Machu Picchu
The magical and mystical Machu Picchu


It’s August, and that means the countdown to our big Peru trip has begun! On Sept. 29 we’ll fly to Lima and then spend 23 days exploring that magical country. One of the big highlights – and our current obsession – will be a four-day, three-night trek on the historic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

On the advice of friends, we booked the trek with Alpaca Expeditions – a highly rated tour company that will provide guides, porters, camping gear, and sumptuous and tasty meals. To say that we’re excited is an understatement. But we keep having to remind ourselves that the Inca Trail is but one of many fantastic things we’ll see and do on our month-long adventure to Peru. John the travel planner has been hard at work on an itinerary that will give us time to explore Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo, Puno and Lake Titicaca, and Arequipa. Sept. 29 can’t come fast enough!

Alpaca Expeditions Inca Trail Itinerary
The Alpaca Expeditions itinerary for our four-day trek on the Inca Trail. The second day will be the hardest, almost 10 miles and a climb to almost 4,200 meters. Yikes!
I want to give a little shout-out here to another travel blog, Serena’s Lenses. The author’s posts on her experience on the Inca Trail and how to prepare and pack for the trek have been a huge help! Thank you, Serena.

We both expect the Inca Trail to be one of the most physically challenging things we’ve ever done. To get ready, we’ve been steadily upping our hiking game here in Boquete. We’re lucky to have an excellent training ground right in our back yard – Volcán Barú, Panama’s highest mountain at 3,474 meters. About a year and a half ago, I did an overnight hike all the way to the top with a group of friends, an unforgettable and challenging experience (I blogged about it here).
At the Barú summit in January 2017. I’m the short one second from left.
The happy hikers at the 9,000-foot mark on Barú yesterday

Yesterday we hit a milestone in our training program. We made it up to almost 2,800 meters (about 9,000 feet) on the Barú trail. We’re feeling pretty smug about it because we climbed 3,000 feet and covered 5.5 miles in just under three hours. To put it in perspective, the second day of the Inca Trail, from the beginning to the highest point, climbs about the same amount and they’re giving us four hours to do it. Piece of cake! Of course, there’s the small matter of the much higher altitude on the Inca Trail. We may be the slowest and oldest farts on the trek, but we WILL make it!    



  1. We’ve been to Peru and the cities you mentioned, it really is a country that sticks with you for many years, I hope you enjoy it.
    We did the very same hike on the Inca trail as well as the leave at midnight Baru hike. I found Baru harder in some ways due to the gravel road, where the Inca trail is beautifully crafted with steps. Thousands of steps, or stones, but easier to go up and down. Hiking poles were a must for me and train your quads for the Down. I couldn’t walk that great after because of the steps going down and how my quads got burned out. Also practice the “hover” on sore and tired legs for bathroom needs.
    You’ll do great and everyone in our group was 60 to 75 and did fine. Slow and steady.
    Can’t wait to hear all about it!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for the encouragement! Good to know that the trail is better groomed than Baru (which is pretty terrible, as you know!). A smoother trail can make all the difference. We have been working hard on quad strengthening but need to step it up. Your bathroom point is well taken – I can see what you mean 🙂

  2. We’re already waiting for the big ‘Inca Trail’ post! Better than that will chatting with you across a table in Medellin. Keep us, well, posted!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Oh yeah, lots of Peru blog posts a-coming!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, thanks, Andy! Hug Dag for us 🙂

  3. We didn’t hike the trail but last year visited all the places you mentioned you’re going to. Judging from the people we spoke to who did the hike, I’m sure you’ll be fine. One person told us that some of their group had tents in low lying areas and got wet one night.
    You’ll just love Peru. We especially enjoyed climbing Huayna Picchu while spending the day at Machu Picchu and Cusco is one of my favorite cities. I have bad asthma and still didn’t have too much trouble on all our hikes through South America but the altitude got to me on the road to Puno – but no one else on the bus seemed bothered. Had to take it really slow for 2 days in Puno but of course my wife continued on with all our planned day trips on the lake and around. At least I got to see the lake as we were going past towards La Paz!
    There are altitude sickness pills you can buy anywhere and of course cocoa leaves and tea are offered everywhere if you want. Fun to try but tastes terrible.
    Looking forward to seeing pictures. Have a safe trip.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for the encouragement, Steve! We’ve heard the same about coca leaves – we’ve also heard ibuprofen helps. We’re optimistic about the altitude but we’ll see. Going to spend four days in Cusco before we do the trek, so hopefully that will acclimate us. Lots of pics coming!

  4. We have just returned from our trip to Peru, it was amazing. I am sure you will love it there. I will look forward to hear your thoughts on the 4 day Inca Trail😄

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We’ll be blogging and posting lots of pics, Gilda! Thanks.

  5. Wow, I’m so excited for both of you! A few month ago I was making a rough plan for my future trip to Peru. I’ll probably spend two weeks at the most as I don’t get that many days of annual leave (that is of course if by then I’ll still be working at the same company). Looking forward to your posts from Peru, and I’m sure they will make me want to go even more.

  6. OMG so jealous! On my list. Look forward to following your journey here …and then following in your footsteps someday in the future. Congrats on the 2800 m mark!

  7. Forgot to mention earlier: no bathrooms inside site, signs/directions are poor and many paths are one way so a good map/guide is really helpful.

  8. Hi there. Adventure trip! It must be an exciting time and all feeling of you for 23 days. I hope I can have such a long trip like this. But I have plan for trekking just 5 days with my friends and it’s our first time of trekking. Could you please give me suggestion about how to prepare for the trekking trip? I only bought a binocular from here I love to see animals and greenish environment. Thank you in advance for your suggestions.

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