Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu with Alpaca Expeditions

This is our group that set out at 4.25am from Cusco to tackle the Salkantay Pass and onwards to Machu Picchu. Silvio, our guide, unfortunately is not in the picture but he, at times, literally dragged us up and down the mountains and to him we all owe a special thanks. Also a huge thanks to everyone at Alpaca Expeditions who were simply amazing throughout.

Back row (L-R): Mary, Wilver, Jim, Jen, Nick, Cushla Front Row (L-R): Leo, Aqualina, Pablo

We set off at 4.30am from our hostel after not a lot of sleep and sat in the minibus as we traversed the valleys and mountain sides to reach our starting spot which was about 3,300m above sea level with the daunting task of reaching 4,600m before lunch. It’s safe to say we started with a bang. One of the first pictures we took is below:

Only two hours into the trip and our breath had been taken (in many ways)

 

We trudged slowly on rarely daring to look up at what was still to come as we huffed and puffed slowly, very slowly up the mountain paths. A few times we were able to rush ahead at the speed of sloths and have some pretty cool moments looking out over the valleys and the incredible scenery:

 

Looking dashing halfway up the mountain

After a lot of gasping and panting we finally made it as the snow started to come down:

Nailed it

 

Layers, lots of layers

From here it was all downhill to our campsite where we had a wonderful dinner that warmed us through completely and was the best food we had tasted in Peru. Not sure what that says about our choice of restaurants but the chef Leo and his man Wilver were miracle workers.

Our first night at the campsite below was punctured by the sound of a huge avalanche breaking somewhere in the morning. We couldn’t see anything which made it a pretty eerie experience!

Our beautiful first campsite in the early hours of Day 2

Rather than take you all day by day through the walk which eased up considerably after Day 1 as we descended to 3,000m we just have some photos that show some of the sights we saw on our way down:

Slow and steady ten minutes uphill to this waterfall (took about an hour)

We had some funny moments along the way but few could compare to Cushla pulling down a branch from a passion fruit tree and being faced with the local Matron who was decidedly unhappy about the whole thing. Silvio’s attempts to placate Mamasan did not go down too well either. Her son told us she is always angry though and he was relieved it wasn’t him taking the full force for once!

Machu Picchu in the background. Sunrise was pretty special

We ate some awesome food along the trail with passion fruit, blackberries, bananas, a weird chalky mango type fruit, lemon plant which was a small succulent that you chew. There were a lot more but after 8 days on the Galapagos I have forgotten them!

We also saw some amazing wildlife but were normally too tired to whip the camera out in time to photograph them. We saw a Cock of the Rock (national bird of Peru) and enough parakeets to make us think we were back home in Beckenham. A tarantula greeted us at Machu Picchu and a viper slinked away before it could scare Jen too badly.

On our fourth day we arrived in Aguas Caliente where we would take the bus up to Machu Picchu the following morning. My suggestion of walking up the path did not go down well. The next morning we were up at 4.45am in the middle of a powercut to catch the bus up there for dawn. Unfortunately the clouds had also risen at the same time but it was pretty special being one of the first 100 or so entrants into Machu Picchu:

We made it!

The famous picture

Early stages of the beard

The trip was simply astonishing from start to finish and we owe a big thanks to Jim, Mary and Cushla who helped make the adventure one of those memories that will live with us forever.

Also a huge thanks again to Alpaca Adventures. If you are thinking of doing a trek in the Andes then please use these guys as they are a small company that relies on word of mouth to tackle the big companies. Their attention to detail and the quality of their staff was of the highest order and you won’t regret using them.

Galapagos next…

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