Secondary Inca trail leads to rewards

Kendra Gonnerman
Arizona Republic

July 10, 2005

Have you ever thought about taking the Inca trail less traveled in Peru? My friend, Mary, and I were excited to take the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but then we found an alternative that would take us around to modern Incan communities and magnificent views of the snow-capped Andes.

Adventure Life put together a wonderful tour that took us to Cusco and the Sacred Valley and then on a four-day trek along the Cachiccata Trail. Our vacation concluded with our visit to Machu Picchu for two days.

Before our trip, I was most excited about visiting the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu. To my surprise, hiking in the Andes turned out to be the most amazing and rewarding part of my vacation.

Mary and I are teachers in Scottsdale, and we looked forward to visiting schools and meeting the children in Peru. Along the Cachiccata Trail, we met many Andean people. They were warm and curious to know what we were doing.

One of our first stops was for lunch at a school in Soccma. We were disappointed to find that the teachers were off training, but the kids found out that we were there. We had brought along pencils, sharpeners, crayons, globes, hats and an I-Zone camera to take Polaroid pictures to give to them. They were so happy to receive these gifts. Along our four-day hike, we gave out supplies to all of the children we met. Their smiles said it all.

The Cachiccata Trail led to many ancient Incan temples and burial sites. We were able to walk up and see views of what the early Incan people had seen. One of these places was Intiwatana, a temple for the sun, which offered a magnificent view of Mount Veronica. This place offered a peaceful, almost spiritual feeling; it was my favorite part of our journey. I can close my eyes and almost feel like I am there again.

Another magical place was Lake Maracucha, where we had lunch one day. The water offered an excellent reflection of the sky. It was so relaxing and beautiful, with birds swimming in the tranquil water.

I feel that we were able to see a different side of Peru and get to meet the Andean people. Don't get me wrong, Machu Picchu is breathtaking and was worth the visit. But I know that I wouldn't have enjoyed the trip as much if we had not taken the trail less traveled, the Cachiccata Trail.