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A warpus in Peru

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by warpus, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Yep, on day 13 high up in a village in the mountains near Huaraz.

    Right now I'm in Ottawa getting ready for my sister's wedding (which is tomorrow). I return home on tuesday, so I won't be able to update the thread until then.
     
  2. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing. :)
     
  3. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    You're welcome!

    I just got back from Ottawa and one hell of a wedding.. not to mention one hell of a traditional next-day "Poprawiny" party! I am incredibly happy for my sister and I definitely need a day to recharge and recover.

    However... here's an intro to the Salkantay Trek, which we started walking on day 4 of the trip and which took us to Machu Picchu on day 8.

    I found this map online and it isn't the company we used or the exact route we took (we didn't take a train for example and we started walking a bit earlier.. there might be other differences), but it's the best map of the hike that I've been able to find so far, so here it is



    Salkantay Trek Day 1 - Mollepata to Soraypampa
    Day 2 - Soraypampa to Chaullay
    Day 3 - Chaullay to Santa Teresa
    Day 4 - Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes
    Day 5 - Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain

    So while this is not exactly the same route we took, you can follow along anyway.. Day 4 seems fairly short, but I seem to remember quite a bit of walking as well.. so I'm not sure if the map is just not to scale or if the many curves and turns in the trail just make it a bit deceiving map-wise

    I took the day off work tomorrow so I might post day 5 pictures at some point then..
     
  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Interesting.. The only comparison I can make in terms of South America is the very southern tip of the Andes. There were definite similarities, but the Peruvian mountains seemed a lot more.. grandiose. The glaciers of Patagonia seemed much spectacular though, but that might just be because Grey and Moraine glacier are so accessible
     
  5. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Salkantay Trek Day 1

    Day 4 of trip - Wednesday May 9th

    Let me talk a bit about the Trek itself. I booked it through the hostel we stayed at and in the end ended up walking with 1 guide and 11 other hikers. This meant that we all slept in the same camp, but often walked in personalized groups or alone (I really enjoy that sort of thing and made a point of getting away from people for parts of the hike). Having said that we walked as a group a lot on day 1 and spent a lot of time together otherwise.

    We met up with our guide Nilton (named after the Brazilian footballing legend) at 6:30pm on Tuesday, the night before the hike began. He went through the itinerary, a checklist of things we would need, what exactly was involved, answered any questions etc. Only 3 of us from our eventual hiking group stayed at our hostel; Me, my buddy Steve who accompanied me to Peru from Canada, and an American named Gary from Colorado. Nilton briefed us on the hike and then went to meet other people from our group elsewhere.

    In any case, here is a short version of the itinerary for the day:

    3:45am - Wake up @ hostel
    4:50am - Bus Pickup @ hostel
    7:00am - Arrival in Mollepata, breakfast
    8:15am - Start of hike
    1:30 or so - Lunch
    5:50pm - Arrival at campsite
    7:00pm - Dinner, cards
    9:30pm - Sleep

    This was the first day of the hike and we started off by only getting a couple hours of sleep. We had to wake up at 3:45am because the pickup was supposed to be at 4:30am and we still had shower, go through our bags a bit, re-pack some stuff, leave it behind @ the hostel, pay, check out, etc. The bus ended up arriving a bit late, giving us time to enjoy the drunken ramblings of a Jewish playboy type guy in his 20s who was having a fairly loud & obnoxious conversation with another drunk friend, mostly about women, their reproductive organs, and ways by which a man might become acquainted with them.

    So me, Steve, and Gary, sat there being amused & annoyed by the conversation, still half asleep, waiting for the bus. It finally arrived and took about 2 hours to get us to Mollepata - a small village in the Andean foothills @ about 2,900m (does anyone want me to convert each altitude/measurement/whatever to imperial as well? Cause I will if people want me to)

    One by one future members of Team Kevin (more on the naming of our group in a later post) filled up the bus and when we arrived in Mollepata we were ready to have our first group breakfast! Coca leaves & other medicinal and non-medicinal teas were placed on the table by a Quechua villager, we ordered breakfast, started talking among ourselves, and then dug in!

    After that most people sat aside 2-5kg of gear to be carried by the mules (there was a 5kg limit per person). I ended up leaving my sleeping bag, a bunch of clothes, and other assorted things I would probably not need while we were still walking. The mules drop off all this stuff @ the campsite, so each one of us had access to it once we arrived at our destination on day 1. This happened every day except for the last, when we had to carry everything ourselves.

    We finally started walking at 8:15 or so and at first had to get out of the village of Mollepata itself. It wasn't that big, but it was the first day of walking, I wasn't feeling quite comfortable with the high altitudes yet, there was now a 12-14kg bag on my back, and the trail was taking us forever uphill.. We were walking slowly and things were going well, but I soon discovered that the hike was going to get a lot more complicated and difficult than I ever thought might be possible.



    We were walking as a group and we were for the most part all introduced to eachother at breakfast, so the first 2 hours or so of the hike were rather "chill". There was a lot of "wow, look at that scenery" talk going on between people, more introductory and "So what kind of stuff are you into?" type banter between all of us, and instructions & history/fauna/flora lessons from our guide Nilton. My body was continously asking me to stop and take a breather - I literally had to take short breaks where I'd breathe heavily for several seconds. I was walking as the last person of our group, but the guide made sure that I wasn't falling behind too far.

    By 11am we reached a beautiful raised plain that overlooked a lot of the surrounding countryside. It was the perfect time for a break and I eventually ended up catching up with the rest of the group. The problem was that they had a head start on me in terms of rest - so when we started walking again I was not quite ready to go yet.. The spot Nilton picked for our break was amazing though - most of us took the time to sit back, take some pictures, and eat some snacks.





    My body was complaining more and more, the higher we went. At this point the climb was at times rather steep and I had to make more and more stops. By this point the guide had made sure that I wasn't showing any symptoms of high-altitude sickness, which can kill you.. it was mainly a "my body needs more oxygen and energy" type of thing, not a "i have a headache and i feel sick" thing, which would have likely sent me back down the trail, as Nilton doesn't need to have no deaths on his resume.

    There were times when I had no idea how I was going to find any more energy within myself to keep going. I was walking with walking sticks in both hands, which really helped, but even my arms were refusing to move. I was taking 5 minute long breaks every 10 minutes.. This wasn't looking good!

    Eventually the cramps in my left leg started and I had to take an even longer break.. several times, culminating in shooting pains all throughout my upper left leg. I started massaging it in an attempt to get rid of the cramps, but I didn't really know what I was doing. On my trip to Chile 4 years ago my hiking buddy managed to massage a cramp out of my leg.. It hurt like a @%&*!$ - I ended up screaming at the top of my lungs basically.. but afterwards the cramps were gone forever.. so I was trying to do something like that, gut I didn't know how exactly, so I was potentially inflicting unnecessary pain upon my left leg.. It wasn't really working and it seemed to get worse and worse.. and there I was sitting all by myself, wondering if the hike was going to have an unexpected early finish for me, when another hiking group came up the trail and the guide did the .. you know.. the thing they do at soccer games to players who get cramps. It hurt a lot but it helped. I was able to get up and continue walking.

    I powered ahead and kept telling myself that I'm somehow going to get to the first campsite and then that I'm going to rent a horse for the next day and that it's all going to be fine (the horse option was explained to us at the briefing - day 2 was the hardest part of the hike and 3 hours uphill followed by 7-8 hours downhill.. a lot of people ended up having to rent a horse for the uphill portion due to the demands of day 1). It was psychologically not to mention physically INCREDIBLY tough, but I just sort of powered ahead and kept going.

    Our walk was basically taking us higher and higher on a curvy path, but we couldn't quite tell where exactly we were headed in terms of the surrounding landscape, a lot of which was still ahead & hidden from view... but by 12:15pm or so it became more and more clear that we were walking at the side of a valley, now heading in a definite direction instead of going upwards on a curved path. You could see the valley opening up towards the right; Our walk took us left-wards and uphill.



    Looking back from where we came - if you followed the path back, you would end up exiting the valley and circling to the right



    There was often a drop to our right as we walked towards the snow capped mountains around which we would hike in our journey to Machu Picchu.



    Somewhere around here we took a break in terms of lunch. Soup was served and my back was killing me (yeah, I was totally falling apart).. I thought soup was all there was going to be in terms of food, so I went to lie down so that my back would feel better.. but Nilton stopped me and we ended up each getting a big plate of rice, beef, veggies, and other goodies. There was also a shack where you could buy bottled water, which I took advantage of. It was a good half an hour long break and I REALLY needed it. The rest of the hike this day wasn't as challenging.. and while parts of it continued uphill, long portions were very gradual in terms of elevation change - parts seemed almost flat. I don't know how I was still walking, but it was definitely easier.



    The more we walked, the more snowcapped mountains we could see around us and it was more and more clear that our campsite was going to be surrounded by snowcapped beauties. The trail continued upwards very gradually, but the whole area eventually had a bit of a plateau/valley floor feel to it.









    We came across a private hotel that apparently costs a couple grand a night.. Yep, $1,000+ a night. Contrast that with the $6 we were paying a night at our hostel in Cusco. I'm not sure about the accuracy of that $1,000+ amount, but judging by how remote and nice the place was and how mindblowingly beautiful it was in all directions, I wouldn't be surprised if it is true



    By the time we got to our campsite, it was already cold as the sun had lowered below the mountain peaks a couple hours before our arrival. It got dark fairly soon after that.



    Me and Steve (we were walking together right near the end, helping eachother with morale) picked out a tent (it was inside the blue tent on the left.. A tent in a tent - to minimize temperature drops caused by the wind), we unpacked, got changed, got everything ready for the next day's hike, then ended up at least 20 minutes outside blown away by the stars above us. There were just.. SO MANY STARS! It was beautiful and we couldn't stop staring. Steve had a tripod (a tiny one) but he couldn't find it.. and none of the googleSky (or whatever) apps were working due to the high mountains and a lack of satellite signal (I guess? Nobody could find a GPS signal and it was impossible to align the sky software otherwise due to all the stars. there were seriously too many)

    After that we all sat down for dinner (Peruvians usually eat dinner later than 6, but we were all tired and needed to sleep), more coca tea, some beers, socialized a bit around the table, played a bunch of a-hole (What's another name for this game?? We ended up playing it quite a bit on the hike, so it will come up again..) and got to know eachother a lot more..

    There were 11 or so of us not including Nilton the guide, and there was a large French-speaking contingent - a couple people from France, a couple from Quebec, as well as a couple people from Switzerland. There was also a German and the American guy I mentioned already... so around the table you mainly heard French, but also a lot of English, then some German and Spanish. The French speakers dominated but tried hard to be inclusive - if there was a lot of laughter for example, Audrie or whoever would turn to me or Steve and explain what they were laughing about - turns out that for the first 10-20 minutes the people from France and the people from Quebec were making fun and laughing at eachothers pronunciation and use of the French language.

    We went to sleep early because most of us were so exhausted. The next morning we had to wake up at 5:30am.

    Day 1 of the hike was done and I was filled with such a positive sense of accomplishment lying there in my tent.. but I also knew that a lot more hardcore hiking was still ahead.. and wasn't sure how my body would react. A lot of emotions were racing through me when I quickly fell asleep that night.

    edit: I usually take at least *some* time to do some post-processing on my photos but these are all untouched. By the time I'm printing my favourites off they're going to be processed slightly, at least some of them
     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Here's a video taken about 3 and a half hours into the hike (at about noon). It was hard to talk but I did my best


    Link to video.

    As you can tell my movie-taking skills are not that great.. but my new camera takes fully hd 1080p video, so I just couldn't resist taking a whole bunch of them
     
  7. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Nice read and nice pics :) :thumbsup:.
     
  8. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Nice reporting :)
     
  9. ELITEOFWARMAN8

    ELITEOFWARMAN8 Chieftain

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    Is it a safe country to visit?
     
  10. TheLastOne36

    TheLastOne36 Chieftain

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    1,000$?

    That is a complete rip-off anywhere in Latin America.

    Your tour guide likely brought you there on purpose.

    No Latin country is safe if you look like a gringo and don't act smartly.
     
  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Thanks! There's likely to be a bit less writing for non-Salkantay/MP days, as there are less memories IIRC, but.. it's all kinda coming out, so I might as well let it, right? :)

    Relatively.. if you're smart about it.

    We ran into a girl who had been travelling throughout South America by herself for 6 months and she didn't have any problems. 95% of the crime against tourists is stolen bags and backpacks after they've put them down somewhere out of sight. People will try to take advantage of stuff like that and that's what you have to watch out for - what is rare is muggings, unless you're stupid and are walking around late at night (which I did a couple times, but knew which streets to stick to. There's definite places you shouldn't go at night in any relatively large city)

    Generally speaking Peru is very tourist friendly and safe. We were in some pretty sketchy looking neighbourhoods yet the people were always warm, friendly, and willing to help. Places known for their nightlife were all safe after dark, as were major tourist areas, to an extent downtowns, etc.

    Lima seemed to have a larger amount of "off-limits" areas in terms of where it was smart for tourists to go and where you really had no business being - but all the major places worth seeing and visiting were safe to travel to.

    We travelled throughout most of the coutry, from the south in Cusco to Lima to Huaraz to Trujillo, to Mancora in the north. We spent time in large cities, tiny fishing villages, and everything in between. At times things seemed sketchy, but the biggest attempted crime we witnessed was when a cute young girl walked up to me in central Lima and asked me if i wanted her to take a picture of me. I noticed that she was hanging out with 8-12 boys her age (highschool students maybe) and told her that I was not interested.. seemed like she'd just probably grab my camera and run. Other than that we were probably overcharged for a couple things here and there since we were white and looked touristy, but everything was so cheap that most of the time we didn't really give a crap. If anything we were happy to give most people who provided us with services (food, guides, souvenirs, etc.) a bit of a tip because it was obvious most of them could really use it and were hardworking people eager to make money.

    This is all anecdotal, but out of all the people we met along the way (35+ people?), none of them reported any problems.. During the Salkantay Trek we had a big discussion as a group and everyone seemed to agree that it was safe unless you were a dumbass.. like a girl who got into a "police" car without asking to see their badges and ended somewhere outside of town in her bra and panties with all of her belongings gone. So.. there are dangers, but they seemed rare, and if you are smart about it you can backpack through the whole country like we did without any problems.


    No, we didn't stay there.. Our entire hike cost $215, including the entrance to Machu Picchu, food for 5 days, tent & sleeping mat rental, and other assorted things. I'm guessing that people who stay there are brought in on horseback - rich people who want to see the beauty of Peru and stay in a cozy place with all the luxuries they are used to. We saw people like that in Patagonia 4 years ago when we got off the trail and saw a lady getting off a boat in a fur coat and high heels.

    There was no other way to Machu Picchu through the mountains, all the paths went through that passage - on day 2 you end up at the highest point of it @ 4,600m above sea level
     
  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    That's pretty much it.

    There *are* people out there who want your money, your camera, and your ipod, and they are looking for easy targets so that they can casually rip you off without anyone noticing.

    I made a point of people-watching when we first arrived in Peru so I could see how people generally interact, how they carry themselves, what is accepted personal space and what isn't, etc.. your clothes can be a dead giveaway that you "don't belong", are a greenhorn, or are an easy target for whatever other reason, but the way you carry yourself is important too.

    They aren't going after people just because they are white, they're assuming that the chance that you are out of your element is high. If you carry yourself with confidence people are more likely to assume that you either live in Peru or that you have lived there for a while and know "the deal", whatever the hell the deal might be. Or if they find out that you can't speak any Spanish, maybe they're more likely to think that you just got out of jail. Either way, there's a lot of idiots out there, there's no reason to mess with someone who knows crap or might have even killed someone, so they're more likely to move on.

    Another thing is that if you are white and look like a tourist, people are going to assume that you have money to spend. Some people can get pushy trying to sell you stuff, but you just need to be assertive. If you're wearing not-too-fancy backpacking clothing, and aren't lugging around a fancy camera, you'll maybe get a bit of a pass in the "hey, you're rich!" department, but not really that much. It isn't smart antagonizing locals with flashy and expensive gear either, unless you look like a local in which case it would probably help
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Salkantay Trek Day 2 - Part 1

    Day 5 of trip - Thursday May 10th

    For day 2 of the hike we woke up in our tents at 5:30am. Our tents were set up inside 1 larger tent for protection from wind and for warmth.. As a result though, during the night you could hear all the snoring.. There wasn't a LOT, but there was enough. Fortunately I had earplugs with me, so I ended up sleeping okay..

    It was cold regardless of the meta-tent and the sleeping mats they gave us only had a thin cushiony thing inside and didn't really guard very well from rock-like protrusions on the ground or provide much comfort at all really... Okay, so they weren't fully horrible, but approaching levels of unacceptable.

    We were all exhausted from the hike anyway, so everyone ended up falling asleep relatively quick.. or at least I did. so in the end the sleeping arrangements on the hike didn't really detract from the experience too much.

    Coca tea and breakfast (omlettes, toast, butter, and jam) were consumed at 5:45 and everyone but me took off towards the highest point in the hike. It took 3 hours to walk there, all uphill and through much steeper terrain than what we encountered on day 1.. I would be heading there on a horse, departing a half an hour after they left and arriving about 20 minutes early.

    If you're not sure why I had to rent a horse, (because you obviously didn't read that part of the story, you book-hating communist) it's because I had huge problems with the high-altitude on day 1 - no high altitude sickness symptoms, but lots of shortness of breath, lack of energy to continue, and big-time cramps in my left leg.

    Here's a picture of me looking back from the way we came. You can see that the sun is only hitting some parts of the mountains - none of the rays were making it to us and wouldn't for hours - and it was for that reason quite cold.



    I met up with all the other rejects from all the other hiking groups who were camping in the area (there were maybe 3-6 different groups, it was hard to tell how many exactly because we didn't really see them all too much), and they turned out to be ALL GIRLS, in their early 20s, wearing tight yoga pants.

    I made some friends and since I was the only guy I got last choice of horse.. We didn't get to pick them, but the 2 Peruvian/Quechua horse handlers were going through all the girls giving them the best horses, with me going last and getting what I was assuming was the most problematic or ugly horse. Which was cool with me, cause I wanted the girls to be as safe as possible.. really.. I'm not much of a gentleman, but I totally understood the logic and was fine with it.

    Anyway, my horse ended up being quite a rebel. And you know what? They just kinda told me to get on the thing, didn't give me any instructions, and I was almost totally lost.. Had no idea if I was supposed to guide it, if the handlers knew I had 0 experience, what if it didn't like me, etc.. All sorts of questions were going through my head.. Fortunately one of the yoga pants girls (from Bristol IIRC) had experience riding horses and gave me some advice.. It wasn't really anything substantial, maybe "they know where to go" and "pull on the rope if you want it to stop", but it seemed to really help in terms of making me more comfortable about the whole situation.

    I had my big backpack on my back and the sun had not reached us yet (it was maybe 7:15am when our caravan of horses left).. It was there in the sky somewhere behind the mountains, you could see, but no rays had reached us yet and it was incredibly cold.

    Here's me maybe 5 minutes into the horse ride, just getting comfortable enough with it all to pull out my camera and start taping the first video of the day:


    Link to video.

    It freaked me out and I held on with both hands for a while after that.. but eventually I figured out my crazy horse and we kinda got along.. and I don't know if you can tell from the video, but I was surprised, amused, and a bit freaked out all at once. It continued to want to pass other horses, even when there were steep drops RIGHT FREAKING THERE.. Man.. There were some scary moments, but all along I had this weird trust that the horse didn't have any suicidal tendencies and wanted to live as much as I did. It seemed to be fairly annoyed at the situation in general (it'd stop a lot, not listen to orders at times, etc.), but I knew that it must have done the route many dozens or maybe even hundreds or thousands of times, so it probably knew what it was doing and wouldn't be too reckless.



    It ended up being a very unique experience not only because it was the first time on a horse, but also because after I got over my horse being such a rebel, I spent most of the rest of the ride holding on with my left hand, and taking pictures and videos with my right. We were moving through spectacular scenery and I got to see it from such an interesting vantage point. It made me feel like a boss.











    We reached the highest point in the trek after a 2 hour ride or so.. @ 4,600 metres above sea level it basically splits the hike in 2.

    You can see the Mountain Salkantay in the distance here. The peak is considered sacred by the local Quechua, who claim that nobody's been able to climb it.. I think that they just say that because they *really* consider the peaks to be sacred and don't want anyone screwing with them, but who knows.. Planes and helicopters are also forbidden from the area for the same reason



    The horses had to turn around at this point, so I got off and waited for the rest of my group to arrive. I also took the opportunity to take some photos, have a snack, and get ready for the 8 hour descent through the valley on the other side of the pass.



    My body was still not fully recovered from the previous day's craziness, but I felt ready.. The horse ride definitely made the rest of the trip possible.. without it I'd have used up a large chunk of the energy I had making the ascent.. the 8 hours downhill afterwards were very taxing.. You'd think that going downhill is easy, and to an extent it is easier than going uphill.. but in many respects it is much worse. Either way in the end I was happy knowing that I made the right decision when I rented that horse.. Nobody from my group opted for it and to be honest I felt a bit like a weakling for doing it.. There was also a girl in the group who caught my eye and I wanted to look like a man and walk with them.. but.. in the end my body's and my brain's appeal for concern overruled my ego and my penis.

    By the end of the day we would be in a jungle somewhere beneath those clouds.



    Mt. Salkantay, el. 6,271m (20,574 ft) can be seen below, the arrow is pointing to it. The pass the photo is taken from is @ 4,620m

    The most spectacular peak in the region, contains tributaries for the Amazon river.

    Viewed from Machu Picchu's main sundial, the Southern Cross is above Salkantay's summit when at its highest point in the sky during the rainy season. The Incas associated this alignment with concepts of rain and fertility, and considered Salkantay to be one of the principal deities controlling weather and fertility in the region west of Cuzco. (thank you wikipedia)



    I waited for my group and enjoyed the moment. It was beautiful.



    The rest of the group arrived and we took group photos. I totally forgot, by that point we had gained 3 new travellers (A Russian named Sergei in the light greenish jacket in the front on the left, the guy behind him - Fabio from Brazil, and Ryan - an apprentice guide who had to be there by law because you need 1 guide per x number of people. He is the guy in the red sleeves on the right at the front)



    I am on the left in the back if you can't tell. Beside me in the green is Thomas from Germany. To the right of us are some of the French guys (Tribauld holding the rock) and Audrey in grey & Cecille in sky blue, the girl in pink is Suzanna from Switzerland, one of the guys up front is Jonathan from Switzerland, the guy beside Sergei on the left up the grey hat is my friend Steve, and.. hmm.. The American Gary dude is in the top right corner also in a bit of a grey hat & a blue shirt.. Our guide Milton is on the right facing us wearing a traditional Peruvian something hat. As you can probably tell we all kinda got to know eachother very well.. and would continue to do so over the next 3 and a half days.

    There's still 8 hours of hiking left to go, all downhill.. but the post is becoming rather large.. not to mention that it's midnight already.. So I'm going to have to do part 2 tomorrow.

    Here's a video I took right at the highest point of the hike


    Link to video.
     
  14. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Look at my pretty pics

    LOOK AT THEM
     
  15. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Peruvians don't settle for half-measures when it comes to mountains, do they? :eek:
     
  16. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I have been :)


    (I'll get back to the wordies later) ;)
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I guess it's not really that surprising that the locals find most (if not all) of the snowy peaks to be sacred. They make quite an impression on you, even from far away.

    Salkantay is the tallest in the region.. Well, there's the Ausangate which is about 100m taller, but Salkantay is much closer to Machu Picchu and aligns with crap in the sky from the main temple @ MP. It's "only" the 17th tallest in Peru though .. 500m shorter than the tallest
     
  18. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    and now the conclusion

    Salkantay Trek Day 2 - Part 2

    Day 5 of trip - Wednesday May 10th

    The pass was a special place and we wanted to stay there as long as we could.. I got a bit lucky with the horse thing in the end because it meant 25 more minutes up there than everybody else..

    If you look closely you might conclude that my mouth is full of coca leaves



    We ended up leaving maybe a half an hour after everyone from our group arrived. It was 10 and there were just over 7 hours of hiking left, mostly downhill.. Lunch was a bit over 3 hours away



    Descent was kinda magical though.. It was definitely one of my best days ever.



    That's not me by the way, that's my friend Steve. There's pictures of me overlooking that spot too, but you basically get the idea, so whatever, here's more Steve!



    It was about 11am and this spot was just awesome. Everyone walking dowhill probably stopped here.



    Eventually we found ourselves below the clouds, which had been slowly moving in our direction as we descended into the valley below



    Our cook setting up his digs. Usually this happened out of our sight and before we arrived. I guess they ran a bit late.. We didn't really mind though, it was a really nice spot.



    It was definitely a nice spot to enjoy some sun



    Hey there!



    After lunch most of us took naps or at least lied down.. Half an hour later we were off again, slowly descending into what took us into a jungle



    There were orchids, many spots where we stopped to look at the flora, with explanations by Nilton the guide.. It was such a large change of scenery it didn't seem possible that it all happened on the same day.

    We arrived at a small village after an exhausting amount of hiking, even for me, the guy who spent the uphill bit on horseback. Everyone was friggin exhausted beyond belief. The last 2 hours or so felt like complete torture really.. I was running out of energy, blisters were starting to develop in my feet (in fact I think I applied a blister kit on one of them before lunch), and my socks were a bit wet due to all the sweat.. So it wasn't comfortable, a lot of it was over stupid little rocks instead of solid ground, which is incredibly tough and annoying to consistently hike down on..

    There aren't very many pictures (and no really good ones) of that part of the hike because I just didn't have the willpower to whip out my camera.. I had to focus hard, get in a rhythm, and keep walking

    The guide actually LIED to us.. He said there was still at least an hour to go when it was maybe 5-10 minutes.. I was SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY when I realized that we were there.. man.. I laboured to get my backpack in our tent, change into dry clothes, tend to my injuries, refuel with some water.. took a while but eventually we were all sitting in that house you see on the right, waiting for dinner and drinking beers



    We had reason to celebrate.. The hardest part of the hike was complete! Dinner was again delicious and afterwards we tried to get to know eachother a bit better.. This was only day 2 of us spending time together, but to be honest it really felt like at least a week. Still, there were a 3 new guys (Sergey, Brian, and Fabio) and I'm horrible with names and most people weren't that great either.

    In any case, we made it into a drinking game and I lost heavily.. basically you had to go around the table and name everyone - and if you got someone wrong you had to buy 1 (very) large beer for the group to share afterwards. I ended up losing (of course) but Sergei ended up paying for my share of the beer because I think he felt bad when he heard me tell my story of my escape from communist Poland to the west.. I think it was Thomas who asked me abou t it, so I told the story, and I didn't realise Sergei was listening nor that it would affect him in any way.. I don't even know if that's why he did it.. He was a very mysterious guy.. He just sorta showed up one day, it was announced that he would be sleeping in his own tent that he carried himself (our tents were provided and maintained by the operator), and that he would be staying in a 5 star hotel once we arrived in aguas calientes. He didn't say much and he was the size and partial build of a professional wrestler. Very mysterious but turned out being a very cool guy

    During the "name all the people at the table" game for some reason the name "Kevin" came up a bunch of times and I have no idea why.. because there was no Kevin there at all. The next day, when we had stopped for lunch and were about to leave and the guide was asking if everyone was here, I worringly asked: "Hey.. where's Kevin??", which sort of ended up with me me deciding that the name of our group was to be "Team Kevin".. which I'm not sure if everyone agreed with, but whatever, TEAM KEVIN it is

    The person who we ordered beers from was a girl who was maybe 5-6 years old. I have no idea why I didn't take her picture :( My camera must have been in the tent. Anyway, you'd order two beers, and she'd run into a room and scream "Mama, dos cerveza!". It was incredibly adorable

    The drinking continued late into the night .. We had to wake up at 6am or some crap like that but we ended up drinking a lot because it turned out being Cecille's birthday. The French guys busted out liquor, presents, and candy, among other things.. somebody had cards and we played more arschloch. I ended up back in my tent at some point between midnight at 1 I think, feeling amazing and being in a very euphoric yet exhausted state.. ended up falling asleep very fast
     
  19. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Great thread. :)
     
  20. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Salkantay Trek Day 3

    Day 6 of trip - Friday May 11th


    We woke up at 6:15am and went through our usual routine - coca tea, breakfast, packing up, and we were off probably just shortly after 7:00. It was supposed to be a a 6 hour long hike through terrain that was a first a bit up & downhill but which later became a lot easier to walk through. At the end of the hike we ate lunch, and then shuttles took us to St. Teresa and then later hot springs.

    These guys are preparing loads for the mules, I think.



    There was a bit of a surprise @ breakfast. We're all sitting there groggy and out of it, still half asleep, and Nilton shows up with a m'fing birthday cake.. just like that, at 6:30am, maybe 8 hours after he found out that it was Cecille's birthday. Where the hell did he get the cake from? We were in the middle of nowhere.. Sure, people lived there, but there were no real towns for miles.. many miles. It's not like they'd have a fridge there somewhere stocked up with birthday cakes.. It wouldn't make economical sense even if they did have a couple fridges somewhere.. They would stock those with things they could eat and sell.. SO we were a bit stumped.. Maybe he phoned someone right then and there and some guy spent the whole night bringing a cake for us? Either way the cake was really good and obviously store bought or at least baked by a professional.. it was also really fresh.. The last 2 days blew our minds and our minds continued being blown. I can only speak for myself but at this point in the trip adrenaline & dopemine must have been just pumping through my system because I felt a lot of emotions and most of them felt pretty damn good. I was pumped up and I was very happy. The cake was just icing on the cake.

    That's Cecille on the right, in the hat.



    A couple group photos before we start hiking



    Most of the hike took us through the jungle, although there were a couple plains.. It was obvious that we were walking through valleys, with hints of spectacular scenery in terms of mountains around poking out and showing themselves every once in a while.





    Here's me screwing around near a multi-level waterfall



    At this shack/store/whatever you could buy bottled water, coke, fanta, snacks, Peruvian passion fruit, bananas, and other such things.







    We ran into a whole range of flora and fauna along the way. We were still at a fairly high altitude, just below the tree line, in a jungle. It made for an interesting landscape and inhabitants





    Here Nilton explains something or other. It's possible he's talking about coffee, because we did run into coffee beans at some point.. but I can't be exactly sure.



    After 6 hours of hiking we played a bit of barefoot football (soccer) there on a cement playing surface which ended up damaging several feet..



    The thing was that a lot of us had blisters.. They started coming off as we played more and more on the rough surface.. Everyone was into it, especially the German and Brazilian, but even the American, who said that he didn't really know the rules but was willing to give it a try. He ended up playing with as much passion as everyone else.. In the end though I had a big scab of skin hanging off one of my big toes and a bunch of other skin missing elsewhere on that foot.

    After making it back to the shack where we were going to eat lunch, I took out my first aid kit and began disinfecting my foot.. It hurt like hell! Thomas (German guy) had it even worse - he was limping around even more than I was. I wrapped it up as best as I could but didn't have much time because lunch was about to be served.



    The shuttles took us to Santa Teresa via roads that looked suspiciously dangerous. At times there were sharp drops right beside the road .. which was wide enough for 1 car at most places.. but vans were going in both directions, so in a couple instances we were backing up on a ledge high up on a cliff with a steep drop RIGHT there.. and our bus is backing up like it's no big deal and i'm sitting there biting my nails..

    While we were in the van to St. theresa and the second one to the hot springs I was feeling all sorts of positive emotions.. It was pretty intense.. All the stuff my body had been through, all the beauty I had been seeing.. the reaching of that milestone (st. teresa) and the knowledge that I would be enjoying hot springs very soon.. the cheesy & catchy music they put on only added to the whole thing, as much as I usually don't listen to music like this. It seemed oddly appropriate. Everyone was exhausted, but exhilarated and excited.


    Link to video.

    We made it to St. Teresa safely enough, got settled in our tents (on a field beside a small square/some buildings) and most of us took other shuttles to the hot springs.. another scary van ride.. I didn't take my camera with me, but the scenery was just beautiful.. You were at the bottom of a steep rock face in either of 3 pools (each one hotter than the next) at the very edge of a valley with steep mountains all around. I would have to say it looked more "Machu Pichy" than anything else on the trip so far. It was very good for my muscles, but not so good for my foot.. and my missing patches of skin.. it burned a lot at first but then t just kinda slowly went away.. I'm not sure if it did my foot any good but I really enjoyed the hot springs.

    Here's the "general store" by our camp



    After that we got back to camp and ate dinner. Nilton announced that a big party was going to take place, complete with bon fire and free unlimited alcohol for anyone who would dance around it naked.

    I don't think anybody took him up on that offer, but most of us ended up sitting at one of the tables upstairs on the deck drinking beers, wine, playing cards, exchanging stories, joking around, etc.

    Eventually we ended up splitting into 2 groups. Here's me, Audrey, Thomas, and Steve (clockwise starting from the left) playing a game of arschloch.



    I stumbled to my tent at 12:30am or so but you could hear loud French for at least an hour after that. I was too drunk to care .. not to mention tired, feeling awesome, and with earplugs in my ears.
     

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