The Andean Expedition team have been having far too much fun to get on the internet and send us a blog, however after a bit of encouragement from their leaders here is the next installment – Week 2 in Peru! Thanks to Victor for this one and to Jodie for the photos…
We were awoken early on a fine morning arequipa to rush off over to the bus terminal. Our final destination:The Colca Canyon. The bus ride was………….interesting to say the least. It was the annual festival in Cabanaconde, our starting point so the bus driver decided to pick up every single local at the side of the road. There were so many people that at one point when the girls got off for a toilet break they had to battle through the throngs bunched together on the bus to get back to their seats. It was because of our tardiness that Danny made the executive decision to reverse the planned route.
After a simple lunch we made our descent down into the canyon to the Oasis. It was all downhill but the sheer steepness and searing heat made the 3 hrs rather challenging. We arrived at the campsite as darkness fell, where we set about putting up the tents and making ourselves at home. Victor and Alicia set about preparing dinner which was to be a spicy surprise. Needless to say Danny and Richard really enjoyed the spicy food but it was a little too much for the rest of theteam. After we had supped, some of the team went for a quick dip in the campsite pool before an early bed to ensure a prompt start the next morning.
We awoke at 6 to discover that we had set our camp on a little stream. Unpeturbed, we dug into our filling breakfast of porridge with Danny’s added kick of Maca Powder for extra power. We set off for our first full day’s walking off to Fure, a little village in the Canyon. The first 2 hours were tough and the team struggled to find a constant pace but after 2 hours steep ascent the path simply stopped. We could see the newly built road we were meant to have linked up with but could see no way up to it. Fortunately a kind local helped Danny find an alternate route which added a bit of adrenaline into the day as we scrambled up a steep rocky outcrop. We stopped for lunch at a panoramic spot and made the most of our cheese and tomato sandwiches.
The afternoon brought the intense heat of the sun and even the strongest of us were tested. Upon arriving at the village we settled into a tiny campsite. Richard, Danny and Victor decided to have a refreshing wash in the icy cold waters coming from the waterfall whilst Lucy and Alicia bought some emergency coca cola. Jodie insisted on showing everyone the state of her feet which had been blistered by the tough day of working. We discovered that we would have dinner prepared for us and dug into a wonderfully homely meal. As the night drew on we had a great game of Mafia but Georgia failed to realise that you’re not meant to give the game away straight away. After an enjoyable few games we went to sleep in preparation for an easier next day.
Upon waking in Fure we had porridge with the added treat of some cookies for breakfast. As we set off, we made a steep descent down to a tributary of the Colca River. We made a brief stop at a bridge in the sunshine. We moved on to a winding path until we passed a local village where we decided to stop for lunch. This was followed by a short walk to the town of Llahuar where we would be staying the night. Carmen made a shock jump to the front in the last hour, boosted by the promise of an early end and hot springs at our final destination.
Upon arriving around 2.30pm we were given a full tour of the camping facilities and set up the tents. The team enjoyed the rest of the day in the hot springs until we set about building a fire. Lucy oversaw the cooking scrumptious portion of quinoa with some very al dente lentils. The team was then assembled and told by Danny that the plan for the following morning was to wake up at 4 to leave camp before sunrise to avoid the dreadful heat of the sun on the 1000m metre ascent back up to Cabanaconde. By 9 everyone was asleep and resting up for what would be a gruelling day.
At 3.30am, Danny Richard and victor crept out of their tent to set about preparing porridge with Maca and raisins. At 4am the rest of the team started lumbering out of bed and getting ready to go. Nadja managed to burn the porridge giving it a smoky flavour. At 5.30am we set off under the cover of darkness. We managed to keep a good pace and aside from Lucy being followed around by a stray dog as we went through a small village, we proceeded to unhindered. As day broke, we had already crossed the Colca and after a slight confusion at which route to take, made a start up the monster of a climb that we faced.
For the first few hours we managed to stay out of the sun but at 9.30am it struck the mountainside with full force. The team battled on and made decent progress. 4 days of upset tummies beginning to take the toll and the team was struggling as the path wound up and up the mountain. The steep climb continued until 12.30pm. The team sat down for a much needed rest and refuelled on a lunch of tuna and sweetcorn with mayonnaise. The relief of having conquered the main part of the climb was obvious on the faces of all and there was a true sense of accomplishment amongst the team. We arrived in Cabanaconde at 2:30om and were ushered into our cosy rooms where most simply collapsed asleep. The evening was quiet apart from an interesting dinner of alpaca steaks. At 9pm the team was fast asleep but happy with their achievement on their first trek!
The morning following the trek was fairly uneventful. We enjoyed a simple breakfast overlooking the main square before jumping on the bus back to Arequipa. Although most had agreed that they would not be going out to the club Dejavu, after the first round of drinks, most had changed their minds. It was thus that Richard, Victor, Alicia, Jodie, Lucy and Nadja hit the town.
The team awoke slightly hungover in Arequipa and tried to make sense of the adventures of the previous night. We then passed the time in Arequipa bartering for alpaca sweatshirts and enjoying local fruit juices. In the evening we made our way over to the Arequipa bus terminal. We then got on a night bus and drifted off to sleep.
We awoke at 5am as we were getting into Tacna. We then had a taxi transfer across the Chilean border. Apart from Jodie having a minor panic about taking apples across the border, we made it across unhindered to the Chilean border town of Arica. Arica was a fairly uninteresting city. Danny’s highlight was the large number of uniformed men in the internet cafe. It happened to be a naval base. Georgia and Alicia made some Mormon friends and have considered converting since their inspirational encounter. Jodie, Lucy and Richard climbed up to the top of the cliff overlooking the sea to get a panoramic view of Arica. In the evening we camped under a bridge outside the train station and had a cheeky nightcap to help sleep on the 12hr night bus to San Pedro de Atacama. Danny had booked us First Class tickets and the moment we sat down and put our seats back, we nodded off to sleep.