Salcantay Trek – The Aroma of the Machu Picchu

Kaktusy w MollepataKto się boi Robaka

Peru. Cusco. We wake up at 4:00am, get up quickly and go downstairs. Taxi arrives about 4:30am and takes us to... Plaza de Armas. Lenin is already there… No, no he hasn’t risen from dead. Lenin is a name of our guide. We get on the bus and wait… Wait… Wait for German girls who supposed to be here about one hour ago. Presumably taxi driver couldn’t find their hotel. Then we go to Mollepata, where we eat our breakfast.

WitekMollepataZdjęcie grupowe na dobry początekW drodze na przełęcz SalcantayDrzewo po drodze na Salcantay
Krowy też idą na SalcantayW drodze na przełęcz SalcantayLenin i nasze niemieckie towarzyszki

After breakfast we are driving a narrow way up the hill. At some point we have been blocked by another car, so we have to wait another 30 mins, before we go. We’re not in a rush, obviously… This is America… At last we get off. Our backpacks, tents and canteen go on the horses, we start trekking. The weather is fabulous, the road surface is straight. And we are almost like on the short walk in beautiful nature on a Sunday!

WodospadDonde esta GrunwaldW drodze na Salcantay PassCoś być musi, coś być musi, do cholery, za zakrętem...W drodze na Salcantay Pass
Przerwa obiadowaStołówka

At about 13:00pm we had a stop for lunc Food was delicious! What a nice change after visit on Titicaca! Suddenly the weather made a change for the worse (the rainy season hasn’t come to the end yet). It wasn’t raining long, but heavily enough to make my trousers and shoes get soaking wet.

On the way we had a strange conversation with some people, who didn’t want to let us in to the park. I don’t know, who was right, Lenin or they… It took them a while, but eventually we got in. Later everything was getting worse and worse, we walked higher and higher... without break, the air was getting increasingly thinner, it was hard to breath and got really sheer. On the last stage we walked in darkness. Lenin had a GPS and in the camp he showed us, it was 4475 metres above sea level. I was nearly suffocating. We pitched the tent, I ate a bit of something, wrung my socks and returned to the tent. By the way, I discovered the best medicine for stress! Physical tiredness, it is marvellously relaxing! I had no more strength to think about anything else. I’ve reached the end of my earth and I can feel the smell of Inkas already, it’s time to sleep!

Pojeździłoby się na nartachW drodze na Salcantay Pass
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I woke up in a very good mood in the morning! In spite of my fears (I had only a 1kg sleeping bag) I didn’t freeze to death, nothing hurt me, my socks were dry and shoes almost dry. There was a beautiful view out of the tent, and there was delicious, hot breakfast waiting for me on our portable canteen. What more do I need? I have to admit there is hardly any air to breath, but today we had just another 400 metres up to walk and then walk down, so theoretically we got out of the woods… Theoretically.

W drodze na Salcantay PassPobudka
ModlitwaModlitwaJeszcze trochę wyżejMoja apacheta4800
Nasza grupa uderzeniowaCordillera Vilcabamba

After a while we reach the Salcantay pass, we are 4800 metres above sea level. We make an offering of coca leaves, and wine to the Pachamama and our cook personally says a prayer or maybe he just recites some cooking recipe in quechua language, we don’t understand what he says anyway. Despite of that we can still feel the solemnity of the atmosphere.

Cordillera VilcabambaKładkaChatkaRobak i Szczepan
Prowadzi nas LeninPrawie w Collpapampa

The mountains look totally different at this height, they are bare and beautiful. We walk down all day, my knee starts to hurt in the afternoon so I take pills prescribed by orthopaedist. First I take mild ones, then stronger… Nothing helps… First altitude sickness and now this knee… At the end of the day I can hardly walk, my shoes are wet and there is sticky mud everywhere around! Lenin says, this is the first expedition on this route this year. Two weeks ago, there was other team here walking up, but they had to return, as it was impossible to go any further.

You can see an old bridge down there. We walk on the new one. Szczepan swings on it a bit, and German girls shout and curse polish bravado!

At last we arrive at the place called Collpapampa (2900 m) and pitch the camp. Here we have civilization, well… we have something that makes this place civilized… it’s cerveza! As usual we have delicious dinner and drink nice and cool beer. Buenas Noches por todos!

Szczepan na mościeStary most
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Wodospad Mokrego Gringo

Lenin claimed, that today the road surface would be straight, presumably he meant small differences in height, but we pass through hills and valleys every now and then again. When the path is straight or goes uphill, I walk as fast as I can, to make up for the time, and when the path runs down I almost walk on the double ;/ We pass little waterfall… I take a picture from below and go uphill. At one point my foot slips of the rock and lands in the stream. Well I understand I may need a shower, but maybe not like this… Water rapidity turn out to be stronger than it looks like. I do some somersaults and go into water, and then run off like a scalded cat… Then the only thing a can think about is my camera… fortunately but unlike myself the camera is dry… I wring my socks, and I think I’m gonna give up, they will never stay dry here… The place doesn’t have a name, so my proposition is: The Waterfall of the Wet Gringo. Unfortunately none of my photografer friends didn’t take a picture of myself in the water. You can picture it for yourselves!

Obsunięcie ziemiPlayaChlopczyk z PlayaPlaya
PlayaDworzec autobusowy w Playa

It’s hard to describe, how sticky was the mud in places, even pictures can’t show it. We were passing smaller or bigger waterfalls or walking on subsided ground all the time. There was either mud, rocks or horse dung all the way on the road… It was almost impossible for us to enjoy the scenery, as we hardly could see anything through the fog and it was raining. Actually we had to take care of every step we took, to avoid a fall or a skid on the horse sh**.

I was in such a big pain, that I couldn’t collect my thoughts any more, so I started to test my neuron circuit… by singing. Believe or not, it helped – it hurts less after. I was walking and singing somewhere between guys and German. Perhaps I was the first Polish person singing this song in the Andes:

When I was a little boy I wanted to reach the other end of the World When I was little, I was asking, where is the end of the Earth and wondered if It ends at all When I was a little boy…R. R.

Dziewczyna w autobusieDroga do Hidro ElectricaDroga do Hidro ElectricaDroga do Hidro ElectricaDroga do Hidro Electrica
Droga do Hidro ElectricaDroga do Hidro Electrica

We arrived in Playa (2250 m). In spanish playa means a beach. Plate with such a name looks really funny in this place. Main Road is a one big pond. In front of beautiful, clean mountains dirty kids run around… We eat our dinner, and then get on the bus going to the train station, to take a train to the place with a very thrilling name Hidro Electrica. The bus driver goes at breakneck speed on the very narrow road (perhaps at the request of Lenin). We arrive in the train station at the last moment, just in time! Willy Fog would have been proud of us!

Droga do Hidro ElectricaHidro Electrica

We went by train to the town called Aguas Calientes, situated near Machu Picchu. On the way we saw the mountain peak called Waynapicchu, and the river called Urubamba.

Szczepan i TransformatorDzieci przy torachUrubambaWaynapicchuW drodze do Aguas CalientesW pociągu
Peron w Aguas Calientes

There was a dinner waiting for us in the town. The whole platform on the train station looks like a restaurant. I’m sure, there are more tourists than residents over here. We come back to the hotel. Bed and clean bedding.

The one who was swimming in the waterfall against his will was Witold Wieszczek
Translated by Anna Boretti.
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