One of the main things that I, and all of us actually wanted to do in Peru was Machu Picchu! So finally we began our 5 day hike, the Salkantay trek, which ended in Machu Picchu on day 5. Lucky for us, we had to wake up at 3am for 3:30am pick up, where we were taken to a restaurant for breakfast, and to be split into groups.
We were put into a group of 13, us 3, 6 Aussies, 2 Americans, 1 guy from Holland and 1 from Italy, and it was time to begin the trek. Our group was suitably named “team awesome” courtesy of our guide Neil.
We first had to hike up to our first campsite at 3900m, but the walk actually wasn’t too bad, after a bit of uphill was pretty much flat most of the way.
Not bad views for the first day eh?
When we reach the campsite we had some lunch, before hiking up to a nearby laguna, which was about 4300m. The hike up was actually pretty steep, and took around 40 minutes to get to… but well worth it!
The water was so clear and blue, and with a nice backdrop of the snowy mountain.
Big shout out to Abby for letting me borrow her beanie as it was freezing up there! Also sporting my 70 soles coat (absolute steal).
Some of the boys even jump into the laguna – actually insane as by this point the sun was going down and it was bloody freezing!
We made our way back to the campsite for tea time (!) and by this time the temperature had really dropped. Can’t quite explain how cold it was, and we had some pretty crappy sleeping bags to look forward to that evening! After dinner we all headed to bed for an early (and almost sleepless) night, ready for our 4:45am start the next morning!
After a very cold, restless night, we were woken up around 4:40am, with coca tea. We were told by Neil that it had got down to -5 degrees the night before, which explained why we were so cold! Also as it had been raining all night where we were, it meant it had been snowing all night in the mountains!
After breakfast we started our hike up to the Salkantay pass, which was 4600m. It was so cool where it had been snowing, looked like a winter wonderland
The first part of the main ascent for the day was named “the gringo killer” which was basically just a zig-zag road that went up to the first stop – luckily everyone survived!
The next part of the walk was so snowy, you could make snowballs and everything, definitely not wearing the appropriate shoes for it though…
Everyone enjoying some well earned oreos before the final ascent.
The peak was around 4600m so we had about 200/300m left to go, but luckily for most of it you could actually see the top, so you had something to aim for!
And the views were incredible.
The whole of “team awesome” at the top!
After reaching the peak, the good news was that the rest of the way was downhill, for the next 3 days! Woohoo! All we had to do was avoid the rivers and puddles in my trainers… easier said than done.
Our second camp was down at 2900m, so a LOT warmer than the night before. We could even sit out and enjoy playing some cards (until we got scolded by someone in the other group who was trying to sleep… woops). Also got to use my lumi lamp again!
Today we got to “lie in” until 5am – lucky us. Once again we were woken with coca tea, but this time after having a much better nights sleep. Today was a nice easy day as the walk with pretty much either flat or downhill for the entire day.
Because we could actually breathe whilst walking, we could actually chat to each other, which started a lot of games of riddles – I was the best, of course. We made it to the 3rd camp relatively early, at 1900m, so the temperature was a lot higher. And the afternoon consisted of a trip to the hot springs.
The hot springs had 4 pools, all getting slightly warmer as you went along, surrounded by the mountains. The only problem was, the second you stepped out of the water, you would be covered in bugs biting you. I was literally covered in bites – looked like I had chicken pox 😦
That evening was the “party” evening, where all the groups would have some drinks around the camp fire. For some reason the drink of the night was Ïnka Tequila (yes it really is as bad as it sounds), so by the end everyone was pretty merry… But luckily we had a lovely lie in of 6:30am to look forward to!
This morning everyone woke up a bit worse for wear, so it was a very slow start to the morning, compared to the rest of the week. And it was boiling hot, so we had a lovely hungover walk in the sun to sweat out the alcohol. Today we were walking to the town of Aguas Calientes, where we would be staying in a hostel, before making the ascent up to Machu Picchu!
No pictures today, as we were pretty much walking along a train track for most of the day, so there wasn’t much great scenery. And I was too busy itching my mosquito bites to be taking pictures…
We arrived in Aguas Calientes, and all went out for dinner, before grabbing an early night, in preparation for our 3:30am start the next day!
Today was finally the day we were going up to Machu Picchu! Our whole group wanted to be the first up, so we left the hostel at 4am so we could be one of the first to the bridge gate at the bottom.
The gate at the bottom opened at 5am, then you had to walk up the 1700 steps to the entrance of Machu Picchu. 1700 steps is absolutely exhausting! But we made it, and it was all worth it to get round the corner to see a completely empty Machu Picchu.
Honestly one of the coolest things I have ever done.
And glad I got to do it with such an amazing group of people!
Once we had got all our photos from the main viewing point, we started our tour around with Neil.
Hopefully you can see the difference in the wall, from the left side to the right. The left side being a holy building, so the blocks being sanded down and perfectly fitted, compared to cobbled together on the right side.
And this points North, South, East and West, which we actually tested with an iPhone compass, and its pretty accurate!
Our last part of the day was walking up to the Sun Gate which gave you a view over all of Machu Picchu.
We enjoyed the views, and then headed back to the bus for our 7 hour journey back to Cusco.