Monday, September 10, 2012

Mountain Dogs: Salkantay Trek Days 3-4

We woke up extra early for our third day of trekking, 5am wakeup, 5:30am breakfast, and departure at 6am.  This day was an "easy day" which consisted of downhill trekking into the Inca Jungle.  We trekked across and next to the Rio Totoro most of the day going both up and down jungle trails.  The climate was much warmer than what we were experiencing at higher altitudes.

Day three was a total of six hours of trekking.  Getting over day two took a breakfast that featured a cake...yes, the cook made a CAKE as a special surprise for breakfast.  Breakfast was supplemented by fruit, granola, and yogurt.  To handle the challenge of trekking on sore legs I popped in the iPod and tackled jungle hills to Nikki Minaj.  
Our hike was filled with sights of natural waterfalls, streams, and orchids.  There were passion fruit trees and avocado trees that were being harvested by Peruvians perched at the top of those wavering trees over the Rio Totoro.  We were told that if we attempted to pick one for ourselves we'd probably be shot.  Luckily they were available for purchase at the rest stop.

Day three was challenging but full of lots of breaks.  More so than any other rest stop, the ones we encountered on day three featured a lot of chickens and turkeys, who eventually would be eaten at Christmastime.  Of course they all also featured the beggar dog.

That turkey above was really into me.  I must have looked like a really pretty turkey that day because he would puff himself out and get very close to me.  He also responded to my turkey sounds which I got a kick out of.  We ended our trek down a dirt path at La Playa.  No, it was not the beach but it was a campsite that the rest of the trekkers in all the other trek groups were traveling to as well.  We ate lunch there featuring an avocado salad, beef, rice, beans, and of course soup.  Then we basked in the sun until a van came to take us to Santa Teresa where we'd be able to go to the hot springs and camp for the night.  The van ride was tight...about 16 people in total inside the van.  And it circled it's way down and around the mountain which has no guard rails, no two way streets, and no signs.  Clearly, we all made it alive but it was a trip that you didn't look out the windows during.

The campsite at Santa Teresa was a little bit more modern than the prior campsites.  It featured laundry service, a campfire, and a housing unit that we ate in.  Unfortunately it only had one bathroom, but I never faced the issue of waiting terribly long.  As soon as we got to camp we changed and got ready for the hot springs.  Only 5 soles to enter, the hot springs were refreshing, secluded, and beautiful.  We were able to rent towels and a member of our group even rented a bathing suit.  The springs emptied out on the side back into the Rio Totoro in a warm spurting stream that I was able to take a shower in.  Finally!   A shower after three days of sweaty dirty trekking!  We came back to camp for a later dinner than prior days at about 8pm followed by a campfire and some beats provided by a mega speaker.  The campsite also featured a bar and trek groups were buying bottles of pisco and passing them around.  It was some entertaining people watching.

The following day, day four, we were able to sleep in.  Our trek group opted to do zip lining instead of spending six hours hiking to the Hydro Electric plant.  I highly recommend this option.  We spent about two hours or so zip-lining across the river on six different lines.  We did have to hike up to the lines, which was unexpected, but then we got a ride to the train station where we'd hike to Aguas Calientes.

The views were pretty unreal during ziplining, and I got nervous each time the guide went out quickly and flew across.  After hitching a ride with the zipline guide to the train station, we ate our packed lunches and began our trek to our final destination, Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu.  The trek took about two-three hours, was completely flat, but was not all that scenic.  We hiked along the railroad like a couple of hobo cartoon characters and put coins down each time the train passed.  Towards the end we were able to see the back of Machu Picchu and we passed the entrance bridge that the buses and people used to get up to the ruins.  We were so close to our final destination, the fourth day of trekking felt simple.  

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