Santa Cruz Trek - Day 1 - Bus then uphill climb to camp

Caraz Travel Blog

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First view out the minibus window on the way up

We started off pretty early, all piling in to a minibus with 4 or 5 Canadians who were heading off on a different trek from the same spot.  We had paid an extra $5 each for the private transport, and now having come back via public transport I think it was well worth it ;)  My little group was made up of George & nadia (from near Zurich, Switzerland), Tom & Eleanor (south London, cycling around South America until march 07) and myself.

We only passed through Yungay, which is a tiny town that is still recovering from a landslide a few years back that pretty much decimated the village.  I think something like 50000 people were buried when a large chunk of mountain came down.  Makes you realise the power of these things....

After that was a winding climb up the mountain (we saw some cyclists coming down and wondered how on earth they managed to cycle here!) with some pretty spectacular photo ops on the way.

Out towards Mt Pisco, supposedly an easy climb, what do you think ?
  Before we knew Epi had handed our snacks, and our bags had been loaded on the donkeys for the trek to begin from Vaqueria.

Epi had led us believe that this first day was really easy, just a dawdle after the bus trip to get to camp.  I suspect this might be a bit of a mindgame, since although it's not too far (maybe 4 hours walk) there is a bit of an uphill feel to it.  Being the first dose of uphill in Huaraz, it definitely gets the heart pumping.  Fortunately, Epi times our stops pretty well, I just when you think you're going to keel over there's some lunch to be had.  When you stop for a few minutes and get your breathe it's really a bit of a reset on your body and then you're ok to go again.

Minibus driver was kind enough to let us out to take some of these shots

So we pottered along, dodging donkeys as they came along, and skirting around flocks of sheep.  Before we knew it we could see our tents set up in the distance.  It's so good to be able to dump things in your tent, then head in to the communal tent to warm up with some tea.  Supposedly coca de mata (yes, the leaves used at the start of the cocaine process) helps you with the altitude, so that was a regular drink along the trek.

Then we had our first dose of Epi's superb dinners, a fantastic soup followed by fresh trout (not sure if it was carried or caught ??) After that was definitely a cold night's sleep though, I'd go as far as to say the coldest night's camping I've ever had!!  They did give an extra sleeping bag though so I was never going to freeze to death.  It just meant that you really, REALLY, didn't want to leave the tent for a bathroom run ;)

Incidentally full credit to makers of 'Gastro-stop' for getting me through the first day of this hike :)

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First view out the minibus window …
First view out the minibus window…
Out towards Mt Pisco, supposedly a…
Out towards Mt Pisco, supposedly …
Minibus driver was kind enough to …
Minibus driver was kind enough to…
Lakes in the background mean man a…
Lakes in the background mean man …
The trek is under way, you can see…
The trek is under way, you can se…
We begin to climb....
We begin to climb....
Epi gives us lunch, the first of m…
Epi gives us lunch, the first of …
Sheep block our path for a little …
Sheep block our path for a little…
The trees here are a bit surreal, …
The trees here are a bit surreal,…
Getting higher now....
Getting higher now....
Our campsite for the first night, …
Our campsite for the first night,…
Caraz
photo by: mountaingirl