The Inca Trail: and so, it begins

Every journey has to begin somewhere.  Since travelers on the Inca Trail are fairly tightly controlled of late, a journey on the Inca Trail starts at a checkpoint.  In this case, the checkpoint at the km 82 marker (measured from Cusco — possibly along the river, or possibly along the rail line, I never asked).

First checkpoint

Checkpoints tend to be fairly spartan affairs — although the km 82 checkpoint is a relatively nice one.  Outside, there are some benches under covers, a thoughtful touch since you’ll be spending a bit of time here while your guide takes care of the necessary paperwork (we waited about 15 minutes).  Inside, there’s a small interpretive center and restrooms — use them, they’ll be the last flush toilets you’ll see for a few days.

Starting the trail

On the other side of the checkpoint, the trail starts in earnest.  You get a group photo in front of the “Camino Inka – Inka Trail” sign (you’ll have the opportunity to buy this at the end of the trip for a few dollars), and you’re on your way.  Head along the river and across the Piscacucho bridge, and you’re going.

Looking back on the beginning

Enjoy a quick look back, you won’t see civilized amenities again for a few days.