Nathaly Salazar, 28, seen pictured in a pink coat at her hostel in Peru, on the day of her disappearance. Picture: CEN/Australscope
Nathaly Salazar, 28, seen pictured in a pink coat at her hostel in Peru, on the day of her disappearance. Picture: CEN/Australscope

What really happened on holiday?

NATHALY Salazar's new year was initially off to a spectacular start.

She was on holiday in Peru, where, like the millions of travellers who flocked to the country every year, she explored its world famous Incan ruins.

The 28-year-old trekked to Moray, a stunning site of concentric circular terraces. She then went to the nearby town of Maras, famous for its salt mines, in southern Peru's Sacred Valley.

On January 2, Nathaly, who was originally from Ecuador but had lived in Spain for most of her life, left her hostel wearing a bright pink jacket and mountain boots, ready for a day of exploring. She reportedly exchanged money and asked for directions to nearby ruins at the hostel.

Police in Peru said they are searching for the body of Spanish national Nathaly Salazar, 28, who went missing on January 2. Picture: CEN/Australscope
Police in Peru said they are searching for the body of Spanish national Nathaly Salazar, 28, who went missing on January 2. Picture: CEN/Australscope

Then she decided the best way to take in the region's wonders was from above, and lined up to ride a popular zip line - one of the longest in the world - in the city of Cusco, which took tourists across the breathtaking Sacred Valley. The zip line was called the Flight of the Condor.

Then, Nathaly vanished.

Back in Spain, Nathaly's family grew concerned it had been too long since they'd heard from the physical education student, who last got in touch on December 31 and appeared "well and happy". Their concerns grew.

And then came the twist no one saw coming.

On the weekend, police in Peru said Nathaly was dead and they had arrested two men, aged 21 and 19, in relation to her disappearance. Authorities immediately launched a large-scale search for Nathaly's body in the Vilcanota-Urubamba River, which flowed across the Sacred Valley, where they believed her body was dumped.

A poster from Peru’s national police detailing the disappearance of Nathaly Salazar. Picture: CEN/Australscope
A poster from Peru’s national police detailing the disappearance of Nathaly Salazar. Picture: CEN/Australscope

The arrested men have been identified as employees of the operator of the Flight of the Condor. They allegedly told police Nathaly died in an accident during a practice run on the zip line.

According to Spain's El Pais newspaper, the men said they panicked and decided not to alert authorities, and instead they dumped the young backpacker's body in the river from an electricity tower on the night of January 2.

But the two men have conflicting accounts of how exactly Nathaly died.

One of the men said she hit her head on a pole, while the other said someone had climbed into the zip line basket Nathaly was riding in, causing her to fall to her death, El Pais reported.

But they both reportedly admitted to smashing Nathaly's mobile phone with a rock after it started ringing. That phone is now understood to be with police.

Police are continuing in their search for Nathaly's body, but their efforts have been hampered by constant rain that has intensified the flow of the river.

Nathaly's parents have rushed to Cusco to help with the search and a community group close to the family in Spain has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for their flights to Peru, accommodation, and a private search party should the police efforts fail to find Nathaly. It has so far raised $4200 towards its $4600 goal.

Meanwhile, Nathaly's sister Tamara has expressed her confusion over her sister's death, according to a translation in the UK's Metro.

"I cannot get it out of my head that they [the arrested men] did not take her somewhere," Tamara told the media from her home in Barcelona.

Nathaly had visited the famous Moray ruins in Cusco shortly before her death.
Nathaly had visited the famous Moray ruins in Cusco shortly before her death.

"They could have left her at the door of a hospital and left without going in.

"If they did not want problems, I think they thought that there would not be much of a stir and no one would really look for her."

According to her family, who moved from Ecuador to Spain when Nathaly was 12, Nathaly studied physical education and sports and worked at Valencia's Central Market.

In November, she travelled to Quito, Ecuador, to start her dream of backpacking through South America.

Sadly, she is not the only young backpacker to have gone missing recently in Peru, a country popular for its ancient ruins such as Machu Picchu.

In December, Peruvian police said they had failed to find any trace of Canadian student Jesse Galganov, 22, who had gone missing on a hike along the Santa Cruz Trek through the Andes mountain range after last texting his mother on September 28. His family fears he may have been kidnapped.

And in April 2016, the body of British tourist Harry Greaves, 28, was found two weeks after he went missing on a solo mountain hike in the Andes.


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