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Trekking The Inca Trail for Christian Aid

Sarah Baillie attended a breakfast event for businesses last year at which Graham Philpott, Director of our partner organization Church Land Programme in South Africa, described their work.

Inspired by what she had heard, Sarah set herself the challenge of completing a trek of the Inca Trail in Peru to raise funds for the work of Christian Aid.

Sarah has kindly written the following blog.

 Tax of Life Report

After nearly 10 months of preparation – fundraising, training and purchasing equipment - I travelled with my fellow Charity Challenge team members to Cusco, Peru. Once there we met our guide, George, who looked after us throughout the trip.

Cusco is a busy town in the Peruvian Andes, sitting 3,400 metres above sea level, where Inca remains can still be found.

Thankfully I didn’t really suffer from the high altitude, apart from a slight headache. During our first starter trek, however, I did notice that I got out of breath easily. Our guides advised us to take small steps and to walk very slowly.

Tax of Life Report The serious work really began on our third day with a wake-up call of 4.30am and a drive to Lares (Sacred Valley) where we started the trek.

There are over 24,000 miles of Inca Trail in Peru and the neighbouring countries. The ‘Inca Trail’ that people are most familiar with is around Machu Picchu, however we went on a more unfamiliar trail that we were told is only used by Charity Challenge.




The terrain at the start was hard underfoot and the landscape reminded me of Scotland, with glaciers in the distance. As there were no trees it was possible to see for miles.

We followed a tiny track in the mountains and climbed slowly for miles each day, mostly uphill, until we had reached around 4,600 metres above sea level.

Tax of Life Report Along the way we were met by lovely Peruvian people who live in the mountains, in small basic houses with no running water or electricity. They speak their own language, unused anywhere else in the world. George, our guide, said these people would only meet travelers on the mountain around eight times a year – which may give you a sense of the isolation of the area. A family living there brought a sick child to see a doctor that we had in the team.




During the trek we were served lunch and dinner in food tents that were erected by our guide’s team.

We slept in tents at camps along the route each night. There were no facilities, apart from a very basic port-a-loo. The lack of running water was something we all missed – it made me appreciate all the luxuries we have at home!

The nights in the mountains are cold and we woke up to frost and ice on the outside of our tents.

I found the nights challenging and we suffered from lack of sleep, but the stars at night and the beauty of the rising sun coming up over the mountains in the morning made it worthwhile.

On our last day of the trek we joined a busier section of the Inca Trail, and the scenery was gorgeous. This section borders the Amazon and was lower ground than we had been on previously, so the scenery was lush and green.

We walked up 3,000 steps to the Sun Gate, which is a small opening set high in the mountain.

Walking through the Sun Gate, I had my first sight of Machu Picchu, which was absolutely fabulous.

We were incredibly fortunate that the weather was kind – the sun was shining on the Machu Picchu settlement and we could witness one of the Wonders of The World in its ultimate beauty.

Having completed our trek, we had the pleasure of a two-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu. The beauty was striking: this wonderful city placed in the middle of mountains with trees and vegetation all around – and quite a few llamas!

It is difficult for me to recall my trip in only a few paragraphs – while the harshness of the wild camping has made me appreciate my home comforts, highlights such as meeting the people living on the mountain, the scenery in Peru and the moment of walking up to the Sun Gate to see Machu Picchu in the distance have ensured this was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget.

We are so thankful for Sarah’s determination and motivation throughout her months of training and fundraising, as well as the final challenge and experience. We say a massive ‘well done’ for such a fantastic effort and supporting our fight against poverty.

 If you are interested in taking up a similar challenge and would like more information, please contact Sarah Leeman by emailing sleeman@christian-aid.org.

Tax of Life Report  

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