Four days, four nights 100km to cover at altitudes up to 15000 feet. We had 4 days in Cusco to acclimatise to the altitude, just walking up the hill to the hostel at 11000 feet had us both panting in the thin air. What could possibly go wrong?
4am start and a 3 hour drive to the start point and a fairly easy 3 hour hike to our first camp site
Lunch followed by a siesta then a distinctly less easy climb to Humantay Lake at almost 14000 feet. This climb is used to give an indication of how we would cope with the high pass on day 2. Yippee, the rest of the group were all under 30 and shot off at a near trot! Still full from lunch and chomping on mouthfuls of coca leaves, we completed the climb in about an hour. The lake at the top, utterly spectacular, time for a few awesome photos and a few more leaves before trying to beat the approaching storm back to the camp site.
Calling the Sky Lodges a camp site is not strictly accurate. Massive glass roofed domes with a double bed, comfy mattress and sleeping bags rated to minus 18.
Everyone knackered, in bed by about 8pm!
Coca Tea at 4.30am and the obligatory altitude sickness checks
Brekky and straight into the brutal climb up Salkantay Mountain. Nobody made the overeating errors of day 1! 12900 feet to 15200 feet doesn’t sound too bad if you say it quickly. The reality is a little more challenging including the trail of the 7 snakes. We counted 11 of the buggers. The last few hundred metres is known as the Gringo Killer. It didn’t, but there was plenty of huffing and puffing and a few more chomps on the friendly leaves!
Getting down probably worse than the climb. Steep, slippery descent down a rocky path we finally made it to camp 2. Dinner was a struggle followed by early bed for all!
4.30 am Coca Tea and a gentle 20 odd km stroll following the river to camp 3
3pm arrival at camp 3 meant an afternoon at the hot springs which turned into an impromptu drinking session! Possibly not the wisest of choices when facing a massive hike on day 4!
4.30am again and feeling a little seedy for the 2000 plus foot climb and descent into Hidroelectrica.
Then a 3 hour walk in the pissing rain along the rail tracks into Aguas Calientes. Almost 100km walked/staggered/stumbled over 4 days. Felt emotional and unbelievably happy that we not only completed this but managed to keep pace with such a wonderful bunch of people half our age. Properly chuffed!! Many thanks to our wonderful group and our awesome guide Odi from Salkantay Trekking