Leaving Trujillo and its pollution behind, the Linea bus approached into the night. I payed 50 soles for the second class. There also was a bus for only 35 soles, however I didn’t want to renounce the snack and more comfortable seats, especially not at night.
Ten hours later the bus climbed up to an altitude of 3000m. I was in Huaraz, immediately stunned by the beautiful landscape that surrounded the city within a valley. The mountains looked like paintings in the golden light of a new day.
I was in contact with a couchsurfer from Huaraz, but he left for Lima the day before. But he gave me an address where I could sleep at for a cheap price. I went to that place, that didn’t have any sign and you wouldn’t know that you could get an accomodation there. For 15 soles ($5) it was very cheap. A bathroom with shower was also part of the room, however I wouldn’t spend there too much time, since it was small and not so clean.
I made my way to the city center, which was 15 minutes away. The restaurant “Cafe Andino”, recommended by the lonely planet, sounded really good and it offered breakfast all day too. It was a bit expensive but I was satisfied. The interior was also comfortable, consisting of armchairs, couches and even a fireplace that is ignited at night. Moreover several board and card games could be used for free as the library and wireless internet, too.
The couchsurfer I contacted also gave me an address of an agency, called AndesXplorer, that he recommended if you want to do treks and other outdoor stuff. I think that he even works there but when I told the people about him, nobody knew him. However I was offered a trek that goes 3 days. I hesitated first a bit but then I decided according to the “first option is mostly the best option” and joined the trek. Two other people from France also were on this trek and it already sounded like having a good time. I payed $110 but for the sleeping bag I had to pay extra (mine was not warm enough as I already figured out at the Grand Canyon). The french people paid a bit more, but didn’t have to carry their stuff. Since the porter already had to carry enough, I got this “special offer”, which not really was one.
The night before the trek I thought about what I would need and I realized that I had no hat. Going up to 5000m it can be quite cold. The agency told me something about -5 degrees.¬†
The next morning at 6:30am I went to the agency, where I deposited the stuff I wouldn’t need for the trek. The two people from France, a couple, also arrived and since some of us didn’t have breakfast yet, we went to the market place. This was one of the only places where you could get something to eat at this hour.
On the way I passed an old lady selling clothes made of alpaca. Quickly I chose one of the typical Peruian hats and paid six soles for it. The best investment ever for this trek, without it I would have died.
In a private car we went to the entrance of the national park, where we would spend the next three days. We had to pay each 65 soles for a ticket that is valid for a whole month. According to the lonely planet you also can buy day tickets for around 5 soles.
Then we began with our trek and we walked along a valley for several hours. There was Leonardo, our guide, Edgar, who carried the tents and the kitchen,¬†Christelle, Romain and me. It was an easy walk since no relevant increase in altitude happened. However there wasn’t much oxygen at a height of around 4000m. At the end of day 1 we had to walk up a hill, which took much more time and several pauses were needed. We finally reached the top where our tents already were set up by Edgar.
Edgar was a funny guy. He was always able to make any situation a funny one. I liked his humour and it was easy to behave stupid with him He also cooked the dinner, which was really good and consisted of a soup and something with rice or pasta and fish or chicken. The first night however I didn’t feel like eating much. I had a headache and my stomache felt a bit weird. But I ate from everything at least a bit.
The night was less comfortable. The temperature dropped down to -5 degrees and my matress was too thin for that hard ground. Fortunately I had rented a better sleeping bag. I don’t know if I really slept that night, if, then not more than two hours. I also felt really sick, feverish, at night and I even took a pill. Probably it all came from the altitude, but maybe also from the special tea Leonardo served us … Mate de Koka. The famous Koka, a small drug, that shall help to get used to the height. I didn’t feel much but after the first night it also didn’t bring any worse.
Leonardo asked me, if he could use my light sleeping bag, since he had none. Of course it’s better than nothing, but it would have been totally insufficient for me.
The next morning, after a wonderful breakfast, we continued our trek. The first three hours were only uphill. We wanted to cross the mountain pass and for this it means walking uphill. We went slowly concentrated on our breath. 5000m high is the pass and a slight headache welcomed me already.
We reached the snow level and had to walk through it. It reminded me on that trip in New Hampshire where I unexpectedly encountered snow and soon began to hate it. This snow however was hard enough to hold my weight, but you had to be carefull not to slip off the cliff.
When we reached the pass we had a little break and went downhill. We didn’t stay there so long since the altitude isn’t good for headaches.
First I was glad to walk downhill, but in the end it was worse than uphill. On the loose gravel you always slipped and every step used a lot of your concentration, so that my headache increased that it really began to hurt. Christelle and Romain reminded me kindly but energetically to drink more water and walk more slowly. What would I have done without them
Leonardo liked to use shortcuts to avoid the marked paths. It was partly more exciting but also more difficult and I wasn’t feeling well for that game. My new french friends didn’t seem to like it even more.
We had a great view on the way to the pass and every now and then you could hear an avalanche. Once I even saw a little one. When we went downhill and finally reached the valley, it felt like in one of those western movies, where the post wagon full of money had to cross the valley and behind every rock a wanted cowboy is hidden.
The best moments were the sunrise and the sunset, those moments you normally don’t see on a day hike. But the night was cold and we longed for a fireplace, which was forbidden. Other campers we met one night, didn’t seem to know this rule and envying we were watching the flickering red lights from afar.
The last day of the trek was mainly flat and a bit downhill. Leonardo told us a lot about the plants, which most of them seemed to be good against headaches and problems with the stomache … just what I needed.
The trek was fun and I enjoyed the company of every one. Christelle and Romain recommended me their hostal which wasn’t so cheap for one person (30 soles) but for two it’s a good price (40 soles). Hostal Tany was my new home for the next days with hot shower and cable tv. Normally I am not very interested in TV, but it was nice to see some good movies on the CineCanal (in English). Oh …I did some laundry too at Danny’s (4 soles/kilo), which was really necessary.¬†
The following day we all used to do nothing. Only in the evening I told them that I wanted to visit a theater play at the Plaza de Armas. They joined me and it was a good play. It was about the earth and how it gets destroyed by pollution. A really important topic … I think even more important now in those countries like Peru, since first world countries already know too much about it. After the play we had some dinner where I chose the cheapest meal with Alpaca. Romain also took a dish with Alpaca, which was several times more expensive but therefore several times more delicious
Edgar told me that Alpaca meat is only allowed to serve in certain restaurants with a permission, otherwise it’s illegal. This way this race is going to be protected.
The next day I wanted to get active again and I wanted to do something that I always wanted to do … ride a horse. For $25 it wasn’t so much and four to five hours seemed to be enough.
I booked this trip at the same agency as the trek and I was surprised to see Edgar again, waiting for the only one, who wanted to ride a horse that day. He was acompanied by his girlfriend and we went altogether to the marketplace to have breakfast.
Again it was funny to talk to him/them and I was surprised what I already could do with my basic Spanish knowledge. After breakfast we went to a minibus that brought us to my private guide with my horse. We had to wait that the bus is full until it finally departs. It’s economically! Two drunk guys were amusing the other costumers in the bus so that the half an hour waiting wasn’t so long. But joking around with Edgar was also a good time to spend. We also exchanged email addresses and I tried to write my first Spanish email … I hope he gets the message behind it
45 minutes by bus we finally reached¬†a little nearby town in the east where my guide was waiting. I should have known it, whether the guides are so old that they are allowed to ask for support when crossing the street or they are 12 years old, who still have to do their homework, as my guide was.
But it was nice and William, that was his name, was very interested in Germany. He asked if we have trees and animals and so on. His dream even is to go to Germany once.
Slowly we rid along and made a stop after two hours. William was very tired and sometimes he even slept on his horse. I offered him some cookies, which he gladly took, but what then … he just throw the paper into the little brook. I told him that this was bad for the environment and for the earth, remembering that theater play the other night. I wonder if he would have done the same if he would have seen the play. I hope he got the message I tried to tell him in bad Spanish. At least he fished the paper out of the water.
To ride a horse was an interesting experience and not so difficult, since the horse can make a lot of decisions. Riding faster is more difficult of course and I did it twice for a very short time, but it was fun. However this trip only is good if you ride a horse the first time, since there was no special climax in this trip, like a nice viewpoint.
On the way back in the little town I saw some grafitti that had “World Vision” written in it. I asked William about it and he said that they built bathrooms and brought electricity to the town … for free. That’s good to hear, that our money (if we give anything) is used for something good!
This is how I spent my days in Huaraz. I stayed longer than I wanted, again … as in the other places I visited in Peru, too. But Huaraz was my best time so far. Where I should head next I wasn’t sure yet … south, but where exactly I decided last minute.