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Letterbox-Peru: Salkantay Pass — Geocache of the Week

by enaus
Salkantay Mountain, Peru
S 13° 20.816 W 072° 33.756

Find this D4 / T4.5 Geocache of the Week and you might think a terrain rating of 10 is more appropriate.

En route to Abra Salkantay (Salkantay Pass).

The cache has been hidden under the shadow of Salkantay Mountain in the Cusco region of Peru since 2012. It’s placed at the highest point of the popular Salkantay Trek, a route to Machu Picchu that winds 74 kilometers through stunning landscapes, from the alpine lakes of the Peruvian Andes to the tropical cloud forests below.

Just after ascending Salkantay Pass, climbers encounter this crystal blue alpine lake. Only the brave dare to dip their toes in its frigid waters.

Salkantay Pass, where the cache is hidden, is reached on the second day of the trek. The climb to the top of the pass usually starts before 4am, and only after 4-6 hours of strenuous high-altitude climbing is the pass reached.

Unceasing gusts of wind chase snow off the tip of Salkantay Mountain.

The reward is a spectacular view of Salkantay Mountain, a victory photo under the only man-made structure at the top, and this carefully hidden and well-preserved Letterbox-Hybrid cache.

The truly challenging hike through Salkantay pass would not be complete without a photo under the sign, and a name in the logbook.

The cache was placed by geocaching team enaus during their hike through the pass. It’s maintained by a local Salkantay trek guide named Manuel.

Cairns are scattered all along the Salkantay route. Some of them are tributes to Pachamama, the Quechua term for mother earth.

Having done the hike themselves, the cache owners know exactly how tough it is to make it to the top. “But what you don’t know at this point,” they add, “is that the amazing journey is just begun. The hike down through 1.5km in altitude in just a few hours leads through several different landscape and climate zones. In the morning hours at the top there is gravel and ice and later the day you can see coffee, papaya, avocado growing at the edge of the road. Amazing!”

Farther along the Salkantay route the climate becomes more tropical.

Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.
Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.

Alex is a Community Volunteer Support Coordinator at Geocaching HQ. When things get crazy, she sends in the big puns.