The Andes is the longest mountain range in the world and home to astonishing hidden worlds, extraordinary animals and remarkable people.
Our adventure starts very early on July 24th when our guide Jaimie [chai:me] picks us up at our hotel.
A Trek over 61 km is waiting for us on a trail that leads us into the heights of the Andes and through the Peruvian jungle. Truely a varied scenery till we reach our final destination: Machu Picchu.
As it turns out, our group consists only of Ina & me 😆. Lucky us: in the previous week the group consisted of 14 – as well as in the following week of 16 hikers. This nice fact will allow us to walk in our preferable pace and move forward extremely effective.
Beside Jaime we are accompanied by Sebastian, our horseman (running up the mountain like a maniac) and Carmen, our kitchen chef (smelling like a goat and cooking like a god).
After a 2.5 hours drive and an overdose of local panpipe music, we finally reach the starting point of our adventure: Challacancha (3550 m.a.s.l.).
The first trekking section leads us through fields and steadily uphill to Soraypampa. Here we enjoy our first view of the Salkantay Glacier from a certain distance and decide to hike up to the Humantay Glacier Lake in the afternoon. The landscape becomes sparser and the air thinner. Eventough: The glacier lake has a huge attraction. As soon as the sunlight touch the water surface the colors are super intense and the cristalblue water gives a fantastic contrast to the black rocks and the white sugared summits that surrounds this beautiful place. After a steep climb we enjoy this scenerie before we return to our accommodation that is already covered in shadow. We camp in a small shed (3’800 m.a.s.l.) right next to the horses and under an incredibly intense and impressive nightsky.
The biggest hurdle for this trek is already on the agenda of the second day: to climb the Salkantay Pass (4’600 m.a.s.l.). The view on the glaciers of the dominating Nevado Salkantay (6’270 m.a.s.l.) is overwhelming!
After a short photo break and a tribute to Patcha Mama (Mother Nature) we walk down over idyllic pastures to our lunchspot. Eventough I chewed plenty of coca leaves and drank a lot of water I am put out of action for 20 minutes. It was probably due to the high attitude, that I obviously underestimated. After a short Powernap I am back in the game and we continue our journey. The further descent leads us into the deeper jungle to Chaullay, where we spend our second night.
From my point of view we saw the biggest contrasts of this trek during this second day. Not only because of the changing landcape but also regarding the human beings.
On one hand there are the tourists with their brandnew and expensive outdoor equipment. The climb seems to be a torture for them: half dying and heavy breathing they put one step after another to get closer to the top. A few „adventurer“ even spend the whole way up on a horseback due to a threatening exhaustion 🤭. On the other hand there are the kitchen-chefs and horsemen in their old sweaters and sandals. They are not climbing, they are almost dancing up the mountain. These guys overtake the crowd of tourists in such an elegant way and disappear on the horizon like mystical creatures.
On the summit there is a funny – even bizzard picture: the exhausted tourists pose for fame while the horsemen and kitchen chefs run quietly and inconspicuously down the mountain to set up the tent and to cook a delicious meal for the exhausted „heroes“ of the day… unbelievable! 😂🙈.
We are proud to have mastered the whole day on our own (+800 m/- 1800) and surprisingly, we don’t feel any kind of exhaustion. We fall asleep happily and satisfied and look forward to the upcoming adventures.
On the following day we say goodbye to our horseman Sebastian and walk further down into the valley. Dense vegetation, colorful orchids and banana plantations line the way towards today’s destination, a small village called Santa Teresa (1’800 m.a.s.l.). We jump in the local hotsprings as soon as we arrive and enjoy the wellness sponsored by mother nature.
We went to bed early because … the alarm clock rings already at 04:00 o’clock the next morning 😅. Our guide is visibly exhausted and annoyed, especially as he strongly advised us NOT to go for the upcoming extrahike (9 hours and 2’000 altitude meters). He shows us his disapproval all day long, which means that Ina and I hike mostly alone 🤣. But our decision was absolutely right! We enjoy the vegetation around us: coffee beans, papayas, lemons, bananas, mandarins, avocados, cacti and flowers as far as the eye can see! We truely spend a fantastic day and we can even see the Inca city Machu Picchu in the distance. After days of mountain and jungle idyll we finally reach Aguas Calientes, a bustling tourist center at the foot of Machu Picchu. Honestly: the presented facts of our guide were simply not true. We assume that the fakenews should help to spare him from another hike). In fact we completed 1’000 (instead of 2’000) altitude meters during our 6h 30min on the way (instead of 9h). We would have been even faster, but we had to wait the whole day for our guide, who took long breaks and was sometimes very close to the slowwalk worldrecord. But all in all we spent a wonderful day, from which we will live for a long time.
July 28th is our last day on the Trek. Again we get up at 04:00 in the morning to visit the marvelous Inca site Machu Picchu and to climb the nearby Waynapicchu on our own. There is truely a interesting history in these walls and we enjoy the best view from the top of the very steep Waynapicchu. By the way: the Incas (these crazy bananas!!) built a stone temple even on this super steep mountain! We have no clue how they were able to do that but it’s very impressive!
After saying goodbye to this famous world heritage site we continue our journey and travel by train from Aguas Caliente to Porroy and finally by Taxi to Cusco, where we arrive at 7:30 p.m in the evening of the peruvian independence day. We spend our last evening in Cusco by getting an incredible 1-hour massage for CHF 10 / SEK 95 and a fantastic pasta dinner with Tiramisu for dessert at the Carpe Diem restaurant. A super cool restaurant close to the main square that I would recommend everyone visiting Cusco. The experience is amazing and the smile on my face is huge as the Tiramisu is prepared at our table!
Peru: Thank you for a very spectacular, impressive and varied time we will never forget.
Next stop: Bolivia ✌🏻