This year we decided to do something different at Inti Raymi (the Inca sun festival on 24th June). Instead of joining the crowds in Cusco we went to the Andean Spirit Lodge with some friends. After a good night’s rest and enjoying the delicious cuisine of Artemio, our cook, we drove up the winding road, first to Mollepata, a quaint Andean town buzzing with the Sunday market activity (we stocked up on some coca sweets), then on to Soraypampa (3,850m/12,600 feet) where the dirt road ended at the foot of the glacier of Mount Humantay. Here we were rewarded with great views of the alternate trekking route to Machupicchu and the majestic snowy peak of Mount Salkantay (6,272m/20,577feet).
In spite of the unexpectedly high number of the trekkers camping for the night and day visitors hiking up the steep slope leading to Lake Humantay, we were awe-struck at the beauty and serenity of this landscape. We settled in for our picnic lunch in Soraypampa trying to catch our breath and get ready for the hike. It was a very steep climb of around 1 ½ hours, slippery in parts, and certainly not for the faint-hearted – to describe the route as a challenging trek would be fairer.
Fortunately, we were rewarded with absolutely breathtaking views of the clear two-colored water at the top (4,200 m/13,779 feet) as we reached the shore. In spite of the physical exertion, we felt absolutely exhilarated! We offered our k’intus (devotional coca leaf arrangements) and the beer we had carried up for the mighty Apu (mountain spirit) and the Mamaqocha (Lake Mother).