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Friday, May 15, 2015

Hot Springs & Cloud Forest (Feelin' Hot Hot Hot!) Salkantay & MP - Part 2

Our camp site was on a bit of a slant but the scenery was lovely. We got a later start, not having to be up until 6am, of course we woke up earlier...there's no accounting for insanity.

We found out over breakfast that we wouldn't be able to take the trail as it had been washed out in a couple of places, so we had an even easier day which would only take a few hours (four, as opposed to six) to get to La Playa, a town near the anticipated hot springs of Santa Teresa. 

Views from our campsite

Views from our campsite

Views from our campsite
The day was gorgeous, with bright sun and easy walking. A side note on sunscreen: Ron and I bought an SPF60 which is way above what we'd usually use, but we decided to err on the side of caution. We applied it every morning before we set off and in the sun, we reapplied liberally. I still got burnt. There's no hiding from the equatorial sun and it is beautiful but strong.

We saw the washouts on the trail as we wandered down the road towards Playas. We came across a good bathing spot and the Lads and Derek just couldn't resist a dip. I didn't want to have to retie my hiking boots ('s kind of a pain) and Ron, well he's just not a water guy and Elvis wasn't feeling well. I think Jess was just starting to warm up (being and Aussie, so didn't feel the need.) It was fun to see the guys goofing around in the water and complaining about the cold.

It didn't take long for them to dry off and we continued down the road towards La Playa. It didn't seem like too much time had passed when we started seeing buildings and knew that camp was close. We were looking forward to lunch! This is when the bugs started coming out. Andrew was the most delicious amongst us, but I had a good 12 bites or so, before I could get a liberal layer of bug repellent on.


Quick pick up match
After our repast, the boys had a quick pick up game of football - Europe versus Peru. Europe managed the win, coming back from three goal deficit. I think the cooking crew enjoyed the diversion. We left for the hot springs at 2:30 (ish) and it took about 45 minutes over a rutted, sometimes washed out, road, but it was worth every bump and joggle.
Peru v. Europe
The hot springs are surrounded by hills and though they weren't as hot as we thought they'd be, they were fantastic on sore knees and stiff muscles. Follow that with a cold beer and life was pretty darn good!
Dipping a toe

Note my chest turning bright red

We returned to camp, leaving Santa Teresa at 5:30 and dining as soon as we got back. The sun set not much later and we were in bed (sleeping bag) and getting ready to sleep by 9pm.

Morning came quietly, our final night in the tents was our best, with warmer temperatures and a level of comfort with our mattress pads and tent. The morning was misty and warm as we headed towards the cloud forest. Little did I know that this would be the hardest day for me. I'm not good in the heat and though the pictures make it seem cool; like the English moors, but no...not so. This was our steepest ascent yet, in tropical humidity. The scenery was still amazing, but the incline was too much for my mental state. I got a little cranky; only for 15 minutes or so, but not my proudest moment.
Cooking Crew (with head lamps) on our final day
They actually baked us a cake!

Pepe's home, or so I thought

Jess and Andrew

The path was actually that steep, no trick photography involved.

Just over the summit, a beautiful mossy forest.
On a brighter note, we picked up a little dog along the path and we christened him Pepe (or Pepito). He followed us over the crest of the mountain and all the way to Hidroelectrico, where we were to catch our train to Aguas Calientes. We, of course, fed him along the way. In reality, Elvis started it...and we just kept feeding him along the way. It was pretty sweet, actually, if one of us lagged behind, he'd make sure that we were okay and made sure that we caught up with the rest of the group eventually. He was a very good dog and I hope he's okay.
Pepe resting in the heat
We arrived at one of the many Llactapatas having crested the ridge and descended to the Incan site. We were still pretty clouded in, but this was the place where we'd have our first glimpse of Machu Picchu, if Apu and the clouds would cooperate. We grabbed a snack and looked across the valley towards the fabled city. As previously, we lucked out and the clouds started to lift and exposed the terraces of Machu Picchu...we were almost there. We hiked a bit further down to a way station that offered cold water and snacks, took some more photos across the gorge. (Remember these two places, there'll be a test later on!)

A minute later

First view of Machu Picchu Mountain

Back terraces of MP - part of the test, too.

At the way station, MP in background

We still had a long way to get down to the river valley, but the going was easy, as we knew that we would reach our goal tomorrow. When we finally reached the river, we also had amazing views of the waterfall that feeds the hydroelectric dam. In one amazing moment we walked through a field of butterflies...there were hundreds and it was really amazing.

We had our final lunch with the cooking staff at the train station and said our goodbyes.
Waterfall at Hidroelectica

Pepe the wonder dog
Pepe finds a friend (much to my relief)
The lads, Derek and Elvis decided to walk to Aguas Calientes and the rest of us took the train. We said good-bye to Pepe and were glad to see he found a friend. It was only an hour before we reached Aguas Calientes. So close, but yet so far. We all benefited from a hot shower in our hotels and a bit of well deserved rest.
View from our balcony
We all met for dinner at Apu Salkantay (suitably named, no?) and celebrated Ron's birthday a bit early. We made arrangements for meeting the next morning for our final ascent to Machu Picchu and, except for the Lads, Huayna Picchu. Up next...a walk into history.
Ron's pre-birthday cake with our trekking buddies
Strange side note: we met Pepe on our way to dinner the next night, he'd made his way to Aguas Calientes and it was good to see that he was alright. We never saw him again after that. Safe travels Pepito!


  1. What's that odd-looking thing at the bottom left corner of Ron's pre-birthday cake?

    1. Fruit decorations...why, what do you see? ;0)

  2. Love that picture of MP back terraces...

    1. Thanks, we were pretty lucky to get to see it, considering that everything was clouded over when we first arrived.