|Huaraz is located 8 hours north of Lima and is home to the largest mountain ranges outside of the Himalayas. it contains 22 peaks all of which are above 6000m above sea level. mount everest is about 8000m above sea level.
its home of the best trekking, ice climbing in south america and i really wanted to get a proper 4 day trek done while i was in south america.
surprisingly i met Ruby while in Lima and she decided that she would like to come and do the trek with me. which she did.
credit to ruby she did find the trek quite hard but i believe that it wasnt because of the physical effort required it was simply that i had been travelling at cities and places of 3500m above sea level for months and she whent from sea level to 3500m and then trekked up to 4750 and simply wasnt acclimitised half as much as i was.
the trek itself was amazing the pictures tell it heaps better than i could describe it, the first day we trekked for about 5 hours up hill and reached the first camp at 3800m. at night it got to below zero. the views that i saw when emerging out my tent on all three mornings were just breathtaking, simply amazing. such panoramic scenery towering up and all around you as you walk through the valleys is breathtaking and something that i will remember for a very long time.
it was great to do the trek with rubyl. i hadnt expected someone i had only met to suddenly take 6 days off work and run away with me trekking. even more surprising is that even though ruby is fit, this was to be her first trek. as she puts it "lima girls dont trek, thats for gringos"
ruby speaks perfect english so for the first day we spoke english but agreed on the second day and there after that we would only speak spanish. i found this hard because not only do you have to concentrate on the trek and the physical effort you have to think in another language, but for me this is the sort of cultural experience i had been seeking and a year ago if you had told me that i would be trekking in northern peru with a beautiful girl and only speaking spanish i would have though you were nuts, and although i didnt know what sort of cultural experiences i wanted in south america this one in hindsight turns out to be very satisfying. something that after you have done it you really feel like you have put a tick in the right box.
the second night we spent at 4300m above sea level and its considerably colder and harder to sleep because of the altitude. as usual i can sleep anywhere. ruby had a fever and unfortunatly didnt get alot of sleep but enough to push on for the next day.
the photos of me in my australian underwear cam about because i was trekking with some brazillian guys who when we got to the first major mirador (lookout) he got out the brazillian flag and posed with it. not wanting to be outdone in national pride i stripped down to my australian boxers and posed in close to freezing temperatures for a couple of quick photos. the brazillian guys commented in spanish that this was very australian and liked me trumping them on national pride. i did get the impression that they though i was a little crazy gringo. haha.
the climb up to the mountain pass was hard. at altitude it is even harder. its basically 5-6 hours of vertical stairs. oh and to add to the reality of it. there are no cell phones the south american tour company didnt bring a first aid kit. there was supposed to be a horse in case of emergencies but the tour company decided to cut corners and save money. the donkeys are loaded with gear and if you fall and break your ankle your stuffed, and you cant even stay at some of the places because the clothing and equipment is just not suited to the extreme conditions that can emerge on the pass.
Ruby found this stage really hard and we basically walked at a slowly and surely till be managed to get to the top. unfortunatley what goes up must come down and its almost as physically hard going down nearly vertical stairs for 4 more hours as it was going up. i wished i got a photo with ruby at the top but unfortunately the hard climb up had left ruby tired and not in the mood for a smiling photo. :p
the view at the top was just amazing you could see where we had walked from in the last couple of days. we were on the big huge mountain covered in snow that we had looked at for 2 days and we all got a huge sense of achievement from getting ourselves to the top.
the walk down was interesting with more and more vegitation and trees appearing as you decend to an altitude that plants like to live in.
on the last day in true south american fashion we had a hell of a time. we were told by the guide that it would be 3 hours walking Down Hill, to get to our private transport.
it wasnt it was 5 hours and it was up hill. this is disheartening when you are already sore and tired from the last 3 days trekking.
when paying the at the exit of the national park the tour company had told us that we could pay with american dollars, when in fact you couldnt. this caused the park officer to make ruby and i wait till 3 other tour groups had paid to serve us. by this time our guide and the group had walked off up the hill. we followed behind only to take a wrong turn and walk down the mountain road when we should have walked up it. and in fact we were about 20 min behind them, but this turned into 2.5hours.
by the time we realised that we had gone the wrong direction we were stuffed. so we hired a donkey off one of the locals for 2 dollars. ruby got on the back and we headed back up the hill. by the time we got up to the top of the hill our guide had left with the group to go back to huaraz. Huaraz is 4 hours away by mini van. we had very little money because the tour guide told us that everything was included. so we hopped into the mini van . ok a mini van seats 11 people 2 in the front and 6 in the back. there were 24 people in this minibus us included. we hadnt showered in 4 days and stunk and the locals i dont think shower at all. its hot and for some reason no body thinks to open a window. the bus litterally smells of Ass.
eventually someone opened a window. but ruby and i had to Huaraz. then we were out of money and there was no ATM in this town so we took a taxi at more cost thinking that we could stop outside the ATM when we arrive in Huaraz.
on arriving in Huaraz at the ATM its out of money. All the ATMs are out of money because its been the long weekend celebrating Peru Day of independance. so then i had to go to 5 money changers and change $100 US just to pay the taxi.
oh and on top of all this we had also learned that day that out of the 7 people on the tour we had paid more and didnt have our park entrance included and everybody else had paid less and had park entrance included. so to add insult to injury i whent into the tour agency like an angry bull in a china shop, let them have a piece of my mind and demand the difference back. this is usually usless in south america because once they have your money in thier sweaty mits you have 2 chances of getting it back Buckleys and none. but looking like i still had enough fight in me to punch somebody after 4 days trekking was enough for them to refund some of what they had overcharged us after the usual south american banter which starts with.
its not my problem you need to talk to the other guy who is not here.
then the other guy says the same.
then they say that the quality is better or some lame excuse as to why they arent giving the money back.
then its time to say that they need to make money to live and they dont get paid much
then if your lucky they will give you some back.
the one thing that characterises some south americans and its kind of a culture is.
lack of taking responsibility for anything.
laziness to the point of slothlyness.
constant lying without malicious intent but not caring wether what they say is right
and telling you what you want to hear rather than what is fact, simply because telling you the facts might involve more though or effort.
but the view and the trekking and the company during the trek more than made up for the usual south american annoyances which one comes to expect as par for the course in south america.
i hope you enjoy the photos