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What I Wish I Knew About the Salkantay Trail

Marketing coordinator, Kirstie, climbed the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu. Here she passes on what she wishes she knew before she embarked on the trek to share her knowledge and gift of hindsight.

How cold it would get at night

It was freezing! I would get changed into every possible dry layer I had at around 6pm and not risk taking it off until morning. Even in the morning I often didn’t want to take anything off (prepare for lots of nights wearing your next day’s outfit). It was very cold indeed, even with a three/four season sleeping bag, gloves and hat.

And how warm it would get during the day

Our third and fourth days on the trail were really warm and saw us walking through cloud forest and valleys. T-shirt and shorts were plenty warm enough.

How much water I would want to drink

At altitude you become dehydrated much quicker and the air dries your mouth out. I was guzzling back water every day. However, another side effect of the altitude is that you need to urinate more frequently, which isn’t helped by the amount of water. Your porters filter water every day for you and always have a huge supply. You need to carry what you need for the day but can get it topped up at lunch.

How good the food would be

Your porters and chefs lay on the closest you’ll reach to five-star service on the side of a mountain. You’ll have full meals for both lunch and dinner, as well as afternoon snacks with popcorn and hot chocolate. Lunch and dinner were often multi-course affairs! Plenty of rice to keep your energy up as you would expect, but also scrumptious vegetable and meat dishes – think curries, stir fries and soups, and traditional Peruvian deserts. We even picked avocados along the way to supplement our dinners.

My ‘training’ wasn’t enough

I walk everywhere… but not often enough up hills. I only struggled one day, when we reached our highest point of the trek, but it was tough. I had to try very hard to put one foot in front of another up the steep switchbacks. I definitely started implementing more cardio into my routine after this trek! Thankfully I wasn’t the only one to struggle, and mules are available to carry anyone for whatever length they need to be carried for (but these aren’t just for when you’re feeling lazy).

How great the bug-free altitude is… and then back down to reality

Bugs get just as sluggish as humans at high altitude so there are hardly any around on the first half of the trail. Once you get back down into the valleys though, I was attacked from all angles! Bring a brilliant bug repellent – especially if you visit any hot springs.

How beautiful the campsites are

Just look at this for a prime location!

Just how much I would love a shower once we reached Aguas Calientes

Absolute bliss.


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