machu picchu peru hike salkantay pass

The road to the path to Machu Picchu

Our tour guide from Q’ente, Alex, picked us up bright and early at 6 am today so we could drive the 3 hours to where we’d start hiking.

It was a really beautiful drive, I wish I could’ve stopped every five minutes to take a photo. But we couldn’t. At one point, we saw a bunch of young school kids coming back from class, walking up this green hill with their uniforms on, all in a straight row, just headed towards one of the little houses. It was sunny, but there was still a slight mist in the air, and it was just such a memorable snapshot of a scene. Then, I saw this chicken just standing on top of a pile of wood logs in one of the yards we passed. Just hanging out. It would have also been a cool photo.

Before we even got to our starting spot for the hike, we had to pull over the van and I had my first peeing in the Peruvian wilderness experience. Well, it was more like peeing on the side of a Peruvian mountain road behind some rocks. TMI again?

The “before” picture

Finally, we got dropped off and started our hike. It was actually not too bad. Well, at least not at first. We were mainly walking along a dirt road (along which I had to pee again – lesson learned, watch out when peeing ON rocks. There’s a lot of splashing) at first. And I got a pretty decent pace going. And the scenery was quite beautiful – the empty, quiet mountains around us, the glaciers ahead of us, and some pigs or horses hanging out along the way.

Salkantay Glacier
Pigs hanging out near a hut
Headed towards the glacier
Horses were grazing all throughout the mountains. Sometimes they’d be high up the slope, even!

As we got close to our lunch spot, we moved from a dirt road to a dirt trail that was kind of tough. By the time we reached lunch, we were all kind of out of breath. Well, some of us more than others. And one person (who shall remain nameless here) was almost ready to turn around and go home.

Lunchtime. Don’t let the smiles fool you.

Things went downhill from there. Well, technically, they went uphill. Although lunch was a delicious dish of trout with fries & veggies (plus an appetizer of guacamole), the rest of our hike was literally uphill. It was seriously difficult. I’d like to think I kept up a respectable pace, but it was HARD.

So, all in all, the first day was kind of a disaster and also pretty demoralizing. Our goal had been to get to a site a bit further down the trail, which was between two glaciers. But at our collective pace, we didn’t quite make it, so we had to set up camp at a different site. It was really freaking cold already, so I can’t imagine how it would have been in the planned spot which was even higher and colder. But it probably would have been a nice spot to camp out at. At least we could see the glaciers from where we were.

Once we reached the campsite and the tents were set up, Daniela and I went to check out the toilet tent. Basically, a mini-tent with a hole in the ground. I went first, and it wasn’t too bad except for the fact that it is hard to aim into a little hole. Next, Daniela went in. She’s in there, doing her thing, then I hear a shriek and the next thing I know, her ass is sticking out of the bottom of the tent. Apparently, she lost her balance and did a little tumble down the slight hill the tent was on. It was f*$&king hilarious, and an image I won’t soon be able to forget.

For dinner, our cook extraordinaire, Jorge, cooked up some alpaca and other dishes. Don’t get me wrong, the food was awesome, but I’m not quite used to eating alpaca…


2 thoughts on “The road to the path to Machu Picchu”

  1. ha, that is a lot of peeing TMI. But good tip on the rocks lol.

    I thought you were going to say, but then I saw this chicken, and took a picture of it! (instead of the kids)

    You ate trout?! and Alpaca?! after seeing them on the side of the mountain!?

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