Some trips we take to reach a destination, others we take for the pleasure of the journey itself. Peru’s Inca Trail is perhaps the world’s greatest hike because it combines the best of both types of travel.

Early this morning, 14 adventurous souls from Minnesota departed from the Sacred Valley and headed to the trail head of famed Inca Trail. They will walk the 26 mile trail for four days to the destination of the spectacular lost city of Machu Picchu. Their four day journey winds through the snowcapped Andes Mountains and into the lush Amazon jungle and some of the world’s most dramatic and beautiful views in the world.

If the Inca Trail is on your bucket list you have to commit to the trek at least six months in advance. The Peruvian government strictly limits traffic on the trail to 500 persons per day, including the porters who must carry all food, tents and other necessities. Would-be hikers must sign up through an authorized guiding service, usually months in advance since spots sell out quickly.

For these Minnesotans, their plans and preparations started over 10 months ago when they committed to walking the trail to raise awareness and funds for children in Peru who suffer from the social trauma and stigma of debilitating birth defects. They are walking for children served by Smile Network International.

To date these amazing individuals ranging in age from 15 to mid 60’s have raised over $80,000! Today their trek will take them on many strenuous ups and downs and before they get to their campsite this evening they will have gained nearly a vertical mile in altitude by day’s end. Along the way they will be helped along by occasional chews of coca leaf, a mild stimulant endemic to the Andes. After a hearty dinner in the mess tent they will retreat to their tents under the star lit sky.

Camp site