We Are the Champions ... (by KCT)

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
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Trip End Feb 19, 2010


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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

... as We Survived the Salkantay Trek!

Even though we had never done any trekking before, we already went crazy in buying trekking equipments such as boots and clothes before we left Germany for our big trip. It was all intended for the next coming up adventure: Trekking to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. We didn't really know what we had to expect and in fact, we only chose the destination Peru as I once saw an advertising poster of Machu Picchu at the Frankfurt airport. We just knew that almost everyone treks to the Lost City, so we had to do that, too! There are various treks leading to Machu Picchu and we decided to do the famous 5-day-Salkantay Trek which was named among the 25 best Treks in the World by National Geographic Adventure Travel Magazine. Connecting the city of Mollepata near Cusco with the Inca city, the Salkantay Trek is an ancient and remote footpath where massive snowcapped mountains collide with lush tropical rain forests.

When we booked our trip in Cusco, we were told that the first day was the hardest one, but we should have known that Peruvians were liars! No, the entire 5 days were hard!!

The first day began at 4 am respectively 5 am as the pick up-service from our hostel was an hour late. Then, we drove from Cusco to Mollepata, our starting point which lies at an altitude of 2.803m. The actual trekking started finally at 9 am, at a time where we all wished that we could have slept 5 hours more… For the most part of that day, we hiked on dirt trails which were also sometimes used by cars. The road winded along a mountain with a light ascending slope. It would have been quite easy to follow the road, yet, to be quicker, we took very steep short cuts to arrive finally at an elevation of 3.600 m. The hike was literally breathtaking as it was very difficult to breath at such an altitude! However, we were rewarded by unforgettable views on magnificent mountains covered by snow and thought that we just made the most difficult part of the trek. Hence we felt proud when we got to the camp. But we were pleased too soon as it got worse on the following day after spending the night in tents at -15 degrees Celsius.

On the second day, we had to climb a pass at 4.600 m. It was a small, narrow, rocky trail which winded its way up in form of zigzag. From the bottom of the hill, it was quite a sight to behold. And to groan loudly! Can you imagine how it must have felt like when we finally reached the top? It was just extraordinary as we faced the spectacular, snowcapped peak of Salkantay with its 6.271 m. As it was quite cold up there, a steep downhill hike into the rain forest followed.

It was Mihai’s and mine first year anniversary on the third day. And the program of that day was just as it was made for us! We only walked about 4 hours through the jungle and enjoyed the taste of the exotic vegetation by eating delicious wild berries. Afterwards, we were able to relax our sore muscles at the thermal bath at Santa Theresa. It was probably the best hot springs of Peru, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls! It had two big pools with very clean and warm water; and also one bath which had the size of a bath tub with very hot water – hmmmmm. Can the next anniversary get any better?

The next day was admittedly also quite relaxing as we walked along the famous PeruRail train tracks to Aguas Calientes, the closest access point to Machu Picchu. From there it was "only" 6 km away to the Inca city. It was great that we had the chance to relax on that day as it turned out the next morning that it was much, much, much harder to get to our longed destination!

As we wanted to be the first ones to enter Machu Picchu and to snatch a limited ticket to climb the Wayna Picchu, a mountain which is 360 m higher than the Inca City and enables a fantastic view, we started the last day at 4 am. The mentioned 6 km was a torture though; it was not comparable at all to the 85 km we have walked the last four days! I just remember steps – many, many Inca steps – steep, huge and narrow. And that it was so dark that we had to use our flashlight. Gosh, we will never do that again! It was so exhausting that I swore never to do any trekking again in my life! (But actually, just 3 days later, we went on another trekking tour to climb the deepest canon in the world!) When we finally got up there after 1 hour and 15 minutes, we felt so victorious!

After all, the trekking to Machu Picchu was definitely worth: The Inca city was constructed around 1462 as an estate of the Inca emperor. In addition, there are evidence that the site was selected because of its position relative to sacred landscape features such as its mountains, which are purported to be in alignment with key astronomical events that would have been important to the Incas. However, Machu Picchu is not only fascinating because of its history but also to see the gigantic monuments the Incas built! Even though we very tired, we still climbed further Inca steps up to the top of Wayna Picchu to enjoy the stunning view on Machu Picchu. Everyone who gets there should definitely do the same!

Those 5 days of trekking were incredible and it was definitely another highlight of our trip. We are very happy that we didn’t visit Machu Picchu through the easy way by just taking the bus as we don’t want to miss all those experiences. But we don’t want to do it ever again, either! :)
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Comments

henningschneide
henningschneide on

What a trip !
It is a dream come true. I hope you have the time in between to let it sink and to relax as well. Wherer are you now. Last Entry two months ago. Hope you are well.....
Henning Schneider

kctmapg
kctmapg on

Doing very, very, very well!!
Sorry for not keeping you updated but it is hard to work on somethinmg when there is no deadline... A very big Thai "Sorry Sorry" again and a big promise to come up with our stories for the last 4 countries in 2 months very, very soon. :)
Hope you are doing well, too!

Happy happy new 2010 resp. 2553 (Thai year)! :p
Ginny & Mihai from Ko Tao, Thailand

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