Camp Sites along the Inka Trail: "Outhouses, oh my!" Machu Picchu Hotel Tip by intiqori
Machu Picchu Hotels: 56 reviews and 79 photos
Five or more camp sites line the Inka Trail, providing hikers and their guides and porters with convenient places to pitch their tents in the evening. The sites are well-used by the thousands of tourists who traverse the Inka Trail every year, and the campsites are set up by local porters who are hired by tour groups and hikers to carry tents, food supplies, sleeping bags, pots, pans, stoves, and other implements up and down the trail.
As someone who is accustomed to two meals or less a day, usually consisting of salad, cereal, sandwiches, or microwave dinners served cold or out of a microwave, the food provided on the hike was plentiful, fresh, delicious, and hot. Porters set up dining tents where breakfast, lunch, evening tea (a bit odd for Americans but welcomed by British tourists), and dinner were served. Dining tents consist of a canopy housing plastic benches and dozens of plastic chairs and provide protection from the elements, particularly on the rainy days we encountered along the trail. A cooking tent was staffed by the chef and his assistants, and several gas stoves were used to cook up delicious fare ranging from trout, chicken, and lomo saltado (a Peruvian steak and potato dish) to rice, pasta, potatoes, omelets, pancakes, soups, and other western and local fare. Hot water was constantly available for hot tea or hot chocolate, and snack bags were assembled by the chef and his staff every day and handed out each morning before the hike. Boiled water was also available to fill bottles at the start of each day.
Unique Qualities: Porters set up the hiker’s tents before evening every night, and campers were given the option of sharing tents or staying in single tents. Hot water was boiled every morning and afternoon and poured into plastic buckets which the campers used to wash up every morning and afternoon. The tents provided by the tour company were of good quality and the porters went out of their way to help. One porter dashed out from under his tarp to help stake down my tent with a rock in his T-shirt and shorts while rain was pounding down. It struck me one evening to see five porters sitting huddled below a small piece of tarp, their feet poking out from under the canvas, as rain was pounding down from above. They didn’t have the luxury of hiding in their own tents since the cooking and dining tents, occupied by campers and cooking staff in the evening, are used as sleeping tents for the porters at night.
All the camp sites had squat toilets which consisted of a small basin in the floor and a pull rope to pull to flush the basin. Some outhouses along the trail didn’t have a flush at all, and business simply falls through the bottom of the outhouse to the forest floor below. The campsites are not lit at night and paths to and from the outhouses can be slippery, so a torch, flashlight, or headlamp is recommended. One night was particularly memorable, as the outhouses were too far away to traverse at 3am in the morning, it was raining and cold, and I fumbled along the trail with my umbrella and headlamp to a dark patch of wood where I heard ominous rustling and squeaking noises coming from the bushes in front of me. Showers are rare except at the bustling and touristy Winaywayna campsite near the end of the trail which has pay showers along with a sizable bar, cafeteria, and stores.
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