Sparky Travels

April 19, 2011

Salkantay Trek Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 11:55 pm

A 5:30am start to our third day of trekking was accompanied with the usual drizzle. We had breakfast and set off on our way. Fortunately Marije’s knee was feeling better but we kept the mules and horses behind just in case. The usual Inca path was out of action due to a massive landslide that rainy season so instead we took the ‘hard road’ on the opposite side of the river. This was also affected by landslides, in fact a few had occurred that very morning. Our guide clambered over the rubble of one to check it was safe. A few seconds after he returned a boulder of a ton or so went careering down the hill bouncing past the point he’d been standing seconds earlier. A minute later we crossed that part at an uncommonly quick pace! We later found out that a further slide occurred later and cut off the road completely. Another landslide we had to cross consisted of liquid mud and we had to put down rocks to form stepping stones across the brown soup. It was pretty hairy stuff at times.

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Soon the route became more stable and we could get a good pace going in the constant light rain. My right ankle had begun to give me jip due to the rented boots but was manageable as we reached our next stop at 1pm after 5+ hours of walking. The town of Playa Sahuayaco was the first time we met any other trekkers. It had a few shops and restaurants and soon after we arrived a couple of other groups also rocked up. At 1900m it was the lowest altitude I’d been at in ages. I’d built up a fair appetite so helped myself to 5 servings of lunch before we walked down to the nearby river to relax.

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Dinner, beers, cards and a lecture on Inca history followed before we bedded down for the night, our tents surrounded by the chickens, dogs and turkeys who lived in the yard.

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Our final day of trekking began at 4:30am. Porridge was consumed in vast quantities in preparation for the uphill trek. After an hour along the hard road out of town we started to climb up and round the hill along old Inca trails. It was a constant ascent as we climbed into the clouds. The landscape began to change towards jungle as we went up. The clouds obscured the view but the route was lined with many pretty flowers. Walking in the middle of the group I just missed sighing a Spectacled bear which had been feeding on the path but ran off when the guide and Stephane rounded the corner. After 3 hard hours of going up we reached the top and took a rest in true jungle terrain with vines hanging all over the placed.

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A few minutes into our descent down the other side of the hill we reached the Inca ruins of Llactapata (Quechua for ‘highest town’) at a height of 2650m. The walk down should have been easier than up but downhill was killing my ankle which started to cause shooting pains up the bag of my leg every step. On a more pleasant note, we caught our first glimpse of Machu Picchu across the valley as the clouds cleared and the sun came out.

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It was two hours of winding path down to the bridge at the bottom. I hobbled on ahead of the rest trying to cover the ground without stopping in fear that if I stopped I’d not be able to start again. After a rest at the bottom we walked along the river for another painful hour to the Hidro Electric station. The railway station here marked the lunch stop which was a blessed relief. I topped myself up with Inca Cola, Ibuprofen and paracetemol and rested in the shade before our final trek to Agua Calientes. Our mule driver had left that morning to go all the way back and meet his next group and our big bags driven down here with the chef but from now on we had to carry them. With the bag on my back and day pack on my chest we set off alongside the train tracks like human mules. DSC03133 DSC03128 It took two and a half hours to reach Agua Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu but fortunately the drugs had taken effect and I was almost able to enjoy the walk. After a hard day of trekking we reached the town at 5 in the evening and checked into the hotel. The place was basic but adequate and the showers were hot!

Our final dinner cooked by the skilled and friendly chef Saul was followed by a quick internet check and an early night. Tomorrow is Machu Picchu!

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