“So, what about a name for our new family?”, asked Jimmy John, our guide, before we started our Salkantay trek.
Because there were eight girls “sexy llamas” were suggested almost immediately. Why a puma? Oh, there was one man. So… sexy llamas, a puma, two guides, two cooks and a horseman with his horses, set off on a five-day trek from Mollepata to Machu Picchu.

I was a bit scared before the trek:
– what if it’s cold? (it was, but only on the first night- a down jacket and a down sleeping bag were enough to keep me warm)
– what if I don’t have enough water when I walk up a mountain? (never happened)
– how will I survive without a shower? (I survived without any problems)
– will life without a toilet be possible? (Surprisingly, there were toilets at camps)
– is getting up early on holidays possible? (it was, especially if you’re woken up with a cup of steaming coca tea)
– what if I stop and cannot move up (it didn’t happen).

So I was worried about many things, but I missed the most obvious problem that was likely to happen: altitude sicknees. On the very first day, breathing heavily, I reached 4000m. Then it was supposed to be a piece of cake: three-hour walk on a flat path. At first I didn’t pay much attention to my headache, blaming the lack of snow and physical exhaustion. When I felt nausea half an hour later I knew what it was. I have no idea how to describe what I felt, because I’d never felt so bad before. If I were to put together my worst migraine, and the worst hangover I’ve ever experienced, still it wouldnt be enough to describe it.
I finally crawled into a tent, and then crawled out again, because my stomach didn’t want to take in the tea that was supposed to help me. I didn’t know you can throw up so much and it was a painful lesson. Standing there, in the middle of the camp, under amazingly starry sky, I was wondering how the hell it happened that I joined this trek.

Finally, I went back to my tent, and this is how one of the most horrible travelling days ever finished.

We were woken up at five with a cup of steaming coca tea, I realised I felt well again, and the world became wonderful again.

I was at over 4000 meters before, but I never had any problems, so I didn’t expect them that time and it didn’t even occur to me to take soroche pills (altitude sickness pills) before the trek. You never know.

More about the whole trek HERE.

  • Christina Pfeiffer

    I get altitude sickness and it’s not a nice feeling. The worse I experienced was in Shangri-La, when I woke up at 3am feeling sick. I’m not sure I’d like to go trekking at high altitudes.

  • Sounds awful. I haven’t had that experience but find that skiing in the Rockies I have to drink so much water and if I do have a beer God forbid, drunk after one! Hope you enjoyed the rest of the trip

  • Megan Claire

    Altitude sickness can be a killer – I had it for a week when we got to LaPaz, was really horrible. Sorry to hear you got struck with it too :( X

  • One cannot underestimate the impact of altitude. When we got to Machu Picchu, we survived on coca tea to keep up with the altitude. Have never heard altitude sickness described and it sounds quite severe! Glad to to hear that you survived and were able to enjoy your trek.

  • Colby

    Wow. I’m not huge on hiking and I only ever hike baby mountains (if they can even be called that…probably more like hills hahaa), so altitude sickness has never even crossed my mind. But, now I see it’s real. Yikes! I’ll definitely keep it in mind if I ever decide to tackle a real mountain. So glad you’re ok.

  • GeekGirlGoes

    I can’t say I’ve ever experienced altitude sickness – as I’ve never been too high up. But, at least it only lasted that one day! I can’t imagine going on the trek and having it every day!

  • Glad you recovered “quickly”! I’ve never experienced altitude sickness although I’ve had some heavier breathing issues at 3800 but they went away after a few minutes.

    Planning on going next year to 5800, so I’ll definitely remember to be ready!


  • Yeah, altitude sickness is rather high price to pay when you’re so high up in the mountains. But, as mountain landscape junkie, I think it’s still worth it. The views on such altitude are breathtaking!