The ultimate bucket list goal: hiking to Machu Picchu. It´s one of those goals most people dream about for years, never to actually tackle, but merely to think about it during bored moments at work or right before sleep. If, however, you are ready to go beyond the daydream stage and take action, then the Salkantay Trek with Salkantay.Org is for you!
Having a tour booked before arriving in Cusco is fantastically reassuring. The ability to ignore the touts on the street, secure in the knowledge that you will be leaving on an already planned trip, is incredibly freeing. The tour itself begins around 5AM, when a minibus is sent to your hotel or hostel to pick you up. The bus takes you up to a small mountain town, where you grab breakfast, then another 45 minutes to the start of the tour. The first day is mostly plains, with chances to see wild guinea pigs (cuy) as well as plenty of horses and riders. As you begin to approach camp for the first night your goal for the next day comes into sight: an awe-inspiring glacier covered peak. The first night´s camp takes place in the shadow of this fantastic mountain. Day two is the hard day, when you actually tackle this mountain. Rising ultimately to 4300m (more than 15,000 feet!) you are constantly in view of beautiful mountains, glaciers, streams and the constant presence of the Andes. The rest of the day is mostly downhill, with cloudy plains and rainforest surroundings gradually taking over the arid upper mountain climates. Day three is an easy hike to Santa Teresa, where you can soak your muscle aches away in the huge hot springs for which they are famous. Day four is another short trek through the jungle, arriving finally to Aguas Calientes, where you rest up for the next day: Machu Picchu!!!!
This company is great, with a supportive staff and knowledgeable guides. Our cooks were top notch, and every meal was unique and delicious. Our last day we were even given a cake for breakfast! The ultimate childhood dream haha. Every morning we were woken up with tea brought to our tents, which was quite the luxury.
Things to bring? BUG SPRAY!! I got demolished by mosquitoes and sandflies to the tune of roughly 200+ bites. Sun screen is also a must due to the high altitudes, as are warm clothes. Other than the basic other supplies one would take hiking all you need is a sense of adventure and desire for fun!! Half the people on our trek had never been on a hike before, but with the proper attitude were able to finish and enjoy the entire 60km trek.
Alex D., USA, 12-10-2012