Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Salkantay Trek - Day 1

Salkantay Trek, the best alternative to the Inca Trail.

I embarked on the 5-day trail with a Swedish couple and a Montreal guy on October 5 at 5am.

We were all picked up at our hotel or hostel by Alex, our guide, who came with the cook and the assistant cook in a van. We stopped for breakfast before we met with the horseman and his horses. The cook took a cab to the first camp to secure a good spot for us. Although we set off before the horseman and the horses, we were passed by them at the first stop we made.

The trail itself was uphill for a couple of hours. Then it flattened and we walked along a stream, sometimes shaded by trees, but mostly out in the open, For 3 hours, it was a leisurely walk to the camp. The camp was not as I imagined it to be. There was a main building next to washrooms and on higher ground was another structure to host our tents. The cook had set up and was preparing lunch when we got there. The tents were already set up too.

We were each given a bowl of water and soap to wash our hands before sitting down for lunch. The table was set with a table cloth and there were 3 lawn chairs and 2 stools around the small square table. We had a feast for lunch: soup, rice and vegetables and potatoes of course.

After lunch, we had a short time to nap before setting off to go see a lake up the hill. This was not part of the trail, but all the other groups also seem to be heading there.
That uphill was a killer for me. I huffed and puffed up, with Alex giving me both his walking sticks instead of my lone one. I did make it eventually, with lots of breaks taken along the way and Alex looking on. The view was quite worth it, the mountains covered with snow loomed over the lake to make a breathtaking picture.

The descent was way easier for me, and I enjoyed looking at the horses and cows freely roaming the mountains.
When we got back to the camp, we had tea time. Tea time almost always consisted of popcorn and crackers and an assortment of teas or coffee or chocolate.
I was exhausted and by the time we were served dinner, I was dying to go to bed, almost falling asleep at the table. We even had dessert that day, a black jello like dessert, very sweet.

As my fellow travelers braved the cold to take pictures of the night sky, I brushed my teeth in the cold water and headed to my tent, wearing layers for the cold night ahead.
Other groups had set up their tents across from ours and there was always someone talking or milling around, but I had no difficulty finding sleep, with the full satisfaction of having survived the first day.

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