Salkantay Trek in Peru - An Underrated Adventure
When we think of Peru, we naturally think of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail and rightly so with the number of people who undertake the challenge. It has become hugely popular but what is out there for those who want something a bit different? Peru is a truly stunning country with so much to offer and for an ‘off the beaten track’ adventure, I would look no further than the Salkantay trek.
What to Expect
The views are out of this world with the snow topped mountain providing the perfect background to the steep, rocky hills, layered with lush, green grass. The air is perfectly clear and the only reminder that you are actually on Earth are the al-pacas dotted across the landscape. The night is even more beautiful than the day. I have never seen so many stars in my life. It was a sight that is difficult to put in to words. Imagine a perfectly clear, black sky with hundreds of thousands of tea-lights scattered across it. It really does have to be seen to be believed!
There are a couple of routes you can take; one will lead you in to the town of Aguas Calientas and the other (a bit longer) will allow you to join the Inca trail and lead you straight up Machu Picchu. Whichever route you decide to take, it is an experience not to be missed.
In regards to food and drink, it really is so important to do things properly. Once you are on the tour, it is very difficult to get back down quickly and there is nothing around in terms of medical help. I took a camel back with me along with a water bottle and some iodine tablets and these worked fabulously well. I had filled the camel back with fresh water before we left and because it is there, you end up drinking little and often, keeping yourself well hydrated. I filled the bottle with river water and let the iodine work it’s magic in cleaning it. When the camel back was empty, I would decant the contents of the bottle in to it and begin the process again.
With food, it is a good idea to carb load before you begin and take foods that are high in energy for the duration of the trek; army ration packs are fantastic. It is surprising how many calories you will burn and you really need to keep your energy levels up if you want to take full advantage of all the Salkantay trek has to offer. One thing to bear in mind when trekking in the Peruvian mountains is the drastic drop in temperature come nightfall. During the day, temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius and then drop to below freezing at night so make sure you take plenty of sun cream and warm clothes.
In terms of sleeping arrangements, due to the dramatic temperature drop, the smaller your tent, the better and if you can share with someone, the extra body heat will prove to be invaluable. A four season sleeping bag is a must and I highly recommend a sleeping bag liner. There are a wide range of these available but you really don’t need the most expensive. It acts purely as an extra layer and the cheaper ones work just as well.
At the end of the trek, you will feel euphoric and exhausted at the same time. To keep your spirits up, I would highly recommend you sorting out travel arrangements prior to starting the trek. It may sound silly now but you want to be celebrating at the end, not worrying about how you are going to get to the next place!
By Laura Elizabeth