CUSCO and SALKANTAY TREK / peru

CUSCO / Our first stop in Peru did not disappoint. Cusco, the Inca capital delivered charm, history, cleanliness and delicious food. Crossing the border from Bolivia, we curved around Lake Titikaka and the Andes on an overnight bus. First stop was Jacks Cafe, an Aussie owned cafe and the breakfast did not disappoint. Huge portions of scrambled eggs, avo, beans and so much more! We spent the following days soaking up the sun, exploring the San Blas neighbourhood, organising our Salkantay Trek and doing a little bit of shopping. A must stop is Limbus bar, the perfect spot to watch the sun go down whilst sipping on a Pisco Sour. We ate the ‘Menu del Dia’ at Green Point vegan restaurant on more than one occasion. Coffee at L’atelier Café Concept and shopping at stores that support fair trade rather than the countless souvenir markets, where you aren’t quite sure where or who has made the items. Xapiri, Indigenous Art store supports Indigenous people and is striving to make a change and has some beautiful bags, textiles and unique pieces. A few days of exploring the city, bar hopping and eating some delicious Peruvian food, we were ready to commence our trek.

SALKANTAY TREK / Of course, we couldn’t come to Cusco and not visit the wonderful Machu Picchu. It has to be on many bucket lists! We decided on the Salkantay Trek as our means of travel to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is booked out months and months in advance, however, the Salkantay Trek can be booked just a day before, the perfect arrangement for our style of travel. A four day, three night trek through the gorgeous Andes, eventuating in the town of Aguas Calientes before ascending to the famous Inca ruins. Our first day consisted of an early start and mini bus ride to the town of Soraypampa before making a short climb to Humantay Lake at 4250m above sea level (asl). With Humantay Mountain in the backdrop and clear, blue water, it was well worth the steep uphill climb at difficult altitude. Our accommodation for the night was some cute Andean huts angled up the mountain. A very frosty night followed by a 4:30am wake up call. We began our summit to the pass, at the highest point of the trek, 4630 metres asl. The views of Salkantay Mountain, ‎6271 metres asl and Salkantay Lake made for a great mid morning snack spot. The climb was tough mostly because of the altitude, however, our group appreciated the spectacular views of the mountains and the imposing snowy peaks of the Salkantay. Around ten o’clock, we were standing in the middle of the Andes mountain range! In the afternoon, we made our way into the incredible cloud forest and tropical jungle around Chaullay. Here we spent our second night at the Chaullay Village (2900 metres asl). Day three consisted of a beautiful hike through the Santa Teresa valley. Surrounded by avocados, bananas, passionfruits and other tropical fruits, it was a stark contrast from the previous days trekking. A jammed packed day for our crew, with 27km of walking. The final 9km was along the train line joining Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes. On the fourth day we arrived at the long-awaited finale of our trek, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Machu Picchu! Arriving just before 6am, patiently standing in line to enter, we were not disappointed! Walking through a basically empty Machu Picchu, with the sun still behind the mountains. IT WAS STUNNING! Not long after, we began our guided tour of the ruins, exploring different areas, temples, plazas, terraces and residences. A quick coffee stop outside and then back inside to absorb the sun, culture and historic vibes from this special spot. Sitting on the grass near the guardhouse, you really appreciate the natural beauty of the mountains and valley. After lunch, a steep downhill to end the trek and celebrate with a well earned lunch, cervezas and sangrias. Shout out to our fellow trekkers, Roger and Rachael. Great company for the four days! I am so grateful that I ticked this off my bucket list! A visit to Peru really isn’t complete without a stop at Machu Picchu. Whether you decide to do the Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, jungle adventures or a one night trip from Cusco, don’t miss out on this incredible slice of Inca history.

Much love, Laura xx

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