The Start of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

The Inca Trail was a stupendous experience; absolutely brilliant.

The boys managed the walk without a murmur of complaint. Declan wasn’t fazed by even the toughest parts of the Trail; Callum found some bits hard-going but gritted his teeth and dealt with them.  The boys actually handled the highest point, Dead Woman’s Pass at over 4,200m, better than Jennifer or me.

Above the clouds.

The walk itself is lovely. I wasn’t prepared for it being so sub-tropical – filled with lush flora and exotic fauna. Cacti, orchids and bromeliads were everywhere. We saw humming birds and butterflies attracted by all the flowers. Llamas blocked the trail every now and again. At the higher points, birds of prey flew past at eye-level. And as a backdrop there were huge, towering mountains which even the daily clouds, mist and rain could not entirely hide.

The Incan ruins were fascinating. While Machu Picchu is just amazing and absorbing many of the smaller ruins were more atmospheric as we had them to ourselves. One of the things we found particularly interesting was that all the buildings were civil engineering works. in contrast to everywhere else we’ve been, the remaining stoneworks are farms and monasteries not castles or fortresses.

At the end of the Inca Trail at Machu Picchu.

We had a great guide on the tour, Alex Fuentes Quino, who bought what we saw to life. And food? The food was just great – three course meals of local foods cooked on a two-ring burner and with better results than you’d get in many restaurants. This was not camping on a shoestring – we had a team of eight porters carrying all of the equipment used by our team. But that said, there was no way we could have managed the tough parts of the Trail if we’d been carrying proper camping equipment ourselves, let alone carrying for the kids too.

All in all, we had such a great time and have a wonderful sense of achievement in having completed the Trail – especially the boys at 8 and 10. After the toughest day dealing with Dead Woman’s Pass in the rain, the porters from other groups came up to shake the boys’ hands. We’re chuffed to have had such a great experience, but even more so to be able to walk away with the boys having dealt with a real challenge with such aplomb.

(I’ll backdate some further notes about various aspects of the experience.)