14.10. – 20.10.16
For the next couple of days we set our home base in the mountain city Huaraz, known for its many trekking trails and tours. 🙂 We’ve already received many recommendations, especially for the famous “Laguna 69” trek and the 4-days Santa Cruz hike, but we would like to draw our own conclusions and plan to start asking around at the uncountable tour agencies for trips. It’s gonna be some exciting days and we cannot wait to discover the beautiful Cordillera Blanca and Negra and enjoy nature around here. And the very “delicious” specialty around here: guinea pig!
But before that, we check in our hostel and for the first time, we feel like home. 🙂 The room at “Casa de Ana” hostel is wonderful big, with comfortable beds, AND with real blankets! Typically we sleep under linen or thin fleece blankets, but here we have good normal blankets just like at home… what a feeling. We sleep like babies.
The owner of our hostel gave us some advices for good tour agencies and the next day our first mission is to set up a tour program for Huaraz. 🙂 So far we’re not 100% sure whether we wanna hike the 4 days Santa Cruz trek or not. We’re in the middle of the rainy season here and our mountain equipment is not fully applicable to these weather conditions. To be honest, seeing some backpackers here and their outfits we feel like bloody tourists in our not so fancy “North FaKe” jackets, haha. 🙂 After our first visit in one agency however, we’re pretty thrilled about that hike – best example of how well customers can feel when they’re being consulted in the best possible way. The guy from “Eco Ice” had a Google Earth 3D map prepared, showing us exactly how we’d hike, how difficult it might be, where we camp etc. Wow! Where do we sign up? 😉 No other agency was as professional as this one (which was also the most expensive one), but we still wanted to buy us some time. The plan was to do a first day trip here to find out how the weather might be and then start the trek in 3 days.
Hence, our first day trek the next day should be the famous “Laguna 69”. Early in the morning we waited for our transport, which should pick us up at 5:00am, but of course, typically Peruvian, didn’t arrive until 5:40am. A 3 hours bus ride, including a small stop for breakfast, later we arrived at the starting point. Several times we were being educated about altitude sickness, because it is no fun walking up to 4.900m within 3 hours. For the body, if not well acclimatized, it can have dramatic consequences – we saw some examples this very day! But first of all the hike started very easy in a beautiful surrounding, picturesque nature with a river tranquilly floating through the valley, cows passing our way and pure sunshine.
After 30min we began ascending and wouldn’t stop until we’re all the way up. Unfortunately, after one hour hiking it started to rain and we learnt: having an emergency rain poncho from Drogeriemarkt Müller for 1.99€ in the backpack can save your life! 🙂 The last 30min of the trek where the most difficult ones… due to the altitude, your legs and body somehow feel heavier than they actually are, a light headache begins and breathing felt like our lungs shrunk to half of their size. Additionally, it started snowing!! Our first snow this year, what an unexpected surprise. 🙂 And then we reached the top and although the Laguna was mostly covered in fog, it was an amazing view. The color is beautiful turquoise and seems so unreal!
We stayed for 10min, having a fast lunch and then headed down because our hands started to freeze and it got colder and colder. A quick descent led us back in the valley where the weather was sunny and great – of course! 😉 We met one guy on our way down, still fighting his way up, saying that he is close to. turning around due to his bad condition. He had 5 more minutes to go so he pushed himself further up, although it can be very dangerous to keep ascending when you have alerting signs of altitude sickness. He was pale as a wall, felt an aching chest pain, was short on breathe and had a headache. The curious thing s that his physical condition was very good – he however only arrived the day before in Huaraz and had no time to acclimatize. Another girl was sent back down from the guide 10min before the top because her pulse was too low to go further. One girl even fainted on her way back and lost consciousness! After this experience, we were glad that we made it up and down safely and had a great first hike. But: this day also showed us how unpredictable the weather can be and how quickly it might change. So we decided against the Santa Cruz trek but planned to do more daily hikes.
2 days later the next laguna was on our plan, called “Laguna Churup”. This time we planned it by ourselves since it was very easy go get there. We caught a small van from the city center which would bring us to the village Pitec 45 min away. The ride was such a funny adventure – normally, the van has 8 official seats… we were all together 20 people in the van, one guy sitting on the roof and somewhere was a dog running around in the van. 🙂 Arriving at the starting gate we needed to register and it went straight uphill. I would consider this hike difficult, not only because of the altitude, but mainly because of the continuous uphill path. It was stony and uneven, and sometimes we would climb on rocks holding on to a rope. I was just exhausted when we arrived at the top. 🙂 Again, the view was worth the pain – this Laguna was filled with crystal clear water, snowy mountains in the background…just the perfect mountain panorama!
But as always in this area, the mornings are nice and sunny, the afternoons rainy and cloudy. We already heard the thunderstorm approaching us and quickly made our way back down. How great that a warming Jakub-made soup waited for us in the hostel 😉
Our last day in Huaraz we dedicated to the famous Chavin ruins, an archaeological site from the pre-Inka Chavin culture. This archaeological site is a large ceremonial center that has revealed a great deal about the Chavín culture. Chavín de Huántar served as a gathering place for people of the region to come together and worship. People went to Chavin de Huantar as a center: to attend and participate in rituals, consult an oracle, or enter a cult [source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chav%C3%ADn_de_Huantar%5D.
Returning to the hostel we packed everything for our night bus to Lima, which would leave in 1 hour, when Jakub returns from the kitchen, saying:
“So, I just talked to this couple and they directly drive to Paracas from here…should we maybe skip Lima!? I heard from everyone it’s anyway ugly.”
“Well, I only wanted to go their for the food – we could even cancel the hostel without paying any cancellation fee…”
“Pfff, so yes, let’s skip Lima and go to Paracas!” 🙂
That’s how we sometimes do decisions here – as you can imagine, we do appreciate this freedom of having no fixed route, planning spontaneously where to go next and what to do. Okay Lima, you’re out! Paracas, the small coastal city will be our home for the next 3 days! 🙂