Peru - Breathtaking... travel blog

Starting towards the pass

Looking back

Up through the "Pampa" (grassy plain)


Mules have the right of way


Last look down the valley at Salkantay Lodge

Hiking through glacial moraines


Rest stop

Barb gets some oxygen from Paramedic Pepe

Continuing on

Kevin, Dale, Pepe

The faithful ambulance at the rear


Final push to the pass



Ceiling is getting lower

Pass in sight (kind of)

Nearly there

Figures in the mist

Made it to 15,253'

Cairns mark the spot

Still breathing


Heading down the other side

Mules in the mist

Pepe points out the lunch spot

Lunch out of the rain

Guess who took the gravol

A welcome meal

Great colours on the way down






Still smiling?

Greeted by locals


Made it to Wayra Lodge


Pizza Inca



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Over Salkantay Pass

Day 3 started off clear and promising. After an early breakfast, we pulled on our clean hiking boots (the staff cleans them each night), picked up our hiking poles and set off up the trail. Our bags were being packed onto mules and we were told that the mule train would pass us at some point in the morning. The rule of the road is that mules have the right of way and when they came up behind us, we were to step off the trail and let them pass. And don't get too close, they kick! Along with our bags, the mules were carrying all of the food we would need for the rest of the trip and the cook and his assistant walked the trail with the mule train. This was going to be a long day of walking, about 8 hours with over 2000' of elevation gain, so Pepe set a slow, steady pace. We'd all been fine the previous day but as soon as we passed the 14,000' mark today, Barb started having trouble breathing. As soon as we alerted Pepe, he kicked into paramedic mode, called up Geraldo, who pulled out an oxygen tank and he had Barb breathing easier in a few minutes. She still wasn't feeling great but nor was she feeling bad enough to have to ride the "ambulance" so we gave her a gravol and carried on slowly up the trail. Unfortunately, clouds started rolling in and we walked in the clouds and mist with only occasional glimpses of the surrounding mountains. It would have been nice to have a clear day but this was OK as well, kind of moody and atmospheric. We stopped for a snack break around noon and then made our final push to the top of Salkantay Pass at 15,300', the highest we've ever been. We enjoyed the moment, took a few photos, added stones to the good luck cairns scattered around the top of the pass, then started down the other side. The mist had turned to rain so we looked like colourful hunchbacks walking down the trail with our ponchos and pack covers. As we decended, the landscape and vegetation changed and there was colourful lichen and moss covering the rocks beside the trail. After an hour and a half, Pepe pointed out some bright colours below, which turned out to be tents with a hot lunch waiting inside for us. It was a bit crowded and steamy but the hot food really hit the spot! After lunch it was an easy walk the rest of the way to our home for the night, Wayra Lodge. It is a much smaller lodge than Salkantay but cosy and comfortable with stone and adobe walls, beautiful bedrooms, a comfy sitting area, a small dining room and a kitchen with a huge, wood burning oven(christened Pizza Inca by Sven). First order of business was a beer, followed closely by a soak in the hot tub. After our next history of the Incas lesson with Pepe, we had another great meal and then cosied up to our hot water bottles.

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