At 4am on January 17, I set out on the Salkantay Trek. This five day trek starts in Ollantaytambo, and climbs over the Salkantay Pass, into the jungle, and finally ending in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo). The last day is spent at Machu Picchu.
Our group consisted of 29 people from a wide variety of countries. The trekking company carried some of our gear and cooked three delicious meals everyday.
The first day we drove to Ollantaytambo, and spent the day climbing 1000m (3200ft) (from 2900m (9500ft) to 3900m (12800ft) above sea level). Over the course of the day, we could see larger and larger mountains. We finished the day camping at the base of Salkantay Mountain, just below the snow line.
View from one of the first rest stops.
Hiking towards one of the large mountains, behind which is Salkantay.
Tents in a tent at the Salkantay base camp.
The second morning was spent hiking up to the Salkantay Pass, 4650m (15250ft) above sea level. Much of the hiking was through the snow, but the temperature was well above freezing, which actually made the hike quite comfortable, as I was kept cool, but not cold.
Salkantay base camp, 3900m above sea level.
Headed towards Salkantay.
500m from the highest point on the trek, Salkantay Pass.
It snowed overnight, covering some of the trail.
Getting higher! Our campsite on the first night was in the green valley.
We made it to the pass around 10:30 the second day.
On the pass.
Most of our trekking group, "Sexy Llamas".
After reaching the highest point, we hiked down Salkantay into the wetter jungle.
Descending down from the pass, towards the jungle.
The third and fourth days were spent hiking towards Aguas Calientes. These days were much flatter; the third primarily followed a road, and the fourth a set of train tracks.
One of the river crossings.
A unique way to cross the river.
All of the mountains are beautiful.
Aguas Calientes, or Machu Picchu Pueblo, only accessible by train or foot, sits in a deep valley below Machu Picchu.
On the fifth day, we hiked up to Machu Picchu, the Incan city built atop a mountain. It rained early in the morning, and clouds came and went, but overall it was a great day to see the ruins.
I also climbed up Huayna Picchu, one of the mountains next to Machu Picchu, which provided spectacular views of the city and surrounding landscape.
800m of steps up from Aguas Calientes, the view from Machu Picchu is spectacular.
Enjoying the view.
It rained early in the morning.
The views of the Incan city went in and out of the clouds.
Machu Picchu from the Machu Picchu guard house.
Climbing 250m more up Huayna Picchu.
Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu.
The view from Huayna Picchu was spectacular.
Gotta get a photo!
Exploring Machu Picchu.
Huayna Picchu from Machu Picchu.
Thijmen, Alice, Joost, and I.
"I must have a selfie with a llama!"
The llama wasn't so keen on wearing a hat.
Someone told me I had to take a selfie.
It rained almost every night, but we were very lucky to avoid rain while we were hiking every day expect the last, especially considering it was the rainy season. The views were absolutely spectacular, especially near Salkantay Mountain, and I am very glad I did the trek.