Tag Archives: Salkantay

Salkantay Trek – Days 2-4

As you may have gathered from the photos in my last post, I have been reunited with my iPad card reader. (Thank you Nicole for FedEx’ing it to me). We’ve been on the go since our trek, with limited access to WiFi, so it’s going to take a while to catch up on blog posts, though I’m getting faster with one finger typing. I haven’t yet figured out how to place photos within the text, so for now they will all be placed at the end.

Now comes the wonderful part of the trek.

Day 2
Though we saw stars before bed, it rained much of the night and it was still raining in the morning. I slept until the first rooster crowed, then drifted back to sleep. I was deep in dreamland when my Coca de Matte tea was delivered shortly after first light, around 6:00 a.m.

My belongings were just as damp as the day before, so I put my feet in plastic bags before putting on my boots in a feable attempt to keep my feet dry. We had a cramped breakfast in Costina’s home/shop, then pulled on our wet gloves and headed into the rain.

Fortunately our trail was mostly downhill and not too steep. I can keep up with Karen and Joanne on level ground or downhill, but on the uphill stretches they left me in the dust, or in this case, mud. We only hiked for about four hours. When we reached Colcapampa, we were happy to see a table set out for us on a second floor deck – the perfect spot to spend a leisurely afternoon. After lunch, with a delicious tarwi ceviche (lupine beans), we purchased a bottle of Pisco, a local beverage made from grapes with 2-3 times the alcohol content of wine. The cook fixed us a Peruvian version of hot toddies, perfect for the cool weather. We chatted with Carlos and learned more about his life growing up in a small village; his first language is Quecha, the language of the Inka’s. I also talked with an Aussie traveling with another group and grilled him with questions about Oz, making notes for a future trip. When the sun came out in mid-afternoon, we laid our wet clothes on a tin roof, but there wasn’t enough daylight left to dry them out.

Day 3
We were unanimous in our decision to skip Llactapata, a mountain that would have provided a distant view of Machu Picchu. It would have been steeper and muddier that our trail over the pass. Instead, we hiked about 8-9 miles downhill, now in a tropical forest with butterflies flitting about. The sun was shining and we quickly got down to one layer. ( Hard to believe we were worried about frostbite two days ago).

When we reached La Playa, we ate lunch then took a van to the hot springs just past Santa Teresa. On the way we stopped for a tour of a small coffee plantation. Freddy showed us different type of plants and explained how the bananas and buckeyes shade them; Carlos neglected to translate some of his obviously dirty jokes. We then participated in the process of coffee making, from picking the red berries to drinking the coffee. Karen and Joanne were in caffeine bliss.

I closed my eyes a few times as our drive continued, trying not to notice how close to the edge we were in spots. When we reached the hot springs, we had a luxurious soak while our crew set up camp. Afterward we sat at tables set out by the ever present vendors and enjoyed Cosquena, a local beer, while listening to the river.

Day 4
After breakfast, porridge and yucca today, we got back in the van and headed out for zip-lining, a new experience for me but not my travel companions. We had been looking forward to a hike-free day, but once we geared up, we headed up a steep hill to reach the first of six zip lines. I was pretty nervous for the first two. After that, the view back and forth across the river and tree canopy was mesmerizing enough for me to suspend my fear. Karen was brave or crazy enough to hang upside down on one segment. I finally figured out how to take a movie in motion, so there may be a short video in my slide show.

Another van took us down to Hidroelectric, a way-stop that’s just what it sounds like, a hydroelectric plant that provides electricity to much of Peru. The ride down the narrow mountain road was as scary as the zip-line. We had lunch on a deck shared by other tour groups. We nixed our initial plan to walk to Aguas Calientes and instead enjoyed cold beverages while waiting for the train. The Vistadome was very comfortable and provided us with nice views of the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu.

While Carlos found an open laundry service for us, we took the showers we had been fantasizing about. If it weren’t for the trek t-shirt, I wouldn’t have had anything clean to wear to dinner. When I got back from dropping off our laundry (3 soles/kilo), Nancy had arrived. Nancy is my best friend from high school and we’ve kept in touch all these years. She arrived in Cusco yesterday, took a half day city tour, and then toured the Sacred Valley on her way to joining us in Aguas Calientes. We went to dinner with Carlos. My avocado vinaigrette and Pisco Sour were the best I’ve had yet.











Salkantay Trek- Day 1

We survived the Salkantay trek, a wonderful and miserable adventure.

Day 1 – Salkantay Pass (May 22)
This was one of the toughest hikes I’ve ever done, thanks to the altitude and weather. I had anticipated taking photos of snow-capped peaks, instead the snow was falling on me during the “dry” season (climate change strikes again).

We were picked up from our hotel by IntiSunTrek at 5:00 a.m., then driven three hours to Soray Pampa. We started out, after tea and bread, under overcast skies. Soon it began to drizzle, then to rain. It became harder and harder to breathe and I soon fell behind. The rain turned to snow and the wind picked up. I struggled to catch my breath, and had more difficulty than I’ve ever had at high altitude. I took an extra Diamox and slogged on, at times wondering whether I’d need a horse to get over the pass. The weather worsened and I packed away my camera to protect it from the elements.

We stopped for lunch after a series of switchbacks known to tourists as the “Seven Snakes”. We shivered under the overhang of a small building while our crew set up a dining tent. The cook kept his cool and fixed us an amazing meal while the three us trekkers were getting changed into warmer clothes, modesty be damned, periodically grabbing onto poles to prevent the tent from blowing away.

Somehow we dragged ourselves back into the blizzard and made it to the pass. Our guide, Carlos, took our picture under the elevation sign at 15,200′ (4630 meters). I was ecstatic to start heading down, except for the icy wet snow stinging my face. Head down, I kept focused on the trail, one step at a time.

As we descended, the snow changed to rain. We reached what we thought was our campsite, and enjoyed a hot cup of of tea. Then we were informed that a big group was coming in and we needed to move to another camp, 25 minutes down the mountain. An hour later we arrived, in the rain and dark. I couldn’t find my headlamp, so I walked between Karen and Joanne, sharing their light.

We headed towards a light, thinking it was our camp, but reached the home of Costina, a local woman instead, We huddled around the fire in her small hut while Carlos found the crew and set up our tents. Costina held our cold hands in her warm ones and helped warm us up. We ate our dinner in there as well.

Though I had “waterproof” boots, pants, and jacket, everything I was wearing was wet, along with most of the items in my backpack, in spite of the rain cover. My small camera was swimming in a pool of water. I’ve packed it in rice, but fear I won’t be able to take underwater pictures in the Galapagos (it’s the one I purchased an underwater housing for) 😦

My feet were still cold a half hour after I climbed into my sleeping bag, so I fixed a hand warmer sandwich – sock, hand warmer, sock on each foot – that did the trick and I finally fell asleep.