Salkantay trek to machu picchu, Peru - Apr 9 - Apr 13, 2018

Traveler: John M. - Local specialist: James Mackender

I and my wife joined my sister and her fiance on a visit to Peru 4/2018.

From the start, James at KimKim was always available to answers questions and helped us get set up with the travel plan and trek we wanted. He was in touch with us from beginning via phone even to make sure we were able to coordinate with Quechua Treks for what was needed: from contacts, to prices, to dietary restrictions! Thanks so much, James!

On the night before our trek, our guide Rolfi met with us to provide our briefing for the trip. We immediately felt at ease with him and with the entire crew, whom we were introduced to the next morning (muleteers/porters/tent men Americo and Huaman, chef Edgar, assistant cook Donato, and Ronaldino our driver). The men were all very professional but down to earth. We all came to enjoy each other's company quickly and since my wife speaks fluent Spanish, there were no problems there. However, our guide, Rolfi, was fluent in English as well, and there were no communication barriers whatsoever. We were such a small group that everyone had a blast.

The food prepared by our chefs, Edgar and assistant Donato, was out of this world, fresh, filling, healthy, and so good; there were hot drinks, fresh fruits, jams, vegetables, quinoa, bean bread, an abundance of tasty gluten free foods and snacks due to dietary restrictions, salads, potatoes of course, chicken, hearty soups, stir-fry’s, desserts, even a cupcake for my birthday made last minute; we agreed that we enjoyed our meals on the trek much more than the delicious food we tried later in Lima, said to be THE food capital. We got hot water and tea in the morning! Being used to “roughing it” on camping and backpacking trips, when I saw pictures of how our meals would be served at tables with nice table cloth, napkins, utensils, and camping chairs in a tent I thought we were going to be over-pampered but wow was I grateful for the comfort of a space like that after a long day’s trek. Edgar and Donato were with us during days 1-3 of our trek.

Ronaldino was a skilled driver, negotiating rough and narrow roads expertly, getting us to our starting point and meeting us later at different points of our adventure on day 3 and at the end on our last day to get us back to Cusco from the train. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with him and loved getting to know him a little! A very sweet guy!

Americo and Huaman were our muleteers and the entire crew helped quickly and efficiently set up and break down our camps. We typically started ahead of them on our treks while they finished packing up the horses and mules but before we knew it, they were passing us up, running ahead to meet us at lunch and the end of the days. Americo and Huaman were with us during days 1-2 of our trek. They were wonderful.

Rolfi our guide was the heart of the entire group, bringing everyone together. He never stopped cracking jokes, was a wealth of history and information to our million questions, constantly pointing out things to us as we trekked, and always had the best stories to share. Our group was interested in just about everything on the trek (fauna, history, culture, etc.), and Rolfi had something to each about everything we asked about. He was unendingly patient with us as we were perpetually, “National Geographic,” stopping to take photos of the beauty around us and as we huffed and puffed during our ascents. Rolfi was nothing but encouraging and great fun. I don’t think we ever ran out of good conversation. He was there with us from start to finish, ensuring that each of us were feeling well and enjoying ourselves, extremely astute to each of our interests, and we all learned a lot from one another. We loved him and could not have asked for a better guide! It was hard for us all to say farewell to everyone in our crew and especially to Rolfi.

The sights were unforgettable. Incredible microclimates with endless kinds of flora and fauna, butterflies, waterfalls, wild strawberries, racing clouds, tree canopies. Thousands of years old aqueducts and ancient Incan ruins, meeting local people along the way. We were awed by the numerous valleys, towering mountain ranges, glaciers, and our summit views. On our 1st night of camp, our bright view of the milky-way galaxy was incredible. We loved touring the coffee plantation, zip-lining and very much enjoyed the hot springs on our 3rd day. Our camping tents were perfectly comfortable. Our train ride on Peru Rail and accommodations in Cola de Mono and Aguas Calientes were also very nice. Machu Picchu and its history was unreal and climbing Huayna Picchu was totally worth it!