Reflections from the Inca Trail

There’s something incredibly humbling about hiking on a trail of original Inca stone from 500 years ago.

Most people don’t know, but along the way to Machu Picchu, there are several Inca ruins to walk around and explore. Some were places of worship and sacrifice, some were agricultural terraces and some were Inca “hotels” of sorts for people making the journey from Cusco (the epicenter of the Inca empire) and the Sacred Valley to the mysterious city of Machu Picchu.

We hiked through cloud forests, saw hundreds of varieties of orchids and other spectacular flora and fauna, got rained on a little, had wonderful sunshine on other days, dealt with altitude headaches and other side effects, experienced glorious sunsets and sunrises over the Andes mountains from our tent camps, and cheered each other on as we all had good and bad days physically.

I personally was deeply affected by the experience.

Upon arrival into Peru, I got a phone call that a dear friend and client of mine had passed away in NoHo. My first instinct was to fly back immediately. But as the trip organizer and host I knew I had to continue this Peru Adventure. And I knew he would have wanted me to continue the journey.

I managed some quiet moments on the Inca Trail. The vastness and beauty of it all somehow framed my mourning process in a sweeter way. Like the Incas, I tried to be more connected to the nature around me, the birds above me, and the rivers and waterfalls flowing all around me. These Inca people were extremely in tune with the cycles of the sun, the stars, and the other living things they co-existed with. Ultimately, they were more in tune with life itself.

I’d say the circle of life seems more reasonable and sensible when you are high up in the glorious Andes mountains, walking through various climate zones and breathing in the fresh, pure air. The Incas celebrated and revered their lost loved ones by mummifying them and bringing them out on display during occasional festivals and worshiping ceremonies.

I can keep a good friend’s memory alive in my heart, my actions, and my writing.

Michael Higby, there’s 3 coca leaves buried under an Inca Stone high up in the Andes mountains in your name. Set there during a traditional prayer to the Inca God of the mountain, by an old friend. You plugged me into the NoHo community when I moved here 12 years ago, and I’m so delighted to see what it’s become thanks to you, and some other hard working community organizers. It was a pleasure to know you.

The guiding principle and moral code of the Incas was that living in a truthful way is more honorable than living in a false way. So let’s all seek our truth in life and don’t let a moment go by without being yourself and shining your unique light so that others may bask in it.

In the end, all we have is each other in our families and communities, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I would like to thank Zephyr Adventures for our fantastic trip arrangements, accommodations, porters, cooks and our local guide Mario.



This article made its debut on Jack’s Lifestyle Blog on  

About the author: Jack Witt is a Los Angeles based Health and Fitness Coach, Author, Speaker , Healthy Community Organizer and Active Travel Specialist. His other websites include and and


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Jack Witt