Day 16: Day 2 of the Inca Trail – Wayllabamba to Paq’aymayo

Well our wake up came sharp at 5:30, but to be honest I was awake long before then. You see, we go to bed right after dinner…which means about 7-8 pm! Our campsite was at the back of a farm, so throughout the night we heard dogs howling and fighting, and by about 3am the roosters started to crow! Must remember to put my earplugs in tomorrow night!!

Each morning they would come to our tent with coca tea and a basin of warm water for washing up (by the way, they also brought a basin of warm water to our tents when we arrived last night after trekking!)

We had about half an hour to do our ablutions, and get our gear ready to go…that means all sleeping stuff back into the duffles so the porters can get the tents down while we are eating breakfast…It’s a well oiled machine I tell ya! We were even able to get the porters to take a break long enough to pose for a group picture!

And here is a map of the whole route….see that big peak? Yup, that’s what we are tackling today! A big assent to 4,215 m then descend to our campsite at about 3,800 m.

The wonderful thing about this leg was that we began to see some wild orchids….which apparently love high altitude!

The vistas were amazing from wonderful mountain majesty to babbling brooks over moss covered rocks!

The dreaded Incan Stairs were never far away, but porters made short work of them while we rested and watched!

In this picture you can see the direction of the pass…it’s just left of the middle of the photo. And it’s still a very very long way off!

Breaks were taken on a regular basis. Here we see Dan in the foreground with our guides Henry and Rosa on the right.

And here we see even more steps….the oxygen levels were thinning out with every step we climbed…it got to the point hat we would climb about 6 steps, then stop and get our heart rates down before repeating this…and that’s trying the technique of zigzagging the stairs wherever they were wide enough to do so. We also discovered that these stairs are made for giants!!! With step lifts of up to 40 cm it’s a struggle for these old knees, even with hiking poles.!

Finally we all made it! ( guess who was last and second last…and proud of it!!!)

And now for the descent!

Even in all this pain, I could find simple pleasures with the hardy and beautiful plants that struggle to survive in this harsh climate!

On our descent we were treated to another fine 2 course lunch, and then enthusiastically greeted by our porters once again at the end of our day’s trek. At 5, we had tea and snacks, and 6 it was supper time..we were all HAPPY to crawl into our beds by 7:30! Below, you can see the picture taken of the back side of the pass. Tonight there were no farms close by, but at 3,800m, it was going to be a cold one! We no sooner got into our tents than the skies opened up with a fantastic thunderstorm! (Yes, I forgot to mention that while the forecast had been calling for rain the two previous days, we actually had bright sunshine!). Let’s hope our luck lasts!! The views have been spectacular!

Categories: A South American Adventure


  1. Beautiful pics of a great adventure ! I am exhausted just looking at the climbs involved. Can’t wait to see more

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. Fantastic journey! Love your stories. Great pictures. Have a safe trip.


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