The Mighty Breathtaking Salkantay Trek – Days 134 – 137

Thu 14th – Sun 17th Jun

A nice early start…I wake before my alarm in a toasty room having left my heater on! At half 4 I’m ready for my pick up which comes about 25 mins later. On our way for the last 2, we have a tyre change…great!

Back on the road and after 2 hours, we arrive at our breakfast stop, buy a few provisions – Snickers and off we go again for another hour to our start point – Soraypampa.

This is a big car park and last drop off point for trekkers. Also all important toilet stop before starting. The scenery from here is amazing and will most certainly get better as we get nearer.

Today’s hike is an acclimatisation day and once the horses are loaded with all our stuff, team name of Saqra’s decided upon (meaning kind of deviousness), team high 5

and we start out 2 hour ascent to Humantay lake and mountain.

This isn’t a hugely difficult hike and is only just over 300m in ascent but i most definitely felt it and due to some bad weather and snow melting, it is made a tad more difficult by the muddy terrain.

I push on through, up up and up until I am greeted by the amazing snow capped peak of Humantay and its lake below….Wow! What incredible beauty.

We all sit and stare and soak up this incredible sight until we hear an awful scraping noise behind us…an avalanche is happening right in front of our eyes….OMG!

Apu Humantay is in the Cusco part of the Andes and means Head of the Gods. Whilst we are at 4180m asl at the lake, the mountain rises to an impressive 5329.

It’s a very sacred place and many locals (and now tourists) come to build stone towers known as ‘apachetas’. These are symbols of respect for the lake and mountains (apu’s). The stones are meant to come from where u live but tourists like to build them anyway.

Renzo our guide fills us in on some of the history and the importance of the place. The lake is formed from glacier melt, and in the distance you can see a giant glacier up on the mountainside. The colour of the lake itself is due to the minerals.

Apu in Quechuan refers to the god or spirit of mountains and we are reminded that we must respect these and pachamama.

Sitting around it’s getting cold so we make our way back down and towards our camp.

The camp here is owned by Machu Picchu Reservations and is at the foot of the mountains. It’s a row of plastic type huts with thatched roofs, fronted with a glass door. There are enough to sleep 2 per hut but a few double up for extra warmth and my buddies for the night are Ellie and Juliana.

After lunch we chill in our hut for a bit in our sleeping bags, talking and laughing about the things we miss back home – primarily food!

At 5pm, we take a small walk up a hill to get our first glimpse of the mighty Salkantay (Wild Mountain).

We can only see a bit of her due to the cloud but it’s a pretty awesome and majestic spot…perfect for Renzo to share with us one of his ancestors rituals. He builds a small circle with rocks and using 3 sacred coca leaf (Quintu), representing the Andean trilogy – Hananpacha (sky), Qaypacha (world in which we live) and Ukhupacha (dead). He burns these leaves that are lit from a cigarette and added to this is some pisco, the first drop of which is tipped on the floor for pachamama.

We then all take it in turns to worship the apu’s and pachamama with a shot and some smelling oils!

Dark and freezing, we walk back to camp by torchlight in time for tea, biscuits and popcorn…a very delightful and welcome afternoon snack. Maybe we spent a bit too much time up on the mountain as dinner very quickly followed suit. Most tuck in but with so much food in quick succession, I pass.

With an early start for the toughest day on the horizon we head to bed around 8pm….

It was a cold night, sleeping in temperatures as low as -5! The alarm goes off early and the kitchen staff arrive with a wake up cup of coca tea!

It’s bloody freezing and difficult to get changed. We pile on as many layers as possible and head for breakfast.

Today is going to be the toughest day – 6km up to the Salkantay and then 15km down to camp. Loaded up and layers on, we start our ascent in the biting cold….but we are now getting a glimpse of the massive Salkantay in the distance!

The walk is gruelling but the scenery spectacular. It’s great as people can just walk at their own pace and take everything in around them. At different parts of the trail u catch up with different members of the group and have a natter along the way.

At one point the road forks…left and right. Decision time – left is the harder route, nicely nicknamed the gringo killer or 7 snakes because of all the zig zags, right is a short cut but only takes 10 mins off the journey. Up for the challenge, I decide to go left! Boy it’s tough and altitude is taking a hold on the ol lung capacity!

The views are immense. Surrounded by these awesome mountains.

No time to waste, we still have to reach the Salkantay pass and that stretch is pretty gruelling too. Off we set again from Soirococha for another tough incline to our highest point.

Finally we reach the pass and I don’t have words to express the beauty of this place….INCREDIBLE!!! Lots of photos taken at our highest altitude of 4630m of the incredible Wild Mountain which towers a staggering 6271m asl.

We sit around for a while in awe of where we’re at. I’m totally captivated and blown away by the sights that behold me. I’ve never been anywhere so stunningly beautiful in my life. Coming here makes u feel so small in comparison to these magnificent mountains but trekking up through them makes u feel so alive!

I could stare at these all day but the cold is getting to me. A few stay with Renzo to do another ritual but most start on the descent. After 2 hours, temperatures warming up and scenery changing,

we arrive in Huayracmachay for lunch. After a well early start and a strenuous hike, we are all very much looking forward to some food!

Best feet forward, it’s time to pick up the pokes and carry on for another few hours. We’re now leaving the snow capped peaks behind and entering jungle land. I prefer the snowy landscape but here is equally as beautiful.

The day is starting to catch up with me and I’m longing to get to our next camp.I finally arrive! The camp here is cool n quirky. A tent inside a wooden straw shelter, demonstrated beautifully by Ellie

After a cold shower and some clean clothes it’s definitely beer o clock!

After a hot and filling dinner, it’s bed before 9 for another day ahead tomorrow….

Day number 3 and we’re awoken again and get ready. It’s much easier when the temperature isn’t as biting!

After breakfast

we’re on the road again but today is only a 3 – 4 hour hike through the jungle. Renzo tells us about some plants and flowers and their halloucensgdnic qualities as we pass. We follow the road for part of the journey due to bad weather and landslides.

Renzo and our assistant guide Chicken decided to paint some war paint on us using some local berries

before continuing along the path and along the river.

It’s quite pretty and parts of the trail remind me of trail runs at home which I am missing.

We stop for a much needed drink and some fruit whilst the boys play another group in football….World Cup fever is taking over and today is Peru’s first game (they haven’t made the World Cup in 36 years so excitement is rife). The rest of us just chill in the sun

After another hour, we’re picked up by the bus and race along a hair raising journey of cliff edges and driving through the river to get to today’s camping spot – Santa Teresa.

We arrive 10 mins into the Peru game and most of us grab a beer and plonk ourselves in front of the tv.

Sadly, Peru didn’t win, losing 1-0 to Denmark and poor Renzo is gutted.

After lunch, it’s a boiling hot afternoon so we kick back and relax in the grounds of our campsite.

Then it’s on to the hot springs for a bit of muscle therapy and relaxation. I debated doing this but it was so worthwhile and great to go with the whole gang. It was great that most of those doing the 4 day option changed to the 5 day to join us too.

After a few hours there, it was back to the camp site for dinner and to party!!!

The group here is amazing and we all get on great which really made for a great night of drinking and dancing. It was all going really well until the pisco came out…i really don’t remember much after this at all (but have been filled in since)!!!

Day 4 starts a little bit too early for my liking. Although despite not remembering much after the pisco, I am feeling miraculously ok! It’s packing up time and breakfast and then I need to decide what to do this morning. Do I continue to trek for 3 hours to Hidroeléctrica or face my fears again and go zip wiring! I decide against my better judgment to opt for the latter! Along with 5 others from my group, we set off!

The wait for equipment is a bit laborious…especially when ur anxious anyway, it’s hot and ur a bit hungover!

Finally we’re off and I can feel the fear take over. I really don’t want to do this and can barely watch as the people in front of me go! The noise of the wire drives hell into me…a bit like those not liking the dentist needle.

It’s my time…I opt to go first to get it over with and Ellie kindly agrees to go next to me! Feeling like I want to vomit, I plunge out on a wire hundreds of feet up in the air! WTF am I doing! Safe on the other side I can’t wait for this to be over! I get the next 2 lines out of the way – not before wanting to hit the guy who told me I can’t hold on to the rope! Before I can ask why not, I’m pushed off the edge – wanker!!! The other u can go on upside down. The rest of my group did but there wasn’t a cat in hells chance of me doing it!

Then comes the swing bridge! Holy Christ, if I thought the zips were bad this is a whole new level.

I’m only a fifth of the way down when I yell back to to the rest of the group to stop f**king shaking it, to which I’m told their not even on it yet! Half way through and it’s even worse! High above in the air, held on by one rope and gaps in the bridge wider apart than my leg span. Get me the fuck off this thing…I’ve had enough!

Next was the climbing wall which I thought I cd do but less than half way up, I lose my mental ability which means my legs turn to jelly and I just haven’t the strength to get up.

I yell to come down! I try to make my way down but the guy comes up to me blocking the steps I need to take down! I’m now just stuck and on!!! Finally I’m at the bottom and can walk up the ramp to the next wire. 2 more to go and I’m done. Last but one is ok and the last one is superman which I decide to do and I did quite enjoy!

Back at the entrance and a much needed energy drink and it’s a bus ride to Hidroeléctrica.

We meet all the others at a restaurant and have a good laugh about my trucks and tribulations! Dinner is served and wolfed down. I needed this.

After sorting all our stuff, it’s time for the final leg of the trek to Aguas Calientes for tomorrow’s much anticipes finale!

The road to Aguas Calientes follows the train track and is a bit boring. 2.5 hours of rocky terrain which is hard to walk on, especially tired and hungover.

I don’t think there were many of us that enjoyed this part.

The last half an hour was the nicest with the Urubamba river running past us and the magnigicent mountains towering above us….also knowing what hid upon on them was an exciting feeling. Roll on tomorrow!

Finally in to the toan and we check in to a hostel! Woo hoo, a proper bed for the night. Me and my fab 4 girlfriends check into a room.

After a hot shower and clean clothes, we go for dinner to a pre booked restaurant. This was the worst part of the entire trip. The food and service in this place was the worst I’ve ever experienced and was a bit crappy for our last night. Feedback will certainly be going back to the tour company!

After last night and a real early start tomorrow, it’s time for bed!

Oh I’m excited for tomorrow…..

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