Salkantai trek and Machu Pichu
First day I took the bus from Cuzco around 6am, at least that is what I tried, but because they wait till the bus is full, we ended up leaving at 7:30. I had a good book so I didn’t mind much, some other people in the bus were very anoid. The total bus ride was bout 2 to 3hours and from there I started hiking (I think the town is called Millata or Millapata). In total to Pampa Salkantai around ~28km, of which ~23km with backpack and more than 1000m up. The 5km side track was to a glacier lake. I camped in Pampa Salkantai behind a stone wall. I was staying with a family that worked there selling stuff to tourists. From my tent I could see the snowcapped Salkantai and hear the avalanges, depending on the clouds that is.
The next morning their son “helped” me pac my tent, and although it took a little longer I still left before 7am in the morning. I had camped around 4100m and I had to cross the Salkatai pass at 4650m. From the pass you ould walk towards the glacier, where there was another small lake. I continued down, followed the valley with meandering river and in the end stayed in la playa. Total distance again well over 20km. On the way there were lots of strawberries and sandflies. In la Playa I pitched my tent on the roof of a house, I was happy with this option because this meant less sandflies (sand flies had given me and Belen swolen feet in Bolivia, now I always wore long pants and shoes, but the still attacked my hands and arms).
Next moring packed my stuff and started hiking towards Aqua Caliente. I took a different route than most tours take for the last day. The path was a hiking path, so no cars like the other route, and the path went over the mountain, so a view on Machu Pichu which you didnt have with the other route and finally aswell passing first an inca road and later some small ruines. On the trail i took a break at a coffee farm to have a coffee. During the track i did eat the coffee beans, only the white sweet stuff around the coffee bean. During the hike I met an American and we walked together for a while.
From Hydro electrica there is a path next to the railway for 11km towards Aqua Caliente. This part is very busy and it is as well clear that the people that walk here are no hikers. During the salkantai trek people always said hello, people make space for eachother if you pass and in general are just friendly, aswell the tour groups and the guides. Next to the railway this is completely different, there are still people that greet back, but thats more an exception than the rule. When walking in opposite direction, people just stay walking with 3 next to eachother either forcing other people to step next to the road or bump into them (in general im quite big so if I bump into people it doesn’t bother me as much). After a total of about 23km I arrived in Aqua Caliente and stayed in a hostel that was recommended by the group I had met from Choqekirao (15sol same price as the campside here). I bought tickets for Machu Pichu and machu Pichu Mountain the next day.
I got up at 4:50am, there was a bridge that would open at 5am about 20min from aqua caliente. When i arrived at the bridge there was ahuge que. I ate something while waiting. After they checked my ticket and passport I got true. On the way up to Machu Pichu I think I passed over 100 people walking up. Later on the site people actually recagnised me as that crazy fast guy. Its clear i have been hiking a lot the last 9months. At the entrance of the site there was another que. I had met the American guy again and we first walked together up the hill away from most people on the side. Later we split up and i went to the sungate. Again its surpising how big the difference between hikers and other people is. Here some people complained when i overtook them on the narrow path, while normally yu would make space for a faster hiker. But the site was very impressive. It is way bigger than Choqekirao (ok only 30% of the Choqekirao is uncovered), more temples and as well the way the location between the mountains is impressive.
After the he sun gate I went to Machu Pichu mountain and after that back to the main part of the city. I asked a guide if i could join there group and he showed us around (I didn’t have to pay, he said Machu Pichu was already expensive enough). He showed us the temple of mother earth with the sun temple above it, a compass, water mirror to watch the stars, the temple of the condor, water fountains, it was could to get a little information about the side. After that I went back down the stairs, had lunch and followed the railroad back to Hydro electrica from where I took a bus to Cuzco. Back in Cuzco at around 22:00. Briefly talking to christian, the rest had left, and straight to bed.