Second night below the Salkantay mountain was really cold. Tanas sleeping bag was not enough even though she had it wrapped in one more thermal layer. Rather than freeze to death she spent part of the night in my one. As UK letting agents say – it was cosy (but warm).
Morning below the mountain
We were surprised by a piglet in the morning, it probably smelled an apple core we hid in our tent. It was quite determined to get inside. So we were little bit worried it would damage the tent. Luckily it did not happen, one of the camp guys took it and put it back into the pen.
It was really nice and cold morning, we had a look at the mountains around and noticed that there is a lot more snow than yesterday evening. It looked beautiful.
Rest of the morning routine was not that nice, quick breakfast and then pack a tent. Not very exciting. Still these things were not as bad as toilet available for the camp. It was made of stone, even the toilets itself. One of the strangest things I ever saw. Very uncomfortable and very small (designed for people who are smaller than 1.5m). Still better than nothing (maybe?).
We had probably most dificult part of the track in front of us. First we had to get to the Salkantay pass, highest point on our way. It was not that far, only three kilometers. But we were going from 4.150 msnm to 4.650 msnm. There was not that much air any more and path was steep. It was like going to Humantay lake again.
We were not alone, trail was quite busy. Lot of groups with guides and mules which were carrying their stuff. Only few of us who did not go with an agency. We met one older couple (in their fifties) with a private guide and talked little bit. They were from USA and in a good shape. They were walking quite fast with occasional sniff of oxygen and even beat us to the top.
We were hoping for nice views once we got there, Salkantay snowy peak, some lake and so on. But it was not meant to be. It was getting misty and cloudy, but at least it was not raining. When we reached the pass, visibility was quite bad. We did not see the mountain neither the lake. At least we saw the signs marking the pass and its altitude.
Once we reached the pass it was only down from there. Our destination was village Collpampa. It was another 15 kilometers. Beginning of our descent was not very interesting, we were still walking in fog. We were meeting lots of packed mules, they had a right of way on the trail (which is sometimes quite narrow). It was good excuse to stop and rest for a short while.
It was almost noon when we got to a place with few buildings and tents. I don’t think that buildings like that would have been approved anywhere in Europe. Still we were glad to see some civilization. Our breakfast consisted of Inca granola (I hope I’ll never have to eat it again) and we were getting hungry. We read on the internet that there are places along the trail where you can buy hot lunch or dinner. So when we saw a kitchen and big tents with benches and tables we thought we’ll have a decent meal. The place is marked as Huairaspampa on Maps.Me.
We were wrong. They told us that meal is prepared only for agency groups. I think that chefs were actually part of the group and got there earlier on the mules. We were quite desperate and tired, so we walked around looking for some other options. There was a little kiosk with water and some snacks. We decided to buy Snickers (they really are full of energy). In the end we bought four bars. They were the best and most expensive Snickers I ever had in my life. I think that each one did cost more than £2.
As we continued down it was getting warmer. Somewhere half way down we were entering cloud forest. In the end we only had our t-shirts on (and trousers of course). There were trees and bushes on both sides of the trail I never saw before. It was great. We had some rain on the way. It did not surprise us any more, we had our raincoats ready. Hot air and humidity turned them into our personal saunas.
We met lots of locals either leading the mules or carrying stuff themselves. They were really fit, walking much faster than we were even though they usually had only shabby sandals. Two guys going up carried a bed frame.
Anyway, we were walking slower than we expected. It was getting dark and rain was stronger. Our mood was bad. At that time we reached first small village called Chaullay. Our map told us that there were some camps and even restaurant (comedor). So we tried to find them. We found camps, they were pretty much deserted. But we did not find any place with food. I think that we even started to argue about something stupid. We did not know if we should keep going to Collpampa (it was only one more kilometre) or stay in one of the camps. In the end we decided to continue.
Which was reasonable as we were hungry and wanted to eat something warm. We got little lost at the beginning as there were multiple paths going through Chaullay and and it was hard to tell which one lead to Collpampa. We met some locals who were going in the same direction and showed us the way.
Camping on a terrace
Not talking much with each other we reached the village. We were stopped by a lady at the first house / kiosk. She asked us if we were looking for place for a night and a dinner. We said yes. Hoping that they will point us to the restaurant we saw on the map.
They did not. When we asked where is the restaurant they pointed at the table right next to the kiosk. Half of the kiosk was a kitchen where they prepared food. It looked really bad, but we were so tired and so hungry that we did not argue.
Their garden also worked as a camping place. We were the only ones there. Dinner should have been ready in thirty minutes, so we had some time to set up tent a get ready. There was even a normal bathroom with toilet and running water (yay!). Being only guests in the camp had another adventage, we were able to put our tent under the roof. It did smell like there were rats running around but it was dry and there was even a working light. Camping was for 10 pesos.
Best dinner ever
It did not take us much time to build a tent (and hide our possessions). When we arrived at the restaurants dinner was not ready yet. So we had a chance to see how is it prepared. Kitchen was very lively place. On top of the lady who was cooking there were also chickens, Guiney pigs and one children there. We stayed outside.
For 15 pesos we got Cuban rice – two fired eggs, rice and fried platan. It was one of the best meals I ever had.
After dinner we went to the restaurant, which we saw on the map. It was not much different to place where we just ate, there were probably two more walls but other than that it looked similar. We had a cup of tea and went to bed.
In the next post we will walk along the wild river, visit a swimming pool and spend a night at the coffee planation.
One more thing, I’ll probably stop talking about Tana in the following posts. Our ways has parted and it is too painful to write about her. At least for now.