Salkantay Trek diary – Part 5: Santa Teresa and hot springs
This is the fifth part of my Salkantay Trek, folks. To read the fourth part, please click here. Today we will leave Chaullay, and this will be the third hiking day of the Salkantay Trek towards Machu Picchu. The last two days were quite challenging, and especially the yesterday’s descent which lasted about 6 hours, left its marks. I don’t know how the other ones feel but by waking up I felt a pretty intensive muscle ache in my legs. So hiking sticks* are very advisable for those trips, folks. At least to mitigate sore muscles.
We say good bye to the horseman
It’s 4:30 a.m. The crew is already up and walking from one tent to another with hot coca tea, like every morning. Yesterday Ramiro told us that one part of the crew would leave us today right after the breakfast. That’s why we collected yesterday evening some tip for the horseman and three other people. Everyone put about 20,- Peruvian Soles into the pot, so everyone would get 5,- Soles from every trekker.
10 Minutes after the breakfast we gathered around the horseman at the place where our tents were built up earlier. One of our Pachacutes gave a brief speech to him and the other helpers. After this procedure we started to walk and therefore, it was the start of our third day of the Salkantay Trek. According to Ramiro, this part of the trek would be moderate and had a length of about 16 km (appr. 10 miles). We would move predominantly sideways, which was good for my sore muscles and me.
The hiking trail followed a mountain river in the forest and we walked the whole day amongst a green landscape. It was about 8 a.m. when we started today and after one hour of walking it became pretty warm. No surprise in those latitudes. We were still in the mountains but in those areas they were covered with a lot of green vegetation. Thus, we could walk without windbreakers very soon, and it was very recommendable to use a sun blocker.
Mosquitos are bad…
But with the warmth and with the sun, some of us were confronted with an issue we didn’t consider anymore. Those damn mosquitos… They were already there as we started on the first day in Mollepata but vanished later at the same day when we reached colder regions of Soray Pampa. But since yesterday, as we came to this warmer region, they were here again, annoying as usual. I was happy to wear pants, but those who wore shorts or skirts had to put a lot of mosquito repellent* onto their skin. Those, who didn’t, had to pay for that. Their legs… they were strewed with stitches which started to itch like hell very soon. Have you ever been stung by a mosquito? If not, you should know that when you scratch the stitches, it would itch even more. So the best way is not to scratch, and this is very hard not to do this. So, a mosquito repellent* is a must-have in those areas, folks. I’ve heard about a device* which helps to mitigate the complaints after you were stung by a mosquito. I never tried it out, but maybe it could be helpful for you nevertheless, folks.
A bus ride and lunch time
After about 5 hours of walking with some short breaks, we came to a broader place directly at the river and we saw four minibusses waiting there. As we came closer, we saw Ramiro who was walking ahead as usual and Eduardo’s group. They were sitting on the big rocks along the river and let their feet dangle in the water. The air temperature was already about 27 Celsius (appr. 80 Fahrenheit) and therefore, our family Pachacutec did the same. What a relief after 5 hours of hiking in thick hiking boots*!
After 15 minutes of this break Ramiro asked us to get into the busses. “Into the busses?”, was my thought. Why don’t we walk farther? But soon I got clear about it. We drove along a very dusty and narrow road to our interim camp where we would get the lunch. Obviously, it was the only way for trekkers to get there, and to walk this dusty road would be too arduous because of the dust.
The road became such narrow, that there were some indentations made so two vehicles could drive alongside each other. The ride took about 20 minutes and the river in which we had put our feet, was now about 30 meters (appr. 100 ft) below. Fortunately, there was only little oncoming traffic. Finally, we arrived at the village of our destination and got the lunch in a kind of a tavern where we could choose between three meals – rice with vegetables, pork with potatoes and pork with sauce.
Football (soccer) under the burning sun
After the lunch Ramiro said that we would start off in 20 minutes and asked if someone would like to play football for a couple of minutes. Actually, I was tired from the last 5 hours of hiking in the heat, but I didn’t want to be a spoilsport and agreed like the other ones.
The sportsfield looked rather like a meagerly leveled piece of arable land overgrown with grass than a real football pitch. But for our purposes it was surely enough. Our family Pachacutec and the group of Eduardo split into two mixed teams and we run like crazy over the “football pitch” between the goals without nets, under the scorching midday sun.
As I already was exhausted from the previous 5 hours of hiking, I knew, I would be completely destroyed at the end of this day. But hey, that’s adventure and that’s the key, right? On the other hand, as we eventually sat in the minibus again and totally sweaty, I could give a kingdom for a shower.
As you can see, we didn’t walk anymore but the bus drove us again on the dusty road. Obviously, the hike for today was over. The bus went higher and higher along the same dusty and narrow road we drove previously on, and finally, we reached a place called Santa Teresa. I was expecting another typical Peruvian village or town I’ve seen before. But surprisingly, this place was in a state of an upheaval. Although here and there you could see those typical dilapidated buildings I already described earlier, they were an exception than a rule at this spot. Instead, there were complete streets in a new light.
New road surface made of concrete, brand-new buildings glazed in western style, a relatively new and modern administration building, and a new marketplace were witnessing the economic upswing due to the tourism. There were even garbage cans along the main street which I even didn’t see in Cusco! The other assumption I had, was that the government provided development aid for this place. For Santa Teresa is a junction for many trekkers walking the different trails towards Machu Picchu as Ramiro told us later. In any case, the tourism seemed to bring a bit of prosperity even into this “corner” of Peru amidst of nowhere, and the inhabitants of this town could obviously benefit from that.
Our bus arrived finally into the courtyard of a property owner with a bigger garden and a building which wasn’t finished yet, but looked like to become a hostel or a hotel. Our tents were already built up and after we accommodated ourselves, we packed our swim gear.
For not far away from Santa Teresa, there were some hot springs. Actually, I was too tired (as expected) and told Ramiro I would stay in Santa Teresa with my partner. But he persuaded me as he said, I shouldn’t miss this, for the hot springs of Santa Teresa would be a unique experience and will make sure that my sore muscles wouldn’t hurt more.
Hot Springs of Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa is located on a higher plateau and thus, we needed to drive by bus downhill for about 10 minutes, and after another 5 minutes we eventually arrived at the hot springs. By approaching, we saw a lot of other people there and three hot springs at the foot of a hill. To increase the experience of the visitors and to impart professionalism to this place, there were three bigger “pools” built around of those springs. Maybe it was just one hot spring but I couldn’t recognise it.
The pools were made of stone from the surrounding rocks. Close to that place, there also were some new shower cabins, changing rooms and sanitary facilities. On the one hand, I was impressed but on the other hand, I imagined to find this place mostly untouched and was a bit disappointed to see that the typical business arrived here too.
But as soon as I entered the warm water, I was excited, and in case you will walk the Salkantay Trek, I recommend you to visit these hot spring at any rates, folks! In total, we spent about 1,5 hours in the water because it was too good to get out. Besides that, Ramiro was right. The water was a relief for the sore muscles.
Back in Santa Teresa, we got the dinner served, and afterward Ramiro explained us the plan for the next day. Tomorrow we would walk through a nature reserve, and our final destination would be the town called Aguas Calientes. Because of the nature reserve, neither vehicles nor horses are allowed to enter this area. For that reason, all of us who had huge backpacks, would need to transport them via train to Aguas Calientes. For the train is the only exception how to get to Aguas Calientes. After further details were discussed, we joined a party which was organized in the yard with a big campfire, music and a lot of drinks.
Click here to read the sixth part of this diary.
*Affiliate link: when you click on this link, no additional costs would arise for you and the product or the service will not become more expensive. When you decide to buy the product or use the service, I’ll get a little benefit from the provider which I would reinvest to keep this blog alive.