It has been a while since our last confessional… So here goes, everything from meeting Kim in Lima to loving it in the “oasis” at the bottom of Colca Canyon….
We left Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca after being there for a month with mission accomplished which was to simply stop. We stopped long enough for Gary to get a nasty travelers stomach bug twice with a questionable 3rd one looming, a cold once and for me to spend a day in bed recovering from altitude sickness. That said, we also had some great adventures, saw some amazing things, made some friends and met dozens of other inspiring folks doing inspiring things. All said and done… with just knowing that our friend Kim Cellura, from Del Norte was going to be in Lima it seemed to be a good enough reason to wrap it up and head on down the road. Granted, the rainy season was on its way and if we had to go back to downtown Huaraz with all the crowds and noise… well, let’s just say that it wasn’t going to break our hearts.. Yeah, right, so we go to Lima… not a nest of tranquility, but seeing Kim was totally worth it.
From left to right… Omar, Kim, Gary and Poppie
Before we get started on Colca we can’t resist adding just one more thing from the Cordillera Blanca before we bug out for good. These photos are from one of the last bike rides we did in this area. This particular one was Cass’s maiden voyage since his major back injury from rescuing his tent in a raging river about 2 months prior. Our friend Ben joined us – he was just finishing up a peace Corp stint at the time.
This is the first course of a typical “menu” restaurant to be followed by a huge second course and a lemonade drink all for 5 soles or US $1.80. It’s insanely cheap to live well in Peru.
Our chariots waiting for us outside the restaurant.
Gary doing what Gary does.
Patti doing what Patti does. (both photos by Cass Gilbert)
Ok… That’s it… On to Colca Canyon..
After visiting it up with Kim and the guys in Lima we took an all night bus to Arequipa. We can still stand by the fact that we don’t do well with cities… Arequipa is no exception with it’s crowded sidewalks, super aggressive drivers, noise, pollution and way to many people crammed into one place. The good points were that we liked our hostel, there were no mad dogs roaming the streets, no all night fiestas, no bombs going off and we felt reassured with the hundreds of police hanging around many of them with machine guns, just in case… well just in case. We did some tourist things that were cool then set a solid plan to head to Colca Canyon. Gary already filled you in on some facts of the canyon so I’ll just embellish it with pictures. It really is a special place and probably our best week so far in Peru…. You’ll notice that this is “sin bikes”… That’s
because we are currently “trekkers ” loving it and feeling
really strong. Oh yeah… And it was also “sin enfermedad” without illness 🙂
The first town you come to in the canyon is Chivay, a town of about 6900 and the hub of activity for the valley.. Lonely Planet loves to call Peruvian villages “ramshackle”, but we thought it to be rather charming.
Markets are the center of life everywhere, right…?
All villages have their fashion statements and the Colca women have, by far, the most colorful and ornate of all we’ve seen so far. Even out in the fields the women wear their sequined, satin and velvets skirts in amazingly intricate embroidery. The hats above designate two different groups that originally occupied the canyon, the Cabanas and the Collaguas. Originally they distinguished themselves by cranial deformations…but now they use hats… much better, don’t ya think? Above are the two different styles as seen being sold in the markets… Side by side.
Gary… Really enchanted by the alpaca… Huge eyes and long eye lashes. Totally cute. This is Albert the alpaca, he’s one year old and very friendly.
Some valley pictures as we head deeper into the canyon. We spend the night in Yanque at yet another great, little
Gary, grooving on the town wide Internet system.. Really think del Norte needs an Internet system like this.
Every morning the local women dance and sell their wares to the tourists… It’s a very charming thing at 7:00 AM to walk over with coffee and see this going on.
A random early morning scene.
We continue walking west and the canyon just keeps getting deeper and deeper. We end up spending the night in Madrigal which truly is “ramshackle” and have to wait around 3 hours for someone to open the municipal hotel… It was right next to the municipal police station that housed a particularly unpleasant (I’m itching to use a more graphic term) police officer. The town was nothing, but the next days hiked proved to be awesome.
We were too busy route finding to take the pictures which this day deserved.
We enter Cabanaconda, another “ramshackle” town which is the jumping off point for the deepest part of the canyon. We stayed at Pachamama Hostel which is run by two uber friendly and hip brothers who have their finger on the pulse of what trekkers need. Great atmosphere, amazing food including wood fired pizza and an awesome selection of music.. This place rocked!!! We head down canyon and drop almost 4000 feet into a tropical sort of paradise. We stay at Llahuar, a funky, yet gorgeous hotel with hot springs and cave like rocky huts, great food, friendly hosts and super interesting guests including two wild and crazy Czech guys…. Love those Czech guys.
The entrance of the hotel
Gabby… We made dinner together.
Inside the kitchen….
The next day we hike upstream climbing almost 3000 feet only to loose 2000 of it dropping back down to the river to end at this crazy, tropical oasis…Here are the digs.. $14.50 a night which includes breakfast.
Ok, well, someone has to enjoy it 🙂
The next day we climb 4000 feet out of the canyon and by this time we’re really able to lay down some serious climbing tracks and it does feel great!!!!
The Colca adventure comes to an end as we wait for a bus back to Arequipa where we make plans to go to Cusco for the next adventure….. It was a very good week…
From Gary – the Colca trails, in general, are steeper than their American counterparts. They are also usually in poor condition due to virtually no maintenance and pack animals. We carried camping gear, never had an opportunity to use the tent, but did use the stove a few times. You could spend several weeks doing assorted routes in this area.
We are both really enjoying hiking. Our legs and feet have happily adapted to this new task.
Even though Colca is billed as being twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, in my mind, it isn’t as grand as the Grand. No surprise there though. Still, I think we both can say that this has been our favorite Peru adventure.
This morning we’re in Cusco and heading to Machu Picchu.
Still miss you…. Xo… Patti and Gary