**Note if you choose the 4 day trek instead of the 5 day, you miss out on the coffee plantation, hot springs, and jungle dome camp.
Salkantay Trek Day 3 –Through the Jungle
Waterfalls, Coffee farms, and hot springs
Looking at the town our camp had been in and back up the canyon we’d hiked down the day before
Day 3- Supposedly the “easy” day I’d say it was really only easy in the fact that it was the shortest and at a lower altitude day. It probably had at least 1500 feet of up and down gain/loss through the jungle and after the previous hard day, it definitely didn’t feel all that easy.
It started the same as before- 5:00 wake up time, 5:30 breakfast, 6:00 Depart. We walked through the outskirts of town along the road for a while passing a magnificent waterfall along the way. We stopped to admire a trumpet flower, and Carlos painted our faces with a berry that is used in textile dye. (We had some pretty ferocious faces after that) Our trek continued down the road a ways before turning off on a trail crossing the gorge on a really cool bridge- setting the precedent for cool waterfall crossings. Then there was about a 30 minute climb in which almost all of us sweat our berry paint off. I had to stop at the top of the hill to shed some layers and take a wet wipe to my face. (and some bug spray to the rest of me)
The first of many waterfalls of the day
A sign along the road showing the turn off for the trail
The first (and coolest) bridge we crossed
Looking back from higher up at the crystal blue water
While there was tons of beautiful scenery on day 3, it all kind of blurred together. We stopped for our first break stop at a passion fruit farm and shortly after that passed a stunning 2 tier waterfall. A lot of the trail had some steep drops off down toward the river and was loose dusty footing. We passed several more fruits and snack stands, stopping at a couple to make use of facilities or make purchases. All in all we walked for roughly around 6 hours in total for the day.
Another bridge crossing some falls along the trail
The biggest waterfall of the day
Beautiful forest scenery abounded
The trail was beautiful but more difficult than we all imagined
Steep drop offs from the trail
One of my favorites showing how small we all were in the jungle
Fruits stands along the way- The Popsicles are delightful
A lot of the homes and fruit stands don’t have any roads running nearby but there was a major road on the other side of the river. We passed multiple wires crossing over that had a large basket used for transporting stuff across the way. (at one they were even moving tourists along, I’m guessing those who followed the road and needed to cross over the trail side)
We eventually reached some towns where we stopped for our 2nd break at a coffee farm. Carlos showed us how coffee beans are processed which was really interesting, and we got to sample some as well. (You can purchase some coffee beans or ground coffee to take him if you want but I wasn’t too in love with the coffee taste) From there it was going to be another 45 minutes or so of walking or you could opt to take a free van ride to the 3rd camp…. Most of the group chose to walk but as the walk looked to be more through little towns without much change in scenery, I chose to give my feet a break and hitch the ride.
Grinding up the softer outershell of the coffee flower to reveal the beans (still needing to be roasted)
The sample/ shop
When we got to camp, the hosts showed us where our stuff was dropped off and allowed us first pick of the jungle domes. There were the largest of the lodgings but the least ventilated. Definitely DON’T leave your shoes or wet clothes in there. I set out to take a few photos around camp and since we had the place to ourselves, I found the only hammock where I set back to relax and enjoy the nature around me. Once our fellow trekkers arrived and checked out their domes, we got lunch which was another spectacular affair. Not only was our appetizer ceviche (a raw fish soaked in citrus juices with some chili/ spices thrown in) the presentation of all our food was the best so far. Lots of fun food critters and of course, everything was delicious
Our 3rd night/ last camp along the trail. The next night would be in town
The orange dome with a hammock
Note the socks and sandals.. It is generally a bad idea to just wear sandals around Peru as there are biting flies and sand flies/ no seeums. Any time I wore shorts I liberally doused my legs in deet but found it easier to just wear socks with my sandals than cover my toes as well.
Lunch = AWESOME
Our app of ceviche
beans awesome details on the turtle!
After lunch we all changed into our swimwear and climbed aboard the Hot pots express (about an hour each way bumpy van ride) that took us to some hot pools by the river in another town. This was one of the add ons you will need cash for and I had NO idea about until the day before our tour. Definitely don’t pass this up!
View from the entrance to the hot springs
There were 4 large pools each marked with their temperature. It was heaven having the place to ourselves when we got there.
We were among the first to arrive there so got to enjoy multiple pools almost to ourselves. *Make sure you shower off before entering as you will get whistled at, and you will have no idea why haha They had several pools of varying temperatures, with a couple getting VERY hot. You could actually swim lazily around in them, or find seats built into the stone around the sides. At the far end they had cold showers in the forms of waterfalls coming down the rocks, and warm showers you could sit beneath which were heavenly. And just past the pools you could glimpse the raging river so while the pools are not natural, the hot springs and river gave it a natural feel. We had around 2.5-3 hours to spend there and we lasted about 1.5 hours in the water before getting too pruney.
BRING YOUR BUGSPRAY WITH YOU. While I could typically make the dash between pools and showers without feeling swarmed, the second we actually started drying off, the mosquito cloud was intense. I probably got 8 bites in the 1 minute it took me to dry off and spray myself down. After getting out they have a bar where you can purchase beers/drinks/ snacks until the van ride back.
Entrance to the hot springs
The ride back was almost in the dark and took quite some time, but we all felt much more relaxed and clean upon return. We had our happy hour and dinner in the dark around camp (our last dinner with our chefs… sad) and it was another stellar number.
After dinner, our guide had us move up to the home at the entrace to the camp site where the hosts had a bonfire going! We all sat around enjoying watching the stars and the flames flickering. From what I saw, none of the other groups bunking in our camp (there 2 maybe 2) got the bonfire treatment so we felt incredibly special. It was a blast of an evening!
From there we were all just about ready to hit the sack though there were 1 or 2 choruses of yelps/ screams from other domes where an invading spider or 2 surprised the new inhabitants. Shaenah and I remained blissfully unaware of any visitors in our dome, but that didn’t stop us from taking the bug spray to any spots that were less sealed looking along the ground. Another incredible adventurous day along the Salkantay trek.