Trip Start Nov 25, 2010
67Trip End Nov 24, 2011
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recorder and film a picture of you for their records. I guess it's
slightly quicker than taking photos, but it is quite bizarre. Our first
experience of this was on the bus to Arequipa. The bus journey is mostly
dessert with the odd hill thrown in, but as you get closer you begin to
see green pastures, mountains, and volcanos.
We arrived in the morning after an overnight journey and after sorting out
our room (taxi's poach backpackers to other hostels so this was no
formality), collecting our pancakes, and settling into our room (complete
with foot wide ventilation pipe going right up through the centre of the
room) we went out to visit some of Leanne's friends for lunch
a 3 course meal with the first course coming after most people's only
main, which was a tad disappointing. Was a fairly good vego meal though.
Our culture for the day though was a visit to the ice queen. On the way
to the museum though it's difficult not to mention the town square which
has been described as the most beautiful in South America. And it
certainly is lovely. It has pretty much everything from fountains,
colonial buildings lining each side, churches, just the right lighting and
greenery, and ever present in the distance a classically shaped volcano.
Stunning. Back to the ice queen though, the name was given to the mummy
who was found high up in the mountains recently. She was evidently of a
rich background and was sacrificed to the gods for prosperity. The museum
was pretty decent but the obvious highlight was getting right up close to
Juanita in her sealed ice cold chamber. I really got a sudden image of
final moments of confinement during the ritual. Quite scary!
Definitely time for drinks. We met up with a few people from the Inca
Trail for a night at their hostel, but left early. My ankle was still
very sore (with a golfball sized lump), and although we had decided
against a canyon trip the next day, I still wanted to rest it.
The next day (after our pancakes) we went out and agreed to book a tour of
the Colca Canyon, and then headed to Monasterio de Santa Catalina. This
was quite elaborate and resembled a tiny town, beautifully coloured and
presented. Quite a delight wandering through there it has to be said.
See a small selection of the varied photos! Beyond that though it was
only really about food and preparation for our trek in to Colca Canyon, tt
and it's neighbour being the deepest in the world.
Up early, as these tours regularly start early, and away we were for a
fairly bumpy mini bus ride. A bit of a rubbish breakfast stop and then
before we knew it we were way up high looking down into a massive canyon.
That cuts short quite a journey, but we stopped at this one location with
many tourists and it was very quickly evident why. Condors. They ride
the updrafts searching for prey, and boy are they big. Each one easily
had a metre diameter, and they would occasionally pass only 10m or so
above as they circle around. Quite a spectacle seeing these amazing
creatures glide close enough to hear the wind resistance (which is
minimal) to the admiring crowd. Wow!
But onwards and we shortly came to a stop where we were out for some
trekking. Packs with us, it wasn't too long before we were heading
downhill into the canyon. My ankle was holding fortunately (with added
strapping) so I was quite happy with it all. Again really quite
breathtaking as you slowly descend the switchbacks one side of a canyon,
this is a geologists dream
couple of hours and only went up briefly before coming to our resting spot
for the night containing some bamboo cabins where food was prepared. A
really lovely place to camp even if the trek wasn't quite as challenging
as we'd hoped.
Day 2 saw us continue along the path on the otherside and further down as
the canyon dropped away. Again the views continue to grow more impressive
with our guide pointing out paricular plants. We stoped for chica (corn
beer) and continued on our way reaching our oasis destination. This is
barren country and except for the canyon, there's not too much to note.
But as with all of the Andes, with steep landscapes comes water, which
brings life. And this plateau had plenty of water from the full length of
the canyon. About a dozen venues each with a handful of little huts
around beautiful gardens all with a pool. Very lovely. We dipped in the
freezing pool and took to the drink quite heavily forgetting that day 3
was meant to be harder
Day 3 starts at dawn where you have to climb 1000m straight up. With a
hangover it wasn't quite so much fun. 2 hours though is the time we came
in at, well just over. Not too bad at these altitudes, but once again,
always stopping for the view, and the photos. Amazing place this.
We continued through to a town and had to wait 4 extra hours for our bus
in the town square back to Arequipa. It was fairly relaxing but we missed
out on some sauna's later in the day as a result. Booo!
One sole day in Arequipa before another trek. This time only two days,
but we needed to prepare to go up the mountain, Chachani. Part of this
was done in an amazing juice bar where we sampled probably the best juices
I've ever had
an early night
Day 1 included an epic rough ride in a 4WD up to 4700m and our starting
point. I'm pretty sure this is the highest I've been and I was already
struggling for breath. And boy did the landscapre reflect it. All that
was alive here was the odd bit of moss clinging to a rock and some wierd
mini shrub mushrooms. Barren. It could have been Mars if it wasn't for
the snow capped mountains around us. And totally amazing.
We trekked in a group of 4 people to our overnight camping area at 5200m
and I was in struggle town. Not quite hyperventilating, but undergoing
some serious problems. We ate, had some coca tea, all of which helped,
but I needed some decent sleep and acclimatisation to get me ready for
tomorrow's ascent to the top of Chachani at 6097m..
disappeared behind the mountains, it got cold. Quick. Really struggled
for sleep that night, but awoke feeling more refreshed and ready to climb.
It's a good thing you go to sleep at 7 after the sun rays go, cause we
were up at 2am to start our ascent! Have to start early to leave enough
time to get up there...
What follows is the toughest day I've had on this trip by far. Freezing,
pitch black, moutainside vertical ascent from 5200m. We were already at a
starting point higher than the highest peak in Europe (4800m)... I've
mentioned before that I think altitude doesn't affect me quite as badly as
others, but certainly does get to me. Leanne was fine. No dramas. I was
sruggling for every step. The first third was calling on normal resources
and pushing through. By this stage though I knew it was getting
difficult. The second third I was questioning how we could do this, but
with an 8hr journey to the peak, you just have to keep going. I was
slowing the group up, and the leader had started to give me breathing
guide, and the sun finally coming up around 7ish, I began to see hope.
Warming up, and with a visible finish (albeit some 2hrs away) I knew I
could get there at my own pace. Crampons were required as we entered the
snow, and for a good half an hour we were all roped together for our
safety. The last 200m or so were were hardly getting each step a foot
length in front of the other, and having to stop every 10 or so steps
doesn't exactly call for a quick finish, but we all made it to the peak.
Definitely a highlight, I made climbed a mountain to a height above 6000m!
Very definitely happy about that one. And perhaps I might just decide
against any others this high.
The downward journey was so much quicker, but not without it's falls
Roped together the pace was quite frantic, and on tired legs it wasn't
easy. But I for one was happy to get down to a slightly more managable
5200m... Pack up our stuff and carry that back along the trek (ugh) to a
still hefty 4700m to get into the 4wd. Totally exhuasted and hardly
noticed the long and bumpy journey back into Arequipa...
So glad we did it though, really is a highpoint. 6000m!!! Check out the video...