The expedition phase began with several meetings with our
new leader Greg. Those who had attended
the intro weekend suffered some serious déjà-vu and everyone was just a little scared
about cycling down death road after hearing a blow by blow account of the
accident that occurred last year. We
then spent the remainder of the day frantically shopping to stock up on
toiletries and other essentials – including some snazzy trekking clothes – for
the six weeks ahead. Meanwhile it was
discovered that Jean’s packing skills left a lot to be desired resulting in
Jimmy and Jean returning to Villa Maria to pick up Jean’s walking boots.
The following day saw a 4hr bus journey and a trip to the
beach – only the boys were brave enough to enter the cold, smelly water! Dinner saw Jimmy realize that we now had a
vegetarian in our midst, much to his horror, and Human cluedo got
underway. After yet another bus journey
we went on a boat trip around the Ballestas islands where we had spectacular
views of birds and sea lions – although some found the smell just a little
It was then on to Huacachina where we enjoyed dune buggying
and sandboarding – Jaiya getting so
excited that she managed to rip Jimmy’s boxers (apparently she was aiming for
his hand but grabbed his boxers instead…).
Jimmy also gave a great demonstration of what not to do hurtling down
the dune at speed and then doing an impressive somersault. The boys all got to
grips with sandboarding very quickly
whilst the girls took a bit longer to masterthe sport – Ola giving up after managing to dive head
first into the sand.
After hurtling down
the dunes at three different locations – each steeper than the last – we headed
back to the hostel bruised and aching. We all wished we could have stayed at
Huacachina longer but sadly the following morning it was time for our most
grueling bus journey so far – 12 hours to Arequipa.
At Arequipa we prepared for our first trek, sorting kit,
buying food and discovering in the nick of time that we had no pots/utensils
for cooking. We left the hostel at 1am
to catch the bus to the Colca Canyon.
Unfortunately Alex wasn’t feeling well and stayed behind with Jimmy.
Over the next 24 hours everyone fell ill and by the following evening Louis,
Flo, Ola and Greg were the only members of the team to have escaped. Flo lived up to her name and did an impressive
job as Florence Nightingale keeping tabs on everyone and taking meal
As a result the trek was postponed by 2 days but we got
going on the Thursday after being reunited with Alex and Jimmy. The first day of trek saw the team descend
into the canyon along paths with a sheer drop on one side. We managed to reach
the campsite eventually despite Liv being ill and several others not 100%. There we put up the tents and cooked pasta
for dinner before collapsing into their tents for the night.
The second day started with an arduous morning of trekking
uphill – by some miracle (or should I say Greg’s prodding and encouragement)
everyone made it. To everyone’s relief the afternoon consisted of only flat and
downhill paths! We arrived at the next
campsite at 2pm, a few people were brave enough to get in the pool for a few
seconds and everyone (particularly Jimmy) enjoyed the luxury of toilets! Greg singlehandedly cooked up a feast – mac
and cheese with frankfurters – which everyone enjoyed. The team then went to bed very early in preparation
for a 4am wake up.
The breakfast team started preparing breakfast at 3.45am
after tackling the obstacle of a large, barking dog – who turned out to be very
friendly. We left camp at 6am and
ascended over 1181m over the course of the morning. It was a very tough trek
but at 12pm we finally reached the top of the canyon – Ola and Alice in
disbelief that we had finally got to the top!
So everyone managed to survive our first trek and we are
alive and well – just a little tired and achy! A big thank you must go to Greg,
Jimmy and the boys who carried lots of extra kit to give those who were
struggling a break, Jaiya for her motivating pep talks and never-ending supply
of Tang and the team as whole for pulling together and completing the trek without
killing each other!