Also, I've posted a new round of pictures that correspond to this new post in the "Peru" set on my Flickr Photostream. See them HERE for more visuals from this and earlier portions of the trip.
And now, picking up where my last post left off, on to...
TREKKING IN THE ANDES MOUNTAINS - PART I
My initial thought was to do one big post retelling all of our hiking adventures, but then I thought that might be way too long as we did and saw quite a bit. I mean, I know you're interested, but I'm not going to make you read through one massive post. So, I'll divide it up a bit...probably three parts. Today, we'll look at our trip to our first trail head and Day 1 of trekking.
Hitting the Road
Awaking in Cusco on the second day of our trip, the group had a delightful breakfast at the hotel and then loaded up into two vehicles for a drive through the Peruvian countryside and to the first trail head. REI Adventures advised that each of us "pack light" for the hiking portion of the tour as donkeys would be carrying our bags for a great deal of the journey. I scaled back my pack and left a lot of stuff in Cusco for when we returned. Diane took a different approach, which was to bring her whole bag. We kind of laughed about it, and I said to her, "I want to shake the hoof of the donkey that carries that bag on our hikes."
|Typical scene on the side of the road|
Some in our group had not brought bandannas for the hike, and we stopped in a town along the way to so they could pick some up. Miguel assured us that we'd want them on certain portions of the trek where it was dusty. Back on the road, our vehicles wound up and down hillsides, cresting passes and circumnavigating ridge lines...ever deeper into the Peruvian wilds. As the green and brown valleys came and went, towns gave way to villages, villages gave way to clusters of two or three huts. Suddenly we rolled up and stopped at a valley site that featured Inca ruins, a spot called Tarawasi.
|Inca Tarawasi Ruins|
Another important thing Tarawasi included was a restroom. Yes, the family living right next to the ruins had a restroom that we could use. Remember, we're drinking, drinking, drinking water continuously to avoid altitude sickness...and this creates a pretty much continuous need to, well, pee.
Relieved and educated, we jumped back in our vehicles and continued onward.
We popped in the front of a little shop and then quickly out its back door into a quiet courtyard where we had a snack and some hot coca tea. That's not chocolate tea people, we're talking "coca" - as in the same leaf that cocaine is made from. To my mild disappointment the tea did not have a "cocaine affect," but it is supposed to be good for avoiding altitude sickness. It tasted OK too. More on the importance of the coca leaf to Peruvian culture in a future post in this series. For now, suffice it to say it was a pleasant and very mild stimulant (like any tea really) addition to the round of snacks we were having.
|"Cuy" in Mollepata|
At this point we changed into hiking gear, slathered on sun screen and slapped on our hats as we were finally near our first hike. After about 20 min. of driving outside of the village, we got out, geared up and hit our first trail.
First Hike, First Lodge
Today's hike was billed as a "4 mile warm up," but the group consensus was that it was more like "a 7 mile challenge." No joke, even one of the guides said it was actually seven miles. And, for the first part it was all up, steep. That's challenging for people still acclimating. But I'm not complaining. The views were spectacular as we ascended up through meadows to the first ridge, then we hiked along that ridge going up sometimes, down others as we paced our way toward our first lodge destination.
|First valley of our first hike|
|First hike, nearing our final destination|
Anyway, we packed ourselves up after lunch and moved out toward the lodge - eventually arriving at Salkantay Lodge about 4 p.m.. With sweeping and spectacular views of the mountain, llamas plodding around the grounds, a warm and welcoming interior, private rooms and a hot tub...the lodge was a welcome oasis. We would spend two nights here as further acclimation before heading up to Salkantay Pass.
|Our arrival at Salkantay Lodge|
Check back in a week for my next post!
NOTE: All pictures included in this post were taken by Marc Osborn and are not permitted for any use by any part without prior written permission from Marc Osborn.