October 2016 - January 2017
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  • Day82

    Yarinacocha & Pucallpa, Peru

    January 8, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    After some solid time in the mountains of Huaraz we hopped on a bus back to Lima and then a plane to Pucallpa....long travel day!
    We arrived to the thick, heavy, oxygen rich air of the Amazon basin. Immediately you could feel the energy of the Jungle.
    Our ride was waiting for us and we were happy to be headed to Sachamama Eco Lodge, our home for the next 6 days. The rain was coming down hard, torrential down pour. Just when we thought we were close the driver stopped the car on a muddy, dark section of road and we were greeted by 3 strangers who had a Moto taxi (3 wheeled motorcycles with a bench seat in the back). Our driver told us the car can't go any further and we need to take the taxi the rest of the way. Excited by the wild elements of the rain and the jungle we were game albeit a little timid because we had no clue where we were and the road was dissolving before our eyes. Just before we got out of the car one of the guys handed us ponchos. Grateful to have them we hopped out of the car and onto the Moto taxi. The drive in the taxi was a bit trecherouss as we almost got stuck twice but 20 bumpy, mud and rain filled minutes later we arrived at Sachamama.
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  • Day77

    Lago 69, Peru

    January 3, 2017 in Peru ⋅ 🌙 -6 °C

    We had an early day to get to lake 69. The bus picked us up at 530am and we set out.
    The lake is named as such because there are # of lakes in this region.
    We drove past the old town of Yungay which was obliterated in 1970 by a 800m chunk of ice and rock that broke off of Mount Huascaran during an earthquake. The rock and ice ripped down the mountain and into the communities below at between 320 mph and 620 mph and within minutes buried the town of Yungay and it's 20,000 inhabitants. It was hard to wrap my head around the size of the avalanche path and the amount of destruction as the mountain is pretty far from the town and there were hills and valleys that the slide had to travel through and over in order to hit the town. There were house sized boulders strewn about all over in the slide path. Being that the catastrophe was 46 years ago there aren't any remenats of old structures as the earth and plants have reclaimed the area.
    The entire site of the old town is now considered a burial site.
    We continued up the dirt road into the valley which was cut by ancient glaciers. Massive sheer granite walls were on either side.
    The day was warm and clear as we reached the start of the hike. Huascaran peak (the highest peak in peru) was looming high above us. Glacier and snow capped, it was a sight to behold.
    We started the hike and were excited to see what the lake looked like in person as pictures often don't do justice. The trail lead up through a pristine valley lined with huge peaks and strange plants. Once at the end of the valley the effort kicked up as the trail did the same. Hiking at 15000 ft isn't easy but it certainly is rewarding. Up to the first shelf we climbed. A large rushing waterfall, a few hundred feet long, crashed down the granite hillside to our left. The sound was awesome and the light dancing off of the aerosolized water glistened with rainbow light.
    There was a beautiful flat bright green grassland with a meandering stream running through it atop the first shelf. Off in the distance even more peaks and towering granite walls greeted us. On to the second shelf. We could see the second shelf where we needed to go to get to the lake.
    Looking forward to the lung burning, thigh pumping grind up the second shelf I took off. 16000ft now and the breaks were becoming more frequent. The trees were long gone at this altitude and only small grasses and high altitude plants existed here. We topped out on the second shelf and it was strewn with immense granite boulders. As we rounded the corner the first glimpse of Lake 69 revealed bright turquoise water nestled below (peak name). What a cool lake. Huge waterfalls poured off of the glacier above and splashed down into the lake. On the eroding hillside small granite slides were frequent. Hot and tired from the hike we decided to take a dip in the lake.
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  • Day75

    Huaraz, Peru

    January 1, 2017 in Peru ⋅ 🌙 0 °C

    Bustling mountain town with biking, hiking, and climbing all around.
    We spent new years here and watched a crazy, decentralized fireworks show. It seemed that everyone in the town had fireworks and for about 30 minutes straight after the clock struck 12 am the city was lit up.
    We decided to go on a mountain bike adventure with a local guide who could show us around.
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  • Day71

    Rainbow mountains, Peru

    December 28, 2016 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We booked an over night, supported trek to the Rainbow Mountains with Rony. The rainbow mountains are a small range where certain minerals eroded in such a way that the mountains look like they are painted with all the colors of the rainbow. We had heard about this place and were very excited to see it.

    Around 7 am we were picked up by Rony and crew in a small, old Toyota wagon. There were six of us total and 5 seats. It was tight. We were in for a cramped 3 hour drive.

    The old Toyota rattled like a can full of bolts. The steering wheel was eerily vague, moving too many degrees either way before any actual steering input was registered. The suspension was over loaded as we bottomed out many times over even small bumps. The driver had a need for speed. He would go full throttle into corners marked "curva perligrosa" and then as though he had watched too many "Too fast, too furious" movies he would rest his hand on the E-brake lever. Luckily for us he never pulled it and luckily he always slammed on the brakes going into the corners before it was too late. As if that weren't enough to make one's stomach knot up there were plenty of unmarked speed bumps which he often saw in time, often. The road turned to dirt and 200-500 foot drop offs into a river were around just about every corner.

    The pavement ended and a pothole filled dirt road ensued. The road now lead us into the mountains. The little car climbed up and up as we passed small communities that seemed to be lost in time; no electricity, no plumbing, only the land, their farms and their alpacas.

    We got to start of the hike and it was beautiful. Maybe the feeling of being alive and out of that death trap of a car made everything seem a little brighter but it the mountains and the scenery were amazing.

    The wind was blowing cold and a storm was rolling in. It started to rain as we geared up and set out. We hiked through an awesome valley for about 2 hours and then began to head up, over a small pass in the mountains where we would set up camp. We were soaked at this point but having a blast. As we climbed higher the vegetation grew more sparse until it all but disappeared at 16,500 ft. The air felt thin and the rain turned to snow. We caught glimpses of massive, glacier covered peaks as the clouds blew through.

    Around 6 pm we arrived at a small lake tucked away in the mountains; our campsite. The snow kept falling and accented the cloud covered mountains. We dried off, warmed up, and had dinner before crashing out. Tomorrow would be an early day if we wanted to get to the rainbow mountains before the hordes of other tourists arrived.

    6 am, our alarm was going off. We got up and had breakfast. We were still in the clouds and more snow had accumulated over night. The hike today was to be a 2 hour journey through the highlands to the rainbow mountains.

    Along the way we saw plenty of lamas and alpacas. The people who live in these areas use alpaca for their wool and meat and trade it for fruit, veggies, or money. The lamas are primarily used as pack animals.

    Two hours later we arrived at the rainbow mountains. We were really excited to bask in the wild mineral colors for a while but the clouds were still thick and snow was blowing in again. Our view of the vibrant colors obstructed we decided to make the best of it. Rony's son, Fabian, was with us and it was his first time being in the snow so we made a snowman and I taught him about not eating yellow snow.

    We decided to wait for a bit to see if the clouds would break. They did ever so slightly and we caught a little glimpse of the mountain and it's colors. As anti climactic as it was the trek to get there more than made up for the lacklustre weather.

    The rainbow mountains were great and would be worth another visit in better weather.
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  • Day67

    Cusco, Peru

    December 24, 2016 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Christmas in Cusco is a big deal! Had lunch at a little Irish pub above the main plaza where hundreds of booths were set up. Tens of thousands of people wandered around buying up everything from tapestries and ice cream to do-it-yourself Nativity scene kits.Read more

  • Day63

    Sengalle Oasis, Cabanaconde, Peru

    December 20, 2016 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    What a day. We set out around 10 am to hike to the beautiful oasis of Sengalle. Sengalle lies at the bottom of the second deepest canyon in the world, Colca Canyon. We weren't quite sure what this journey would entail but we should have known hiking 1000m to the bottom of a massive canyon would require copious amounts of quad burning, knee tinging down steps. Cactus and strange desert plants dotted the near vertical walls, clinging to them as if their life depended on it; it did. Across the canyon were many small villages that seemed to defy logic considering their location. Farming terraces lined the hillsides as locals attempted to optimize the little space they have here.
    After three hours and countless switchbacks we made it to the oasis. What a treat it was! Fresh water swimming pools lined with lush grass and flowers and palms all around. We sat down to eat our lunch and refuel for the journey back up.
    On the way back up we saw a few condors circling high above and the light on the canyon walls was awesome as the sun began to dip low on the horizon. Our lungs were burning from the altitude (10800ft) as we neared the top. Off in the distance Sabancaya was erupting billows of grey and tan smoke and ash. What a cool sight. Our legs were fried but we were high from the hike.
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  • Day62

    Cabanaconde, Peru

    December 19, 2016 in Peru ⋅ 🌫 0 °C

    We left the dust and smog of Arequipa at 930 am on a glorified schoolbus towards the small town of Cabanaconde. We loaded up on empanadas and a few other snacks before boarding. The bus rattled out of the station and we were stoked to be getting off the beaten path. The roads out of town were jammed up and the going was very slow. An hour after we left we finally made it to the edge of the city. Misti volcano was looking good in the backdrop beyond Arequipa.
    The bus lurched along and up and up we went into the high plains between the mountains and the volcanos. We passed by countless little villages with steep hillsides covered in terraced farm land. We stopped in the village of Chivay to pick up more passengers. The locals were lined up ready to rush the bus as they were unaware of how many seats were left on the bus. Once the door opened a police officer held the pushy locals back from rushing on so others could get off first, it was an intense scene. Once everyone was loaded up we were off again.
    Hour 6 in the bus was wearing on us. Luckily the views kept getting more and more immense as we got closer to Canyon del Colca (the world's second deepest canyon). The pavement turned to dirt and the exposure off the side of the road grew. 1000ft plus drop offs were around every corner which made us hope the brakes and clutch were solid.
    Hour 7 and we were almost there. You could see Cabanaconde off in the distance, perched on top of a large knoll with the canyon to the right and massive peaks all around. It was a sight to behold.
    We both let out a sigh of relief as we stepped off the bus. Cabanaconde is really cool and we were excited to do some hikes into the canyon.
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