DAY FOURTEEN – DAY TWENTY
The Salkantay Trek took five days and four nights. It went up and down and the landscape changed constantly. In total we walked about 95 km. We were a group of twenty people from all around the world of every age. I loved it because it felt like a “Schulreise”. Always new people to walk with and getting to know new people.
Day 1: From Cuzco we took a bus to Mollepata and from there we started our hike. We hiked for about 6 hours the first day. The first half was fine. It was hard but it felt good to do something again. At lunch I was already a bit exhausted. After lunch my legs or better said my muscles kept hurting more and more and I was so relieved when we finally reached our first campsite. I couldn’t have possibly walked any further. Thank god Kevin carried our waaay waaay too heavy backpack the whole day. The landscape was just beautiful. All the mountains are so huge and impressive. Mount Umantay & Mount Salkantay both have snow on top and the closer you get to them the more stunning they get. The way the mountains are light by sunlight just makes them more sensational. We camped up in the mountains surrounded by pure nature far away from civilization. At night it was dark but the snowy mountains were still visible in this blueish color and it looked phenomenal. And the sky. There were a billion gazillion stars. I have never seen so many stars. I was overwhelmed by all the beauty and even though I was so tired from hiking I was truly happy. I just felt so great about everything. I was extremely happy that I was doing the trek!
Day 2: We got up early and it was freezing up there at 2700m. It was cloudy out so we couldn’t even see Mount Salkantay. I was ready to walk – but not for long. It went uphill for about three hours. I went so slow I felt like a snail could go faster. Breathing at that height wasn’t the easiest either. We arrived at the highest point of our trek at 4600m right next to Salkantay mountain. By then the clouds had left and the sun was out. Making the top felt great. I was ready to die but I made it and I was very glad about that. The rest of the day was downhill, which wasn’t fun. I do not like downhill either. After lunch we left the rocky mountain landscape behind and entered the high jungle with some very steep downhills. At the end of the day I was exhausted. I went to sleep and slept through dinner until morning when stupid roosters and dogs woke everyone up to0 early.
Day 3: OUCH! I forgot to take magnesium the night before and my muscles were so extremely sore. The whole morning walking just hurt so much that I couldn’t enjoy it at all. I just wanted to lay down and cry because everything hurt so much. The walk could’ve been so much fun. It kept going uphill and downhill through this fun jungle path over stones and through mud right next to the river. But every step uphill just killed me even more. After lunch we took a car to our next campsite in Santa Teresa and from there we went to the hotsprings. HEAVEN!! The hotsprings felt so good and it was so relaxing. It felt like it was already the end of the hike but we still had two more days to go. At the hotsprings was the first time we could get clean again and it was so refreshing and a lot of fun. Back at camp we ate dinner and had ourselves a little celebration party.
Day 4: NOT FUN! It was hell. My muscles hurt even more than the day before and the sun was just beaming down on us. Fortunately the walk was just straight along the train tracks but it felt like it would never end. I was not amused. I didn’t take one single photograph that day. I was just concentrating on not crying and not cutting off my legs. But I made it. After the walk of horror we arrived at Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu. Here we slept in hotels. Aguas Calientes felt like the Peruvian Zermatt. Only tourists, not one single native dressed Peruvian nor any poor and begging Peruvians like in most other towns. Just hotels and restaurants serving cuy (guinea pig) everywhere. It was still impressive though because you are surrounded by these massive jungle mountains right next to you.
Day 5: MACHU PICCHU!! The day has come and we finally made it. We had to get up at 4am and started walking in the dark. It was pretty fun to walk in the dark with our headlights. But again that was the only fun part. Up to Machu Picchu is another 400m of stairs. I was by far the last person. Half of the group ran up the stairs and I just couldn’t anymore. It kept getting lighter and lighter out and I kept hoping I hadn’t already missed the sunrise. After a way longer time than everyone else I finally made it. They had already been looking for us :). We then saw how the sun slowly rised above the mountains illuminating Machu Picchu. It was beautiful. It would be beautiful up there with all the ruins and mountains but full of tourists. So much traffic and it ruins Machu Picchu. But we hiked 5 days to see this so it was really special to see MP (Machu Picchu). I think if I would’ve just taken the train up I wouldn’t of liked it that much. So we spent some hours laying around up there, getting to know each other and making plans to meet again in Cuzco. It was fun and I was relieved, proud and happy to have made it.
The Salkantay Trek for me was amazing. I am still so amazed by all the beautiful things I’ve seen and the people I’ve met. For me it was really really tough and I am proud I made it. Some people took buses and horses for certain parts but I told myself from the beginning I was going to walk the whole thing and I did. I made it. I really like treks now because I had such a positive experience with this one. I want to do all these different treks now :). I feel with hiking for several days you get so much out of an area or country. You spend time in nature walking several kilometers of changing landscapes. The trek really made me appreciate nature and it’s beauty and I am still just so fascinated by that trek and truly happy about it!!
When we got back to Cuzco we spent another two nights there. Kevin and I spent the next two days with some friends we made on the trek. It was so much fun with them and we just had a great time in Cuzco. Unfortunately though we had to leave our friends and take a nightbus to Arequipa.