Breathtaking Andes hiking
Sun, snow, rainforest: The Salkantay Trek offers everything for fans of hiking and outdoor activities. For me it was the most diverse hike I’ve ever did.
Cusco: Starting point of the hike
Starting point of the Salkantay Trek is the center of the Peruvian Andes: Cusco. The city is located in 3,416 meters height. You can visit some churches and other pre-colonial and colonial sights. If you have time, spend more than one day in Cusco. Not because of the sights. But to adjust to the altitude. At the beginning you can just move very slow. Your body is very tired. I recommend some Coca tea. You can find it in every restaurant. It’s very delicious with cinnamon and lime.
Day 1: 1,800 meters altitude difference
The day starts at five o’clock in the morning. By bus we are driving three ours to the starting point of the trek. The next ten hours are filled with intense hiking. 1,800 meters altitude. The air gets thinner and thinner with every hour. The trek is very step. The heart is beating faster and faster. We need a lot of breaks to recover. Finally we are on 5,000 meters altitude. It’s cold. We can see the glacier of Salkantay, with 6,271 meters the highest mountain in this area. At six o’clock in the evening we arrive in the camping ground. At night it’s freezing. Minus ten degrees celsius. I can not sleep. The altitude causes a bad headache.
Day 2: The longest part of the trek
The night was bad, but the morning was awesome. Without all the clouds of the day before I can see all the mountains around us. Unfortunately we have no time for romantic in the morning. We have to leave. The 26 kilometers hike is starting. I put some coca leaves in my mouth and start the day. Even the first two hours are stunning. In just one hour you leave the snow of the mountains and you are in the rainforest of the Andes. Hummingbirds are surrounding you. It’s tropical. I put my hat, gloves and my jacket in my bag. But the hike is very hard. After 20 kilometers my legs and my feet are hurting. When we arrive the campground of the second night, I am just very happy and ready to sleep.
Day 3: First view on Machu Picchu
18 kilometers and more than one thousand meters of altitude. At the beginning we get some Inca coffee for refreshment. We are motivated, because we will see Machu Picchu the first time. It’s hot and sunny. The hike is steep. After four hours we arrive at the Machu Picchu outlook. The view is breathtaking. This side of the monument you can only see from this point. You can zoom with your camera into the ruins. After two hours descent we finally arrive on the train to Aguas Calientes. From there it’s very close to Machu Picchu. It’s the end of the Salkantay Trek. Three days of intense hiking.
I’ve booked the trip with the Canadian agency GAdventures: https://www.gadventures.com