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  • Day101

    Salkantay Trek, Peru - Day 1

    July 23, 2016 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    For the next 5 days, Flora will be a trek through the Salkantay mountain to Machu Picchu. Much to Aaron’s disappointment, he will not be able to join the trek as he still needs to rest his lung. The plan is for Aaron to take a train to a little town near Machu Picchu called Aguas Calientes on the 4th night.

    The trek starts with a 4:30am pick-up from the hotel. All that I would need to get through the trek is in a duffel bag and a backpack. After 3 hours on the bus, we arrived at Soraypampa where breakfast was waiting for us. It felt so surreal sitting in a deep valley with a surprisingly good spread of food on a folding table. Over the next 5 days, this group of 8 trekkers would share so many unforgettable memories. We were in great hands. Our guide, 3 porters, 1 chef, 2 horsemen including horses and mules would ensure our trek was extra special.

    After breakfast, we made our way along the Salkantay valley towards Salkantay Pass. We had unbeatable views of the Andes and its glacier-peaked mountains the entire time. Out of the 8 trekkers, 3 carried some serious DSLR cameras and multiple lenses. This was a photographer’s paradise. Our guide had a hard time shepherding us along the track. As soon as one person stopped to take a photo, the whole herd of sheep followed suit. You could hardly blame us – everywhere you look, you were captivated. Every now and then, you could hear an avalanche from the Salkantay glacier peak up above.

    This hike was a lot harder than I thought it would be. The thin air at the high altitude was making every uphill step laborious. It was a real struggle to climb 10m uphill without feeling desperately short of breath. After a long 4 hours, we finally got to the highest point of the trek at Salkantay Pass with an altitude of 4670m. You should see the view from up here. Hopefully the photos give you some sort of an idea of how breath-taking this place is.

    We descended for about an hour, crossing streams and waterfalls along the hillsides, until we got to our lunch site. The horses and our porters had overtaken us much earlier on in the trek, and raced ahead to set up camp for us. By the time we arrived, lunch was cooked and ready to be served. You would think the food would be subpar given the remote location of our camp but it was one of the best meals I’ve had in South America. It’s amazing what they can whip up with quinoa, potatoes, rice and chicken. Delicious!

    We still had a long way ahead of us to reach our camp for the night. It was all downhill from here but it wasn’t as easy as you would think. The uphills were very steep and the downhills equally so. I’m so glad Aaron ordered these walking poles for me as I’d be landing face first or skittling downhill on my bum many a times. The sun had started to set and it was getting cold. The wind jacket was now back on. When we reached the campsite, it was nearly 0 degC and dropping. Once the sun had completely set behind the Andes, the cold was overwhelming. According to our guide, it was a warm night – probably around -8 degC. Warm indeed!

    We were told to eat light as digestion is slow at this altitude. I was famished and ignored that advice. I crawled straight into my sleeping bag after a “shower” with wet wipes as the cold was unbearable. Where was my husband when you need someone to cuddle up to! It was a restless night. Between freezing into a popsicle and overheating due to the multiple layers of clothing I had on, I managed maybe 3-4 hours of sleep.
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