Lares-Trek

Trekkin' in the Sacred Valley

Trekkin’ in the Sacred Valley

(aka the most challenging endurance test of my life)

 

Here’s Ryan and I at the start of our trek. Happy, breathing, and excited for what lies ahead, little did we know what kind of challenge we got ourselves in to…

As stated in my last post my mini “flu” sickness pushed our camping trek back a day. Cusco is a city surrounded by mountains, valleys, and many options for trekking. I wanted to…

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The Lares Trek - Day 2

Day 2 is the hardest and the highest day of the trek. We hiked up to the peak of the mountain and descended it after 5 hours of treking to have lunch next to a beautiful lake. At 7 am we began our ascent parallel to a hill of llamas proudly strutting their stuff - it was quite clear whose territory we were in. Being in the presence of so many llamas naturally led to the creation of a series of llama based jokes. For the Spanish speakers – “Llamas a mi” and “Como se llama, llama?” Hi-flippin-larious.

Further up the mountain we paused for a little lie down and befriended a pack of rather goofy dogs who accompanied another “pop-up” shop. It’s official, you can buy Coca Cola literally anywhere in the world. On top of a remote Andean mountain, surely not, I hear you say? Oh yes, you can! Stocked up on Gatorade we left our Andean Tesco express and their dog pack. From this point the world turned white. All of the mountain tops were peaked with snug berets of snow. Our guide told us that this is really unusual and normally the peaks are bare, even though we were there during Peruvian winter. Trudging through the snowy path we put our walking sticks to good use and eventually made the summit. We were the first group of the day to arrive at the top. Naturally, the only appropriate response was to whack out the ol’ welsh flag and give it a good ol’ wave.

After another superb lunch we meandered down the valley, to reach Base Camp 2. On every corner you’re greeted by blasé llamas, local people in beautiful, vivid traditional dress and only wearing threadbare sandals on their feet. We did discover however that there is one particularly viscous plant to look out for. There’s a plant that is made of spines and when you touch it they come away in your hand or in my case, left bum cheek. When stooping down to take a photo of Steven by the lake I literally got the bum deal. It smarted for hours.

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The Lares Trek - Day 3

Our wakeup call on Day three was the unpromising sound of rain drumming a tattoo on our tent roof. Option 1: throw our hands up in despair and bemoan our luck. Option 2: tiny tent fist pump, because I was able to use all of the hiking kit I´d brought! Option two all the way, it was time to whack out the ol´waterproof pantaloons and jacket.  Decked head to toe in waterproofs we tucked into our penultimate meal that through some miracle of campfire cooking was an entire chocolate cake.

Stomachs lined with slabs of cake we ventured out into the rain. We were following the windy, sleepy road that leads down the valley to the ancient Inka town of Ollantaytambo. Twenty minutes in, our porter team drew up alongside us and offered us a lift down the remaining 15km of road in a cosy, dry van. But, despite the pleading eyes of our guide who was looking a darn sight more miserable and cold in the rain than we were, we politely declined temptation. Taking short cuts ain’t what it’s about! So with the rain falling, the steep mountain passes that shot up on either side of the road and the odd local shouldering a tree trunk were our company for the morning. Apparently the majority of the other Lares trekking groups opted for a lift down the valley instead of walking in the rain. Armed with the knowledge that we were only two out of a handful of intrepid souls that actually completed the ultimate part of the trek, we proudly sat down to our final meal with Jaime the wizard cook in the town of Ollantaytambo.

Surrounded by mist shrouded mountain tops, Ollantaytambo is the only Incan town to retain its original city layout with Incan drainage systems, which fed by that night’s rain, were raging down the side streets. We spent the afternoon wandering around in the rainy haze, did a spot of lunch shopping for Macchu Picchu and finished it up with some fresh juice and a very welcome internet top-up at an organic café.

We left Ollantaytambo to catch the 7 o clock train to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of the Macchu Picchu Mountain. And, so, happily tucked away in first class, we enjoyed our free cup of sprite alongside the bottle of Argentina wine that we´d smuggled on board.