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Published: June 10th 2008
Cusco is a gorgeous city with narrow cobbled streets, a stunning main square, endless parades and festivals, great food etc etc.... But of course the main thing is Machu Picchu so after speaking to a few agencies we settled on the 5 day/4 night Salkantay trek - apparently harder than the 4 day/3night Inca trail.
So last Monday we were picked up at 5am and driven 2 hours to Mollepata at 2800m, the start of our trek. We were with a great group of people - Magnus from Norway, John, Holly and Chris from the US, Abraham from Mexico, Astrid and Tim from Germany, Helene from France, Alexa from Switzerland and Nir from Israel and of course our local guide, Percy, and we had so much fun together.
After Ruth had bought some sticks and the tents, bags etc had been loaded on to the horses, we set off for our 3100m lunch stop. On the way we caught our first glimpse of the gorgeous snowy peak of Humantay in the distance. This was going to be good.....
We carried on climbing after lunch until we reached our campsite for the first night, at a freezing 3900m. Not
helped by the fact that the down sleeping bags we´d hired turned out to be thin summer ones! Even with all our clothes on, including waterproofs, we froze in our tent.
We had a 5am start the next morning for the hardest part of the trek, a 3 hour climb up to the Apacheta pass at 4600m where the air was definitely so much thinner. From there we had stunning views of Salkantay, 6271m, before making our way back down to 2900m and our campsite for the 2nd night which was fortunately much warmer than the first night.
The 3rd day was mainly trekking down through the cloud forest to the small village of La Playa, where pigs ran free and music blared from the local bar (which seemed to be full of the local bus drivers!). From there we got a bus to our 3rd campsite at Santa Teresa, where after watching a cow being butchered, we got a bus to the gorgeus thermal pools - a very welcome dip and a chance to get rid of some of the dust. The pools were in a lovely natural setting and when the sun went down the stars
were amazing. The beer was pretty good too!
We had a bit more of a lie in the next morning, and when most of the group starting trekking the 3 hours to the lunch spot, Ruth, Holly and Chris opted to go in the bus with the cook (we had said goodbye to the horse and horsemen the previous day) in an attempt to curb the blisters! After David had trekked with the others past falling boulders and waterfalls we all met up at the start of the railway in Hidroelectrica, and after a great lunch, we walked the last 3 hours along the railway to Aguas Calientes.
As we had all booked with different agencies we were staying in 4 different hostels for our final night but met for dinner at a local restaurant. The food on the trip had been fine, but it was gutting to be sitting in a pizza restaurant and having to eat soup then fish with rice and potatoes in our plastic bowls, all made by our cook in the restaurant´s kitchen !
The next morning was our last morning and the reason we´d been trekking for the last 4 days.
So at 4am we met for breakfast and at 4.30am we started the last section which included climbing 1700 steps to the entrance of Machu Picchu! But it as so worth it! Once in we headed straight for the mountain Wayna Picchu where we climbed another 300m in the next hour to get to the top for the views. The sun had come up while we were climbing but it didn´t matter, the views were amazing and after having trekked for 5 days and waited for this for over 9 months, it was quite emotional.
We had a brilliant day at Machu Picchu and stayed until about 4pm when we got the bus back to town. It´s so impressive and far bigger than it looks on the pictures. We had a guide for a couple of hours which was really worthwhile. We absolutely loved it, so thank you Liz for our wedding present. Sell your houses and go NOW!
After a quick dinner in Aguas Calientes we boarded the train and then the bus back to our hostels in Cusco. We were all knackered but still managed 3 nights out in a row with each other as we
all got on so well. Thanks guys!
The day after Machu Picchu, having obviously not walked enough!, the 2 of us and Magnus walked the 30 mins from Cusco up to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman (aka Sexy woman!) and also the Cristo Blanco. The ruins weren´t very exciting after Machu Picchu but we had some great views of the town.
And since then we´ve just been enjoying Cusco, oh yeah and eating guinea pig! We forgot the camera but that might be for the best.... it was still intact, teeth, claws and all but there was hardly any meat on it and it wasn´t that tasty either. Phew! We also had an afternoon at the market in nearby Pisac which we enjoyed.
And so tonight we leave Cusco and our lovely hostel Killipata which has the cutest most playful dog, Lucas. It´s on to Arequipa for us....
Here are some youtube links for you to enjoy too
Take care all
The Millsys x
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