Salkantay Day 2

 

The big trek! We’d been prepared for a shock to the system as our unconditioned bodies were thrown into the altitude of the Andes for 5 days. Two nights acclimatisation in Cusco proved useful, but it certainly didn’t give us enough of a test for what we were to experience. We took a list of things to buy and spent the last day in cusco filling our packs with anything that would help to keep us alive up there – wooly hats, gloves, peanuts, snickers bars, biscuits, head torches, altitude sickness pills and of course agua! In order to give you a proper view of what life was like on the track we put together a short video blog of our trip. So if you like make a start with that, or if you want a short overview of the days, then read on below for that and photos.

 

 

The Salkantay Trek, Peru

The Salkantay Trek, as it seems to have been named, is a point to point trek that traverses the Salkantay Pass. Mount Salkantay itself isn’t terribly climb-able, given that no one has done it successfully yet. It stands at 6,264m (about twice that of Mt Cook in NZ), it was and still is a hugely important mountain for the Inka’s and local people. The worshipping of mountains was one of the most important types of worship for the Inka’s – they even left human sacrificial offerings, on top of mountains, for the gods. While trekking up to and over the Salkantay Pass is a big highlight of the trip, the other days are filled with plenty more stunning vistas. We’d booked our trek through Salkantay Tours and our guide David was ready to drive us up the mountain early on the 21st August

 

Day One: 14km, Marco Casa To Soraypampa

The warm-up day. That’s what we were told and led to believe. What we didn’t understand was that warming up meant bringing you close to vomiting and thundering headaches – learn as you go I guess. The walk in started early and the sun was up quickly to warm things up. We made our way into the valley over 5 hours, ending up at Soraypampa for lunch. It was the last 20 mins of the trek that took it’s toll. It left me feeling nauseous and dealing with a thumping headache and Cel, already having stomach troubles before we left, was running to the loo! Food wasn’t appealing for either of us and facing another 3 days of trekking seemed like the biggest mountain we would face! The effects of 3,800m was taking it’s toll on our kiwi sea-level bodies! I managed to perk up after lunch and the group (6 other lads) and me took a walk up to a glacial lake above our camp ground – a good tester for the next big day. Coco tea was drank by the gallon and we went to bed feeling anxious about our bodies and their coping mechanisms as we faced ‘The Big Day’ on day 2.

 

Salkantay Day 1

 

Salkantay Day 1

 

Salkantay Day 1

 

Salkantay Day 1

 

Salkantay Day 1

 

Day 2: 20km, Salkantay Pass to Chaullay

The test. Hiking from 3,800m up to 4,600m and back down to 2,900m, approximately 20km, covered over 8 hours. The day started early and after breakfast washed down with 3 cups of coco tea we were on our way up the trail. It was a struggle, oxygen was thin and the gradient was steep, but after 2 and a half hours we made it to the height of the climb. In all honesty it was easier than we’d expected, not tantrums and no collapsing on the side of the track. After the photos and celebrations, we made our way downhill for 5 hours, stopping along the way for lunch. Coming down from mountainous terrain, through highland farms and finally down into lush forest dissected by a river. The sun shone on us over the last few hours and we could enjoy the fact that we’d ‘knocked the bugger off’ to coin a phrase from a living legend of the mountain trails.

 

Salkantay Day 2

 

Salkantay Day 2

 

Salkantay Day 2

 

Salkantay Day 2

 

Salkantay Day 2

 

Salkantay Day 2

 

Salkantay Day 2

 

 

Day 3: 12km, Chaullay to Santa Teresa

A light day, topped off with a soak in natural thermal pools. This was by far the easiest day of the trek, a late start (6:30 wake-up)  and a good breakfast set us up for the 12km that lay ahead. Undulating terrain through green forest, accompanied by a fast flowing river that ran down the valley. An unexpected trip in a cable car across the river and back was a highlight, as was splashing our faces with glacial fed water in the heat of the day. It was all over by lunch, we ate another great meal prepared by the cooks and afterwards took a taxi to nearby Santa Theresa to visit her hotpools. Two hours standing and sitting in the warm pebble bottomed pools, resting our chins on the stone walls looking out over the raging river just steps away. This was trekking if ever we’d done it!

 

Salkantay Day 3

 

Salkantay Day 3

 

Salkantay Day 3

 

Salkantay Day 3

 

Salkantay Day 3

 

Day 4: Llactapata to Aguas Calientes

The final day on the trail, but not the easiest. Today we had 24km to cover, taking us from the valley, up and over a mountain (with Incan ruins and views out over Machu Picchu), back down to Hidro Electrica (Yep, hydro electricity) for lunch and finally around the base of Machu Picchu mountain to the small and touristy town of Agaus Calientes. We took an old Inka trail uphill for 2 hours, relentless, but rewarding once we got to the top. The ruins at the peak looked out across the valley to Mt Machu Picchu and the ancient city. It was where the elite Inka’s would stop to prepare themselves for the journey through to Michu Picchu city, so it was only fitting that we left the site with Machu Picchu being our next Inka stop-off the following day. After lunch at Hidro Electrica we we walked our way for 3 hours around to Aguas Calientes and checked into our first hostel in 4 nights! Showers, probably the best in the world, were taken and a feast consumed.

 

Salkantay Day 4

 

Salkantay Day 4

 

Salkantay Day 4

 

Salkantay Day 4

 

Salkantay Day 4

 

Salkantay Day 4

 

Day 5: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu…in the mist and rain. The final stop off on our 5 day trek was Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan City. An early start was called for, up at 4am and at the control gates for Machu Picchu at 4:40am. At 5am we were let across the bridge and onto the path that leads, steeply, uphill to Machu Picchu. Cel led the way up for 40 mins, we had to summon our very last ounces of trekking energy to make it up, but we got there – the first people in line to enter Machu Picchu for the day. The morning delivered us a misty start, a different view of site than we’d expected but it was quietly eerie. It was a great feeling to be up on top of the site, looking over the amazing city just as Inca’s would have done. David, our trekking tour guide, walked us through the city, giving us all the knowledge we could absorb in 2 hours. Then the rain set in, luckily we had jackets but it wasn’t relenting. After a decision to make an exit, we saw the queue for the bus was enormous so mustered up energy from the reserve tanks and hurtled ourselves down the mountain back into Aguas Calientes. Showers and pizza were all that was left to tick off on the trip!

 

Salkantay Day 5

 

Salkantay Day 5

 

Salkantay Day 5

 

Salkantay Day 5

 

Salkantay Day 5

 

Salkantay Day 5

 

Salkantay Day 5

 

It had been an amazing and rewarding experience, tough at times, but without a doubt worth all the effort. We came down from the peaks with intentions of hitting the famous tracks of NZ when we get back!

8 Comments

  1. Sophie Bates says: September 7, 2012 • 07:36:35

    Wow what cool footage and photos. Sure you’ll remember that scenery for a lifetime. Breathtaking. Nice to have a bum photo with a good backdrop Cel , it makes all the difference! You guys have done so well having the trip of a lifetime in just a few months nearly time to head for home! We are getting excited ! Luv ya

    Reply

    • brendonfry says: September 7, 2012 • 21:24:15

      Yep, it’s pretty stunning stuff even when you’re gasping for breath! Looking forward to getting home, jsut got to tick off a few sites in Bolivia and we#ll be there!

      Reply

  2. Vic says: September 7, 2012 • 19:47:40

    Oarsome Fro – Ferral Feet!

    Reply

    • brendonfry says: September 7, 2012 • 21:03:57

      Thanks Vic, both have been worked on quite carefully. Although the feet are now clean and as of today the fro is now gone – only $4USD for the pleasure too. Hope you’re well!

      Reply

  3. Christina says: October 20, 2012 • 01:59:03

    Did you stay in Cuzco for a couple days before the hike? I get headaches with higher elevation (as low as 7K) and am worried about my hike in May. Did you take anything to combat it? What did you pack? How would you pack different? thanks!

    Reply

    • brendonfry says: October 21, 2012 • 23:50:13

      Hi there,

      Yep we stayed in Cusco for two nights before heading away on the trek (our tour company recommended it). It helped us to acclimatise a bit, had light headaches most of the first two days in Cusco and felt pretty exhausted. On the trek itself, I got a good dose of alt sickness on day 1 (headache, loss of appetite etc), as we arrived at camp – but managed to shake this within a few hours of being up there. The rest of the trip I was fine (even as we headed to the highest point of 4,600m). We packed pretty light, for 5 days we had a couple of thermal tops, a pair of thermal bottoms, a merino jersey, 4 t-shirts, a few pairs of socks (need back-ups in case they get wet), a big puffer jacket, woolen socks (buy these in Cusco – they are cheap and so good to put on after a days tramping), boardshorts and of course snacks (snickers, mixed nuts and fruit – buy from Cusco central market, muesli bars etc)

      Probably wouldn’t pack any differently at all – we had enough and weren’t overloaded!

      Good luck!

      Reply

  4. Top 5 Experiences: Latin America « BrendonFry.com says: December 2, 2012 • 19:15:37

    […] You’d think that missing out on trekking ‘The Inca Trail’ would really put a dampener on any trip to Peru. Think again. Let me introduce you to what guides claim as the more natural, diverse and authentic trek, out of Cusco: The Salkantay (not to mention it’s 20km longer and 300m higher). It was the most rewarding experience of our 4 months in Latin America; thumping headaches, diarrhoea, mild hallucination, heaving lungs, filthy feat, temperatures from -10 up to 25 degrees celsius and 5am starts. There is no question that we’d go through it all again, just to get the feeling we got at 4,600m above sea level as we summited the Salkantay Pass. Standing at the foot of one of the most sacred Incan mountains (Mt Salkntay), we couldn’t help but feel incredibly lucky to have walked where the Inca people had worshipped many years before. The trek the trek itself took 5 days and finished with a visit to Machu Picchu. We passed through arid scrubland, under giant mountains, around glacial lakes, over volcanic passes, through native jungle, across raging rivers and into small local villages. Every day started with spotless blue skies that made photography a matter of turning on the camera and just clicking away. The walking was tough at times, ascending 700m in an hour on the morning of day 2 certainly made sure we were alive, but on the whole wasn’t as gut wrenching as we’d expected. Is is better than the Inca Trail? Well it’s hard to say unless you’ve one both, but our guide certainly felt the Salkantay offered more freedom to walk where you wanted compared to the heavily regulated and policed Inca Trail. You still get to walk on trails that the Inca’s took, but you don’t have to share it with 400 other people on any given day. A life-long memory of an incredible part of the world, the pictures speak for themselves in Salkantay Trek – Living the High Life […]

    Reply

  5. DAVID says: March 30, 2014 • 14:32:50

    I REMEMBER YOU GUYS! THAT WAS AWESOME.

    Reply

Leave a comment