It was written on the side of Heather’s fridge.
“Walk the Inca Trail”. This was one of a dozen things she had to do “before I
continues the story!
Part 2: The Salkantay Trail
Present: Heather & Tim
Eastwood, Sandra & Mel Wilkinson.
With the Colca canyon
conquered we returned to Arequipa
for a brief afternoon of sight seeing with an amazing visit to the museum to
see Juanita the Ice Princess who was sacrificed on the summit of Ampato over
500 years ago.
All too soon it was time to
move on to Cusco, another 4am start (a theme
was starting to emerge at this point) and Mel’s military organisation saw us
arrive at the airport before the airport staff had arrived. After a minor hitch
at security - Mel trying to sneak dangerous weapons (very small nail scissors)
onto the plane we flew onwards to Cusco with
fantastic aerial views of Puno (the Peruvian lake district). A short journey from the airport saw us
dropped off at the bottom of a narrow street which would take us to the hostel.
Never has 200m seemed so long, we had definitely landed at altitude. A few days
to acclimatise, sample the culture (and the beer) and then another 4am start
and we were on our way to the start of the Salkantay Trek.
means 'savage mountain'. At a height of 6271m (20573 ft) it is the highest peak
in the Vilcabamba mountain range and one of the highest in the Andes and is
situated to the north-east of the city of Cusco.
The aim was to climb up to 5100m/16495ft, taking in the beautiful views of
beautiful Andean landscapes with the possibility of observing condors, alpacas
and other Andean animals in their natural habitats, before connecting with the
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Arriving at Mollepato breakfast was taken while the porters and horseman got
organised. A leisurely walk of about 4 hours saw us to the first campsite at
Marqocasa (3500m/11482ft ). With the first day complete, tents pitched and bowls of
hot water delivered to our tents happy hour was called. No this was not cheap
drinks at the local bar but time to replenish the energy stores with hot
chocolate, popcorn and other assorted goodies, unfortunately this was shortly
followed by our evening meal (3 courses
of the most amazing food) and it soon became clear that any hope of loosing
weight by trekking at altitude was a none starter.
Resting at the Incachiriaska Pass
2 saw another early start with one of the longest and hardest days ahead. From
Marqocasa we were heading up to 4600m to Pampa
500m below the pass. After a gentle start my naff
feet didn’t fail to let me down and within the first 30 minutes my blisters had
already started to develop. Feet fettled, we followed some of the ancient Inca
water channels before lunch was taken at Soray Pampa (another 3 course
extravagance) with impressive views of the snow-capped
mountains of Humantay (5917m/19412ft) Tucarway (5910m/19389ft) Rayuska (5350m/17552ft)
and Salkantay (6271/20573ft). That after dinner feeling was intensified as the
terrain became steeper and rocker, our pace slowed and the higher we got the
slower we got, all with the exception of Sandra who like a little mountain goat
bounded ahead and shouted words of encouragement. Even our guide complained
“Sandra you are killing me, you walk too fast”. Shortly after hitting camp over
looking the glaciers a large thunderous sound of an avalanche was heard in the
On route to Paucarkancha,
Day 3. Yes you guessed it
another early start and a short walk to the highest point at Incachiriaska Pass
where we had a magnificent view of Salkantay as well as of remarkably-coloured
small lakes which are located on the sides of this imposing snow-capped
mountain. By this time my feet were failing fast so, when in Peru do as the
Peruvians do - boots off, sandals on, then onwards to Paucarkancha, camp 3. On
route we began to see the first signs of the Inca civilisation with look out
posts and ruined buildings.
Day 4 saw us descend
further into the valley towards the archaeological site of 'Paucarcancha' where
magnificent agricultural terraces can be found, then on towards the village of Wayllabamba.
After 3 days of seeing no other trekkers we now began to see more groups. At
Wayllabamba we joined the Inca Trail to Machu
Picchu and our horseman and mules were replaced by
porters. A short distance beyond the start saw our campsite for the night. An
early finish gave us chance to relax and do a little washing, Sandra still
marvels at Tim’s dedication to washing my socks and the porters chuckled as the
filthy river of water ran from my socks. Another early night ready for another
early start but I’ll leave that section of the journey to Mel.