Group departure - salkantay trek to machu picchu - 5 days, Peru - May 30 - Jun 6, 2018
I truly cannot say enough good things about this trip and the people involved in the experience. Before the trip, we coordinated with Steve and Katy and our questions were answered and last minute additions handled promptly and easily. I definitely recommend reading all of the information sent carefully and sticking to the packing recommendations. If you are a high information person, definitely call to get the scoop on when meals are, when you are stopping, etc, if you like that kind of detail.
The trek itself was incredible. We had the amazing Aldo as our guide and he is such an incredible guide and person. He answered our endless questions, had solutions for any issues that came up (altitude sickness, cold temps, fatigue, etc) and kept an endlessly positive attitude throughout. Our chefs, Johan and Eduardo could not have been nicer or more helpful, and the food was beyond expectations. I kept saying that they need to write a cookbook to sell! And they worked with my food allergies too, so I knew I was in good hands. We even had two horsemen who managed the pack horses, the luggage, and the emergency horse for the times when altitude, fatigue, and body injuries were a little too much. Having them there was great peace of mind. Everyone worked so hard and with smiles on their faces and jokes for all.
The trek is certainly challenging physically, especially with the altitude, so I recommend altitude sickness pills ahead of time, a few days in Cusco to acclimate, LOTS of water, and training! It also got to negative temps on the first night beneath the Salkantay mountain (holy gorgeous stars - we saw the Southern Cross!!!) and recommend warm clothing and even hand and toe warmers since they are easy to pack. Our wonderful team had hot water bottles for us for that night which made such a difference! Having a small day pack for rain gear, gloves, snacks (which were often provided) is very helpful as you are not with your bags generally during the day. I had a fanny pack and ended up putting most of my stuff in my mom's day pack. Renting the sleeping bags and mats was also nice since we didn't have to lug those around the airport. It is hard to imagine carrying all of my belongings on my back, so renting a mule was well worth it!
We kept joking that we would almost forget that the end of the trek was Machu Picchu, because honestly if we hadn't done that piece, it still would have been a memorable trip. It was certainly the icing on the cake!
The journey of the trek itself - from the Humantay Lake hike in the beginning to get our "sea legs", to summiting at 15,500 ft, to descending through plantations and jungles and small villages, to eating wild fruit (strawberries, passion fruit, limes) along the way, to the Cocalmayo hot springs, to the coffee plantation, to Machu Picchu (and Wayna Picchu if you are up for an extra 45 min steep ascent that is beautiful!), everything exceeded expectations, especially for the price. Aldo and his team at Aspiring Adventures truly made it easy to enjoy every moment and treated us to a luxurious camping experience. My mother and I carry with us memories of a lifetime and we will never forget it. Thank you to all, especially Aldo, from the bottom of our grateful hearts!