Our Salkantay Hiking trail by Llactapata is an alternative to the Inca Trail. The Sacred path is a cutting edge experience for adventure travelers looking for a little more privacy and authenticity. With more spectacular views, the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu offer a quiet and rich contemplation of Nature.
4:30 am Pick up from hotel, by our tourist bus, We´ll travel through the Andes, reaching the village of Mollepata.
Where you can gear up on last minute supplies or anything you may have forgotten back in town (water, rain poncho, bug spray, etc). Once the horsemen have taken the large packs and all last-minute supplies have been purchased, it's time to start the trail.
The “trail” on this first day is for the majority of the time simply walking on the road that runs all the way back to Soraypampa. While the views are stunning and the trail occasionally takes a steep shortcut through the cow pastures, the scent of eucalyptus invades you as you head up out of Mollepata and out into the wide open valleys that dominate this section of the Andes, and it feels incredible to breathe the thin, mountain air and slowly slip further back into the middle of nowhere.
Eventually the trail makes it way all the way to the back of the valley, and the outpost tent settlement of Soraypampa comes into view. Little more than a collection of 4 or 5 ranching families who rent out campsites to passing trekkers, Soraypampa is an utterly surreal location. Nestled at the base of towering 3,600 mts or 8,528 fts. Andean peaks such as Mt. Salkantay at 6264 mts or 20551.18 fts, Soraypampa is our protector of Apu Salkantay: windswept, barren, freezing, and utterly enchanting. Most tour companies have covered campsites here to protect campers from the harsh elements, and it’s quite easy to fall asleep after a long day of trekking and the sound of the nearby river lapping you into a slumber.
The second day is far and away the hardest day of the trek. It’s long, it’s cold, and you have to make your way over the 4,650 mts – 15,256 fts Salkantay Pass. Nonetheless, waking up at sunrise amidst the sprawling grasslands of Soraypampa, the sun illuminating the 6264 mts or 20551.18 fts Andean peaks springing up from behind you makes for an energizing and mesmerizing start to the day.
The climb to the pass takes anywhere from 3-4 hours, and it is a fairly steep grind of narrow switchbacks and steady uphills until the rock structures of the pass finally come into view. Unless hiking in June or July the trail should most likely be devoid of any snow or ice, although hail, sleet, ice, and rain are possible at any time of the year.
Though the air is thin and the trail is steep, anyone who is fairly physically fit and acclimated to the altitude can make it over the pass. We had, and probably we´ll have 60-something year old people in our group and they made it over the pass just fine. Our group carry extra oxygen, Also you can ride a horse and let them catch a ride over the pass.
Once having crossed the pass it is the start of a long path downhill where you will eventually drop over 1,700 mts or 5577 vertical ft until you arrive to our campsite in Challway. Along the way to Challway there are various tent encampments and small villages scattered amongst the plains, and it is incredible to think that there are a handful of local people who live permanently so far removed from modern society and amongst such harsh natural conditions. Interestingly enough, nearly every small village (example: population 4 or 5) that you pass, there is at least 1 or 2 small. The trail weaves its way down the flank of the mountain and parallels to the Salkantay river that grows exponentially as you make your way down the valley, finally making it an hour or so before sunset to the village of Challway. The camping here is ready.
The trail from the village of Challway to lunch at La Playa is when you make the noticeable change from the mountains down into the jungle. Trickling streams amongst the sub-alpine plains give way to raging waterfalls and streams .There are a number of river crossings across bridges constructed from simple tree logs and branches, and it’s the kind of scenery that you expect a massive python or puma to lurch out at you at any given moment, although allegedly no pythons exist here and pumas are exceptionally rare. the vista of the river valley and the occasional stream crossings are enough to occupy your mind for the 4 hour trek down to lunch.
The area known as La Playa is our lunch place, here that the mosquitos and gnats start coming out in force, So the insect repellent will be our best best way to keep them away.
We continue to Lucmabamba our campsite. This is archaeological site, and will enjoy the pretty landscape.
Optional : Santa Teresa Hot Springs.
We can take a local bus for an hour long bus ride wich will bring us to the town of Santa Teresa, which is the first actually town that you’ll encounter along the trek, and is also famous for the Santa Teresa hot spring that bubble up right outside of town.
This night in Lucmabamba our tents are ready for rest even though this is a “guided trip”, and you can make great friends.
After a great breakfast with full energy we´ll be ready to climb to the top of the world. Although we don't quite need to go this high today, it's still a 750 vertical meter climb (2460 ft).
The path up to Salkantay Trek by Llactapata is actually on a segment of an old Inca trail. It leads first through some old villages of coffee and coca plantations, and citrus tree orchards before reaching some beautiful high altitude grasslands and then entering into an old forest near the top. The scenery on the way up is by far the most diverse and beautiful so far on the entire Salkantay trek.
Near the top, the path gives way to endless stone steps as tall as park benches. We wonder how the short Inca people mastered this climb? We reach the summit in 2¼ hours but don't have any bragging rights.
Anyway we enjoy the cool and damp climate in the forest at the top for a while and suddenly we start to walk down to the Llactapata ruins
We reach Llactapata in less than 10 minutes and are in absolute awe!!! Across the valley, we see Machu Picchu, what a sight!!!
You could not get enough of this incredible "buena vista" of Machu Picchu (MP). The day will be soooo rewarding.
The trek from Lucmabamba to the ruins and the views across the valley to Machu Picchu are nothing less than breathtaking (and we are not talking about our breathing during the strenuous climb up).
After we enjoy this pretty view,we descended by the way down to the Hydroelectric plant. 913 meters (2995 ft) in 1 hour.
From here on, the rest of the trek to Aguas Calientes would be almost flat... Easy! On the way, will hear a roaring sound which turns out to be a mighty waterfall with its spray cooling us nicely. It turns out that it is man made and shooting out of a long tunnel in the mountain from the Hydroelectric plant, truly a beautiful and practical creation.
The walk to the Hydroelectric plant / train station is our lunch spot destination. It takes nearly an hour.
The Hydroelectric plant is also the end of the train line from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Hydro is actually farther than Machu Picchu town on the train. It is mainly used by locals.
The walk to Aguas Calientes is along the train tracks, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles).
Walking along the train line is much more enjoyable than we anticipated as a wide path undulates beside the tracks. Almost the entire distance is shaded by jungle foliage, trees and flowers, the incline is very gradual. This is the perfect "cool down" after 4 days of trekking.
We can tell that we are getting close to our destination of Aguas Calientes: we notice more and more "clean looking" trekkers in fancy clothes looking very fresh... they are day trippers!. We are only a short walk away from a hot shower. The first in 4 days!
There are no words to describe the joy of seeing the town of Aguas Calientes, the tired legs are quickly forgotten as we are near our hotel. Not only would we get to take a hot shower, but also sleep in a real bed... Hurra!
We all meet for dinner at a restaurant and get a plan for our next day.
Overnight in hostal in a soft bed. !you gonna love it! Won´t want to get up of bed? Come on ,You must do it. Tomorrow is Machupicchu! dream with it!
We catch a bus from Aguas Calientes to Machupicchu, the buses start running from 5:30-6am. What does this mean? This means that all the people who took the 1st bus are most likely going to get to Macchu Picchu before others and be the first enjoying the Sunrise, also well rested and relaxed and with full of energy for climb Huayna Picchu mountain or Machupicchu mountain if you decide it.
Macchu Picchu is an incredible spectacle of architecture, culture, and history.
Macchu Picchu is special , and watching the sun break the mountains and illuminate the city of stone is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The setting for the ancient city is absolutely stunning, and the feeling of reaching it by foot over 5 days of such intense physical exertion and the swath of rugged terrain that you’ve since left behind makes the entire moment of standing atop Macchu Picchu much more rewarding than had you simply taken a train from Cusco and then a bus to the top.
Overall this journey is highly recommended, just be sure to bring some good rain gear, some really strong bug repellent, and be prepared for an absolute madhouse on the final day of the trek “cause after 10 am thousands of tourist are coming from Cusco in a day trip to Machupicchu.
Ok, so here’s the deal with Huaynapicchu. Only the first 400 people who got to the entrance fees can climb Huayna Picchu, the famous little mountain that sits inside of Macchu Picchu. 200 hundred people at 7:00 am and other 200 hundred at 10:00 am. If you want to do it, please let us know at the moment of your reservation.
At 6:45p.m. (depending on availability), you will be taking a train to Ollantaytambo and from there; a bus will drive you to Cusco.
Arriving approximately at 22:30 pm
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