Hiking the Inca Trail, Chapter 1: Lima, Peru

The prospect of hiking the Inca Trail terrified me.

The view from atop the cliffs in Lima, Peru. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

I’d read countless blog posts, comments from people who said it was “nothing,” trekker web sites and guide books. I’d examined the elevation profile, contemplated photos taken on the trail on Pinterest. I’d bought the boots, the gear, the blister pads. And I’d trained, best as I knew how, with the help of a fitness professional.

Still, the task ahead hung over me, even when I should have been relaxing and enjoying the beautiful neighborhood of Miraflores in Lima, Peru.


The cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Lima, Peru. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

You see, I am, at my core, a couch potato who loves food and travel but hates intentional exercise. So while fitness freaks or regular climbers might be dismissive and say the trail is easy, I suspected my experience would be different. Not to mention, there was the x-factor of the altitude. I had no idea what to expect, so my expectation morphed into fear.

When scared, putting my head down and pushing through as hard as possible is the only thing I know to do. So in the days before we hit the trail, I forced Backpack Mister to hike maniacally up and down the steps from Miraflores to the water’s edge, multiple times, day after day, with a full pack. He was a good sport about it.

Backpack Mister scales the stairs on one of many trips up and down the cliffs of Lima, Peru. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
I climb the stairs in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima, Peru, in training for our hike on the Inca Trail. Trust me, the stairs are far longer and higher than this photo indicates. Photo by Backpack Mister.

But it wasn’t until we were in Lima, standing on the waterfront, conversing with a  random Minnesotan that I realized what we were in for. If you aren’t familiar with the Minnesota way of speaking, you may not get this. I was raised in Minnesota, so I speak the language fluently. Minnesotans are understated. Prone to stoicism. So opposed are they to self-congratulatory behavior, hyperbole or overzealousness, even the best meal will result in only a pat to the belly and a simple, “Not bad.”

A damp day in Lima, along the pewter-colored water’s edge. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

So it was on a damp day in Lima, with the cool spray from the ocean on my face, that a Twin Cities man who had hiked the Inca Trail said three words that terrified me to my core. He didn’t even look me in the eyes, just stared out over the pewter water. And then, he spoke.

“It ain’t easy.”

The cliffs in Miraflores, Lima Peru. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

When not maniacally training on the cliffs in Lima, we allowed ourselves some local indulgences.

Pisco sours are the legendary drink of choice, and as good travelers should, we tried them at several establishments to determine who made the best. One of the most memorable piscos we had was at the legendary La Rosa Nautica, a restaurant at the end of a pier jutting into the ocean. There, you can watch the sea gulls and surfers outside the large windows while sipping a lovely cocktail as the waves batter the restaurant walls.

La Rosa Nautical can be seen on this pier, jutting out into the Pacific. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Pisco sours at La Rosa Nautica. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

We also checked out the local cuisine. As Miraflores is a well-to-do neighborhood, the dining options were wonderful. At a restaurant overlooking the Pacific, Tanta, located in Larcomar mall, we enjoyed our first lomo saltado and ceviche.

Lomo saltado at Tanta restaurant in Larcomar mall, Miraflores, Lima Peru. I still dream of this dish; it was the best lomo saltado I had in our five weeks in Peru. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Ceviche at Tanta, a restaurant in Larcomar mall in Lima, Peru. Backpack Mister had a lip-quivering rollback with this one. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

Knowing we’d be back to Lima, we focused largely on the journey ahead and readied ourselves for travel to Cusco, where we would acclimatize for several days before the advent of our hike on the Inca Trail.

Stay tuned.



Destination Celebrations: Take a Trip with Your Guests

Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations.

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb

Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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