Just for shits and giggles

Caraz Travel Blog

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The group, all looking fresh....at the start!


I did make it up at 5.30am, but I was feeling less than my usual self.  I toyed with not going, but took some pills and got myself ready as I really didn't want to miss seeing the Huascaran National Park.  The early start wasn't appreciated and my mood wasn't helped by the fact that we ended up standing round waiting for the transport for half an hour.  When we did get going, we had a 2 hour stint to Caraz, where we had a rip-off S.8 (£1.80/$2.75) breakfast which I really didn't fancy.  It was another hour and a half to our starting point at 2900m Cashapampa and we were greeted with glorious sunshine when we arrived.  We waited 2 hours for our guide, Abel, to arrive and for the porters to pack the less than enthusastic donkeys.

  I was just thinking that I could have had another 2-3 hours in bed!  We eventually got going just after midday and as soon as we starting going up I was sweating like a fat man and my stomach was doing sommersaults.  I was at the back of the group, really struggling and thinking I'd rather be anywhere else than trying to climb a massive hill in this state.  Abel was really good, however, he encouraged me and let me take my time stopping and somehow I made it to the first night's camp site, absolutely shattered.  The porters were ahead of us and so our tents were up when we arrived which was a welcome sight as it had started to rain when we arrived - I jumped straight into my sleeping bag and didn't get up until the alarm call the next day.  Not that I slept all that time, no, that would've been very nice.
  Me and camping do not get on well, so I spent most of the night awake, constantly thinking I might need to run out and find a bush.  Great.


Abel had decided that we would be getting up at 3.30am to try and beat the afternoon rains later in the day.  I was feeling a tiny bit better and had a small breakfast to try and give me some energy.  We started hiking just after 5am in the dark, which was entertaining, especially for the poor horse that Albane was riding. She had bad joints, so couldn't trek far, and hired herself a stooge - he didn't look in great shape though and certainly didn't enjoy the huge rocks that came in our path.  We hiked through a beautiful valley near Laguna Jatuncocha, with the white Corderilla peaks of Caraz and Artesonraju around us - it really was stunning.

  We opted to the do an additional detour to see Alpamayo and Laguna Arhuaycocha, which I concluded was worth it after I had struggled up the steep hills to get there.  We had a long stop for about an hour and it was so peaceful at the lake - silence over the pristine turquoise water, only punctuated by the odd avalanche on Alpamayo - that was an eerie experience even though they were only small collapses.  Certain bigger bits looked like they could come down at any minute, a thought I quickly put to the back of my mind!

We got to the second camp (4,200m) at about 2.30pm, after hiking for nearly 10 hours.  It was a tiring day, but I could feel myself slowly getting better.  Bang on cue, the rains came as Abel had predicted, so we spent the afternoon in the dining tent playing cards.

Punta Union pass
  Dinner was pretty good (lomo saltado) although it was weird having it at 4.30pm.  Fiona (Switzerland) introduced us to Time's Up, a charades type game and Albane, Thomas, Jason, Todd, Abel, Fiona and I got involved in the fun - it was hilarious trying to act out 'Jett Li' and 'Tony Blair' with only one move!  Try it, really!  We were in bed by 8pm as Abel had another ridiculous wake up call planned for us...


Same 3.30am drill as yesterday and again we were on the trail by 5.30am.  The first couple of hours were tough - all uphill, all rocks.  The horse looked like it was going to give up the ghost, even without Albane on its back.  Can't blame it, it must be sodding difficult climbing rocks with crappy metal shoes on!  The highlight of the scenery was the 4,750m Punta Union pass - it was amazing looking down the two valleys either side and seeing where we had come from and where we were going - the green valley flowed as far as the eye could see.

  The only disappointment was that the weather wasn't great - lots of cloud, which obscured our views somewhat.  We were up at the snowline, and Thomas couldn't resist chucking a snowball at his girlfriend, which smacked her in the side of the head - that's true love for you!  After getting down the rocks on the other side of the pass, we had a lovely (almost) flat walk through the valley to the final campsite. 

We arrived at the campsite about 2pm and I was delighted to find out that it doubled up as a hikers refuge - there was a beautiful farmhouse like building, with lovely thick wooden beams.  We found out that you could stay in a dorm bed inside for S.10 (£2/$3) a night and I was in like flynn without having to be asked twice - comfy bed or cold, wet tent??! Tough choice.

  Todd, Lisa, Jason, Albane and Thomas also took up the offer - everyone just wanted a good night's sleep!  There was a nice warm kitchen for us to hole up in as well, so we munched on the chef's afternoon snack of popcorn and played some more cards.  Dinner was at a more normal time of 6.30pm, and there was another round of Time's Up to pass the evening - we had a good group, which made the trek all the more enjoyable.


We had the luxury of a lie-in til 7.00am and I felt so much better for a night in a bed.  My stomach was much better, and I felt like a new man as we started hiking after breakfast.  Today was an easy day - we only had 2 hours of hiking to get to our pick up point at Vaqueria.  We were outside the national park by now and walked through a few indigenous villages en route.

  All the kids were begging for money and biscuits, which I found sad.  I can't believe that parents send their kids out to do that - it just encourages a life of reliance on other people.  None of us gave them anything.  We had a wait of about an hour at Vaqueria, and then a 5 hour trip back to Huaraz.  We stopped a couple of times for pictures - there were great views looking down on the valley where we did the Laguna 69 trek the other day.

It was nice to have a shower on returning to Caroline's (I had to pay S.5 for the priviledge!) and we went out for dinner  as a group at Encuentro before I had to go and get my overnight bus to Lima.  What on earth posessed me to book to leave straight after coming back from the trek?!?

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The group, all looking fresh....at…
The group, all looking fresh....a…
Punta Union pass
Punta Union pass
The refuge at the last campsite
The refuge at the last campsite
Views that we got on the way back …
Views that we got on the way back…
The donkeys were not enjoying thei…
The donkeys were not enjoying the…
photo by: mountaingirl