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To see Machu Picchu was one of my ultimate travel goals. I knew I wanted to not only see the famous ruins but also wanted to experience the area properly, no cheating on buses or trains 😊 As our travels go with the flow, of course we missed out on the original Inca trail as this trek is really necessary to book far in advance. We love mountains and challenges so our choice fell on the Salkantay Trek with the amazing company Salkantay Trekking.
Our 5 day hike started with a proper briefing by the company the day before, a professional approach right from the start.
Quite easy trekking, 12km hike to the base camp sleeping under the stars in amazing glass igloos and an afternoon hike up to Humantay lake with an elevation of 4,200m.
Expect beautiful snowy peaks lining the crystal clear, turquoise water of Humantay lake. The night finished with an amazing dinner and staring at the never ending sky full off stars.
There are no alarms allowed but a gentle wake up at 5:00am by our guide Jorge with a cup of Coca tea. The second day is a big one, the coldest and highest elevation. A 22km long hike with a peak elevation of 4,600m and definitely worth the sweat when you reach the foot of the glacier, Salkantay pass the view is simply magnificent. From the pass it’s down hill gradually into the rainforest but the spectacular views don’t end here and neither does the gourmet food.
Sleep in on this day and again waking up to warm coca tea at 5:30am 😊 An easy half day, 12km trek through totally different environment. The weather was warmer as we walked down deeper into the valley jungle, passing coffee, Avocado and passion fruit plantations and finishing the day at hot springs with a Pisco Sour.
Another full big day with 22 km mostly done downhill which wasn’t really fun. This was the first time we spotted Machupicchu in the distance. After arrival in Hidroelectrica our trek continued along he train line another 10 km all the way to the town Aguas Caliente where we stay in a hotel and finally had nice hot shower.
Machu Picchu day! As we went for hiking up and no cheating on buses and trains, it was necessary to get to the gate before opening time 5:00am.
The hike up to Machu Picchu took us just under an hour and it wasn’t easy, steep steps uphill, dark, fog, no fun.
And foggy weather stayed with us until lunch time. We also booked Machu Picchu mountain and as the tickets are divided for 2 timings our turn to get up was between 9-10am. We started hiking up the crazy Inca stairs in a hope that the fog and clouds disappear by the time we got up there. Estimated time for the hike is between 1.5-2 hrs and we managed it within 1hr 10 mins and didn’t see anything. But by the time we hiked down, the sun poked out, the fog disappeared and we were nicely surprised by the amazing architecture, nature and special energy around.
One of the best travel moments we’ve experienced.
What agency to choose?
There’s a lot of agencies offering the Salkantay trek for way less than we paid. But be careful what you pay for. From our research and recommendations we went for Salkantay Trekking. The cost of the 5 day tour USD$460 and includes pretty much everything. No extra or hidden cost.
The price includes: accomodation, delicious food (vegetarian options available), sleeping bags to -15C, hiking sticks, entry to Machu Picchu, the extra mountain hike and the train and bus back to Cuzco.
How to pack and what to bring?
As you will be given plenty, trust me Plenty of food, even snacks, no need to bring any extra food unless you really miss something. Water is offered first 3 days, also along the way you will have chances to buy drinks or even alcohol and snacks from local tiendas.
Company offers you a duffle bag where you can pack 7kgs of your personal items.
Don’t forget the first night and second morning will be cold, but then you are hiking to lower elevation and the weather will be quite tropical. Layering is the key, don’t go for just one huge coat.
Don’t forget to pack:
– skins/thermo leggings, thermo top,
– wind/rain jacket. The one I cannot live without is Columbia jacket with Omni Heat functionality, which activates and keep heat once you start moving. For a similar product click here. Brendon’s recommendation is Marmot rain jacket.
– few pairs of warm socks,
– hiking boots. The new item which quickly caught my heart are these amazing boots by Columbia. Super light and comfy. I didn’t have to even “break” the boots in.
– swimsuit, shorts, hat, gloves, cup,
– sunnies. Use this code 20off1712 for 20% off any pair from The Cassette Company. With every purchase company and you support people in need.
Also, believe it or not, the Mosquitos are terrible so don’t forget insect repellent and the sun is intense so sun screen is a must.
Tips for Machu Picchu
If you decide to hike up take a fresh Tshirt as you’ll work up quite a sweat. Once inside the city of Machu Picchu there are no facilities so make sure you use the toilets outside before entering. You’re technically not permitted to eat inside but take some snacks and plenty of water as there are no options for food and drinks except the overpriced cafe outside which won’t be open if you arrive early. You’re permitted to exit and re enter once to use the toilets and eat.