Diary of the trail to Machu Picchu on the mountain tops.
Day one – we were fetched at the hotel at 5 am and went to Mollepata (2900m) by bus, had breakfast, bought walking poles and set off. The day started very hot and it was not easy going up and down with the entire luggage. The view was incredible; a lot of hidden valleys would appear with each conquered mountain. After 3 hours (3200m) we found the cook waiting for us with the table ready. The most breathtaking sight was mountain Humantay covered with snow. And our goal was to reach its foot, where we would camp. The closer we got, the colder it was.We walked another 4 hours until the camp site (3800m) and spotted Salkantay, the mountain was even more fascinating. At 8pm we were already sleeping.
Day two – The cook woke us up at 5:30 in the morning with coca tea in his hands, “hablando: ¡Buenos Dias! ¡Coca tea!”. It was the coldest night of our lives, we wore every piece of clothing possible (gloves, hat, scarf), but we could sleep so tired we were. Salkantay in the morning is amazing. Before we continued our walk, we got some stones to make a wish and an offer to Salkantay, the bigger the stone, the better for the wish (common practice when you reach high places).
We walked 3 hours until we got as close as possible to Salkantay (4600m high, the mountain is over 6000m high, it is the second highest peak in the country), where you can see Salkantay River, green and white with glacial water, beautiful! We placed the candies on a boat, with the rocks on top of them and each one of us made a wish. Another 3 hours walking until lunch time, we got down to 2920m, and all of a sudden a terrible fog came up and within 20m there was no visibility. Thank God the guide was familiar with the way. After lunch we walked for 4 more hours. Today I have got huge blisters. Vanessa took so many painkillers that every time we stopped for a while; she insisted the mountains were moving. Maybe the coca tea is kicking in.
Day three – we entered a rainforest, it was hotter and there were a lot of mosquitoes, we always wore repellent on our arms and faces, but I simply forgot that they might attack when we went to the toilet, so we ended up with our butts full of bites! The vegetation is similar to Brazil’s forests, with a variety of flowers and several orchids. We crossed over and observed wonderful waterfalls in the forest. We walked for 3h until it was time to meet the cook; lunch was ready and we stopped at a great waterfall with volcanic water! We took off our clothes and bathed in the stone pool, it was cold outside the water, and we took the opportunity to wash ourselves with soap and shampoo, after 3 days without taking a shower. We were renewed and kept on for 4 more hours until we reached a village called La Playa (2350m), where we camped. So far we had been following Salkantay River, which was getting bigger and agitated because of the waterfalls. On this day all the travelers experienced muscle pains; we exchanged painkillers and had a little bit of everything.
Dinner was a feast, several typical foods and Chilean wine. We stopped at a bar, drank a lot of beer and had a great time watching Los Angeles de Sur and Los Punos video clips, they are bizarre. The toilet in this place was filthy, there were some plastic bags and a stream ran under it, going all the way to the river, where the local people got water to cook and make the hygiene.
Day four – we could sleep until 7am, but a rooster started to cockadoodle doo as soon as the sun went up, how disturbing! We took a bus because the way was dangerous, we saved up 14km, but it was dreadful, the first time I was scared. It was a piece of junk on a horrible road, they let each and every hitchhiker in, and we were all jammed. The driver had an assistant who would get off the bus to remove the rocks out of the way and help it reverse when there was a narrow curve; through the window we could see a 3000m cliff, it felt like we would fall any minute! The worst moment was when we crossed over a waterfall, right on the water, no bridge! I saw the shadow of a man on the roof of the bus, I found out he was there to avoid our luggage from falling down. At the hydroelectric of Santa Tereza, we started walking again for 4h until Lalactapata 92700m), where we had lunch. The muscle pains and the blisters were killing us, but all was forgotten in a minute, and we had the time of our lives. We kept on going for another 2h up to Águas Calientes, now on the rails and stopping every time the train whistled. It was already possible to see Machu Picchu in the distance. I loved Águas Calientes, there are beautiful things to buy, but only if we have money left. Tonight we took a shower and slept in a hotel bed.
Day five – we woke upa t 4:30am and went to Machu Picchu with our flashlights, we went up the stairs for 1h (each step had a different hight). At 7 we reached our goal! The ciudadela is beautiful, but all the way up here was so wonderful that actually seeing the sanctuary was just another attraction. After walking around, we still had the energy to go up the Wayna Picchu, another hour going up. On the top I was afraid of the stairs, it is too high and the steps were too small for my feet (my shoe size is 5.5). At night we got the train back to Cusco.There were nearly 60 people along the trail, while on the traditional one there are 500 a Day, during the way we came across and camped with people from all over the world and from different ages. It was perfect, we are now ready for tougher trails.
It was perfect, we are now ready for tougher trails.
Cost: US$175 with everything included, we only spent money with water. We bargained a lot, on average it costs between US$220 and US$360.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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