I didn’t expect the first day of hiking on the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu to be so challenging. From daredevil bus drivers on cliff road edges, to steep mountain ascents topped off with camping and the coldest night of my entire life.
Day 3 – An early morning in our quaint Cusco hotel with a yummy breakfast and an over whelming feeling of excitement ahead of our first day of climbing. Rucksacks packed, water bottles filled and camera ready to go. We also met our crazy guide and Cusco local Edgar. At this stage i genuinely didn’t know what to expect but kept an open mind of course, excited at the thought of a new challenge about to happen. Day three involved a four hour drive from Cusco city towards the starting point of our hike way up in the mountains called Soraypampa. The four hour drive included a bit stop in a rustic Peruvian village where we stocked up on supplies, as well as a short stop to check out some small Inca ruins. Check out my photos below, enjoying the scenic views of rural Peru travelling towards our starting point at Soraypampa.
I was totally blown away at how high in the mountains our starting point was, and also the fact that people lived in such a remote location. To be honest i was surprised that i even survived the bus journey to Soraypampa, because the mountain route was so turbulent with the added joy of looking out the minivan window at plummeting cliff edges.
At this point we met the horse men of Soraypampa who would be accompanying us along our five day trek, helping us along our route from cooking to pitching our tents. The first part of our trek promised to be one of the most challenging due to altitude, at this point we are at roughly 12,500 feet above sea level. Lucky for me i didn’t feel too bad unlike some of my fellow team mates, who really struggled with the immediate effects of altitude from shortness of breath too heart racing. We took the first part pretty steady, climbing gradually for roughly five hours towards our camp site called Soyrococha, also the highest camping point on the Machu Picchu Trail.
The photos below include some of the amazing views and scenery along our first day of hiking on The Salkantay Trail towards Machu Picchu.From gorgeous green hills, rivers to stony paths.I’ll be honest and say that this first push was very challenging, and i found myself wishing i had trained more before the trip. I guess you learn from each experience, and i know i willbe working on my cardio game more for my next big international climb.
The funny thing about this leg of the hike was it was a lot more challenging than i expected the first day to be, i was surprised at how steep we had to climb a long with the continuous increase in the altitude which of course made hiking more challenging every step you take. The diverse and breathtaking views along the journey made the challenge a lot more enjoyable, and we also had a goal to work towards which was our campsite Soyrococha which overlooked the stunning ice capped mountain of Humantay. The closer we got to Soyrococha the more of Humantay we could see, and as you can imagine i was totally in awe of this sight. Check out the photos below where i arrive at our first campsite, also might i say it was INHUMANLY cold.
Below at our first campsite Soyrococha, cold tired but kicking ass.
After our first day of hiking the team unfortunately didn’t have the luxury of a relaxing night sleep due to the cold, i think it was about minus eight degrees at Soyrococha campsite. This was to be our first experience of campsite food made by our local porters, due to the altitude sickness most of the team couldn’t eat and made for a frosty early night sleep. I was pretty lucky at this stage to be one of the only trekkers unaffected by the altitude, although i did pay except mine was due to the worlds worst sleeping bag. I will be doing a full post on packing essentials and one of those items will be the correct sleeping bag, i learned the hard way that any old sleeping bag wont do. I was forced to wear every single layer of clothing i brought which included four tshirts, three jumpers, a huge jacket and every single pair of bottoms i had. The next morning we could do nothing except laugh at how ridiculously cold it was, and how happy we were to survive for the next part of our trek. As i mentioned the majority of our team including the more experienced trekkers were suffering with altitude related problems from shortness of breath, heart pains and exhaustion. Some of you may not know that i suffer with pretty severe asthma, and its something i have to manage carefully on a daily basis. Taking that into consideration i was aware i may have difficulties with the climb, as i usual have trouble with cardio and climbing. Strangely my condition that uses causes me extra hardship here in Ireland turned out to be a help in my pursuit climbing the mountains towards Machu Picchu. Apparently my lungs are adapted to a limited amount of oxygen from a lifetime of asthma, meaning my lungs were well equipped to cope, it was the first time in my life Asthma has worked in my favour
Day three was one of challenges, scenic beauty and a bag of outdoor fun. For anyone taking on The Salkantay Trek don’t be fooled by what seems to be the shortest amount of time walking during the entire trek, it may say only five hourse but be ready for step hills and gradually building altitude not to mention the bitter cold. Although i promise a serious sense of achievement and pride when you wake up bright and early to see the unbelievable sight of Humantay on a crisp and fresh Peruvian morning. After the frosty night of camping we were rewarded with a belly filling breakfast of homemade pancakes, sweet bread and strong fragrant coffee. Ready to take on day four and our next day of trekking towards the highest point of the climb Abra Salkantay at 4,570 m / 14,989 ft.
Thanks for reading, i am really enjoying sharing my travel stories from Peru and of course the challenges involved in this trek. Stay tuned for the third installment where i make it to the highest point in the trek followed by our longest day of hiking which took roughly ten hours to make it to our second campsite at Collpampa.
Don’t forget i will be posting after this entire series an essential packing guide for the up and coming international hikers, a long with a post with fundraising ideas and tips. Ill be sharing my favourite products that i couldn’t have survived without a long with useful tips and advise.
Why not climb Machu Picchu or join me in taking on Kilimanjaro in 2016. For more information on the Trek4life campaign with The Irish Cancer Society follow the link below
or call the wonderful Kate here 01-2316609
Thanks for reading
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