Peru Day 8: Salkantay Trek – Collpapampa to La Playa

Start: Collpapampa 2,850m (9,350 ft)

Finish: La Playa 2,064m (6,771 ft)

Trek Time: 7 hours

Our third day was our easiest for both distance and terrain. We woke up to another sunny day, and had a delicious breakfast of omelets and quinoa porridge (which is an amazingly healthy “on the go” breakfast and super easy to make by the way!). We said goodbye to our horsemen; they took our gear to our third and final campsite via van and then headed home as their town was nearby.

The day’s trail clung to the mountainside (sometimes barely) and brought is down, down, down to the St. Teresa river. Thankfully Alex took us on the scenic route (which had the added bonus of not hiking on a road all day), so we got to see a big waterfall and stop for a snack break at another water hole where a few of us took the opportunity to cool off. Alex taught Tish and I how to eat passion fruit, and we all enjoyed the chance to relax a bit in the warm sun (well, except John H. who had been burned since our first day and was trying to have as little sun exposure as possible!). We continued on, following the St. Teresa river to another break spot where we bought fresh passion fruit ice cream from a local man’s store, and Alex taught a few of us how to use the pulley cart system that locals use to get across the river when the roads wash out. Hanging above the river in a tiny cart was quite the adrenaline rush, especially if you tried to move!

15 minutes down the trail from the store/break spot I realized I didn’t have my phone. The last place we saw it was when we set down our backpacks at the previous rest stop before buying ice cream. We quickly realized it was still back there so Tonya and I ran back, and after my attempt at having a conversation in broken Spanish, it turns out the guy we bought ice cream from stole it! Fortunately, he (reluctantly) gave it back to me even though we didn’t have any money to give him for it. I was so thankful to have it back in my possession — it had nearly every picture from our trip on it — that I wasn’t even mad he stole it! After a couple more hours on the trail, we made it to camp where we had lunch and relaxed until it was time for our coffee tour!

To start the coffee tour, Alex took us into the coffee plantations and explained to us how coffee plants grow (they need lots of shade!) and when the beans should be picked. He showed us how the beans are harvested and then took us to another plantation where we saw lots of other crops growing, banana trees, tomato trees, weed to name a few. After Alex showed us the machine used to shell the beans, the local woman who makes the Flor de Cafe coffee and  lived in one of the houses near our campsite then demonstrated how she roasts the beans and let us all have a try. It took about 15 minutes until the beans were done roasting and at the very end she added brown sugar to the pot to add flavor to the beans. Then it was off to grind them by hand, pour the grounds into a pour over coffee maker, add hot water and then enjoy the fruits of our labor! We all loved the smooth taste, we bought a bunch of bags for Christmas gifts. They also gave us a taste of their homemade honey and honey mead wine, which were both delicious as well.

After the coffee tour, we had our happy hour where Roberto brought out a cake he and the head chef baked and decorated just for us to celebrate our last night camping with them. They decorated the cake with mountains, Incan stone walls, and wishes for “happy trails.” It was so sweet (both the gesture AND the cake), the it warmed our hearts. After dinner, we relaxed for a bit and watched all the animals make there way through our camp, then headed to bed. Our final night in the tents was an exciting one, a huge thunder storm came in during the night and kept us up with spectacular lightening show and rain so loud that at times Tish and I couldn’t hear each other talk. There were lightening strikes that I swear were inches away from hitting our tent. We were so thankful the 4 season tents that Kandoo provides held up and we woke up dry as did all of our gear!

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