Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Salkantay/Santa Teresa/Machu Picchu Trek - 5 days

The Salkantay Trek is a 5 day 4 night alternative trek to the standard Inca Trail trek where every man and his dog treks in a congo line through the sun gate and on to Macchu Picchu on teh final day...not for us! Our Trek involved trekking through the Salkantay pass, a mountain that is 6225m high with deep forests then via Santa Teresa with relaxing natural hotsprings and ends the last morning in Machu Picchu.

llama Path is a local company that we went booked with. A evening briefing before the 5am start allowed us to meet our 2 guides Freddy and Jose, it also allowed us to meet the rest of our group. 1 Mexican, 2 Swiss, 2 Americans, Rich and Linds and the token Brit....aka "tea bag" (more stories on him to come)

First day started with a 7 hours medium level trek to our first camp in the valley of Salkantay. We didn´t realise how comfortable the company made this trek. When we arrived into camp our tents were set up, a bowl of hot water and towel were at the door and popcorn was always served on arrival once freshened up....nice but not expected!

With an early morning start all went to bed straight after dinner. Tish somehow got a bug either that day or the evening before as she was violently ill all night. The only funny side of this was the local stray dogs got a hot meal and where extremely happy. With day 2 as the toughest day of the5 days, it was horse back for Tish. Sounds luxurious but trust wasn´t.
Day 2 was trekking the Salkatany pass, a mountain 6430m. We were hoping for the clouds to lift but no luck this time, we did however get to watch some impressive avalanches from a-far.
The weather was wet and muddy the whole trip which meant the tracks where ankle deep in mud so hard walking at times.
We got to spend one of the nights in a park by the natural hotsprings of SantaTheresa,. This place was just stunning and with 4 pools to choose from, everyone was satisfied after a few days of hard trekking.
Day 4 was spent walking train tracks climbing past and around the mountain of Machu Picchu.
When arriving in Aguas Caliente ( the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu) there was an option to climb a mountain adjacent to Machu Picchu where you could get a great view of the mountains and Machu Picchu itself. Only Simon and 2 others (Richie and Adrian) attempted this as everyone was pretty shattered by the end of day 4 anyway. The views were amazing and the trek up was mainly by ladder.....crazy stuff but a highlight!
A 4am start on day 5 meant we were the first ones in line to get to Machu Picchu. With another cold and wet day, all were a little slow to start with but as the sunrise broke, so did the clouds...just for brief moments.
We climbed one of the small mountains colse to Wayna Picchu to get a great view of the ruins. There are many, many, many stories to Machu Picchu so it is up to yourself which one you believe, make your own assessment.
Later that afternoon when we all arrived into Aguas Caliente, we were expecting to leave our guides there and head back to Cusco but instead we were informed that there was a farmer strike and they had blocked all the roads and train tracks with boulders so we were trapped in town the night. No one seemed too upset, instead we found the cheesy local night club and danced the night away with many sore heads the next morning. A great trek, hard but rewarding and recommended over the yellow brick road of the Inca trail.

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