On old Inca trails – Hiking to Machu Picchu

Since we did not want to just take the train to Machu Picchu and thought this new world wonder deserves some effort, we booked a five-day hike on an old Inca trail over the 4650-meter Salkantay pass. We got together with a very funny group and the best: one needed barely carry any luggage due to mules!
So we walked, starting from about 3.500 m, into a beautiful Andean valley. On our first evening we pitched camp in the evening at about 4,000 m, which meant a very cold night. The next morning we awoke with a still somewhat foggy view on the Mt. Salkantay.

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From there on the track went uphill steep, but the fantastic mountain scenery made up for all the pain and after about three hours of fighting, we arrived together on the highest point of our tour, the Salkantay pass. There we were busy shooting photos and built a small stone pyramid in honor of the mountain gods.

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Now the track went steadily downhill until we dipped in a deep green rain forest and the temperatures changed from polar to tropical. Our second night camp had a beautiful view into a green valley. The third stage took us back to civilization, to Santa Theresa, and after a fantastic dinner we went to have a bath in some hot springs, together with thousands of mosquitoes.

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On the fourth day we first went totally not-Inka by bus to the start of the train tracks leading to Aquas Calientes. Reaching the village we had to walk next or on the tracks which proved to be quite exhausting. It was also important to be careful with each tunnel crossing, not to be caught by the train. But in the afternoon we arrived safely in Aquas Calientes where we even got a hotel bed, which was used immediately for an extended nap.

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Then it was finally time: Machu Picchu was going to be “conquered”. Again, we chose the ancient method, meaning to walk the 500 meters uphill. We began our ascent at 5 clock in the morning to get hold of one of the coveted tickets to the rocky peaks of Machu Picchu. Shortly after sunrise we were finally entering the famous Inca site and went for a short trip taking lots of photos. Unfortunately the weather gods were not quite so gracious and we were denied a blue sky. Nevertheless, this place has a magical aura that we just let work on us.

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In the afternoon we went back towards Cusco in the very noble Inka-Express, where we again took one of our beloved night buses to Arequipa.