Huaraz Travel Blog

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Well, I'm back home and back into a new home up in Oxford and thought I'd better send the final update of the email now before I head off to fieldtrip and forget all about it!!
In the week after Lizzy departed for england we headed north out of Lima to the Cordillera Blanca, unsure as to quite what we wanted to do.  Upon arriving and talking to tour companies we decided not to go on the awesomely spectacular 4 day Santa Cruz trek, one of the best in the world with spectacular passes, lakes and the like.  Instead we went for the aim of getting as much money out of our premium insurance policy as possible by going on four things on the premium sports list, and a rest day getting some culture in Chavin.
The first day we attempted downhill mountain biking, going down a distance of approximately 1.5km vertically.  This was from the top to bottom of one of the most beautiful valleys in the world, with glaciers feeding in at the top, down past glacier lakes and onto the town of Yungay, all under the shadow of Peru's highest mountain Huascaran (also the highest mountain inside the tropics) and its fellow behemoths.  Whilst it was Alex's favourite day of the week I didn't enjoy it so much.  The road was far too bumpy, which just became painful by the end and also meant that you had to spend so much time staring at the road that we couldn't appreciate the awesome scenery we were travelling through.  It was also the location of one of the all-time great geography case studies (apart from the favelas of Rio of course (geography joke for all those now puzzled)) where a glacial landslide (caused by an earthquake which in itself kille 30,000 in Huaraz) from Huascaran into the lakes we past sent a wall of ice, mud, water, snow, and rock downvalley completly burying the city of Yungay in mud so that only the church tower stuck above the debris, killing all but a few of the city's 18,000 residents.
So, the second day we chose ice-climbing, and headed off to the Pastouri glacier to the south for a days physical assault on a wall of ice.  This was great fun, using ice-axes and crampons, but decidedly difficult.  After this we climbed onto the glacier, had a look around and headed back as the snowstorm came in and visibility was reduced to 20m or so, just to discover our vehicle had a flat tyre so had to stand around in said snowstorm for another 20mins getting rather cold.
The third day we took a rest and headed to Chavin (back over into the Amazon basin technically, well beyound the pacific/atlantic watershed!) for some culture, exploring the labyrinth like temples.  Overall it reminded me a bit of the Aztec zone on the crystal maze!!!
The fourth day was back on the advenutre trail with canyoning, basically abseiling down waterfalls.  Great fun and rather wet, but thankfully the sunniest day in a very cloudy week.
Day five was rock climbing, on real outdoor rock, which is so much more fun than on walls, requiring technical climbing aswell as the brute force which is needed to scale most climbing walls, good fun there too.
And then back to Lima, for lots of shopping, not seeing the sunset over the pacific because Lima is permanently shrouded in cloud for eight months of the year, finally getting to the pacific, and then heading home, somehow slipping through the security nets at the airports and not getting our bags checked for fluids.
Exhausted but happy,
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photo by: latino28