Back from Awesome Ausengate
Trip Start Oct 15, 2008
55Trip End Jun 01, 2009
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Where I stayed
PS don´t feel you have to read any further, especially those who have weak stomachs! - might be long and boring but there´s so much we wanted to record about the trek.
We left some stuff at our friendly place in Cuzco and caught the bus up to Tinqui
Just a bit about our night in Tinqui as it was our first real experience of life outside the big city. The new road will obviously bring a few more tourists but the locals were complaining that up till now it had just brought ´ladrones´ (thieves) from Lima & Cuzco. Although it appears to be just a line of houses on either side of the road, Tinqui has a plaza, a few shops and some more houses up the mountain
We did the trek in 5 days although if it had been really good weather, I´m sure we would have taken longer (normally takes 6 days). The mornings were beautifully sunny, although blindingly bright, started about 5am, but by 1pm it normally had clouded over and then later we would get rain, snow or hail. Meals were pretty basic and I never want to eat pasta again - we had it for breakfast and supper every day. Lunch was ´pan´ with a bit of salami. All our equipment seemed to work well - sleeping bags, thermarests and tent kept us warm and dry, stove gave us hot meals, water filter made sure our water was clean, torches gave us light
We saw a great collection of llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, viscachas (sort of cross between squirrel and hare), birds of prey, geese... The landscape was pretty barren when up high, with little shelter, but it kept changing as you went over a pass or through a valley. There were 4 passes in total, 2 of which were over 5,000m. The first day was a slow ascent as we got closer to Ausengate and we camped next to some hot springs. The second day we climbed up and over 2 passes and pitched the tent in a small valley beneath the third day´s ascent of the highest pass, 5,200m? This was a long day but the hardest climb was the fourth day with another 5,000+ pass and a long descent to a small collection of houses where we camped and took advantage of the hot thermal springs
A final great thing about this walk was the people we did meet along the way. No gringos in sight but local people who only spoke Quechua and who lived in these parts much as they must have done centuries ago. Both women and men dressed really colourfully but obviously used to the conditions - we met one guy who walked around in the snow without anything on his feet but a pair of sandals! (We did give him some of our pasta dinner though!)
Walter and Jose were our guide and arrero for the trek. They were brothers and I think early 20s if not younger. Although Walter spoke Spanish, Quechua was their language (it sounds a bit like Israeli - very throaty). The trek wasn´t difficult to follow but a number of people in the past have been robbed and I think it was useful to have them both (on one night we had a couple of women shouting outside our tent in Quechua accusing us of having their sheep for dinner!) On the last night, they introduced us to a local girl who cooked us alpaca and chips! Walter loved his radio and we were treated to a constant stream of Peruvian music. Half way through the radio broke though - disaster! - but Andy came to the rescue and gave him his.
Hope this gives a flavour of our trek - sorry if it´s a bit long but at least now there´s pictures to look at. At the moment, Andy is recovering from jelly belly (giardia) and I´m nursing a sunburnt lip, sore eyes and sprained ankle (thank goodness I did this on the last day when leaving our hostel).
Lots of love from deepest Peru
Esther & Andy