Sunday, 3 February 2013

Lima and the Cordillera Blanca

I prefer flying to long bus journeys and our trip from Ayacucho was so easy. It felt like coming home getting to the first hostel we stayed in on our trip-Iqueque in Lima. Decided that whilst in Lima should get my tooth checked out. I started the trip last April with an infection between the roots of one of my molars and had the same sensation again. In Bolivia I just bought some antibiotics as did not fancy visiting a dentist there. Found a super clean clinic in Lima and for 20 soles got an X ray and an opinion. Yes, there was a little pocket of infection but no worse than before and as I had no pain no need to panic. The dentist thinks it will need to be extracted but that can wait till I get home and she gave me some antibiotics to take if it gets worse. 

We finally made it to the Museo de Nacion and it was a huge disappointment, hardly any signposting and we nearly missed the best bit!! Very little was labelled and the highlight was meeting two other travellers and a Peruvian couchsurfing host!!

Each time we get to a busy hub we have to take opportunities to enjoy a few a cup of Starbucks coffee( I know corporate USA and all that but trust me it tastes like nectar after some of the stuff we have drunk)........a proper haircut.....he even washed it first.......LUXURY.

We had a trip to Miraflores, to see the sea, this is where the other half stay in Lima, prices are more than double to the centre. We shared the trip with an English guy who was travelling on his own for 6 weeks while his partner went skiing. We had a lovely salad lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

We booked an overnight bus with Cruz del Sur-the best buses in Peru- and arrived in the Cordillera Blanca at 7am. Huaraz, the main hub, is a big busy town surrounded by snow capped mountains. Our hostal Haton Wasi, is a bit out of the centre , which means most of the time it is quiet.Breakfast is very good and served on the terrace and it the cloud is right overlooking the highest mountain in Peru. It has a veggie restaurant, which is a godsend!! 

We got on the local micro and for 50p went to check out Yungay, we wanted to spend a bit of time up the valley in a quieter place. We found a lovely little hotel and booked for 3 nights and thought we arranged a horse riding trip........

From Huaraz we did along day trip to the ruins at Chavin , they pre-date the Incas. Our guide was Peruvian and made loads of jokes, some of which I did not understand. He spoke so fast it was hard to keep up sometimes. There is so much more than the Incas in Peru but most of the government investment goes to Cusco and Machu Picchu

In Yungay we stayed at the Hotel Rima Rima with Julian, we arrived mid-morning and got sorted and he said our horse riding was at 3pm. We had a lovely set lunch of salad, barley soup, and chicken in a sauce all for 5 soles........£1,25. At 3 pm we set off walking from town, fabulous views of the valley and it soon became obvious that something had been lost in translation and we were only walking!! We saw some stunning humming birds. We walked with Julian and lovely little boy called Jan. He was 4 and chatted non stop, but we walked 3 hours and he kept pace with us. 

We walked to the campo santa, sacred place which is the buried town of old Yungay. An earthquake, in 1970,  in the valley set off an avalanche that buried Yungay and 20,000 people were killed and the town completely buried. Julian lost his dad and oldest brother. They rebuilt the town further west in a safer place. 

The next day we were up at 6am and left at 6.30 on the local micro and walked in the Cordillera Negra, on the other side of the river Santo. It was beautiful, flowers at every turn and wonderful bird life. In all we walked about four hours, and by 11 the heat was pretty powerful. The views of the mountains were stunning.

We set off to check out Caraz in the afternoon, but it was a grimy town, with dirty hostels and we came back pretty sharpish. Lovely as Yungay is, the people are really friendly as it is not a tourist town, there is not a lot of choice for eating, especially in the evening.

Friday we had arranged to set off at 6am and walk to Lago 69, a walk with a 600m climb from 4,000-4,600 m. The trip up in the car with Raul, our guide took till 7.45 and we set off walking. We started in a lovely valley with the mountains towering above us. Luckily it was quite cool most of the time but it soon started to become a challenge. Walking on the level at altitude takes an adjustment but climbing is something else, we walked slowly and deliberately , taking stops for coca tea, until we reached a flat ridge and we thought we had arrived!! No way, another one and a half hours and a steeper climb lay ahead. The last stretch was torture and I felt light headed and sick so stopped and slowly descended to get some oxygen in my system. I was 100m from the summit. 

Chris continued on and made it to the top to see the beautiful green lago 69, he said the last 100m took him for ever and he thought his lungs were going to bust. The descent was easy, nearly all down hill. It was a fabulous day, the highest walking in my life and the memories of the views will be with me for a long time, snow-capped mountains, glaciers and stunning waterfalls.
Monument to the last battle that defeated the Spanish in South America

Important policeman............two phones-who said men can't multitask

Ayacucho at night

Highest mountain in Peru

Local bakery-they made 5-600 buns a day!!

Yesterday we had breakfast in Yungay, some local avocados and fabulous bread and then reluctantly said goodbye to Julian, he had been a wonderful host and walking guide. Back to the same hostel in Huaraz and we had a bit of fruit salad in our veggie restaurant and visited the local museum. As it was my birthday in the evening we had a nice meal, first a cocktail Maracuya sour, then rabbit with a mustard glaze and finally chocolate cake. It was a nice night but as usual Peru doesn't quite deliver, Chris ordered filet mignon cooked medium and it was rare. When they returned the plate with the meat cooked everything else was cold!!

Today we are off  to see a glacier close-up and then tomorrow head off at 9 am towards the northern coast, first stop Trujillo.

We have very little time left but hope to fit in a week of chilling by the sea before 20th February when we leave Piura for Lima and the start of our trip home.

Till next time
Norma xx

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