Review: Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu was amazing. Absolutely bloody amazing. LOOK how happy I am visiting one of the wonders of the world!
I was so bloody chuffed I got to visit Machu Picchu!
I’ve always wanted to visit this place. It was the first thing down on my “bucket list” when i decided enough was enough and i’d quit my job and travel the world as long as my savings could last!
Summary of this blog post
Firstly i need to say this is an unusual review of the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu as i didn’t do it all. Why? This is hidden in the article below BUT its a first hand account, experience of the trek through the Peru mountains to visit the amazing place that is Machu Picchu!
Looking for inspiration for traveling South America? You’re in luck, explore my South American section
Booking Salkantay Trek through STA Travel
As i booked through STA Travel as i didn’t know where / what / how to book and decide on where to go, i booked the second option mentioned in the tour section of STA Travel website: Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Interestingly, when I arrived i got the same confused look from all the local i meant and the same phrase “Why trekking? You gringos are CRAZY!”. Who knew that you could just jump on a train and bus, if you were so inclined, to visit this amazing place.
STA Travel isn’t all bad and actually really helped me to decide where and especially when to go to certain areas of the world! Recommended for newbies!
In any case, i’d already booked it, on a certain date, which to be honest worked against me in the end! It meant i spent way more time in Cusco that any human travelers would have wanted to, however, it did make me fail for this amazing city! So, things tend to happen for a reason! The other reason? FOOD POSITIONING!
I was 8 weeks in and no illness in sight. I was been mildly interested in trying the food but keeping away from the majority of the street food or anything that I had seen ACTUALLY ON THE STREET – meat especially! So, with a cocky attitude I was laughing and joking about not being ill, oh the karma was going to hit!
Taken from Dan’s travel journal….
It was Sunday afternoon before the trek (starts Monday 6am) and I had mega, and I mean mega food positioning. It had to happen but right now at this moment? Bad karma perhaps when I was joking on the Saturday that I’m 8 weeks in and not been sick yet – yeah I know bad idea!
So food poisoning, I miss the Sunday night briefing to find out what the hell is going to happen and what I needed to pack, which also lead me to miss the Monday meet up with the group. So what to do? I went to see the tour company who to be honest were great – well done Bamba experience ( I did pay shit loads back in England for this, though it turned out the rest of the group also did).
Option 1 was to wait until Wednesday and get the day mini van to Santa Tersia, like a five hour drive through the mountains and then, some how find my group (adventure!) for 60 soles (so around £7) or wait for day four (of the trek) and get the train for $80 dollars (you know on TOP of my mega expensive £400 trek!) and meet the group in the town next door to the train station. What to do…
HELL YEAH I went for the adventure – perhaps something I wouldn’t have done a couple of years back but why the hell not give it a go? What’s the worst that can happen? This will always stick with me. Not the experience but the thought. Do it – what is the worse that can happen?
I get to the town, ask for a public phone and get directed up and down towards the plaza – oh this is fun in the red hot heat! I eventually try my 50% battery phone out, ring the guide and ahaa no answer of course! I eventually get through to the tour company head guy who says he will ring and get it sorted. So 5 minutes later I’m told the group and tour guide are chilling in the mountains and will be arriving in this local town within the next two hours. Ok not great news on the waiting time BUT I’m getting closer…
I head into a local cafe (basically a front room of a house!) and after eating my pasta (the only thing my stomach would allow me to eat!) I just sat outside. I was told to wait here. So that is what I did, i had come this far without spanish and a white guy wondering around so sitting was my only option! So i just sit there and wait…..
I’m only waiting for 30 minutes or so when a mini van turns up with a big group of people and Vincent jumps out mix moving of the van and says shouts “Hey Amigo get in we are going to the hot springs!” I’m thinking AWESOME. I jump on in and say hey to everyone in the van and try to explain what the hell is going on – Vincent was very shy in telling everyone!
Hot springs were great as always, well until you have to get out of course! I think this will be my last hot springs because the hassle afterwards with the cold, then wet towel and swimshorts doesn’t really make up for the hotness after the third time! We are here for a couple of hours and then we set off towards the campsite where we will be spending the night.
The group were all cool with me and were interested in hearing my story, not just why i had joined them on day four (!) but my story in general, where I’ve been, where I’m going and what I’m up to in life!
We were at the camp and then went to the table for food, I was told about the tips that were needed the next day for the chef and his helpers. A lot of the group couldn’t believe that tips were basically forced even with the extreme large cost to the trek (the most expensive trip and didn’t sound like the funniest tour compared to the biking and rafting jungle trek!!).
After dinner it was bonfire times, the rest of the trek groups get proper giddy on the Inca Tequila (it was rather nice!) and were trying to sing along to the music, however majority of our group went to bed just after eating with a couple of us waiting an hour or so before hitting the hay. Inca Tequila and cola rum under the stars was a sight!
I was told by my group that the most difficult day was the day before I arrived having woken up in tents to snow – I know snow in south America! I saw on my van trip with the driver using his mobile to video all the day (maybe never seen snow before?!), and of course this is SA so no rules here, especially when he’s racing to get to the town!! So snow, and a hell of a challenging hike up and down the mountains for hours on end, so I was glad that food poisoning had killed me for the first couple of days! Everything happens for a reason?!
Next day we started at 7am with breakfast, pretty odd as it involved a chocolate cake – yes you read that correctly for breaky! The cake wasn’t like normal cake it was, just not quite right…interesting start to the day!
For extra fee today you got the chance to hit the zip lining through the mountains, THE MOUNTAINS! It was an additional £15 but who could say no? Well in fact half of the group! Ha! I was surprised by this as most of them didn’t think it would be safe so opted for the extra four hour hike instead – crazy in my mind! This zip lining was HIGH up baby! You got to swing across five zip wires with the option to fire across the massive gaps between the mountains in different positions such as superman and spiderman – you can picture this right?! To do this you had to look down to the ground and put your feet in the air! This was AWESOME, really enjoyed it and it was funny listening to the girl who started to actually cry on the foot bridge we had to walk over to get to the 3rd wire. She clearly hated being that high up but lets face it she chose to do it! So she got a laugh. All in all the zip lining highly recommended!.
We then had our pack lunch, with the food positioning still in my mind I decided to leave the lukewarm chicken that had been in my bag all morning and eat only the rice. The rest of the group had already set off on the rest of the three and half hour hike to the town where we would be staying the night. Challenging hike but I couldn’t complain with that the group had been through! It was right next to the train tracks, and yes, trains did go past us! This would just not be allowed in England, as with the bridge we walked across…no rules!!!
We had two hours to do what we wanted before dinner so I decided to nap.I wanted a shower as was sweating but it was FREEZING so I gave in and just changed tee shirts, cheat shower. We went to a restaurant where you picked your starter, main course and dessert for a set fee. The alpaca steak was lovely even though the chips were cold, the service was terrible and we were charged 25 soles extra! The tour guide gave them a bit of spanish waffle and it got sorted, i’m sure it was only a mistake! We all headed to bed as the main day, the day to the top was going to start early, at 4am!
MACHU PICCHU. MACHU PICCHU. ITS MACHU PICCHU DAY!!
The day had finally arrived. Just about 4am and we walked across the bridge to join the walkers queue, a massive amount of people stood in the dark waiting until 5am when the bridge opened. Once the bridge was opened we hit up the stairs and begin the hike, and boy what a hike this was! It took over an hour even at super climbing pace to ensure you reached the top before sunrise (!), the stairs were original and impressive! It was hard work so for the non walkers it going to be hard so i’d recommend you take the buses to the top. We all then stood around to catch a breath or four in a mega queue waiting for the place to open at around 6/7. EXCITING.
We got in and was treated to this at sunrise within the cloud….
So all worthwhile in the end! I bloody LOVED IT!
Amazing place and these pictures just doesn’t do it justice!!
The tour guide, Vincent did a runner around 8am (after getting his much deserved tip!), I’m sure the tour of the ruins was meant to be two hours but what the hell, he had enough and did a runner. We all looked around as much as we could (bloody knackered by now!), took pictures and after a good couple of hours exploring this magical place we all met up and went for a much needed cooked lunch in a local cafe in the town, mmmm.
Don’t ask the Tour Guide on the idea that Aliens built Machu Picchu!
Up next the world’s most bumpiest train in the world! A couple hours later we got of where a mini van was waiting to take us rest of the way to Cusco. Couple hours later I was back at my hostel, i went for a nap but I slept all the way through until 9am the next day – unsurprisingly!
Was Salkantay Trek Worth It?
I’ve always wanted to visit this amazing place and it didn’t disappoint. Having the chance to join my group after my terrible illness days was awesome, and these guys were all awesome people who welcomed me with open arms. It was one hell of an experience that I will never forget! The walking the trek did make it more impressive i reckon as it created the anticipation!
Would I opt to do the trek if I was reading this in England? No. And let me tell you why.
I wouldn’t book the Salkantay Trek and I wouldn’t purchase in England from STA Travel. I felt like it was overpriced and that it was shown as the only option, you had to do this trek in order to get to Machu Picchu, or at least that’s how it felt to me at the time.Which is far from the truth!
What I’d do is wait until hitting up Cusco and booking at one of the party hostels who have very good tour desks attached to them. You might decide the walking trek tour is for you, and thats awesome but think what do you really want? Trekking through the mountains or Machu Pichuu or both? Choose what you actually want and do that. Just book that. And if you book it when in Cusco you get to decide when to go, and not miss some of the trek due to illness in bed!
When hitting up Cusco look out for Loki Hostels and check out all the options. Not a walker? Not interested in walking through the mountains? Want to see the Wonder Of The World? Just get the train, don’t be a crazy gringo! Haha
Any questions? Trekked Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu? Loved it? Hated it? Hit up your thoughts below to inspire others!
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