Once again Olga – our russian friend – has done her research in finding a tour guide. She has found him through a russian travel forum with lots of recommendations. We go to talk with the guide at 4 pm and even though I had thought Magpie and I would be doing a one day hike, I decide on the 3 day hike. So… at 4:30pm it is decided, we three are doing the 3 day hike and will be leaving in 10 hrs. In retrospect it does not leave Andres (our guide) much time to make all the arrangements including all the food.
Once we leave his office we hightail it back to our rooms to pack and make arrangements with our hostel to store our extra baggage as we are being picked up at 3 am.
We are tired but pumped and freezing waiting for the van. We end up waiting 1/2 hour. Our very thoughtful guide has blankets for us to wrap up in for the 6 hr drive to Colca Canyon.
Everyone went back to sleep and awoke when we arrived in Chivay for breakfast. It is still cold but then we are a lot higher up, almost at 4000m. Breakfast is quick and not much. I think everyone needed washroom facilities more. We get back onto the van and keep going towards our entry point of Cabanaconde.
Before we get to Cabanaconde we stop at Condor’s pass for a view and a bathroom break.
In Cabanaconde we go to a hostel/restaurant and had an early lunch (10:30am) and some coca tea as Olga is experiencing altitude sickness. Andres also gets Olga to rub some rubbing alcohol on her temples and the back of her neck. Magpie finds a kitten and dog and plays with them.
We were not able to hit the trail until noon but we were most grateful that Olga was feeling better enough to carry on, otherwise she would have had to stay at the hostel. A combination of sleep, coca tea and sorojochi pills helped her push on and pure determination on her part.
It did mean that it was hot. It is a country of extreme temperatures within hours not like Canada where it is day to day extremes. The other thing is the altitude, since we are so high up the sun does get intense for only a couple of hours but during those hours you could be in a bathing suit and then when it sets you will want coats and possibly mitts.
The view is incredible. The quiet is meditative as there are no roads. Everything out of Cabanaconde into the valley towns is by mule trains on either side of the canyon.
The path is a zigzag across the slope down. It is covered in a gravel and because it is so dry, it is very dusty. Black is not a good color for pants.
There is only the four of us on the trail. Magpie is skipping down the path thanks to Andres taking his small pack, though it is heavier than mine. Andres kept up with Magpie and Olga and I are taking pictures.
Bathroom breaks are behind cacti and you carry out waste.
Our goal for today is to get to the bottom, cross the bridge over the river and stay at a homestay. Once we make it to the bridge we know we only have approximately 15 minutes left.
Going down is hard because it is very slippery. Andres – our guide – slipped and went down once, so I knew it was not our shoes. I slipped once, which wretched my knee. It means that it now hurts to go downhill.
The sun is setting when we reach our homestay. Other hikers are already settled. Olga, Magpie and I stay in one room with on outside shower and toilet. It is the best shower yet, and no I am not saying that because I am hot, tired and dusty. It literally puts Cusco to shame or PIsac or Ollantaytambo.
All in all we hiked down for 4 hours. Dinner is at 7 pm. Magpie, after doing some initial exploring, chases the chickens, makes friends with some of the other hikers and goes fig and avocado picking and star gazing with his new friends. I put my feet up and rest my knee.
The sky is incredible because there is no light pollution. The clarity and crispness of the billions of stars make for a very tranquil night. I so wish I could take some night shots, but I am not travelling with a tri-pod. I nurse my knee and meet some Canadians from New Brunswick and a couple from France.
Everyone agrees that the climb down was hard on the toes. Magpie was doing great if he was not going up.