Trekking in the Andes!
Trip Start Sep 03, 2009
9Trip End Nov 21, 2009
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Well back in Cuzco after trekking in the Andes & seeing Machu Picchu....WOW!
But let me catch you up from my last entry.......we caught the night bus from Nazca to Arequipa, the trip takes about 11hours of rocking, winding roads, it was probably best we were in darkness & couldnt see outside as it was probably a bit hair raising! unfortunately didnt really sleep very well on the bus even through the seats were better than an airplane, very impressive plus we got a "morning snack" about 6am! Arequipa is a really nice town, cool streets to walk around, lovely plaza & some good eating. We stayed here just the one night before we took a bus trip to the Colca Canyon & Chivay. On the way we travelled to our highest altitude of 4700m, it really does leave you short of breath though we werent here for very long. Had coca tea & chewed coca leaves to help with the altitude, tastes a bit like green tea & smells like grass!. The scenery to Chivay was spectacular, and the little village had lots of traditionally dressed locals, very charming. Our hotel just outside Chivay wouldnt have been out of place for a Spa resort, the best accomm so far set in the Colca Canyon valley - we had a visit to the hot springs which was very warm & relaxing then an early night for a 5am wake up the next day. By this stage a few people were suffering from the altitude, not me thankfully but sometimes you´re just waiting for it to happen. We were a quiet bunch on the bus at this time of the day but it was nice just to enjoy the ride watching the breathtaking scenery of the canyon. The trip was to nesting place of the Giant Condors, the largest birds who fly at this high altitude, they`re much like vultures but are revered in Peru. Tried to get lots of photos of them but they`re pretty fast, maybe a postcard picture will be enough. Back to Arequipa for one more night & out to a fancy restaurant for our first order of Alpaca, yum.
The next morning was another early start (thought this was a holiday!) for a flight to Cuzco, all went smoothly & had a full day of relaxing & wandering around this very nice but touristy Inca town before the start of journey to Machu Picchu. We had a respectable 8.30am start for the bus trip to Ollaytantambo (believe me its tough to pronounce correctly!) via the Sacred Valley. Here we were again treated to absolutely spectacular scenery, its so hard to put into words how amazing the mountainous landscape is! The sacred valley is very lush with the same colourful people highlighting the trip - did I ever mention how many dogs are in Peru! well let me just say....heaps, they`re everywhere & all placid, friendly & cute, so far anyway. Well we made it to Ollaytantambo & are first real look at some Inca ruins, guess what - spectacular! This town is only small & a real stopover for the start of Inca & Lares!
Sunday 13th Sept was the morning of waking up with a few butterflies, we were all about to start our hikes. 5 of our group were doing the Inca & 2 (including me) doing Lares, 1 was just being lazy & not doing anything, that´s another story. Myself & James left 7am for the start of Lares but first we had to bus it over very bumpy winding roads for 2 and a half hours with our charming guide Farnando, a Canadian couple, Erin & Aaron & Jill a 50yr old Aussie from Nudgee! Our trek finally started at 11.30am at 3900m walking to 4100m for the lunch break. Well this is where I suffered, heaps of trouble trying to get breath & feeling very dizzy - diagnosis, altitude sickness, urgh! Never fear wonderful Farnando was great helping me through it but since I was not breathing probably I went horseback for about 20mins till we got to the lunch stop. Looking back it was a bit disappointing but literally I couldnt breath & this was the best thing to do. Blanco the horse, poor thing, was great. Lunch stop was a lake surrounded by mountains, actually all the meal breaks were at great visual places obviously to take your mind off the pain. After lunch I recovered like Floyd Landis (Karen & Chris will understand) and didnt need Blanco`s help anymore, we had an extremely steep rocky climb to our highest pass for the day at 4300m, it took about 2hours or more. Wait till you see these amazing photos, it made the battle during the morning worth it. From this pass we had 2-3hrs downhill, some of it really steep to our first camp site. During the whole trek the food was great you definately couldnt starve, the best part was the snacks we you`d arrive at camp, hot chocolate, popcorn, biscuits etc. Before dinner was to get organised & changed into thermals & beanies, rest or play cards in the main tent, dinner was at 7pm then off to bed. I could camp more regularly if it was more like this with absolutely everything prepared for you!! All the porters, cooks & horsemen were fantastic. Another day & a half of hiking for us, the highest place was 4450m & the second night we camped at 4100m & minus 4 overnight, frost on the ground when we got up that morning, brrrr!
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the Lares Trek, I know it can`t compare with the Inca Trail but our guide, Farnando & the views we had plus the challenge of the hike itself made it worthwhile, so far its definately the highlight of my trip!
Will update Machu Picchu in next blog......until then, Adios Amigos!