This is the fourth part in a five-part series documenting our journey trekking the Salktantay Trek, from Mollepata to Aguas Calientes and eventually reaching Machu Picchu…
Day 4: Chaullay – Lucmabamba
Start: 08:30 – Chaullay (2,950m)
POI: 09:00 – Collapampa (2,850m)
POI: 13:00 – Lluscamayu (2,600m)
POI: 15:00 – La Playa (2,100m)
End: 16:30 – Lucmabamba (2,250m)
Summary: Crossed the river after Chaullay and a short half-hour uphill to Collapampa. From here, the trail turned into a drivable road, and we were offered a ride to La Playa. We chose to continue the trail, and crossed the river again to the left bank, and followed the trail. The trail here was very rocky and at times steep, with more or less equal ascending and descending sections, though throughout the day we lost about another 700 meters of altitude. The vegetation and landscape continues to become increasingly tropical, and the day is hot and humid.
08:30 – Chaullay: We woke early with the roosters. We had a lazy start and a small breakfast before heading back onto the trail. The bags felt backbreakingly heavy today even from the start. It became very quickly apparent that we had pushed too far the previous day and today was going to be rough. Our legs were, shaky, sore, and weak, and we had a minimum of six hours walking in front of us.
09:00 – Collapampa: After crossing the river from Chaullay, we had a short half-hour ascent before reaching Collapampa by 9:00 AM. Here, a car headed towards La Playa offered us a ride- It was difficult to refuse, especially thinking about the pain in our legs and the long walk ahead. The driver couldn’t seem to understand why we wanted to walk when there was the possibility of a ride… Gringos do pretty strange things in the eyes of the Peruvians, I think.
From Collapampa the road descended quickly into a series of switchbacks down to the river. After a quick half-hour walk we reached the river crossing and crossed on a very shaky wooden and mud bridge over the rushing water. Back on the trail, we began an alternating up and downhill battle. The trail became even rockier and the terrain changed quickly to an increasingly tropical environment. We crossed a number of rushing streams and waterfalls on shaky bridges.
13:00 – Lluscamayo: By the time we reached Lluscamayo after about 4 hours of walking, we were completely immersed in lush tropical vegetation, moss-covered trees, vines, and humidity. We were already beyond worn-out and had to stop very often to rest. Our legs were shaky and our steps unsure which made the steep, rocky trail even more treacherous. After two-days of near constant downhill, the calfs were burning and the ankles were weak.
15:00 – La Playa: We came to La Playa a little after 15:00, shaky and tired. We bought some snacks and juice and sat in front of a little shop resting for nearly an hour before we were ready to continue. While sitting there, a collectivo driver offered us a ride to Santa Teresa. I had to push pretty hard to convince Lena that we shouldn’t take it. I wasn’t quite ready to end the adventure, even if I was dead tired… Lena was only thinking about the thermal springs and a real bed at that point. Eventually, the collectivo left us behind and we had no choice but to pick up our heavy bags again and continue to Lucmabamba where we would spend the night.
16:30 – Lucmabamba: The road to Lucmabamba is short, but mostly uphill. At the end of a long, tiring day, this was tough. Lena really started to seem like she was going to break! We made it after about 40 minutes, walked up the Inca steps at the bottom of the village and set up the tent in the schoolyard.
This was the first time we had actually arrived to our campsite in full daylight, with time to enjoy the rest of the evening. It was really nice to have some time to relax a little before the sun went down and prepare a proper dinner before having to crawl into the cramped tent for the night. The locals here were extremely friendly and the village was much more attractive than La Playa. Everyone who passed greeted us warmly, not giving the two strangers cooking quinua in front of the school a second thought. I thought of how if the situation were reversed and two-dark skinned people showed up in small-town USA, sleeping in front of the school, how quickly they would get hauled off to jail!
It gave me a smile and a good warm feeling (or was the the quinua in the stomach!) knowing we were in such a beautiful place, off the beaten tourist trail, surrounded by such a warm and friendly culture. We laid in the grass for a long time, watching the stars come out before falling asleep for the night.