Day 1 (of 5) of the Salkantay trek.
Distance: 16km (of 105km)
Highest altitude: 4200m
With a life long dream to walk to the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in the Andean mountains of Peru, the famous Inca trail was the familiar route. However limiting numbers meant booking by the beginning of the season, which with our lack of planning was an impossibility. The alternative to reaching our goal was the Salkantay 5 day trek. A high altitude hike taking us over the Salkantay mountain pass and snowy climates, through the cloud forest, dropping into the rain forest and from Aguas Calientes, an early morning ascent to our final destination.
With a 4am alarm call in Cusco, we began the adventure. Our initial 3 hour bus ride took us from the world heritage city deep into the surrounding mountain range. First light of the sun rising behind the ice caps gave us a glimpse of what was in store. A hair raising bus journey, interrupted by a brief breakfast and bag weigh in, took us to our start point of Mollepata. Optimistically warmed by the sun we started our trek to our first campsite, the packhorses racing ahead with our 5kg of kit. As we approached our campsite in a heavy shower, we were happy to see our tents erected under a cattle shed roof, a communal area for dining and a concrete toilet block. As we combatted the initial effects of the altitude, we headed higher to find the beautiful Humantay lake. The thunder rolled and the rain threatened once again as we made a speedy decent back to camp. As night fell temperatures dropped rapidly. No amount of clothes was enough to take away the damp chill, but fortunately with a 7.45pm bedtime to escape the cold, our hired sleeping bags offered some comfort from the elements! .
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