Snow-capped peaks and glaciar lakes!

Trip Start Nov 25, 2004
Trip End Jan 26, 2005

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Up at 5, we were greeted by a psychic taxi driver who just happened to know we were heading to Chimbote en route to Huaraz! Hmmmm! We arrived in Chimbote (smelt of fish...the town not Paul!) just in the nick of time to get the 8:30 connection to Huaraz! Phew! We'd heard loads about the bus journey itself and we were not to be disappointed...the terrain soon changed from desert as we wound our way up through the mountains with sheer rock faces at either side of the road and raging rivers running below us! You basically follow the 200km long Canon del Pato and at times you're literally driving through tunnels cut out of the cliff's definitely a bit hair raising at times and you can't help think that there might be a landslide any minute!!!! Stunning though! As we got closer to Huaraz, the scenery changed again and we came across lush green valleys, snow-capped peaks and very bumpy roads! We arrived in Huaraz late afternoon, found a cheap & cheerful hostel and decided to frequent a pizza place named after Pep...Pep's Pizza place! You let us down though Dirtbag...promising the best pizza in town and it was just pure cheese! Booooooo!

We gave ourselves a chilled out day to acclimatize to Huaraz's altitude of 3090m! We didn't suffer too badly though...I had a bit of a headache when we first arrived but it soon disappeared! Decided to get my hair chopped (to impress Mr Williams of course!) which is one of the worst I've had...boooo...didn't help me trying to explain that my hair was thick and would like it thinner in broken Spanish! Paul discovered the delights of Cebiche which is like a raw fish specialty of Peru which he's developed a serious taste for and we basically spent the rest of the day getting sorted for our adventure into the mountains the next day....

Having a limited amount of time in Huaraz, we had originally planned to go on a 2 day/1 night gallavant with a guide up into the mountains and some of the local lakes but we came across a genius company called 'Andean Kingdom' who basically told us not to bother with a guide and to do it ourselves! They would provide us with all the equipment and transportation to the start of the hike and the rest was up to us! All very exciting...we got our little tent, sleeping bags, pots & pans and a stove and went shopping for our supplies! Oh yes...'fanny' tuna, beans & sausages in tins (of course!), instant noodles, marshmallows for toasting and a carton of vino! What more could you want!

So the next day early doors, we jumped in the minibus and headed up into the mountains for 3 hours passing mountain villages and approaching some of the most stunning scenery we've seen so far! We arrived at the start of the walk and then the altitude really hit...we were literally one foot infront of the other all the way up and Paul especially as he was carrying the majority of the stuff! We passed stunning waterfalls and had huge glaciars infront of us all the way up...the last stretch was the hardest especially as we thought we'd actually reached our final destination only to find another huge switchback climb infront of us...finally though with big smiles on our faces and no air in our lungs we reached the most stunning glaciar lake...bright turquoise offset by a huge snow & ice covered glaciar! wasn't just the altitude that left us breathless! We stayed up there about an hour...took lots of photos and then headed back down to where we started the walk at lower altitude to set up camp for the night! Paul was so knackered bless him that I erected the camp and cooked dinner! Yep..he really was knackered...I even had to start the marshmallows on my own...until he had a new lease of life just after I'd gone to sleep! timing or what?

The next morning we started to make our way steadily down past 2 more beautiful lakes with even more amazing views! Highlight of the morning was watching Paul jump over the numerous little streams infact 6 in total until it all went horribly wrong but highly amusing when he jumped nipple deep into a freezing cold stream! It was like seeing something in slow motion...he quickly looked round just to see if I had seen or not and then dripping wet scrambled out and went on defiantly! We met up a little way down the road where he had everything laid out to dry!! Hee Hee! After getting stared out by a scary cow, we hailed a minivan and started the journey back to Huaraz...only for the driver to stop 5 minutes after we'd got in for lunch! Fair enough so we abandoned ship and squashed into the next bus that came past...6 adults & a child on the back seat! Definitely cosy! Just as we arrived into Yungay, we got a flat tyre which involved another wait for an hour & a half while they tried to change it resorting to a pickaxe???, so once again we abandoned ship and jumped in a collectivo along with a drunk local (Paul didn't like him as he nicked his leg room...I didn't mind him as he called me pretty or 'linda' as Dave will tell you! Paul reckons that shows how much beer he'd had!!! Awwww! Poor me...see what I have to put up with!) So all in all a journey that should have take 3 hours, took 6 but it was a great journey and what else could we do when we got back but eat cake!
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