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The Heartbeat of Peru’s Salkantay Trek

Goway’s lodge trek to Machu Picchu
by Jenny Ersbak

Each one of life’s greatest journeys begins with a single step. Some of life’s greatest adventures are found in the company of others, while others take us to fabled destinations via routes we never expected. Off the traditional Inca Trail lies a different route to the lost city of Machu Picchu.

Soft-spoken with a gentle demeanor, Dalmiro Portillo is an expert guide with over 25 years of trekking experience. He exudes a kind of mysticism that only a life in the mountains could produce. While other guides are gregarious and full of intensity, Dalmiro pulls his enthusiasm for trekking from the spiritual connections found in nature. His passion is contagious. It’s the driving force behind a 7-day, 35 mile / 65 km trek, a journey that will take you past of snow-capped peaks, rushing rivers, and lush jungle, to the ultimate bucket list destination, Machu Picchu.

For hard-core adventure seekers, the 7-day Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu (Salkantay Trek) is truly the road less traveled. The trail follows an ancient and remote Inca footpath through the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range before dropping steeply into the cloud forest of the Santa Teresa River Valley. The topography is other-worldly, marking a journey few foreign visitors will ever know.

Comfortable lodges en route

Dalmiro understands the impact a trek like this can have on his clients.

“They don’t know what to expect, but they hope for something beautiful, something different. And our job is to make these dreams come true. I want them to know that they are not isolated with their feeling, that this a collective experience, a form of interacting.” It wasn’t until after University, working as a bartender in Cusco, that he befriended local adventure outfitters who offered him a chance to guide.

“I started this job without even planning… It was like starting something incredible, when your hobby becomes your job. I started to make my living out of this. And this only became more intense, the work and my passion for it.”

Salkantay holds a special place for Dalmiro. The mountain, one of several sacred peaks or Apus that ring Machu Picchu, is a symbol of his native culture and heritage.

“First time I saw Salkantay closely it had a great impact on me. I was very impressed and each time I am back there, I need to share this sensation. I feel like being part of the mountain, of the environment, of that place.”

Toward the trek’s conclusion, it was obvious a deep camaraderie had developed between Dalmiro and his clients an often typical occurrence between guides and trekkers. His role as a guide was fundamental in helping each of the trekkers push past their limits, a duty he does not take lightly.

Trek in the Andes

“At the end of the day, you become a guide and a teacher. This is an incredible responsibility because among your clients you can have all kinds of people, with different levels of preparation, who rely on you and follow your guidance.”

Earn your comforts as you hike through the day, and then dine and relax in luxury at night. Enjoy enchanting mountain lodges, natural hot springs and innovative local cuisine.

Over 7 days, enjoy the breathtaking sights of the Andes, spending each night at an enchanting mountain lodge, with delicious local cuisine and natural hot springs ensuring a comfortable journey along the way. Trekking to Machu Picchu via Salkantay not only avoids the crowds and need for permits, it offers a new view on an often seen site. Book now and enjoy 2 complimentary nights in Cusco and savings of up to $720US / $940CA per couple.

“A veces no es necesario decir palabras, sólo sentir.” Sometimes the words are unnecessary, you just feel it.


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