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Published: July 19th 2009
Coming up the trail to Cabanaconde.
The road from Arequipa to Cabanaconde climbs up to 4800m before descending about 1500m to Chivay, then it runs along the edge of the Canyon del Colca to Cabanaconde. It's a dusty, rough and bumpy journey on a bus with no leg room - not much fun, but as always the destination makes up for the journey. We are really lucky with our timing, it's the Fiesta Virgen del Carmen which lasts 4 days !!! so every night the local people dress in traditional costume, bands play, people dance, there are fireworks, street food - it's great :-) We came here expecting a great hike into the canyon, we weren't disappointed - it's spectacular, and very tough. Cabanaconde is ~3300m above sea level, the oasis at the bottom is ~2200m. Going down those 1100mm took 2.5 hours and by the time we reached the oasis we were ready for something to eat and drink, fortunately there are 3 camps there with bars, restaurants and swimming pools - talk about living a remote and isolated life, there is no electricity, no phones, no tv and all the supplies have to come in by mule, nice for a day but not the life
The whole family were on the trail.
for me. After a couple of hours relaxing and a carb heavy lunch we set out to climb the 1100m back up to Cabanaconde, it wasn't as bad as we expected, by keeping a steady pace, stopping to rest frequently and drinking plenty of water we made it up in 3 hours. At the top we were tired, dusty and dirty but had a great feeling of achievement and having seen some great sights. The people that do this day in day out are incredibly tough, when we were about 800m above the oasis we saw a local person coming up the path about 200m or 300m below us, when we reached the top they appeared about 5 minutes later dressed in everyday clothes and worn out sandals !!! We walked towards town together trying to talk in our pidgin Spanish, he had been to a village on the other side of the canyon - further than us, and his mother is 90 years old - probably putting him in his mid 60s !!!!!
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