I really wanted to hike the Inca Trail. Correction: I really wanted to want to hike the Inca Trail.
You get badass points for hiking and camping for four days in the high altitude and freezing weather on the way to Machu Picchu. But in order to do that you have to, you know, hike and camp for four days in the high altitude and freezing weather. As much as I wanted to enjoy the choice views, this didn’t really seem like a good time to me.
I’m not much of a hiker. In fact, my family has made fun of me because I don’t really like hiking (who doesn’t like hiking, they ask – it’s just like walking!) But I don’t. I spend too much time looking at my feet and trying not to trip over something that I generally don’t enjoy the views afforded to you by going up on foot.
And while I love camping, its usually of the car camping variety and doesn’t require me to schlep a sleeping bag rated for below freezing temperatures, a sleeping mat, and several rolls of toilet paper. I’m more of the inflatable bed and pillows kind of camper. One of the amenities offered by one of the hiking companies is that they give you a small bowl of hot water every day to give yourself a mini bath with. For four days, that kind of sounds miserable – I really enjoy showering.
So while we heard loads of lovely stories from fellow travelers about the views and the sense of accomplishment when you finally glimpse those Inca ruins after four days, I knew from those same tales that this trek wasn’t for me. Plus, it’s really expensive. Decision made.
Instead, John and I took the easy way to Machu Picchu, and rode in style on the Peru Rail Vistadome train. The train offers beautiful views as you descend from Cusco into the Sacred Valley and into the jungle, finally finishing in Aguas Calientes. There’s no bowl of warm water for bathing, but the whole ride is accompanied by a soundtrack of Peruvian music, ranging from electronica to flute music to the soothing sounds of the jungle. While the journey was a bit reminiscent of our flight from Denver to Cancun on the touristy scale (they tried to sell us safari gear and CDs mid ride) it was nice to enjoy the views from a comfortable seat. And heck, they even brought me a little snack and a coffee – what more could you ask for?
So while I felt like kind of a wuss every time someone in Cusco asked us if we were doing the trek to Machu Picchu, I’m still pleased with my decision. We did enough hiking at Machu Picchu itself to satisfy any desire to hike that I had left, anyway.
I’ll score those badass points somewhere else on our journey, I’m sure.