Trekking in Peru - The Salkantay Pass

Kate Waite

19 May 2015

we caught up with jeff nelson who just ventured to peru

Jeff Nelson has just returned from a trekking holiday in Peru with his wife Dana. Their trek took them along the the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu. Jeff shares some of his thoughts on their experience.

What made you choose Peru, was this your first trip there?

Cusco and Machu Picchu were both places that we wanted to visit as they had been recommended to us by friends and family who have previously travelled there. We like the outdoors and some physical activity so the Salkantay trek seemed like a great way to combine all our interests. This was our first trip to Peru although we have previously been to Ecuador, staying at an eco-lodge near Quito.

Your trip included the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu. What were the highlights of this trek?

The Salkantay trek was a great experience. We hiked varying distances over six days and went through several different ecological zones. There seemed to be a great view or something interesting around every bend in the trail. The snow-capped mountains were beautiful when they emerged from clouds. We went over the Salkantay Pass (over 4600 meters) on a foggy, misty day. It gave a different perspective to things as you noticed many smaller things like the colourful mosses, lichens and wildflowers that carpeted the ground. We had some clear nights while staying at the lodges and the stars were fantastic. The Milky Way stretched across the sky and our guide pointed out many constellations including the Southern Cross. The meals that were prepared for us were all excellent and included a lot of local food.

During your trip, roughly how many hours were spent trekking and did you do anything to prepare for this prior to departure?

Trekking varied from about 3.5 to 7 hours per day. The time spent trekking was not a problem but the altitude and the steepness of some of the trail required that you be in good physical shape. We normally do a lot of hiking or working out in the gym when the weather is bad. Since we live near sea level in a relatively flat area we increased our aerobic activity and used a steep incline on a treadmill over several months prior to the trip.

What were the most memorable places you visited during your trip?

Machu Picchu was an amazing place situated in the mountains with limited access, it is hard to imagine how the Incas built it. The mountain scenery was among the best we have seen and standing at over 4600 meters on the Salkantay Pass was an unforgettable experience.

While this itinerary was primarily about culture, did you have any wildlife encounters?

We saw many different birds including an Andean Condor, several raptors and various hummingbirds. The vegetation was also interesting including many orchids, wildflowers, and a tree fern.

You stayed at a number of lodges, which one was your favourite and why?

It is hard to pick a favourite, they all had their own character and surroundings. The mountain views and sky at night were great at the high elevation lodges, Salkantay and Wayra. The lodges in cloud forest provided the opportunity to see more birds and plants.

Can you sum up Peru in three words?

Beautiful, energizing, friendly.

What would your advice be to others looking to go to Peru?

Cusco and Machu Picchu are definitely worth visiting whether you trek like us or choose to use more comfortable transportation.

Where do you plan to go next?

We are going on tiger safari in India with Natural World Safaris.

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