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Published: November 5th 2015
Our last full week in Peru was saved for trekking to Machu Picchu via the Salkantay trail. The other, more famous Inca trail, has to be booked months in advance bc of its popularity although Salkantay is slowly becoming just as popular if not almost as crowded. Kristine, having already done this trek 10 years ago was our defacto tour guide but she quickly realized how much things have changed in the 10 years that have passed. We lucked out and our group was great. The group consisted of two Swiss sisters, an Australian girl traveling solo for 18 months, a group of 3 Brazilian friends, an American guy and English girl who met along their travels, and a Chinese woman and her American Boyfriend, who was one of the most interesting people we have met so far....his story is too long to tell. After our initial introductions with eachother we all hopped into the back of a truck for a bumpy ride to the trail head.
The first day was pretty easy and we made it to our camp within a few hours of hiking semi flat trails. After we got our stuff set up in our tents and
Our first class ride to the trailhead
had lunch we hiked up to an alpine lake. As we made up to the top the weather got better and the sun peeked it's head out for the first time that day. The lake was beautiful and we spent a while admiring the scenery. That night was the coldest but we seemed to fair well with our sleeping bags we brought from home.
The second day was supposed to be the most scenic part of the trek other than seeing Machu Picchu on the final day. However the Incan spirits weren't in our favor and we hiked through early morning sun followed by fog and clouds, then rain which turned into sleet that turned into snow at the top of Salkantay pass and then back into a steady rain for most of the hike back down. Everyone in the group seemed to in good spirits at the end of the day considering we were all wet and tired after trekking for almost 11 hours.
The next morning we woke up to sunshine and warmer weather and enjoyed a much easier hiking day than on day 2. We hiked for about 8 hours to our next camp where
Back of truck selfie with some of our group members
there were natural hot springs. We were finally able to wash some of the dirt off after three days of hiking and no showers. The relaxing effect of the hot springs was soon stolen by the small sand fleas that seemed to be everywhere at the lower altitude. We practically bathed in bug repellant the last couple of days but somehow ended up with tiny bites riddled up and down our entire bodies. We found out that Kristine might have some kind of allergy towards these little bastards b/c her ankles swelled up and became cankles. Something similar had happened to her last time she trekked to Machu Pichu. To get our minds off all the itching, the group guides had planned a bonfire and party for all of the groups staying at the camp. There was music and dancing and some sort of liquor called Incan tequila that was being passed around. It was a fun time and Kristine got to practice her Salsa with one of our guides. We could've partied all night but needed to get to sleep bc we had another 6 hours of hiking the next day.
On the 4th day we had the
We may have found our first Christmas card picture. But don't be looking for it this year!
option of taking a taxi halfway to where we would have to walk the remainder of the way into town, since there are no roads, or we could hike the entire way. We decided to hike since that's what we signed up for at the beginning and it seemed like cheating if we didn't. Half of the group decided to take the taxi, so we met up at the halfway point and hiked the remaining 3 hours together into town where we had our first shower in 4 days and a decent bed to sleep in. We ate dinner as a group for the last time and then called it a night since we'd be getting up at 4 am to get an early start hiking up to the gates of Machu Picchu.
The 4am alarm came very quickly but there was no hitting snooze on this day. We had trekked about 36 miles up until that point and were stoked for the last mile or two. If we weren't awake after the alarm, those last couple miles certainly woke us up. It was a series of stairs and switchbacks straight up the mountain and by the time we
This is where we come to meditate when we are feeling lost in the world.
got to the top we were soaked in sweat. Listening to our guides, we brought extra shirts for each of us and changed when we got to the entrance. We arrived at the gates at about 5:50 and had to wait until they opened them at 6:00. Looking around at the other tourists waiting patiently just like us, you would think it was the entrance to an amusement park but as soon as we were let in and rounded the corner to where the famous view of the mounatin that you see in every adventure magazine or guide book, there was no confusion as to where we were. The sun was cresting over the mountain range as we arrived and it cast picturesque rays over the valley. The weather on our last day was as good as it gets and we kept joking that it must've been good karma from not complaining about missing out on views of the mountains earlier in the trek. It's hard to put into words describing the beauty of a place like Machu Picchu and we were just thankfulto to get to see it with our own eyes. We spent the rest of the morning
Our first nights camp
walking with a guide hearing about the history of the sacred grounds. Unfortunately we couldn't stay all day, so we snapped a couple more photos and headed back down into town to get ready for the 18 hours of trains, taxis and buses that would get us across the border and into Bolivia for the next chapter of our journey.
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