This is the second part in a five-part series documenting our journey trekking the Salktantay Trek, from Mollepata to Aguas Calientes and eventually reaching Machu Picchu…
Day 2: Mollepata – Soraypamapa
Start: 09:00 – Mollepata (2,850m)
POI: 11:30 – Cruzpata (3,050m)
End: 13:30 – Soray Pampa (3,850m)
Summary: Relatively easy ascent along a grated gravel road. 1,000 meter elevation gain from Mollepata to Soraypampa. Temperatures very hot in the morning as we began from Mollepata, but dropping quickly as we ascended to Soray. Night temperatures were very cold.
Hellish Night! Just after dark the infamous Peruvian bacteria started it’s assault on my stomach. I spent hours racked with violent pains and nausea and could not sleep. Finally around 3:00 AM I vomited violently for about 15 minutes, retched until there was nothing left; my body wrung out and exhausted. Luckily, this was actually some relief and I was able to fall asleep sometime after…
This is how I would begin the first part of our trek: Tired and very weak from the night before. When the sun rose, I could hardly walk. My legs were shaky and my stomach was still very weak. I slept another two hours in the sun before I felt ready to actually attempt a start on the day. There was some talk about going back to Mollepata, spending the night there, and then starting fresh the next day. This was definitely no way to start a 5-day trek with 15 kilos on your back! In the end though, I decided I would at least give it a try.
09:00 - Outside Mollepata: I managed to choke down a few crackers, but that was the only food I could manage. I shakily lifted my heavy pack and we slowly started walking up the road towards Soray. It would be about a six-hour walk in ideal conditions…
11:30 - Cruzpata: After an exhausting 2 1/2 hour walk in the burning sun, we arrived at Cruzpata, less than half way to Soraypama. A small wooden sign marked the occasion, and around the bend came our first view of Salkantay. The heat was nearly unbearable, I was still incredibly weak, and we were both tired from a mostly sleepless night. We stopped for lunch here at a small hut built along the side of the road (I was able to eat half of an apple). Just at that moment a truck (the first vehicle we had seen all day!) came around the curve. The driver smiled at the two exhausted gringos and made a sign asking if we wanted a ride. In our condition we couldn’t easily refuse!
We found ourselves in the back of a very shaky old truck, bumping along an impossibly rough road literally holding on for our lives. The driver appeared to be in some kind of a hurry and the tight curves and sheer cliffs didn’t seem to deter him. Lena soon became sick, and cling tightly to my arm. After a while, she begged for me to ask the driver to stop and let us off the truck. The truck finally stopped, and I was able to stand up- Just as I was about to yell to the driver, I looked around. I saw a few rough huts, some chickens, pigs, rough-looking mountain people, and looming behind the whole incredible scene: the majestic Salkantay. After a hellish hour and a half ride, we had arrived to the small mountain village of Soray.
13:30 - Soraypampa: The village of Soray can hardly be called a village. It’s a collection of small huts, in the valley just before the beginning of the ascent up the pass. Since we had saved ourselves about 4 hours of walking, we were able to spend the rest of the afternoon recovering a little and preparing for the next day. We also used the last of our strength searching a horse and a driver to bring our packs up the pass the next morning. We found a wobbly, glassy-eyed old man who agreed to take us for 50 soles and quickly went to bed.