Richard Watts

Janner gone Westerer!
Living in: Plymouth, United Kingdom
  • Day217

    Puno, a quick stop

    November 27, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Puno, well, not much going on here at all. I thought it would be a good stop to see the lake for a night, but it’s a pretty standard town and would be a lot busier in high season. You an see from all the moured boats that it was dead! Great bus journey here from Arequipa though, amazing sunsets and great views of the back of Chachani!Read more

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  • Day214


    November 24, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    I ended up on the top of this 6025m volcano, because of a walking tour. There were 5 of us who were waiting to check into a hostel from a night bus, and we all decided to go check out Arequipa together. On the tour, the slightly crazy guide, laid down the challenge, I looked at Jaques, we both looked at Harriet and Laura, just under a week later we were sat in a 4x4 heading up to the start of the trek. The guide had said that it was one of the most accessible peaks about 6000m in the world, and if he could do it, anyone could! Well, not everyone it seems...
    There were 6 of us who went in the end, the guys I arrived with, Anna, who Id met in Colombia and a friend of a friend called Herman.
    The day before the hike, we went and got kitted out, bought some snacks and mainly worried each other about what might be in stall for us. The next morning, we were picked up, went to the office to get our kit, and set off.
    The first part of the drive would take us out of town to the base of the volcano, then we started climbing. The danger with this trek for us all as the night we’d have to spend at base camp at 5200m. Getting there was also a bit demanding on some as we found out. The 4x4 ride takes you from Arequipa at around 2300m, all the way up 5000m, which is a lot of gain and as it turned out, too much for Laura. We figured out after the hike that she had quite bad altitude sickness from this steep climb.
    The arrived at the car park at 5000m and the headed out across a boulder field towards base camp. This was to take about 2 hours as we were carrying our packs, water and supplies. On arrival to base camp we dropped our things and had a chill. We’d be eating about 6pm, then sleeping as we’d be up at 12:30am for breakfast.
    The view was amazing and the height was a bit of a struggle already, not to mention the Inca toilet, but we had a little fox as company, he obviously knew where he could get a snack!
    We headed to bed and it was cold already, even before sunset. I did wonder why we had been given so much clothing, but it clearly was needed come the breakfast!
    I woke up after some sleep, banging headache and not really feeling the Tal’s ahead. A bit of food, two cups of coca tea and some paracetamol and we were off. Laura, bless her, made it 20m from camp and turned around, she was not in a good place and now having been to the top, it was a good job she did!
    The climb up was relatively easy. Switchbacks upon switchbacks going up a slightly compacted scree field. It was like walking on loose gravel. It was pitch black and everyone had head torches. The aim would be to get to the top for sunrise, that would depend on our speed.
    I had some I’ll fitting over trousers which were being quite restrictive, so I hung at the back until we stopped and I could sort them out.
    Fast forward 4 hours, and things were getting tough! We were up around 5700m and the pace at the back had slowed. Other members of the group, randoms, were struggling, and few others had forged ahead. Myself, Jaques, Herman and Harriet were going alright. I had caught everyone up once the sun had started to show around 5am. It was still really cold! I was wearing two thermal tops, two fleeces and a ski jacket. Over trousers, hat, neck warmer and snowboard gloves. I did not really get hot in that lot!
    Another two hours later we had reached 6000m! Just as we did, Herman walked past me, sat down and threw up all over the path. He was soooo pale and had blue lips, but still kept going. The altitude was getting us!! I was taking roughly 10 small steps and stopping to catch my breath, so the going was slow! Looking back down the switchbacks, I could see Anna flat out on the path maybe 50m below is and really didn’t think she was going to make it. It’s a proper mental struggle even getting up in the night to start walking, so we all new her pain. The four of us kept going at the top, not much more to go, but Herman was really feeling it.
    That last battle for me was getting to the plateau before the summit. There was a ridge walk, which I hate, so I went around the back with a guide, which was evidently more dangerous, but no sheer views of the steep face on the other side. I was almost there! Jaques and Harriet had waited for me on the plateau, so we could get to the summit together. We dropped out backs a continued up the small hill to the top. We’d made it!
    The views were awesome, and even though we were late for sunrise, the light was unreal,it gave a real sense of being up in a different part of he atmosphere. There was only 5/6 of us at the top, so it really felt special. I had a piece of quartz in my pocket from Salkantay, so I found a suitable cairn and balanced it on to. It was quite emotional as it was such a big effort to get there, but so worth it!
    We hung around for about 25mins on the top, checking out the scenery and enjoying the view. I found it easy to be up there, no trouble breathing. Herman finally appeared just as we started to head down, so we left him to it.
    Luckily, the way down off most volcanos is a lot easier. It’s normally covered in scree somewhere and you can almost run down. Over 6 hours of hard work getting up and less than an hour to get down. You can really feel the temperature difference as you descend and layers had to come off. The base camp was in sight the whole way back, so it was just getting bigger and the thought of a rest in the warm was good. I made it back soon after Jaques and we chilled and checked on Laura, she was still bad, but not too long to go before we headed back. We saw Anna heading back down the scree, she had made it to the top, so fair play to her for pushing on!
    Once everyone was back down, all made it to the top, we packed up camp and headed back towards the pick up point. We had all gone on about food, so a McDonald’s was on the cards when we got back to town.
    On he way down, Laura became more chatty and the colour came back in her face, so it was obvious that she’s not great at altitude. Back in town, she was back to normal, which was great and also a real life demonstration of altitude sickness.
    McDonald’s in our bellies and back to the hostel, everyone really happy. What a great couple of days and not something that a lot of people get to do! Win!
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  • Day211

    Colca Canyon

    November 21, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    One of the things to in his part of the world. Trekking into the second deepest canyon in the world. I booked this tour with some people I met that morning from the night bus, it turned out to be a good bunch!
    We sent out form the hostel about 3am, which seemed to be the what went on with all the tours here and the earliest I’ve been up to go somewhere! At about 7am, we stopped for a rubbish breakfast and then got back in the van to a spot where you could see Condors. We saw one, waaay off in the distance, the birds were not flying our way.
    Back in the van and on to the next stop, which would be he start of the trek. We would hike 1km vertical down into the canyon switchbacks for days! It was cool, had a good giggle and enjoyed the scenery.
    Once at the bottom, we walked for another 15 minutes to lunch and a beer! It was a good spot and had plenty of chill time. We were all pretty tired, but only form the early start. After lunch, there was another few hours walking till we got to the ‘Oasis’ where we’d spend the night. The thought of a swim in a pool and a shower was all we needed to chip on!
    Swim done, beers and quite a few cocktails later, we didn’t care that we’d have to be up at 4:30am to start the hike up. 1km of vertical to get out of the canyon, without breakfast! We were told that it would take 3 hours, we busted it out on 2! The benefits of a fast group, and most people had been to Salkantay the week before.
    They lads, there were 4 of us who shared a room and got on the cocktails, formed a band called ‘Suicide Condors’ after the male birds who kill themselves when the females die. First single, “No woman, no fly” solid!
    Once out of he canyon, we went for a slightly better breakfast and then we were taken to see some llamas and a tourist spot. Our guide was a bit rubbish, but we entertained ourselves. After lunch, the Condors broke loose form the steered buffer, we were taken to look out spot at 5000m, which was nice, but we all just wanted to get back as we were heading out got someone’s birthday.
    I rolled in at 6am after finding some locals in the club with a bottle of bourbon at about 3am. My Spanish was on fire! The next two days were a struggle! 😆🍻
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  • Day205

    Rainbow Mointain

    November 15, 2018 in Peru ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    Rainbow mountain is another one of the must do hikes. I went after the Salkantay trek, so the 5200masl height wasn’t an issue. I thought it would be more impressive that it was, but it’s all about the photographs i guess!
    It was a 5am start and we were taken for breakfast first. I didn’t really speak to anyone as I was not in the mood being so early, but I did say to an older, know it all type of German bloke to warn him he was about to put coffee on his pancakes. He looked at me in a very dismissive manor and said “coffee” as he screwed his face up. I then watched him try the pancakes, stand up and walk off to swap them. Most amusing for others at the table.
    When we got to the car park, we headed off. I was a lot quicker than the rest and wanted to head into the next valley. Our guide was quite against this, even though it was supposed to be a better place to see. He eventually caved and I went off into the Red Valley by myself. 40 minutes later I had lost the path, but luckily so had a Spanish girl who had followed me. We figured out a plan and eventually made it back to the road, where we had to wait for about half an hour to get picked up. I realised we’d gone too far in to the valley, but it was awesome! No harm done.
    On the way back, we stopped for food an I spoke to a couple on the trip. The guy was from the UK and his wife was Peruvian, nice little chat and she bought me an Inca Kola!
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  • Day203

    Salkantay trek to Machupicchu

    November 13, 2018 in Peru ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    I didn’t really know what I was in for, but I did pull a looong night bus from Haucachina to surprise Kirsty and meet up with Malvin, Jess and some other crew I’d met along the continent.
    Everyone has to go to Machu Picchu if you are going to Peru, it’s just a matter of how much leg work you put in.
    The Salkantay trek is a 4 day trek which takes you though the Salkantay pass and down to, well pretty much, hydro electrica. You then walk the railway tracks to Aguas Calientes for a short nights sleep to then head up the steps to the ruins. The lazy people get the bus up, but like I say, depends how much walking you want to do!
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  • Day198


    November 8, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    It was a long bus ride here from Huacachina, but i splurged on a £14 bus cama, fully reclining seat into bed for the 14hours. I slept well!!
    The city is quite touristic, but really nice and feels really safe. There’s lots of trekking and tours going on, so it’s not a surprise that you get offered tours and massages everywhere you go.
    I picked up the key to the crews air bnb and let myself in, I had some time to kill before they came back so I had a good look around. I really liked the vibe of the place, there’s loads of good places to eat, you can get good coffee and people all see to be happy. Win! A definite recommendation for anyone coming this way, and it’s an almost dead very if you are going to Machu Picchu.
    When everyone got back, I scared the crap out of Kirsty, who was the only one who didn’t know I was joking them and we had a chilled night.
    Over the next week, including be trekking, I bumped into loads of people, ate some good kebabs, cheap menu del Dias (7sols) and a guinea pig. Nice! We also did a lot of trekking.
    There’s loads more to do here and I can see myself coming back at some point.
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  • Day196


    November 6, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    The Dessert Oasis. I thought this place was fake, but turns out it’s a real oasis, made by the tears of a crying mermaid, or something.
    The locals have to top it up with water now as years of well drilling for the hotels has lowered the water table. Ironic!
    I was only going here as everyone else I knew had and it’s on the gringo trail. It was okay, but I wasn’t impressed as a lot of people had been.
    I was staying at a hostel which included a couple of activities with a nights stay. The ones everyone did was dune buggies and ‘sandboarding’ more like sand sledging as there was no real way of standing on the bits of wood they gave you. You could hire snowboards and boots, but I wasn’t bothered really. The dune buggies we’re kind of fun and so was sliding down the dunes. I’d booked myself on the night bus to Cusco that night, so I had a shower and headed back into town to get the night bus. This one would be 16 hours and there was a chance I’d be trekking the day after I got to Cusco, so I book the big fancy sleeper seats, or cama seat, what a good decision that was!
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  • Day195

    Lima - a flying visit

    November 5, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    So, the capital! I spent about 36 hours here as I was flying through to get to Cusco to get my trek on!
    I stayed in the popular, but touristy Miraflores. It reminded me a lot of Panama City, but with a bit of surf.
    I went shopping for cheap trekking gear and ate junk food. I went for a big old run the second morning I was here and really liked the coast line.
    The park in the centre of Miraflores is full of cats, everywhere! Apparently they’ve been tbsps and looked after for 20 years. Probably a good idea as they eat cat in parts of Peru. I did like the vibe here at night, but I had to move on to get to Ica, then Cusco in time. Not much more to mention.
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  • Day193


    November 3, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    I arrived in Huaraz with Geoff (Izzabelle) from Huanchaco, a decent enough night bus, but we got there early! We had to sleep on sofas in the hostel until their breakfast time, wen the sofa I had my head on was stolen to prop the door open. The first of many weird things at the hostel!
    After we checked in and met people in the dorm, we headed out to have a look around and start thinking about tours.
    The main reason people come to this mountain town is to explore the high Andes of Peru. There’s so many different treks, but normally it’s the Santa Cruz 4 day trek, with an acclimatisation trek first, most popular is Laguna 69.
    The town is really nice with a great indoor market with all the meats on display, clothes and rest of the weird stuff you find in local markets. We also checked out the small museum of statutes from the near by ruins.
    We’d decided on the tours and when we’d do them. First Laguna 69, then the 4 day Santa Cruz trek, we also found a great coffee shop!
    That night, we met Jerry and B, a couple from the UK/Spain who I instantly got in with. Jerry is from Bristol and had been to many a Shambala fedtival, B is from Spain and they both live in London. It would ya e been great to go get some drinks, but they were packing for Santa Cruz and were leaving at 5am then next morning. It was Halloween and there was a real buzz around town with loads of people dressed up!
    Next day, there was more chillin and hunting round the outdoor shops for things. They have quite a few used shops, but I didn’t find much for me, but turned personal shopper for a few people.
    The morning comes to go to Laguna 69 and I do not feel well at all! We left at 5am, 3 hours in a bus later we stop for breakfast and I cannot eat, not good!
    Another hour up a bumpy track and we get to a lake, another 15 minutes later and we reach the start of the trek. I decide to give it a go, even though I might have to turn back. Probably about 45mins and I’m feeling horrendous! I had to stop and use the Inca toilet, knowing the hike would only get harder, the guide told me to go back to the van, so I did. A few dry heaves later, I was back where I’d started, found the van, but no driver in sight. I then preceded to sleep on the road, head on my bag for an hour until another van driver asked if I wanted to sit in as it was cold in the wind at 4000masl.
    It was not a good day! Another few hours later my driver turned up and then another hour till everyone else started to show too. It would be another 3 1/5 hours back to Huaraz. Not good.
    Next day, I helped a few more people shop for the Santa Cruz trek, I was on the verge of bailing from Huaraz, that evening I did! On to Lima as I decided to skip on over to Cusco to join the rest of my travel buddies as a surprise!
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