Achievement Through Travel
“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc
Hi Joriki Lovers!
Kevin and Hilary from Life of Travels, back at it again.
Kevin and Hilary in the Tibetan Prayer Flag Crop Legging, Snoqualmie, Washington
We feel that you can accomplish so much more through travel than just an escape from your everyday. Don’t get us wrong! We loooove a solid vacation where you relax on the beach and turn off the notifications, but we also see traveling as an opportunity for achievement.
Sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo? Eh, maybe. But let us elaborate.
There’s no better way to explain this than through the experience of hiking the Inca Trail in Peru to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Chances are you know someone who has been to Machu Picchu. It’s all the rage right now and for good reason.
For starter, let us blow your mind with some Inca facts.
The Incas created over 18,000 miles worth of road that we now call the Inca Trail. They built towns along these roads, many of which are believed to be still lost in the wilderness waiting to be uncovered. There are many that are accessible to the public, by walking the trail with a guide. Finally, and this is crazy, the Inca Empire only lasted 90 years and ended only 500 years ago.
Yeah this history isn’t that old, but it’s super incredible.
When we learned all these crazy facts, we knew we had to get ourselves to Peru ASAP!
A portion of the Inca Trail, Peru
When planning our Peruvian adventure we immediately decided that we would spend 4 days hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We are active, healthy individuals that, with a little bit of preparation, knew we could make the 26 mile trek through the Andes Mountains.
Naturally, we were excited! We were about to experience some serious outdoor adventure that would lead us to a World Wonder.
Taking in the vastness of Machu Picchu Photo Credit: Wild Kritten
We started our trek outside of a town called Ollantaytambo and made a 10 miles trek to our first campsite. This trend of long day treks would continue over the next 4 days. And let’s get something clear, you can read a lot about the Andes Mountains and this strenuous hike, but you don’t quite understand its difficulty until you’re living it.
Each step was hard, but exciting. You could feel your legs burning as you climb Dead Woman’s Pass (yes, that’s actually it’s name), but the burn is nothing compared to the feeling you have when you reach the top. Are you exhausted? Definitely. But you’re even more proud of yourself. You’re pushing yourself to do something that is super cool. You don’t know what is around the next corner, but chances are it’s incredible ruins and a breathtaking view.
The ruins of Intipata on Day 3 of the trek
Each day you wake up renewed and ready to hit the trail. It certainly helps that there is a large band of porters taking care of you along the way. Many of these men are descendants of the Incas who once worked and lived in the sites we trekked through. Imagine walking the exact path of your ancestors! That’s insanely cool.
They work 20 times harder than us and 10 times faster than us. Seriously, these guys run the trail with these humongous packs that are beyond heavy. Meanwhile we’re at the back of the pack taking one step at a time.
Our porters working incredibly hard to climb the same mountains with so much more weight Photo Credit: Catie Krasner
Long days of continuous hiking sure gives you time to think. As you traverse the Andean landscape, we couldn’t help reflect on where we had been and where we were going. Each step felt purposeful. We were truly living that moment and there’s no place else we wanted to be – not even Machu Picchu…not yet.
It was kind of a yoga moment. We’re always striving in yoga to be ever present, to be mindful. This tends to be hard as we often force ourselves to try to be mindful for a finite amount of time we’ve managed to carve out of our busy schedules. But on this trek we were able to escape our everyday which allowed us to mentally escape our typical daily grind mindframe that often holds us back from real personal reflection.
It is difficult to explain, and it also sounds super ironic to say we felt like we were finally standing still when we were literally moving forward through the Andes. So stay with us (and try not to eye-roll) as we say the most corny thing ever, but while we were excited to reach Machu Picchu, the journey there was seriously the best part.
Enjoying the journey of the Inca Trail
Not only did we see 9 other amazing Inca sites, sat on the edge of ruins that looked over the roaring Sacred River, and trekked 26 miles over two mountain passes, but we met people from around the world, became closer with our friends, and closer to ourselves.
The feeling of achievement you have when you come through the Sun Gate to reach Machu Picchu, a prize you’ve been trekking 4 days to reach, is undeniable. And we felt this feeling several times over those 4 long days because we were continuously challenging ourselves. You wouldn’t necessarily think that travelling and exploring a new place would leave you smiling and proud of yourself, but the Inca Trail does just that.
All smiles as we celebrate our arrival at Machu Picchu
Travel can be an excellent way to reach all kinds of personal goals, and an even better way to get back to yourself.
Don’t underestimate the power of achievement through travel.
Kevin + Hilary
P.S. If you’re interested in a Inca Trail to Machu Picchu adventure, be sure to check out these accredited tour operators who are known for treating the environment and their local employees well.
Evolution Treks Peru