On the morning of Day Three, the porters woke us up at 6:00am, a whole half-hour later than previous days, as a reward for completing Day Two. That morning, we did the usual packing of our bags, drinking coca tea, eating breakfast, and talking about what was yet to come for the day ahead of us.
They call Day Three “the most beautiful day on the Inca Trail.” Snow-capped mountains, beautiful vistas, brilliantly colored flowers with hummingbirds constantly hovering over them, and dense jungle, will all be encountered during this hike. But as a trade-off, this day is also the longest day on the Inca Trail.
Distance: 9.31 miles (15k)
Estimated Hiking Time: 8 – 9 hours
Highest Point: 12,795 ft (3,900 m)
Final Campsite Altitude: 8,694 ft (2,650 m)
Another great thing about Day Three is that it isn’t only hiking. Day Three is a long day because you will stop many times as you encounter up to three (one requires going left at a fork in the trail and is optional) Inca ruins along the way. Expect to spend at least twenty-minutes at each as your guides talk about the ruins and you take plenty of photographs. These ruins are incredible and provide a great chance to give your legs another break so that you will be good to go for the rest of the day.
The above photographs (and even the very first in this post) are from a couple of the best vista points along the Inca Trail on Day Three. I found that I couldn’t stop taking pictures during this hike, so this day took me a bit longer than most of the others in my group. But I find that no matter what hike I’m doing, it’s always worth slowing down and pausing to take a photograph of a sight you may never see again.
Finally, as you begin to descend from the high elevations of the mountains, you’ll hike into dense jungle. You’ll find that the foliage along the trail quickly changes from alpine to subtropical, the mosquitos will come out, parrots will squawk above your head, and there will be a chance that you’ll even find a snake wrapped around a tree limb. All in all, it is a relief to walk in the shade of the dense foliage, and the jungle is a magnificent place. Enjoy it!
Coming next week: Peru – The Inca Trail Day 4: Machu Picchu, “The Day We’ve All Been Waiting For”