after her 1st shower

Theatro Inca Hostel

our hostel in Coscu

our 1st room there

the stairs to the dining room

Ilana outside our door

dining room


some other room

the roof

the glass ceiling

roof over Coscu

red tiles

stairs down side-way:)

sitting area in the middle

getting adjusted to the high altitude

Ilana in our Cusco street

street in Coscu

door way

another street in Coscu

Coscu street
Coscu is at 3600masl
3600 m above see level

Police woman in the big Plaza

Netiva at the plaza

green at the Plaza


Both of us

At the center fountain

People resting on benches

local costumes

walking up a side street

carrying child



one of many small markets

going up

Some special stones

People visiting this sacred place

touching the big stone

art gallery in Cozcu

another gallery

a restaurant with balcony


taking more pix


going down

or is it going up?

narrow street

wider street

another hostel

cross the street at your own risk

back to plaza d'armes

meeting an Israeli from taanachim

traditional hat & bag

Israeli restaurant

Eating humus w hot pitas

drinking mata de coca

happy together:)

Chalom Cachol


same street



same beggar

traditional clothing for a woman

wall painting near the market

the puma-one of Inca's symbols


Artisanal market

woman selling

Women weaving
A weaver

at another plaza

Near a live sculpture

Live sculpture

our new stick

our new baston

All reading the newspapers

Construction from a store

Pictures from a taxi

Going to Pisac from Coscu

on our 2nd day in Peru

Archeological site

See white Jesus far away

"Sexy woman" ruins

Carrying a load

Sale women along the road
Valle Sagrado

Sacred valley

Rio Urubamba O Wilcamayu

merchants on the road
Urubamba river

Driving and looking

Driving mostly on the right side

Stopping to see the river
and the valley

Pisac from above
Pisac closer

Look from above on Pisac

from the taxi


farm houses


Pisac market

at Pisac market

Cafes in Pisac


Restaurants in Pisaq


At the entrance to the bakery

Bread oven

Girls in search of photo opportunities

for a penny

a girl and its lamb

Child resting in market

Vegetable market in Pisaq

Women in traditional clothing

selling vegetables

at the Pisaq market

Alpaca genuine carpets

More vegetables merchants

and a dog

very colorful

baby on back


wood plates

authentic material

walking in the market of pisaq


chess boards in ceramic or metal

Masks & such

on the way back from Pisaq

Back toward Coscu

The road back

Donkey (Asno or buro)

One can see a bit of Cusco
in the distance

Still from the taxi's window

Driving back to Cusco


pronounced yamas of course

in Castillano

or Chechwan

or Imara

Cusco spread on the hills

1/2 a million habitants in Cusco

a big city

that looks like a village

at night you can feel it

back in downtown Cusco

the Cathedral

Ilana at the balcony

Netiva w the Cathedral

from the restaurant's balcony

3 women carrying babies

Focus across the plaza

the plaza at our feet

the cathedral

the 2 of us in natural colors

now with flash:)

morning of the 3rd day in Peru

1st day of our Inca trail

1st get on our bus

travel for 1.5 hours

thru villages

and fields
travelling thru the Sacred valley

getting gas

toward Ollantaytambo

to pick up our porters

Enjoying the scenery

from our bus

from the bus window

Arriving in Ollantaytambo

Buying sticks (bastones)

Back on the bus

towards our starting point

going through villages


Cows as fetish on the roof

to bring prosperity

Driving along side the river

sitting behind the driver now

nice landscape

waiting for the train to pass

amassing stones so can cross the rail

thru the bus window

waiting for the cows to pass

again the river

another train with lazy tourists

who are going straight to Aguas calientes

what would take us more than 3 days of walk

this river must have fascinated me:)

Didn't get the cows on the roof:(
We are now at 2600masl

Finally arrived to Piskacucho

at km 82

our cook and his assistant

prepared our lunch

with the help of the porters

Ilana and netiva are taking their 1st steps

along Urubamba river

another roof with cows, a bottle of wine and a bottle of beer

We are only 3 walkers

Ilana crosses the river 1st

almost white water
she's coming back?
nice hanging bridge

Now it's netiva's turn

full of energy on the 1st day

look at this smile

a donkey for some lucky porters

Sylvia, our guide gives us each 3 mata de coca leaves

to blow on and bury with 3 names of places we love

including Machu Picchu:)

Now we are really ready

Porters pass us by

Richard is our co-walker from Liverpool

a cavallero passes us by

Sylvia explains about the white bugs on the cactus giving red color for pigment & such

passing by villagers

with their baby

and piglet

selling stuff to walkers

Richard's back is hurting

another village

archeological site on the other side of the rail

Netiva & Sylvia

Ilana & Sylvia and the river

with Richard too

the 3 companions to this adventure

our 1st resting point

We only have 200m to climb

and 9 km to walk in 4 hours

"Easy" first day.

9 km=5.8 miles (nada:)
some landscape

my companions

The 2 adventurers

Cows on the way

We are approaching some site

valley at our feet

terraces below

more fascinating cows

climbing toward the archeological site

old habitations below


the cows are interested too

Sylvia is about to give her 1st speech

I follow the cows

they take their time

this may be from Inca's time

12th-15th centuries

or pre-Inca time

500 bc to 12th century

luckily Ilana took notes

meeting the lawyers from California for the 1st time

back on the trail

We were told it was easy

Poor porters

with 3 days worth of food

Starting our 2nd day

more refreshed

after a good night in a tent

and a good meal

It was a bit chilly

The 2nd day is greener

we'll walk 12 km thru rain forest

& climb 1300m up

That's the easy part

going down was worse

again our porters & Sylvia

Ilana is a good steady walker

some rain forest scenery

We had 4 porters & 2 cooks

But all carried our tents

Ilana is getting tired

jungle level out of 4 we'll experience

but the spirits are high

walk thru the wood

Sylvia was a great guide

The porters were great

Our bastones were good

a nice stream to keep us company
There were other walkers on the trail with us

They slept in different camp sites

A horse in the forest

porters of other campers

We kept on meeting same people

A field with llamas

a llama from close

Amazing how fast they walk

Ilana has her own camera

Dinner as it's being made

and served

by our young waiter

in a beautiful presentation

We are approaching the highest point of 4200 m

Some altitude sickness

but we are on a dieuretic pill
which helps a lot
Long line of walkers to the top

It gets colder near the top

We are walking toward the 1st pass--Dead Woman's pass
or Abra de warmi wanusca

Our lawyers and their guide

We have reached the summit

Hurray (13,776 ft)!

Satisfied and proud

It should get easier now coming down

but no:(

1st, 3 coca leaves again to blow on & bury, Kechwan tradition

Richard has some altitude sickness too

the stairs going down (700 m)

we run at 1st

but then it started raining:(

and got very slippery:(

Good to be in the warmth of our dining room tent

having tea 1st

then dinner. We are at Paqaymayu (3500m)

The 2nd hardest day is behind us

We hope the 3rd will be easier

but helas no:(

We wasted too much time

had a late start

maybe climbed too slow

from here "only" 2000 steps down

With the red head lawyer

Experiencing fluctuating weather

Richard puts on his warm hat

Taking a pose at Runkurakay
Sylvia explains about the ruins
most of which are not original

Can even see our camp site below
We are at 3800 m


looking smaller as we climb up

to reach the 2nd pass at 3950m

Black lake

from above

almost at the 2nd pass

hard climb

but happy to reach the 2nd pass at 3950 masl-Qochapata

very happy

for the last time today:(

going down was nice at 1st
seeing some lagoons called Qochapata

nice rocks
nice blue-green lake
which looks muddy as you get closer

nice paving stones

this is an original Inca trail
See the beautiful stones
under ilana's feet

We are going toward our lunch

some terraces facing a well preserved site

called ...
Sayaqmarka (inaccessible town)
We admire the stones

and the vegetation

Qonchamarca complex below

Richard is ahead

feeling better today

at lower altitude

above those terraces is our lunch camp

can't wait

but 1st an explanation from Sylvia

about the expedition led by Paul fejos in 1941

the site is now in the shade of a passing clowd

it should have been a warning

we are almost back to Cusco's altitude

Climbing toward sayaqmarka (3600m)

My rain puncho is drying

our knees are hurting already

Qonchamarca is known to have served for liturgical purposes

Nice view on the terraces site

we are getting closer

happy to get closer to my lunch


passing the site

& climbing up to our lunch

Nice short climb toward lunch

last going up

Last time you'll see my puncho

I'll lose it on the way down

Our dining-room tent

lunch is ready

We didn't have to wait for it

like yesterday

as usual, beautiful presentation & yummy

now going down

other lunch camps on the way

other walkers do only 2 short days or maybe 5 days.

we are very tired

going through the Inka tunnel

not too dark

and continue down

another 3-leaves blown


those are small

am very tired and low on water

Chaquiococha area (dry lake)

3rd mountain pass in sight: Phuyupatamarka

We won't camp at Phuyupatamarca (3680m) but at Winay Wayna much below

"Place over the clowds"

includes 6 liturgical fountains & a semi-circular military tower
From here we'll go down to intipata (2800 masl) & then
have to go down 1000m altogether till Winay wayna (2630m)

Need to get to camp before dark

Still long way down ahead of us

It's about to storm

We are exhausted

4th day: leaving at dawn

Slowly the day rises

We're going around Machu-Picchu mountain

a couple hours before we reach Machu-Picchu

Will we ever get there?

Last hard steps

Richard & Sylvia happy. We made it!!!

Clowds are menacing

At the sun gate

overlooking Machu-Picchu
We made it!

Before last picture, and then my battery died


Battery renewed back in Coscu where we see the school kids from our hostel's kitchen's window

same roof

With a british woman we met

our last breakfast in Coscu

At Mariel hotel in Lima again for our last night

Visiting Plaza major

Nice fountain & garden in its center

We are in a silly mood

Hardship finally over

Time to relax a bit

Those people listen to the strike's noise

a strike

what a noise!!!

a picture of green in a grey city

which has some pink and camel colors too

in a fancy little outdoor cafe


have some coffee with truffles

Trying some clothes at Alpaca's

the Cathedral

car-less street

with police
being very silly
some fun:)

church door

Vendors of candles near a church



Fish restaurant

our translator

menu was in Castilliano

ready for the taxi ride to the airport

my full bag before it was vandalized

happy to see our adventure over

we were a good couple

from the plane

the Andes

tired but happy


We are going 1st class

well deserved:)
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