Published: October 9th 2006October 6th 2006
Mules, trucks and trains...
I hope you have some time cos here is my account of the Lares Trek...
On the 1st day we drove through some amazing scenery to get to our starting point and lunch was prepared for us which was pretty impressive for camping. I felt a small pang of regret as bus left us and all our camping equipment and duffle bags were loaded onto horses but with walking stick in hand we set off on our incredible journey across the Andes.
Our group was 13 and we had an entourage of 10 including 2 guides, horsemen, porters and cooks who rushed ahead of us to beat us to set up the night camp. I set off at a slow and steady pace as they say "slow and steady wins the race" and as we walked the scenery was breath taking but unfortunately so was the altitude. I was coping ok with the heaviness of each step and pressure in your chest from the altitude just remembering to breath shallow and pace myself and I quizzed the guide and surrounding trekkers about their lives to distract me from the hard incline.
After a few
ready to start
hours we reached the first peak of 4300m (higher than the Inca Trail) without too much trouble. The view from the top and just to look down at the steep trail we had just come was amazing. We had a short break, took some pictures and started heading down as we had to get to camp before dark. You would think that down would be easier and in may ways it as especially you can breath easier on the way down but it is hard on your knees and you have to concentrate on your footing a lot. The night drew in quick and I had been back marker for most of the journey so a few a us had to make the last bit down in the dark by torchlight. The guides were awesome helping us all the way, not rushing us and being very patient. We passed lots of llamas and villagers and the last half hour i was getting tired and it was dark and i felt this small hand reach into mine. This small 11 year village boy wanted to help me down the rocky path and with a little bit of broken spanish we had
a chat and he led me to the camp - it was really touching but he seemed to think nothing of it and I gave him a big hug when i finished my walking for the day.
My room and tent mate Linda had kindly grabbed my bag and undone my sleeping bag for the night and we were all getting ready for dinner in a warm tent after a hard days trek. The cook definitely took pride in his cooking with great presentation and meals that were no way near basic. Unfortunately we were camping at an altitude of 3900m and none of us could eat much, we drank tons of coca tea, had some strange delirious conversations and started to turn in for the night in prepartion for an early start.
The temperature was close to 0 degrees and I dont think my sleeping bag was warm enough as I was feeling quite cold and sick when I was trying to sleep...I tossed and turned all night and barely had any sleep. Come 6am I was tired but happy to get up and out of the tent, i was still feeling sick and had no appetite
On the way up to the Sacred Valley
for breakfast so ate a minimal amount before setting off on the next part of our trek. We were told that we had done the steepest climb and the rest was more gradual but as the day drew on I got slower and slower, more out of breath, dizzy and feeling sick with every step I took. There were a few of us struggling so I ignore it for a while but the guide offered me the mule 3 times before I gave up and took a ride to give myself a rest. The ill feeling got progressively worse as with another trekker who also took the horse for a while and i was really struggling to get to the 2nd pass of 4100m. I took it slow and steady but was left on my own as one of the guides had to take a person down due to altitude sickness. It started to rain and I walked into camp wet, weak and tired still not being able to eat anything and looking like death, the guide told me I must go down before y condition got worse. I was gutted and wanted to go on but was holding up
we gave them pencils and paper
the group and could barely breathe, feeling sick and dizzy with every movement. Tired and emotional I sobbed my way out of the camp with a couple of others who also need oxygen and looked like death, to start our 3 hour journey down to the town of Lares.
We were feeling worse even though we were going down and we had one horse to share between the 3 of us, it was going to be a long journey. The porter was really sweet and started teaching my Quechuan to pass the time but it just felt like forever. Luckily a truck drove by and offered us a lift so we dumped the donkey and 9 people were squeezed into the truck to Lares. When we arrived things werent much better, it was freezing and raining and we were shivering and sick. I had 7 layers on and it didn´t seem to make a difference, we couldn´t eat, all i could do was sip some hot water. We waited ages for a car to take us to a warm hotel which was in Ollyantaytambo - 3 hours away, the guide gave up on the car and found some beds
small town with 150 people
for us which were also sooo cold. The car came eventually and again we had to cram 9 people into a truck, we didn´t care we just wanted to get somewhere warm. We arrived at the hotel at almost midnight and I threw up on the doorstep and flowers on arrival in front of the manager..it had just been too much. I was quickly rushed to my room and shower and thankfully got warm and some rest.
The rest is feeling sick, feeling better, feeling sick, feeling better, feeling sick until today when i could actually keep my food down.
So all who sponsored me, I did do most of the trek 2 out of 3 peaks and I suffered a lot and I hope you can find it in your heart to still donate money to Diabetes UK.
There are more photos below