Learn about Salkantay Trek from our intern!
After having been a month in Cusco, Peru, it was time to explore one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu!
There are several ways to visit Machu Picchu. It´s possible to do it in one day. Take a train to Aguas Calientes village. From there you can go by bus or by foot all the way up (if you go by foot, prepare yourself for quite a lot of stairs!). You can also choose a trek for three or five days in which you will do and see many more beautiful sceneries and landscapes. My friends and I chose to do the Salkantay trek, which is a five day trek. We have seen so many beautiful sceneries and did so many amazing things, it felt as if we were away for two weeks!
I´ll explain this amazing adventure with some general information below:
- We were allowed to bring two backpacks: one to carry along the way and one for the horses, the latter was mainly filled with water and a sleeping bag.
- Our group consisted of 20 people from Germany, Switzerland, America, Brazil, Israel, England, New Zealand and Romania. Our guide was Peruvian so we had a mixed group.
- We slept in tents for 3 nights on a campsite and we slept in a hostel on our last night.
- During the trek, we were accompanied by three chefs who prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for us. I must admit, before joining this trek, I prepared myself for a lot of rice and chicken but the food turned out to be delicious and varied from rice and chicken, potatoes, pasta, meatballs, various fruits and vegetables. For breakfast, we had pancakes or omelets. And before dinner we always had “happy hour,” which consisted of tea, coffee or hot chocolate with popcorn (= best combination ever!). We also had some vegetarians and people who couldn’t eat gluten, but they also had great alternatives.
It will be almost a mission impossible to tell you everything about the Salkantay trek, so instead I will mention some of the highlights.
This was a trek in the category of “wake up early”. At 4:45 AM, we had to be ready at Plaza de Armas to be picked up by the bus. This first day we walked a lot, including some steep parts. I rented hiking poles and I was actually quite happy with them. The absolute highlight of the first day was Lake Humantay, on top of a mountain! The hike towards this lake was quite steep, but it was amazing! The first night was also the coldest of the trek. I wore a tank top, a long sleeve shirt, sweater fleece vest and a jacket.
On the second day, we also hiked a lot and we saw the snowy Salkantay Mountains, an altitude of 6271 meters. We also faced some difficult parts but we were able to hike between those mountains… it was so worth it! As we hiked further towards the jungle, everything around us changed. The scenery got greener and greener and it also got more humid. And then all of a sudden it started to rain and hail like crazy! By the time we arrived at our campsite, everyone got soaked. After dinner everyone rushed into their beds. Or, well, tents in this case.
On day three, we hiked the whole morning but when we arrived at our campsite we were welcomed by three little puppies! They were so cute and everyone played with them. In the afternoon, we had time to relax, chill in a hammock, play more with the puppies and we went to the hot springs! The hot springs were a great way to relax from all the hiking. And on top of that, we had the chance to shower, for the first time in three days. Yes you don´t feel really fresh and clean during a trek like this, but who cares right? At night, they set up a campfire and we all sat by the fire and talked. We also could stay up a bit longer because the next day we had to get up at 7:00 (instead of 5:00 like the other days).
On day four, it was time for some adrenaline, ziplining! We went twice in the “normal” sitting position but we also went upside down and as Super(wo)man. Afterwards, we had to cross a suspension bridge, really exciting and a bit terrifying. Not really suitable for people who are afraid of heights. After these adrenaline rushed through our veins, we continued our trek to Aguas Calientes. When we arrived after a few hours of hiking, we ate in a restaurant and slept in a hostel (the second opportunity to shower!).
The last day was, off course, Machu Picchu day! We got up at 5:00 and started the hike, or let´s say it like this, we started to climb all those stairs. When we started, it was freezing cold but after a while we got warmer off of climbing all those stairs. And then it started to rain! Around 6:00 in the morning, we made it to the top of Machu Picchu and the view was just spectacular!
That´s how I thought it would be, but it wasn’t…..
When we arrived at the top, it was really cloudy and the fog blanketed the Inca ruin. We couldn’t see anything! Our tour guide started explaining to us about the different mountains while looking at the fog and he could just have said anything he wanted because we couldn’t see it anyway. The tour lasted for two hours and was actually a bit disappointing because we were all wet and cold, so we couldn´t really enjoy it.
After the tour, my friends and I looked at each other and we immediately knew what to do, drink coffee in one of the restaurants. We sat there for two hours and then we went back up again. And this time we had the great experience! The sun was shining, so we could really enjoy the view which was amazing of course!
After walking around for a few hours and taking many, many pictures, we went down all of the stairs again, had a nice lunch in Aguas Calientes and waited for the train which took us back to Cusco. At 23:00 I got home tired, but satisfied. I was so happy with this (probably) once in a lifetime experience!
The trek, though sometimes cold or wet, was all so worth it! If you have the chance to do the Salkantay trek, take it and enjoy it to the fullest!