Peru Trekking Experiences
Patti and Dave McCarthy are 8 weeks in to a 12 week trip that has taken them from southern Patagonia, through north west Argentina, across the altiplano and salt lakes of Bolivia, to Sucre, Potosi and La Paz, on one trek in the Cordillera Real and another to Machu Picchu. Currently they are enjoying trekking in the Cordillera Blanca in northern Peru, before heading to Ecuador later in the month.
Patti has been keeping us informed of their progress with some fabulous photos and frequent updates. Here are some of her experiences from the Cordillera Blanca.
Nights in the Mountains.
The noises at night are disquieting at first. Sleeping at altitude, I find I am already in a lighter sleep than usual and to be woken by snuffling and chomping noises outside my tent can be a little alarming. I'm relieved to find that the noise isn't coming from my husband, struggling for his last breath, but from a hobbled donkey reaching for a particularly delicious piece of grass just under the fly.
Two nights ago, I lay in my bag listening to avalanches falling from the mountains facing our campsite and on another night, I was woken up by a young bull bellowing for company, also standing only metres from my 'front door'. Cattle, llamas, sheep and horses are often left to roam in high pastures and while shy of people, don't seem to be shy of wandering into our camps and seeing if we have any nice left-overs for them
Unfortunately, once my mind is awake, the bladder also wakes up and urges me to leave the warmth of my sleeping bag for the minus temperatures outside. I usually waste time arguing with my bladder, trying to persuade it that I can easily last from 8.30pm (a late night!) to 6.30am, but while 20 year olds might be able to master this feat of willpower, at 58 I certainly can't! However, there are rewards...
We have been fantastically lucky with the weather (or maybe this is just something else that Andean Trails organises?!) and have enjoyed not only wonderful sunny days, but also probably the most incredibly beautiful moonlit nights that I have ever experienced. As I haul on my boots, brush the ice off the inside of the tent flap and prepare to trudge off to the toilet tent, at 2 or 3 or 4 am, the nights are invariably perfectly still and the moon shines like a white sun. The snow capped mountains gleam in the moonlight against a blue-black sky and the frost sparkles underfoot. If we are camping near a lake, the peaks are reflected in the still water and the stars shine so brightly all around me that I'm almost tempted to prolong my foray outside of the tent, it is so wonderful and so memorable. The Incas believed that the Urubamba river in the Sacred Valley was a reflection of the Milky Way and as I see the Milky Way stretched out across the entire sky, it is not hard to perceive it as a huge river of stars, flowing ever onward.
I do of course crawl back into my tent and into my still warm sleeping bag and if I'm lucky, find there is still a little residual warmth left in my metal drinking bottle, which doubles as a hot water bottle at night. I drift off again, to be woken at 6.30 by our guide with a cup of tea to drink in bed - luxury! - and a bowl of warm water to wash with. Thirty minutes on I'm washed and dressed and my gear is stashed into the duffel bag which a generous donkey will carry for me. We breakfast on quinoa porridge, pancakes, scrambled eggs and a host of other delicacies and then we hit the trail again, ready for another adventure!
If you fancy a trekking or any other type of adventure in South America do get in touch with Andean Trails.