Hello dear readers,
today I want to share with you my experience of the Salkantay Trek. This is one of many Treks going to Machu Picchu. And what I heard it is nicer and a bit more challenging than the Inka Jungle Trail. The Inka Trail was not an option, to expensive and I had to book it 3-6 month in advance. So you cannot check weather or something can interrupt the plans. For me a no go.
I did this trek on my own, without any help or transportation in between. I informed myself on other websites about the route, necessarily equipment and times. I decided now to do both, bringing my experience and also writing down for further travelers. Two points made me do this trip, first: you have the freedom of the time schedule, so when to start, when to rest and how often to stop for pictures. Second, it is much cheaper, silent and a bit of adventure. This blog contains a lot spiritual information, so I also want to show, how to inform the Apu about your coming and ask for permission. Help of mother earth and calming down the spirits of the weather to be kind. From time to time I will finish this post.
Day 0 - Preparation and the start of the Trek
I think this is now just basic information, normally people have done trekking before. The list of things is not complete, but this are the most important things I had with me.
Clothes: Winter Jacket, Flies pullover, trainings jacket, T-Shirts, Thermal Pants, Socks
Camping: Tent, Sleeping Bag, Thermo Mattress (You can also hike without so much stuff and sleep in Hostals or luxurious tents. I saw a lot. But could be expensive. Benefit, you hike like the tours without a huge backpack. A daypack will be okay.)
Electronics: Cameras: Loaded, Mobile (with Mapsme App) and charger: Loaded
Others: Food for max. 2 days, Liter Bottle for refill, Knife, Compass, Crystals, Coca leaves and chocolate. Breakfast, Lunches and Dinners I could purchase in Soraypampa (15 Sol), Chaulley (10 Sol), Playa (10 Sol), Lucmabamba (8 Sol), Hydro Electrica (10 Sol).
The trip starts in Mollepata. To go there, you have to start at the place where you take the Collectivo. It takes around two hours to get there. Because I had nothing to do in Cusco I went in the late afternoon over. Coming near Mollepata we had a very heavy rain and the driver missed to put on the plane on the roof. My things got a bit wet. But no problem so far. I slept in a nice hostal run by locals to start early.
Day 1: Mollepata - Soraypampa
In the morning at 6 o'clock I started my trek. The Trek is well signed and easy to find. So full equipped I started my trek. 19 km nearly 1000 meter up was the distance.With making 1/3 of the daily trek I reached a nice viewpoint over the valley. At this time a lot of Horses and Mullas (Mix of Donkey and Horse) arrived to make my pictures better. I made a offering to mother earth and to the Apu Salkantay and asking for permission. After 2/3 of the trek I bumped into the most groups who started a bit further on the way. Around 1:30 I had lunch up in Soraypampa. For 15 Soles the worst one on the full trek. But having a warm meal was necessary.
When I arrived I saw many people going up the mountain to my left. Seems that I was not fully prepared with information. 400 Meters more up there was waiting the Lagoon Humantay Cocha. A beautiful small lagoon in front of the Apu Tukarway. So even I made already 1000 meters of altitude I decided to make the trek. And it was it worth. So nice and the weather was perfect doing this ascent.
Coming to the top it was amazing and the first 45 minutes there were just 5 other persons. So I put out my shoes, found a nice spot to lay down. Gave a crystal offering to the Apu and Lagoon. The Q'eros tought us that we have to ask everywhere for permission because we enter the place. I also felt that one tooth I had heavy problems in the past, started hurting again. So I asked the spirit of the Lagoon to help me. What happend was interesting. After throwing the crystal (new recharged) in the lake my tooth started cracking short and I felt something happening. After this a duck appeared and was swimming in front of me. Lobo Blanco explained that Spirits use animals to show and give signs. I believe that my offering was going the right direction. How to do a proper crystal offering I learned with Adri.
Day 2 - Soraypampa - Chaullay
The night was cold up there. We had a clear night, no clouds. In the night I get out and beneath the stars we had full moon. Very nice. I could have started my hike. Somehow I woke up early and so I decided to start early. At 6 o'clock I was again on the road. Today on the program 800 meters up and 1500 meters down on 20 km distance. My first stop I did at 2/3 of the ascent near a lagoon. Here I ate a bit and made a small offering to Patchamama and the Apu Salkantay. For Patchamama Choclate and two nice coca leaves and for the Apu three coca leaves. I said thank you for the weather and asked for permission. Q'eros say, that if you don't do this and the Apu don't likes you, you can get sick. Western people say... it was the water, food or whatever reason. Locals know, you enter the place of a spirit, so ask for permission and bring present. Even if this are just 2 coca leaves.
Around 8:30 I arrived to the Salkantay Pass. Amazing! This big mountain the weather and the silence. Great day, great weather ... so I ate my breakfast and made a small detour to another green/blue Lagoon. There I left my offering to the Apu Salkantay. Again a crystal.
The descent took a long long time. 13 km and 1500 meter down is really not easy. But thanks patchamama, my knees are meanwhile cured from all the volleyball and I could do this very quick. With three stops at clear and fresh small rivers I arrived Chaulley arround 2 o'clock. Followed by 3 more solo travelers we waited in the camping village. Haha, very good. Really nobody was there. Around 5 o'clock when also the groups arrived we took a few huts to put in the tents. I ordered a good dinner. Later we could see everywhere glowflys (Glühwürmchen). They are really big.
Day 3 Chaulley - Lucmabamba
This night was warm and nice. I slept until 6:30 and was watching how groups and the other hikers left. Today trekking time just 5 hours. So no rush. Sadly a thermal bath next to Chaulley was filled with soil, a landslide must happened before. After this disappointment I went on. I heard luckily that the trek was free. In the past there were more landslides an people needed to take the road. So I overtook nearly all the groups. At one point they were playing soccer... guides against tourists. I haven't joined this. Thought that this trek is enough. 😀 The scenery was nice and I arrived around 3 o'clock in Lucmabamba. A small cafe-camping village connected to one road without cars. A kind man and lady took me in. I should tell my friends to visit this camping place if possible :D. I paid with dinner, breakfast, coffees, camping and washing 25 Soles. So no that bad. Camping Inka Andino & Coffee Tour. If you plan to hike, go there. It is nice and the lady is very kind.
Day 4 Lucmabamba - Augas Calientes
I started around 7 o'clock my hike. Again 800 up and 1000 meters down was the program. In the night we had a bit rain, but in the morning it was quite good again. While going up it started really hard raining. I did not take many pictures. At the view point on top I met a French couple who were also traveling without guide. They camped up there and had a nice fire. I stayed there for a while and ate my breakfast. The rain stopped luckily and I started my way down. It was really tough, because slippery. But if you do the steps right it is no so bad. Coming near to Hydro Electrica I met another solo traveler from dutch. From there we went together further on.
It started again with heavy rain and we made a long break at the train station Hidroelectrica. This is a small place where the train goes to Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu Pueblo). We both had no tickets and also not planned to take the train (tourist price: 29 $ for 30 Minutes/ 12 km). For the way back I had a ticket, but normally this is to much. Locals pay f.e. 2 Soles (70 cents). Nevertheless after eating fruits and drinking coffee the rain stopped and we moved on. 1.5 hours later we arrived in Augas Calientes.
The situation with me and Adri got a bit complicated. She was taking a tour to Machu Picchu and I stepped in at the hotel. The hotel was located very bad, next to a soccer field. Noise until 11 pm and light all the night. Looking back I would advise everybody to arrange this trip on its own. F.e. my and Adris train ticket was wrong dated, for the bus back we were on no list... and the hotel a mess. Around 5:30 pm Adri arrived in the hotel and later we went for a simple dinner.
Day 5 Machu Picchu
So this final day we started very early. After the briefing in the night we had to leave the hotel around 4:20 am in the morning. I went by feet up and Adri took the bus. climbing up was very hard. Exhausting after these days. But after 45 minutes I was up with probably 30 others. I had a ticket for Huayna Picchu. This is the nice mountain in the background. Crazy also there on top the Incas build something. For that see the pictures. But I have to say. Doing this 800 meters up (including both ways) was then enough. Only a few times I had a good view on Machu Picchu. But this was nice even if the way is tough to climb. Steep, ropes... . Advise: Get a ticket for 10-11 am Huayna Piccu in advanced and not the early one 7-8 am. All the clouds were melted down from the sun later.
I liked Machu Picchu and did also an offering up there. Awesome view and this old granit mountains around are similar amazing. I had no guide, but Adri told me later what the tour guide explained. Also we waited in all the locations, tempels and listened to other guides. A shaman here in Casa Camacho told me, that they were long time in every place and listening the stories. It seems that every guide is telling a different story. The best one still is: The uppest Q'eros from the Incas were Persons who could talk to the Apus and Stones directly. So they told the stones what to do. Like sheep :D. No lifting, just voice and sounds. Good or?