The Salkantay Trek Saga (Part 2)
If you haven't read Part 1 of our Salkantay Trek, check it out before continuing. :)
And so the saga continues...
Day 3: Wayramachai - Chaullay - La Playa - Lucmabamba
We wake to see another day! The night is not as cold as we thought it'd be and we manage to survive haha. :-)
The sun even peeks out for a little bit in the morning and we immediately try to dry out everything across any inch of sun we can.
Mr. Human had brought up with me the night before that I was walking too slow and that it was indeed possible for me to walk faster, and perhaps also to take less breaks. See, I'm more of a relaxed, enjoy-the-journey type hiker. Mr. Human is more of a let's-get-there-as-fast-as-possible type.
But since we needed to hike extra today to make up for camping early, I was revving to go. We went so fast that I couldn't even believe I was moving that fast. We quickly overtook a group. They were an older couple on a private tour, and told us about their amazing 3-course breakfast, complete with banana pancakes.
And I was like "I'll show you banana pancake, you pancake."
Only kidding haha, but I didn't have the heart to tell him that all we had for dinner was a single-course and that course was alphabet soup.
Anyways, we made it to the tiny village of Chaullay in record time and it was suuuper nice. The locals living there have transformed their land into little campsites and restaurants. There's hot dinners/breakfast, tea, coffee, beers. How fortunate for us we DIDN'T camp there, we didn't want those sinful pleasures anyways. :(
We ran into our porter friends hanging out at one of the little places, knocking down a few beers. They'd finished their leg of the journey, since there was a road from here on so the tour didn't need their mules anymore. It was great to see them one last time. When I asked them if I could take a photo, they were like "Okay, but hide the beers HIDE THE BEERS".
We continued blazing through the trail. Day 3 is through cloud forest and jungle and it rained all day. All. Day. At first, it was alright. But after a few hours of walking through the ceaseless rain with heavy packs, you're like "Hm. This is pretty shit." There were these especially bad uphills where you'd get to the top and turn the corner... only to find an even steeper uphill. You can't imagine my complaining haha. Literally the only way I made it through Day 3 was by singing "I'm. a. sur-vii-vorr. I'm. gon-na. make. ittt." to myself every time I thought a bad thought.
Still, Mr. Human wanted to keep up such a fast pace that, despite the cold numbing rain, my glasses would constantly fog up from the heat off my sweaty face. But it didn't matter because I'm a survivor and I'm gonna make it.
Right before we reached the village of La Playa, around when I was ready to give up and take a nice long break, we met a local man. I think this is the moment all my Spanish-learning paid off. We walked the same way together for around an hour, he taught us a few Quechua words (language of the Incas). We just talked about what we did, where we came from, the hike and the surrounding areas. Also, here I was in hiking boots with all this rain gear on, complaining about the weather and the mud. And this man was walking through the mud in - no joke - sandals and a woollen jumper for rain gear.
There was also this one point when I was soo tired (Mr. Human and the man walked SUUPER fast) and I said to the man "Hey I'm gonna stop for a bit and rest, you go on" and he looked at me with such shame that I was immediately like "Haha just kidding".
We parted ways with him after La Playa, and he pointed us in the direction for Lucmabamba. People normally camp in La Playa but it's all surrounded by buildings and little kiosks selling Cola so we opted to go further. Luckily it was around this time we ran into our tour group friends, who'd gotten picked up by a van some time back and were passing us by. It was soo nice to see them again, and especially nice to get a lift with them another time haha. By this point, we'd already seen them a few times during the trek and felt really comfortable together.
They recommended us to camp at the same place as them that night, on a coffee plantation high up in Lucmabamba.
And, of course, all our stuff was wet once again. Thanks again, rain covers, thanks FOR NOTHING.
The family that owned the coffee plantation also talked us through the steps of how they make their coffee from bean to mug. They made us some to try, and also let us try some of their fermented coffee liquor. As you can imagine, Mr. Human and I were beyond stoked. Yum yum. :D
We also purchased some of their roasted coffee beans as presents for our parents and let them know the quantity we wanted. Then - get this - early the next morning they harvested and roasted all the beans fresh for us to take!!! Locooo.
And that night we had instant noodles for dinner and it was the best dinner ever.
Day 4: Lucmabamba - Hidroelectrica - Agua Calientes
Mr. Human and I both woke up very sick on Day 4. His sleeping bag had still been wet so I shared mine with him, because he'd started having a cough and I didn't want it to get worse during the night. Then we both ended up sick haha.
So normally on Day 4 of the Salkantay Hike, you hike 3 hours uphill to some beautiful secluded Incan ruins (from where you catch a first glimpse of Machu Picchu) before 2 hours downhill to Hidroelectrica. Then from Hidroelectrica you walk to Agua Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu.
Mr. Human and I were both like "Nahhhh". We were both sick and all blister-ed up and swollen so we decided to try get a lift to Hidroelectrica instead, skipping 5 hours of walking. And then the owner of the coffee plantation said he knew someone who could drive us and called him to come pick us up. :D
We had a lovely relaxing breakfast...
And then cruised to Hidroelectrica in style.
The walk from Hidroelectrica to Agua Calientes is meant to be a 2 - 3 hour walk along train tracks. Okay, I don't know how you guys take hiking estimations but I'm an idiot and, despite being the slowest walker ever, always still hope that I'll make it in the fast time. Which is a bad idea because, for this walk, one hour in I was like "Whoohoo, half way there."
Then I found out I hadn't even made it 1/4 of the way yet. Why did I even bother moving, I was basically still at the start anyways. :(
Anyways, after many positive and bright thoughts like that, I limped into Agua Calientes at 2:30pm, a grand total of 4.5 hours walking later. Thanks, 2-hours-hiking-estimation-person, thanks FOR NOTHING.
Haha, if you hadn't gathered by now, I have come to realise that I have very poor mental fitness and am not-at-all a positive thinking hiker haha.
In Agua Calientes, Mr. Human and I splashed out and got a nice hotel room after 3 nights of sleeping in a damp tent.
Then we huddled in our blankets all day and had the bestest, most cosiest sleep.
Day 5: What is meant to be machu Picchu but no
Well the title spoils it but Day 5 of the Salkantay Trek is normally Machu Picchu. But Mr. Human and I were still grossly sick and made an executive decision to skip Machu Picchu.
And so, boys and girls, that is the story of how we walked for 4 days to see Machu Picchu, and instead ended up staying in our bed all day and watching Australia and Madagascar 2.
No regratz haha.
We actually end up going back a month later, after we finished up volunteering in the nearby Sacred Valley. And it was well-worth the wait, we were fresh and dapper for the visit and luckily it did not rain!
Madagascar 2 is soo funny, by the way. (Spoiler) There's this one part where the animals' watering hole dries up and all the African safari animals are panicking and start digging for a water source. And one hippo calls down "Find any water?" and the other come's up and says "No, just more diamonds and gold. :("
Soooo clever hahahah because of course animals don't need diamonds and gold.
And so concludes the best and worst hike of my life. :P
Hope this has inspired you to always follow your heart and never let anyone tell you no. After all, we're all survivors in this hike of life, aren't we? Haha nah, thanks for reading through all my complaining, folks.
Your fellow survivor.