The Inca Trail with Mountain Travel
I have been a travel agent in the city of Berkeley since 1973, almost as long as the original Mountain Travel, and traveled on three Mountain Travel trips: Peru, Kenya, and Pakistan.
I had friends who worked for Mountain Travel in Albany, the neighboring city north of Berkeley, and have always appreciated the company—its remarkable owners, employees, and the adventures it sells. Mountain Travel sells trips to exotic destinations to very interesting people, lead by exceptional guides, where you will encounter not only the destination’s natural and cultural beauty but most of all, local people. The best part of travel is the people you meet and all of my Mountain Travel trips were definitely people-to-people experiences.
It was not my first visit to Cusco and to Machu Picchu. I had visited both while I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. But my Cusco hotel with Mountain Travel was a little more deluxe than the previous $2/night hotel. This trip had the Inca Trail, a definite “bucket list” travel experience. Moreover this trip had wonderful opportunities to meet people. Interesting people, like my young Washington DC lawyer tent mate, and the family from Connecticut, we called the “mountain goats,” because they were always an hour or two ahead of us on the Inca Trail. And the Mountain Travel guides: one at the front of the trail with the “mountain goats,” and one at the end of trail, to make sure the slower hikers (me) were not left unattended. And there were the Inca porters who where lugging our bags and the tents. Inca porters who shared their coca leaves with all of us.
Vivid memory: it was the “Dead Woman’s” pass, the trail went from 4,000 to 8,000 feet. The “mountain goats” got to the top 2 hours before me, but everybody waited as a group. As I stumbled to the top, a great cheer went up from the group, and those behind me, also got a cheer as they reached the top. Nice people.
And what did we do when we finally got to Machu Picchu? First we admired from above the Lost City of the Incas, like the Incas before Pizarro who had trekked for 4 days. Some “mountain goats” climbed Wima Picchu. Then we set up camp at the base of Machu Picchu near the rail tracks. After a wonderful camp dinner, our Mountain Travel guides tell us to take a towel, some soap and our bathing suites. We follow the rail tracks 2 miles to Aguas Calientes, where our guides negotiated with the owners of the hot springs to open even if it was dark and way beyond closing time. I still remember how wonderful it was to bath in these hot waters, and wash off the dirt of 4 days on the Inca Trail. That bath was a “magical” travel experience, thanks to Mountain Travel.
Terrence Regan, Travel Agent & MT Sobek Guest
MT Sobek Trip: Inca Trail, 1982