13,000 feet, 70% oxygen, headaches….. just to see this

13,000 feet, 70% oxygen, headaches….. just to see this

Written by Lauren and Jeremy

Topics: Peru 2009

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After a 4 hour hike UP the mountain we finally reached the Salkantay lake with Salkantay glacier in the background.  This is one of the most amazing places we have witnessed. This is what you call pure natural beauty!  While we were there we had the honor of having a religious ceremony performed by two descendant of the Inca Indians.  Even though we couldn’t understand a word they were saying, it became a very powerful experience.

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Here is a video of some of the ceremony

Just a quick FYI, the Inca’s believe that the gods live in the mountains and the mountains control everything (weather, crops, etc..). During the ceremony, they give food back to mother earth by burning it in a fire. They also do a something with the Coca leaves, which they passed around to all of us to try. Little did Marc and I know, but you are not supposed to swallow them. Needless to say, my tongue was numb forthe following 2 days. We spent about 1 hour in total, enjoying the scenery and taking it all in. From there it was back down the mountain to the lodge. Just a quick footnote, the Inca Indian’s that performed the ceremony  also hiked up the mountain with us. I wont mention they did it in flip flops, no hiking poles and played the flute the entire time, while we huffed and puffed every 10 feet.

Once we finally made it back down to the lodge we were all in pretty good shape. Lauren was throwing up uncontrollably, Brian was about a white in the face as you can get, eventually he was hooked up to an oxygen tank.  Jeremy & Rob still had their headaches from the day before.  As you can imagine we were all very excited to hike the next day. This hike was rated a 3 out of 5 in terms of difficulty. The next day’s hike was going to be a five!

That evening we had our daily hiking briefing by our guide Pepe. He started off the meeting by letting us know the next hike would be 9 hours and we would be climbing up to 15K+ feet, at that point we all busted out in laughter.  It was that moment when I realized I was going to retire my hiking boots and polls for good. The decision was made, Lauren and I would be throwing in the towel and we would have a new itinerary made for us which would take as around Peru and eventually we would meet up with everyone in Macchu Picchu. To make a long story short, by the next morning. Jeremy, Lauren, Marc, Lilly, Brian & Rob were all in a van together heading down the mountain on our new itinerary.

I wish I could say the ride down the mountain was easier than the hike up the mountain. Lets just say we were always 12 inches from death the entire time. There are no real roads heading down, we were constantly on bumpy and I mean bumpy dirt roads, on the edge of cliffs with no guard rails. The closest thing we had to guard rails were the mules that we had to pass along the road.  We had to make an emergency stop so Brian could regurgitate, but he couldn’t. He even tried to stick his hand down his throat to throw up but that didn’t work. I must say that was one of the funniest sights I have seen in a long time!   After a few hours 3 to be exact we finally  made it to the regular roads. Our next stop was a small town called Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.

Our second day in Ollantaytambo started out with a tour to see the Ollantaytambo Ruins.

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This place was incredible, for those that really want to know the story behind these ruins click here – Ollantaytambo Ruins

Salkantay,Ollantaytambo Peru 2009


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Pucallpa 75.2 °F

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