Cold feet, sunburn, blisters, altitude sickness, and no shower for several days. Almost hundred kilometers on foot, up to 4,620 meters above sea level. That is how I stumbled my way up to Salkantay and down to Machu Picchu. In the footsteps of the Incas.
You might ask yourself; why don’t just take a train, instead of going through this pain? Because the easiest way is not always the best way. By taking a train, I would have experiencing the stunning nature surrounding the Salkantay trek! Hiking through glaciers, mountains and jungle.
Arriving the top. Over 4600 meters above sea level. Feeling relived, after 1, 5 day of walking, up, up and more up. After a cold night and little sleep due to altitude sickness.
Carmen, our guide, took up some stones that she had carried 2000 meters up in the altitude to this holy place. Salkantay, the father of all other mountains for the Incas. A mountain that even today, ritual specialists in the area use for their spiritual empowerment. The mountain is still invoked in rituals to cure illness. The stone was going to be used for an offer ceremony called: apacheta.
The stone should be brought from a low place to a higher. The bigger the stones, the bigger the wish you can ask for. After putting this stone on the grown, all five in the traveling group was asked to pick three coca leaves each. The leaves symbolize the gods, earth and underworld. These were thereafter placed on the stone. Then we were allowed to make a wish. Mine actually went trough, despite most odds.
Starting to walk down, meeting the green jungle. We all arrived the camp for the night pretty exhausted. Thinking about our guides and the men walking with the horses carrying the luggage, which have to walk this trip over and over again. Carmen, said she usually had two groups per week. She usually come home in the night, and next morning at 5, she do it again. Around once a month she have one day of rest.
I asked if she did not get tried. She answered sometimes. But that she has the best job in the world. “Imagine to walk here in this beautiful nature every day”, she said. And I have to agree it is breathtakingly beautiful.
Eventually, reaching Aguas Calientes. Finally being able to take a shower, and experiencing Machu Picchu. Arriving early for being able to see the sun rise. Seeing the amazing architecture before it was fulfilled with tourists. Learning more about the Incas. Checking of one more of the new seven wonders of the world on my list…