On day 2 of the Salkantay trek, we woke to the faint hint of light that paints the sky just before daybreak. The sun rises a little later in the mountains, as it takes a little more time to clear the towering peaks on the horizon. Our first was a cold one, as temperatures got down close to single digits (F). The sunrise that arrived at the same time as breakfast was gorgeous, and revealed two snow capped peaks nestled just behind our campsite. It was the perfect way to begin the day, as I say enjoying my coffee, bread, and quinoa porridge while taking in the views.
Day 2 was to be the longest of our trek at 15 miles, and almost all of it downhill. One of the more interesting aspects of the Salkantay Trek is the number of micro climates. Starting our trek at above 12000ft and climbing to 15000 showed us a great deal of the alpine beauty in the Andes. On this day, we started in a high altitude of Wayracmachay and descended through a canopy of trees and into a humid jungle. As much as I was excited about getting started for day two, I couldn’t keep myself from looking back. I felt like I should pinch myself and wake up, as the landscape around me was something I only though possible in the depth of dreams.
The humidity really started to pick up after the first 5 miles, which descended rather quickly. It was surreal to see how lush and green the world around me suddenly became, with veins of water supplying life in every direction. We crossed a few small wooden bridges and came upon a small village. I big dog greeted us, as a young women with children in tow, sold treats and soda. It was just a short break there before we made the short walk over to our lunch spot. Our lunch spot looked back into the valley and up to the mountains from which we came earlier in the day.
After lunch, we had a long and winding hike to our campsite of La Playa. The amount of water here really kicked up the humidity, and for the first time, we could hear the mosquitoes buzzing. Luckily, the swarms weren’t too bad.
Our final break for the day was at a small dwelling just off of the trail. Julia and I got there ahead of the group and had about 15 minutes to hang out. There were chickens running around, and small kids playing with a soccerball just outside of some clothes drying on a line.
The final section of day 2 leaves a trail and joins up with a dirt road to La Playa. From here we passed though a village and into what was the most populous area we had seen thus far on the trek. There were no cars though, just people walking alongside us on the road, and warm eyes glancing out of houses to what must be an ordinary sight to them now. The campsite of La Playa sits just in front of a few benches and a small market. Our tents were pitched on the large field of grass just in front of the market. We changed clothes, cleaned up a bit, and settled in for another incredible dinner from Mario. It was another spectacular day, and we were beaming with excitement for day 3, a climb to Llaqtapata.