View from the front seat
We were pleased of the panoramic view
Our next destination... And they say the best things are unplanned and this one certainly supported this notion.... We decided after a bit of investigatory work that rather than head down the coast as we'd originally planned we'd head up first for a bit of high altitude hiking in the second largest mountain range in the world the Cordillera Blanca.... And stay in the city of Huaraz way up in the mountains. Darragh had been there and supported our idea with good feedback about the place so we booked our bus... A day time bus on recommendation as the scenery on the journey was supposed to be breathtaking and it was said to be a bit of a waste if you headed up at night and missed it! Chris at the hostel said give yourself 45 mins to get to the the Cruz Del Sur Bus station so at 8.30am we left and headed up to the main road to grab a taxi... Word of warning book a taxi with your hostel as despite the fact we'd been told we could get it cheaper outside, they see you are non native and double the price.... We tried to argue but he
Bienvenidos a Huanchao
In case you can't read the post..... A resting point up the hill from Huaraz
came back with the fact it was rush hour and the journey would be a long one... Blah blah blah!!!! But for once this taxi driver earned every penny of his over charged taxi and got himself a tip.... The traffic was worse than London.... There were cars everywhere and police officers signalling traffic at every junction.... At 9am we were starting to get a bit panicky.... The taxi driver said it was still 30 mins from where we were and the traffic just wasn't moving.... We mentioned quite dismissively that we had a bus in 30 mins and that was it he turned into a super hero and revved the engine, pushed his way through traffic, sped down back alleys, flew over speed bumps.... We just hung on in the back and closed our eyes as there were some really close calls... Namely at junctions, where he didn't even think of slowing down, just beeped his horn and sped up!!! 9.25am and we were on a duel carriageway and could see Cruz Del Sur on the other side of the barrier, so one last crazy manoeuvre doubling back on ourselves on the slip road , cutting across the central
reservation and at 9.29am we were pulling up outside the bus terminal and being ushered to the right gate for departure..... Thankfully the bus was still there and 5 mins later, hearts racing the panic was over and we were being videoed by the security guy in our top deck panoramic seats and reflecting on what had already been a very eventful morning!!!
The bus journey lived up to all its hype, not just because of the scenery but because we'd gone Cruz Del Sur, who are certainly a class above the rest.... Think first class on Emirates and you can't go far wrong..... You get a safety briefing, breakfast, lunch and dinner, continual movies, a hostess compete with a trolley and a toilet... 'only for urination' I repeat 'only for urination!' As for the view....check out the pictures, these were taken from the bus window.... Pretty special!
On arrival at Huaraz we were met by the daughter of the owners of our hostel Tika Wasi and chauffeur driven to the hostel, which was lovely a real change from what we'd been used to...grandad let us in... Honestly he was about 80 and he ran up and down
The cemetery at Yungay
Three minutes just wasn't long enough to get there... :(
the stairs like Usain Bolt! Grandma made the breakfast, served on the roof terrace on the fourth floor with beautiful views out across the city! Brekkie was the absolute best... Freshly squeezed OJ, fresh bread and homemade jam, then your choice of scrambled eggs with ham, ham and cheese toasty or fresh fruit salad with yoghurt and granola!!!! Mum was the main boss and was really helpful with trips and things and Daughter and Son filled in the gaps!! We got showed to our room and thought it was some sort of mistake, it was huge, like a superior double with loads of Alpaca blankets, which when you're at 4000m is a must! Even WIFI worked in the room.... Bonus.... Oh and did I forget to mention... This hostel cost £5.50 per night!!!! We'd planned to stay for 3 nights but when we saw the hiking we could do around here we soon changed it to 4 .... After a really good nights sleep and a bit of a lie in and lazy brekkie we took 'Mum's' advice and hung a right outside the hostel and headed up the hill ..... 2 hours later we were still walking up hill
The equivalent of our Poppy Fields
A pretty landscape to remember the dead
and being wowed at every turn by the views of Snow Capped mountains, the city way beneath, random huts made into churches in the middle of nowhere and remote villagers still using a horse and plough to tend their fields.... It was so peaceful, well except for the odd fierce looking dog who threatened to bite you on the ass!!!! I'm sure we'd climbed a good 600m and weren't coping that badly with the altitude so after about 3 hours we turned back to town, got wrapped up warm and headed out for some cheap but filling Chifa tea..... Checked out the centre of town and some tour prices before returning to the hostel, booking our next 2 days of activities with them and hitting those alpaca blankets for another sound night of sleep.
We didn't have to get up too early the next day for our 'day out' and when we say 'day out', we really do mean... 'FULL ON day out'.... We were picked up from our hostel at 10am and didn't return until gone 8.30pm..... Full on..... For the bargain price of 40 Solis or a tenner!! We visited the town of Yungay, which has a
The remains of the local bus
The force at which the landslide hit is hard to imagine
really sad history. It was devastated by an avalanche in 1970 and it took only 3 minutes for the whole town to be wiped out. Only a few managed to climb up to the safe point, which is now a huge cemetery with a statue of Jesus looking down on the town. One daughter returned to save her mother and was killed and there's a memorial up there to commemorate them both. As the town was deeply religious those who knew they wouldn't make it to the safe point fled to the church... Bad move.... The huge piece of mountain that was cascading its way down the hill for the town took the whole church out and they think 3000 people died there and then..... Even now the town is still very flat from the devastation as it wasn't too long ago but with technology better nowadays they have more warning and even practise avalanche evacuations in school weekly..... So after a somber walk around there, we headed up the mountain into Parque National Huascaran for some lunch...... Now you only have to pay 5 Solis.... About £1.25 to get into this national park and boy do they need to
put their prices up and do some road repairs...... After bumping up the hill for 90 minutes around bends that wouldn't be out of place being called hair pins we arrived at the trout farm for lunch and then headed onto our next pit stop Lagunas Llanganuco, which are glacial lakes that are amazing turquoise green. Here we had a chance for a stretch of the legs or go on a boat ride onto the lake. We chose the walk as it would be good practise for our altitude hike the next day a bit further up the same dirt track road - Laguna 69.
If you think we're going on a bit about the need to acclimatise at altitude...let us just explain just how horrible being at altitude is when you are not used to it...
A) you have a stinking headache that you can't shift, B) you can't walk 5 steps up a hill without needing pure oxygen, C) you totally lose your appetite, not great when you need extra energy to walk anywhere....D) you feel dizzy... All the time, E) you feel nauseous too
But the good news, you can get over it, the
Lagunas de Llanganuco
Set in the valley at 3900m
more you stay there and acclimatise...So after our little walk, we were back in the bus for 4pm and heading back down the road from hell, with the great views to distract you a bit... And we were thinking, 90 mins to get down the hill and another hour from there to Huaraz, we 'll be home for 6.30pm and it's been a good day out... Well worth the £10..... Oh no off we head at the bottom of the hill in the opposite direction and called at a Dulce Leche factory for lots of free samples of caramel.... Very yummy..... Back on the bus and surely we're on our way now... Oh no 15mins from Huaraz and we're stopping again at a arty crafty place and having a demonstration on how they make clay pots the traditional Peruvian way.... Finally our Spanish listening skills burnt out totally we were dropped off in the middle of Huaraz at 8.30pm and dived into the nearest Rotisaria for some Chicken and Chips before crashing back at the hostel!
God knows how we managed to make it up for 6am the next morning for our Laguna 69 hike after all that excitement
Take a ride on the lake
Or take a walk as we did
but we did and we're on our way... Unfortunately the last seats on the mini bus were ours and they were over the wheel arch... Not great on that 90 minute bump fest up the mountain after a quick stop for brekkie at the village below... Our backs were killing by the end of the day! By 9.20am we were stood at the top of the mountain being pointed in the direction of the hike... The view even from there was superb and you knew this was going to be a trek to remember and it was. Although you only climb 800m it's from 3800m to 4600m that equals very tough.... One girl had it sussed, just take it real slow but keep going even up though the tough bits.... We weren't so practised and by the end we were having to stop for some severe oxygen intakes at every corner and despite the beautiful views and they were stunning at one point our 360 degree view consisted of 6 waterfalls .... Just amazing ... We couldn't wait for that glacial lake to come into view. It's a 5 hour round hike.... 3 hours there and 2 back and for
Start of the Laguna 69 trek
We can't see the steep sections from here
once the timings were spot on, at least on the way up, we made it down quicker and then had a good 90 mins to wait for 2 Israeli girls and a french girl to get back, they were soooooo slow it wasn't even funny! We spent about half an hour at the top taking in the mountain, lake and were even lucky enough to see a little avalanche at the top, pretty surreal with that one, the noise is scarier than the avalanche as it echoes so much!! It was sooooo cold though at the top you couldn't wait around too long.... Unless you were 2 of our group..... Who thought they'd go for a dip in the GLACIAL lake, because I quote 'it doesn't feel that cold'..... Now we are over 4600m above sea level, we are surrounded by snow capped mountains, which we're very close to the tops of, dressed in hats, gloves and scarves.... What would you guess the temperature of that lake to be???? Hmmmmmm??? !!!!! All in all a really wonderful day and certainly a hike to remember.... All we had to do now was brave that 90 minute road from hell back to
One of the many waterfalls
This was the biggest though
the main road back to Huaraz.... Certainly less pleasurable than the walk itself! By 7.30pm we were being dropped off at our hostel and soon after tucking into more chicken and chips before bed!
What a great place, not somewhere we'd planned to visit but somewhere we've recommended to everyone we've met since.... The people, scenery, hostel, hiking, bargain day trip, great food, cheap everything and not to mention having time to Skype my lovely mate Jules to hear all her Benidorm holiday goss and having my monthly fix of my 2 fave K's Kim and Khloe made this 4 special days to remember.....
Here's to Huaraz!!!!
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