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Following the Incas

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and Cusco

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Who told them we were coming?

The infamous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu are by our guestimation – on the top of the collective South American tourist’s to do list. This was no more apparent than in Cusco – the main launchpad to the ruins, where festy backpackers coexisted with fly-in, sanitised, polo-wearing types and entrepreneurial locals clamber to make a buck or three from them all.

Our game plan was to get on a tour doing one of a handful of alternatives to the Inca trail –“Salkantay”, a five-day tramp ending at Machu Picchu.

After locking in the trip with a local agent, we stashed our packs with chocolate, walking sticks and altitude tablets, all the while wondering why we were going to put ourselves through more inevitable pain and sleep deprivation at altitude.

Day one kicked off at 4:30 am with a drive to where it would all begin (after a hearty brekkie of course). Once we got started ambling up the valley to campsite #1, it became apparent that the previous 3 weeks at altitude had not provided enough in the way of altitude training. Our lungs were burning. In-lieu of an Armstrong-esque blood transfusion, we popped some altitude tabs and soldiered on, arriving at 5pm.

Views of where we were to attempt to walk

Day two was to be our Everest. The walk up to 4600m was certain to be no picnic. Unfortunately Hayley suffered a (conveniently-timed) gastro-upset before we kicked off, and was thus slung onto a mule for the ascent. As it turned out – the tricky part was the 6-hour downhill stretch down from the top, which resulted in jelly-legs and temper-tantrums. Nevertheless, a ‘refreshing’ cold shower and some argentine drinking games soon lifted the mood upon arrival at camp.

Mules are the only option for some people suffering from gastro

All safe at the top - only gets easy from here right? Wrong. Downhill is agony!

Very impressive mountain views

Well worth the hard work walking up (or mule ride for those too lazy to try)

Ice capped mountains make for stunning scenery but very cold breezes

Day three was far easier on the body – down to circa 2000m and an easy undulating stroll through the forest made for a cruisey day. The highlight though, was a few hours spent relaxing in some hotpools in Santa Teresa.

Nice down in the tropical valley only one day later

So lush and warm

Group playing in the hot springs

We mixed it up a little on day four – opting to spend a few hours zip-lining instead of walking in the morning, no doubt akin to how the Incas used to do it. The afternoon was spent following the train tracks to Aguas Calientes - the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. The walk was stunning and wound around the bottom of the towering mountains upon which the ruins sit.

Last day is a lovely walk along the train tracks. If real estate was this stunning next to train tracks at home I would love to buy next to the tracks.

Back view of Machu Picchu

Reacquainting with some old travelling buds Helen and Andy. (Andy's Mum also came along on the walk - super impressive feat from Lourdes)

Finally day 5 was upon us, as was another stupid-o’clock start. We clambered our way up the steps as the sun rose and were treated to that picture-perfect view with a smattering of morning fog. As we had decided a touch more punishment was in order – we walked up to Machu Picchu mountain behind the ruins in the mid-day sun. And as the punters promised as they past us on their way back down – it really was worth it.

Tiring walk up the inkan steps...

To finally arrive at the piece de resistance... So moody and covered in fog

Proof we were actually there

Picture perfect day

Our tour group on the terraces

View from afar



Woohoo. Made it up to Machu Picchu Mountain. Extremely gruelling climb up but so worthwhile

How do they cut these bricks so perfectly with no tools? Remains a mystery.

Touristy cusco street art

Another fabulous video for entertaining viewing

Posted by ladiesofleisure 18:07 Archived in Peru Tagged waterfalls mountains hiking peru trekking machu_picchu glaciers salkantay cuzco inka altitude mules tramping thermal_poolcusco tramps machu_picchu_mountain

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Brill guys, keep at it.


by Russ

You guys are such goobs. Crack me up with the video. Fantastic pics as always. So next stop Nepal?

by Alex

Fantastic. Love the flying-fox ride, but not too sure if I would do all of the physical shit first, or maybe could as opposed to would.The bricks would be cut with some sort of tool I'm sure.Some real white bodies in the hotpool, maybe needing some vitamin D. Uncle Col will be riding a motorbike somewhere soon, maybe close to where you guys may be heading?????
Keep up the good work, and take care.

by Dayal

Love it as always ladies. There was no flying fox when we did it dammit! xx

by Coops

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