Peru – Salkantay Trail through the Andes to Machu-Picchu

The Quick and Dirty:
Location – Lima, Cuzco, Aguas Caliente, Andes Mountains, Mount. Salkantay, Peru
Travel Duration: 8 days
Visa needed for US Citizens?: No
Vaccination needed for Americans: Routine vaccination and antibiotics for well traveled areas such as Cuzco, Lima and Aguas Caliente 
Spanish necessary for traveling: No
Type of trip: Backpacking, hiking, site seeing
Total Cost of the trip including airfare: ~$1,000 per person

I found these incredibly cheap plane tickets from LAX to Lima, Peru shortly after my southeast Asia trip earlier this year. Along with the rest of LA who took advantage of the deal, Louis and I set out to conquer the Salkantay trek along with Macchu Picchu with three of our friends during the Thanksgiving break. We arrived well after dinner in Lima the first day, stayed at a hostel called Mami Pancheta in the San Miguel district and took the cab to the airport the first thing the following day to Cusco. As the old capital of ancient Peru, the city was filled with pre and post Spanish history, this would also be the meeting place for our tour group to star the Salkantay trek the following day.
Thankfully, we did not experience any of the delays notoriously known for Star Peru and arrived at Cuzco at midmorning. The hostel we stayed at the first night was Piccola Locanda, tucked away in one of the many side streets of Cuzco, the hostel was quaint and clean. Because Cuzco is approximately 11,000 feet above sea level, we were immediately offered Cocoa tea to help acclimate with the altitude.

Alpana and Edwin enjoying their Cocoa tea at Hostel Piccola Locanda.

 Plaza del Armas, Cuzco

We were warned over and over again not to stuff ourselves silly on our first day in Cuzco because of the high altitude. We were overcome with curiosity of the local cuisine and soon forgot all about the warnings. Lunch on the first day consist of alpaca on a skewer, potatoes, trout ceviche and roasted guinea pig, notice the awesome presentation of the guinea pig.

 Inside former temple of the sun, after the sack of the Spaniards, with the structure’s old foundation, convent of Santo Domingo was built on top of the former temple.

 First day of the Salkantay trail, 19kms of hiking total on the first day.

Edwin and Louis with mount Salkantay as the backdrop.

Our mules carrying our packs! Bag weights are limited to 5kg per person, if you want extra weight an extra 80 soles can buy you another mule to share with others.
The campground at the end of our first day. The elevation here was around 13,000 feet above sea level. This is the place where many people begin to feel the altitude sickness. Thankfully, no one in our group was sick, we’ve all been taking Diamox (altitude sickness medication) for a few days.
Outhouse with toilets without seat covers.
Eating with the group on the first night, temperature dropped 10 degrees below zero on the first night, and this is summer temperature!
Day 2, Louis and I feeling good at 14,000ft.
Finally got to the top! 15,225 feet!
 Our international team of awesomeness!
Alpaca grazing in the rain
Louis finally feeling the altitude after descending from our highest point.
 Daily tea time after the hike, my favorite.
Campground at night 2.
 Lunch at day 3, ceviche vegetables.
 End of the hike at day 2
how many people can you fit in a 8 person van in Cuzco?
 Day 4, after ascending 1,600 steps Machu Picchu!
 One of the countless number of llamas on top of Machu Picch
 Amar’s classy Peruian pink pants 😉
 Posing with the llamas
 At the entrance of Huayna Picchu (new peak), yes, we are getting ready to climb that peak in the background.

Amar and Andrew taking a break climbing Huayna Picchu. Unfortunately, those red pants never made it back to the bottom of the mountain in one piece…

 We made it to the top of Huayna Picchu, break time.
 Beautiful day, we were so thankful for the lack of rain and tourist. Sitting in front of the best views in the world enjoying the afternoon sun at Machu Picchu.
Last day in Lima

Lima, outside of Monastery of San Francisco right before the tour. Underneath the monastery, there’s 6 miles of catacombs, unfortunately, no photos were allowed during the tour of the catacombs. I highly recommend this when in Lima!

Last meal in Lima at Cordona, one of Lima’s oldest restaurant. This is the ceviche that left our stomachs aching the next day.

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