Breathtaking dead woman’s pass

trekking inca trailThere’s no doubt that exploring Machu Picchu in Peru, now voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, will make you feel on top of the world, but for Intrepid’s Martin Ruffo he was just trying not to feel like a dead man as he made his way to Dead Woman’s Pass…

“Day 2 of the Inca Trail is perhaps the hottest topic among travellers in Peru. Extremely hard for some and a walk in the park for others, everyone is quick to share their experiences, feelings, fears, failures and successes on the most challenging day of the trek. And this is mine:

At 6am we are having breakfast at Huyllabamba, Camp 1 at 2950 meters (9678 feet) above sea level. We all know today is the toughest day and the excitement and nervousness of me and my 6 fellow hikers can be felt while we quietly eat our cereal and listen to our leader’s final instructions for today: Roger reminds us don’t start too quickly, walk at your own pace, adopt a steady and constant pace rather than a quick one with frequent stops, take pictures – you are unlikely to be here again in a near future, so smile and enjoy it! The hike is not THAT hard (with more than 50 Inca Trails under his belt, it’s easy for him to say!).

At 6.30am, and after a 15-minute stretching session we start walking. At 6.35am I’m ready to stop! (No kidding!) This is going to be a looooong day I think to myself. Roger approaches me and reminds me to take it easy, particularly at the start. I get moving again, at a more leisurely pace this time and it seems to work. Although I’m climbing up, my breathing calms down and I don’t feel my heart will pop out my chest anymore!

At 8.30am we reach 3800 meters (12,467 feet) above see level and I can feel the air getting thinner than usual. Roger casually gathers us and mentions that we have now finished the easy part and that the next 2 hours are the tough ones. We all laugh hysterically! That was a great joke mate, well done! The laughing stops when we realised that Roger is not… ouch!

And Roger was right; looking back those 2 hours were probably the hardest hike I’ve ever done. Lungs burned, legs ached, head spun due to the lack of oxygen and I was forced to stop every 15 minutes to recover my breath, BUT at 10.30am we reached the Dead Woman’s Pass (or known locally as Warmiwanusca) and it made it all worth it! The sense of accomplishment, the magic quietness of the Andes, the unparalleled views was way more than I expected and today I think of it as the highlight of my Inca Trail!”

Tour or trek the Inca Trail with Intrepid on trips like these great small group adventures:
Inca Trail – 8 days Lima to Cuzco
Homeland of the Incas – 21 days Lima to La Paz

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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