Biking and hiking - Huayhuash
Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
23Trip End Nov 20, 2011
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The route followed ancient Inca tracks which are still used by the local farmers but in 'biker’ terms they are known as single tracks meaning that they are literally wide enough for a bike. Needless to say it was insanely fun as we egged each other to go faster and attempt bigger and better jumps with 50m drops on either side. We met a few local Quechan kids farming or shepherding, some as young as 3. It would be sad if they didn’t seem to be the happiest kids on earth particularly when we gave in to their demands of "buenos dias caramelos". Without any injuries we got back to Cusco where Katia and I had dinner with another group who had varying abilities in French, Spanish and English. What a headache but very amusing.
Thirsty for more adventure I headed North of Cusco onto Huaraz (pronounced whereas) which is known as the trekking and biking capital of Peru. Unfortunately this involved a whopping 27 hours on a bus. Yikes! But when you’re travelling first class, who’s counting? – Still waiting for the promised champagne service though!
My plan for Huaraz was to do a short trek as I’d heard from Suzanna that the scenery was spectacular. Pretty soon I overheard some Swiss guys chatting up a girl called Kimberley to do the Huayhuash trek (appropriately pronounced why wash)
At this point I thought the perfect preparation for a 10 day high altitude trek would be to do another mountain biking day. Whaaaa? So I tracked down the local biking genius Julio, a 50 year old man of rippling muscle and surprisingly tight lycra. What a guy! We set off up and up and up into the mountains. I had warned him that I was definitely on the beginner side of biking but I liked a challenge and what a challenge he had in store. He has been riding these mountains all his life and rides daily searching for the elusive ‘perfect route’. We had a solid 5 hours of extreme downhills and highly technical sections. It was brilliant! Oh except for the point where I became a little stuck between some boulders and with the elegance of a swan princess glided effortlessly in slow motion into a piece of flora I have since renamed the ‘Peruvian freaking prickly bastard of a bush’. I still carry the scars of my heroic battle.
So it was that I prepped for my epic adventure into the wilderness, sore and exhausted and as it turned out I had to share a room with the 2 Swiss guys
Now, my only trekking at this point had been the 5 day Salcantay trek to Machu Picchu. The prospect of 10 days without a hot shower, sleeping in the path of freezing gusts and hiking over 120km was enough for me to stock up on ‘comida rapida’ namely buying up Huaraz’ stock of snickers bars. After a breakfast of eggs, oil and plenty of cheese we headed off up the mountains. The first event was a rather soothing 7.2 earthquake that gently encouraged our lunch of fresh trout ceviche down. Ceviche is basically pickled fish that gets a quick 10minute douse in lime juice and it’s the national dish of Peru. Delicious!
Day 2 brought us over our first mountain pass where we were surrounded by huge condors
Waking up one morning Alain pointed out “there was a sheep tied to the kitchen tent!” It dawned as he said it that this was to be our special dinner on our final night. “Tasty” as he was named was a lovely beast who sadly only discovered the freedoms of life on his last day as we trekked onto our last campsite
At the end of our trek we walked to Llamac where we were greeted by a marching band that somehow got me dancing with a very old man wearing a flowery Morris men type hat. He got a little too excited and somehow managed to get a grope in while I stumbled around in a bemused, wtf manner. What’s a 10 day trek without a dance to finish it off?! To celebrate the end of the trek Epi and his brother treated us to far too many pisco sours (pisco, lime, egg white, sugar) back at the Huascaran office. Can’t recommend this tour agent highly enough! So I survived the trek and only mislaid around 5kg which I am doing my best to replace during my last couple of days in Huaraz before heading up the coast for a week of surfing and relaxing. Life is good!