My Lucky Boots

Boots Owner's Stories

Cihuy Cocuy

Posted by Artesia Irawan on February 2, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Very first day in Popayan ( my second day in Colombia ) I opened a coffee table book at the hostel. And my eyes laid on one amazing photo and I pointed that one out and told my self I want to go there. I wrote down the name of the place and also other places based on the amazing photos in that coffee table book.

Laguna de La Plaza

Laguna de la Plaza


Cocuy Trek


I started to seek some information on that same hour only to hear disappointed story from Michael, German dude I met in Popayan. The road was closed and it's expensive and not that many people go there. It sounded almost impossible to get there. At the same time the rain and landslides all over the country that time put me off and worry me if I ever gonna make it to that place.


After a month of 'waiting' in Ecuador for better weather in Colombia, I went back exactly after one month and things were looking good. I met Nicole, a sweet girl from Switzerland in Salento who went to Cocuy two weeks earlier , she told me all about it and things were a bit clearer and I knew what to expect. So after being a lazy dog in Villa de Leyva I took the colectivo to Tunja and then took a night bus to Cocuy. This would be 1 out of three less visited place by tourist in Colombia. But I could understand the reason why, 8 hours to get to Cocuy and almost all the way on the bad road can be a bit rough for some people. With smaller bus I could feel all the stone on the street and my ass felt like a flat tyre by the time I arrived in Cocuy.


Got to Cocuy, got my room, got my sleep. But still things are a bit vague, there's no tour company or tourist information and the company I checked online quote me 1.000.000 pesos for 6 days of trekking, which is about 500 U$ dollar. I wanted to go but wasn't sure if I want to spend that much money.  But my luck came around again, I found this dude who used to live in America, been climbing all his life and now working in the Parque National office. He took me all around looking for guide from one house to another. Until his friend told him that his uncle is a guide. Within 15 minutes we had agreement to do the 6 days trek the next morning with the almost half price than the tour company price.


Cut the story short, in overall it's a pleasant walk but one or two days we walked like a nomad with no sense at all. When you're walking over hills too many times, you started to think what's the use? It's like walking on the playground with no certain destination, that pisses me off. Although I could understand since the terrain make it impossible to have a decent trail.There's nothing you can do but follow the damn trail

Laguna de La Plaza

Laguna de La Plaza


We supposed to stay overnight at the cabanas on the first day after one hour walk, but that day we skipped cabanas and decided to keep walking for another two hours instead to a campsite near the pass to go to the Laguna Grande de los Verdes. Which gave us the whole day in Laguna Grande the next day, absolutely amazing, but that night was one of the coldest night I've experienced maybe in my life ( after Tibet during Christmas ) I didn't sleep in the first two days, it was too cold it's not funny! Woke up at night to pee only just to witness ice on the whole ground and simply made me even more stress with the cold. I woke up every half hour due to the cold.

( Advice from me : Listen to people's advice! Because Nicole told me to rent a sleeping bag cause mine was just a mediocre sad sleeping bag. And I didn't follow her advice  )


But the next two days we camped under the huge rock and that was two warmest nights and finally I could get my sleep that night. Some camp site were not available during that time since there's no water due to lack of rain ( not that I'm complaining ) so the 4th day we walked extra 2 hours after  6 hours of walking to find a camp site with water source. And camped just 2 hours away from the pass going to Laguna de la Plaza, so again I had the whole day to enjoy the Laguna the next day. This trek is just another trek worth the journey, the hassle and the time. It's not hard and doable for everybody, camped at 4000-4200M I think it's not too high and bareable ( especially for insane people who find trekking is a pleasure ) Just bring good sleeping bag ( comfortable -10 should be fine )


Mind you, two weeks earlier there's group walked with my guide and for three days there was heavy rainn.. They saw nothing but fog and cloud, with the cold and wet clothes for good three days ( a nightmare I always worry during trekking ) 

 

The video I made during the trek

More Photos of Cocuy


How to get there

Bus from Tunja-Cocuy ( 8 hours to go there, and 10 hours back )There's bus at 7PM. 9.30PM and 11PM, with Fundadores 35.000 pesos from Tunja.
Bogota - Tunja ( 4 hours )
Villa de Leyva - Tunja( 45 minutes )

If I were you I would do this trek first and then relax in Villa de Leyva.

The one and only website about trekking in Cocuy

 

 

New Years Hike, Quilotoa Loop

Posted by Artesia Irawan on January 7, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Yes I've been to Quilotoa a month earlier, but if you read my blog, it was cloudy, foggy and no camera. So I was really looking forward to do the hike this time with Patrick, hoping for better weather. We took the bus at 9.30 arriving in slightly mellow weather up the crater lake 2 hours later. But after half hour hanging out there, the sun started to greet us. I only asked for 5 minutes sunshine to take my photos, but I got more than that. One of my happiest moment!

Quilotoa


We stayed a night in Quilotoa at Chukirawa hostel, right across the lake. Damn cheap, 8 dollars per person, including dinner and breakfast. The room is so nice, clean and bright. Compare to overpriced Cabanas Quilotoa or the hostel next door, I think we got the winner in the area.

 

The next morning, we walked on the crater about half hour before we start making our way down towards Chugchillan. The walk is pleasant, and will always recommend the area by walking ( if you have time of course ). You can easily walk alone without guide, follow your instinct. It's a huge open valley you can see where you're going. Very hard to get lost I must say. We could see the canyon, Chugchilan from the distance and Guayama village.

 

The Witch and her Damn Family

We're walking on a fine trail ( supposed to be a correct way to go down to Chugchilan) when one local boy told us not to continue walking on that trail, cause it's not the way to Chugchilan ( lying bastard!! ) He then explained to us, we can't walk alone in the area and insisted we need a guide in order to go to Chugchilan. The only way to go to Chugchilan is 'his' way and will only cost 3 dollar. But we wanted to walk alone and take our time and enjoy it, we didn't want the guide at the first place. Then the boy started to make excuse that there will be a river we can't pass or the walk is dangerous, there will be thieves blah blah blah

 

Eventually we managed to ignore the boy and walked down but then we met the mother, the troublest makerest among the family. She was more persistent than the boy. We kept walking when she asked me if I want to take picture of her and the family ( with a cost of course ) "No gracias" . When we start walking down she was so 'concern' and screamed at us there's no way down there. But we kept walking and we reached Chugchilan 4 hours later in one piece.

 

We had a talk with Paula and Marcel in Llulu Llama, Isinlivi. Tourists spoilt the locals, they gave money and made them beggars in their own house. Yes they're poor, but sharing your lunch pack would be more appropriate than giving money. People becoming insincere, desperate or worse, they becoming vicious when they didn't get what they want. Kind of spoilt our morning a bit but we're glad to met them early enough during our trip, because since then whenever we asked for direction or talked to other locals, we met sincere people who helped us with a big smile nothing more than just willing to help, that's kind of making our day everyday for the next 4 days we walked in the area from Quilotoa to Sigchos.

 

Mama Hilda

It's a luxury hostel, I was there a month ago with good price ( thanks to Mitchel for the bargain ) this time we stayed there 2 nights just to relax and hanging out. We had privileged to met Mama Hilda herself and the whole lovely family, because it was during the NY, I think the whole family came down to help. Absolute treat for us.

 

Chugchilan-Isinlivi

The walk from Quilotoa-Chugchilan-Insinlivi-Sigchos are equally beautiful. But I have to say the walk from Chugchilan-Isinlivi is my favourite part. You went down to the valley in between beautiful green canyon and eventually walked on the side of the river bank before you making your way up again all on the slope of the canyon. We visited one house to ask for direction, a house on the cliff with a view to die for. We decided to have our lunch snack over there. The people are so friendly in the area, I felt like putting them in my pocket and carry them with me.

 

 

The Meadow

Reminds me of the meadow from the Twilight the Movie

 

On our last part from Isinlivi-Sigchos we took the steepest down and steepest up during our walk only to teach me something, that there's beauty of finding something great from the unknown and the uncertain. We thought we lost and started to feel hopeless right on the top of the hill, but turned out we're only 3 minutes walk from the main road and just right on time to hitchhike a local truck who kindly enough stopped for us.

 

It's a memorable way to end my 2010 and start my 2011, special thanks to Patrick who's been my amazing travel partner in the last one month who's now continuing his journey down south to Peru. I'm really looking forward for our next adventures in the future.

 

More photos of Quilotoa

 

Cotopaxi (5897M)

Posted by Artesia Irawan on November 16, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Before I talk rubbish about climbing Cotopaxi, let me tell you quick facts about Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcano in the world, it lies 60KM south of Quito the capital city of Ecuador. When we're in the museum in Cotopaxi National Park, the guide told us that the volcano can errupt anytime now, since the last eruption was decade ago and then since 2001, they started to record some activity from Cotopaxi.

 

Ecuador is expecting a disaster when Cotopaxi finally erupt. The lahar will get to the city of Latacunga within 30 minutes since there are at least 6 river/canyons leading to Latacunga (where I am now) and the city is sit nicely below Cotopaxi 25KM away on the west. The guide told me, the authority has no plan whatsoever when Cotopaxi finally erupted. I just hope the volcano will stop 'living', it's too beautiful to erupt. 

 

Anyway, after the museum, the car dropped us at the the parking area at 4500M and we walked for about an hour to the refugio Jose Rivaz where we stayed for half a night before we climb to the summit at midnight. There are at least 70 bunk in that refugio, very basic mattress enough just to lie down and relax before the climbing. It's a very noisy refugio, as you can imagine at least 70 climbers walking up and down with their plastic boots and some practicing the crampon or the rope inside the refugio since the weather was shitty outside.

 

In my room there were at least 40 people sleeping and there were only two people snoring in that room, one on my left the american guy and one on my right my guide. I got headache not from the altitude, but from them.

 

I started at midnight since I'm always slow,  so we're the first one to climb. It was snowing when we started, my guide had to make a new trail up to the glacier and it's very hard for me to walk since the trail/snow still not steady enough to be stepped on but it's good for others to follow behind me. I walked with extra weight of snow on my bag, my jacket or hat, didn't really help me to walk up. 

 

The trail was a bit difficult for my level, it was steep for most of the time. But I learned from Chachani climb, the guide told me that I had a very good and positive mind and it's more important than just physical fitness. So I kept telling myself I can do this, I can make it. And I keep mumbling the whole way up, "I can do it".
There are scary path we had to do, it was a very small path made out of the scree slope of snows and If I actually did see what's down there I won't be able to see the bottom. I knew about this cause Joris the Belgian guy I met in the hostal told me about this path, so when I actually got there I didn't even wanna look down.

 

On top of the weather, I had the worst guide ever, he's trying to persuade me to go back from the beginning. In the first hour of climbing, he told me that if in the next 2 hours the weather still bad then we should turn around. I thought it's fine, but no one else turning around why should we? He turned around one time and told I'm too slow and it will be too late by the time we get there. But there are still lots of people still climbing way behind me. He said we're at 5400M (which Is bullshit, sure it was more than that) He lied about the time too, just to put me down.

 

He slowed me down during the climb, I had to stop from time to time to catch my breath but only for seconds. He would fall asleep or took a big rest and slept. I waited for couple of minutes and told him 'vamos!' I literally climbed alone that morning, I kept motivating myself and asked him how is he doing instead. Cause by the end of the day, I need him in this bloody over 5000M something.

 

He tried so hard to changed my mind, but he sensed my determination and eventually gave up and pushed me to the summit.

At the summit (5897M)

 

He told me that I won't be able to see anything on the summit, but then I chose the climb not the summit and continue regardless. About 300 meters to go to the summit, we could see the stars and we saw Latacunga sleeping from where we are. The view was amazing but I didn't take any picture. But approaching the summit the clouds came back and fair enough I didn’t see anything on the top just couple of minutes of other mountain and then disappear again in the cloud.

Going back at 5600M there's a blizzard and for the first time in a long time I was scared. The trail was gone due to wind and snow, the guide had to look for the trail. It snows almost the whole time until we get to the refugio and all afternoon.

 

Do I look like a real climber,compare to the fake ones in the background? 

 

 

The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times... the best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. 'Mihály Csíkszentmihályi'

Mandango Loop

Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 30, 2010 at 5:54 PM

On the 4th day in Vilcabamba after doing nothing the day before we decided to do the Mandango Loop, supposed to be one grade harder than Izhcayluma. This time we formed a group of 5, since this trail was ruined by robbery in the past. We've been warned not to take camera, but I brought with me anyway. I can always smash some dude with my heavy camera.

 

Anyway, there's Eloise, Yasmin and America couple Jo and Joyce.

 

Since the usual entrance was close, we had to go to the houses and jumped on the fence to go to the main trail to the Mandango Loop. We had no problem going around the fence and we hit the trail easily, since it's only couple of meters from the fence.

 

The trail is start ascending from the very beginning, gradual for the first 30-40 minutes when it's started to become quite steep. We could see the first cross from far down and put off some of us a bit, but the switchbacking made it easier to get to the top.

 

From the top of the first cross, we could see Vilcabamba town set beautifuly surrounding by the hills. And from there we went down and go around the Mandango before we actually 'climbed' rather than walked up. The trail was too steep that at one stage I had to use my rock climbing skill to go up. But it's only about 10 minutes bad trail before we reached the second cross.

 

There's prayer flag on the top tight to the cross, which is nice and from there we can see pretty much everything. We stayed there before we walked on the ridgeline for the next hour.

 

The trail was actually very small but worst when it combines with steep downhill. Your legs felt so weak just to see the trail so small and the idea that we had to walk down on it, it's a bit too much for some us, including me of course the champion of sit and slide.

 

All of us had to sit and made our way down with our butt on the ground.

 

 

 

  

The trail to go down was so much easier than Izhcayluma trail that means my knee would be very happy the next day, free from pain.

 

Worth the hike, bring lots of water if you have your camel bag, trekking shoes is a must.

 

 

Izhcayluma Loop

Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 30, 2010 at 5:28 PM

On the second day in Vilcabamba, we had beautiful morning with sunshines. I was planning to chill out on my second day but Eloise was keen to do some trekking. So we both grab our bag, water and changed from flip flop to trekking boots after breakfast.

 

The walk up hill was very gentle and gradually up as we walked on a dirt road passing by a school and some houses. We hit the paved road within an hour and we had to cross it to start hiking on the ridgeline.

 

The ridgeline was not that small, I found it fairly easy and not too scary. Not so much for people who scared of heights maybe. And when it's windy that could be a problem walking on the ridge.

 

 

 

 

 

After having a break on the top and enjoyed the view we continue walking on the ridge and start making our way down which fairly steep and I wished that I had my trekking pole. It's a long way down and once we reached the riverbed it's still a long way to the paved road and I got bored easily walking there.

 

But after more than a month without trekking, it was really nice to go back ot the nature again. The trek was perfect to start again, not too hard and too easy, just perfect.

 

The trail was created by Izhcayluma Hostel, it was amazingly well marked all the way, it's very hard to get lost. But since there's no one else doing this trek, it's not advisable to do it alone, form a group and informed the hostel which trek you're doing.

 

After the heat, sweat and tired limp, we hit the pool. Really hard to beat staying here in Vilcabamba or Izhcayluma for that matter.

Chachani ( 6075M )

Posted by Artesia Irawan on September 24, 2010 at 8:18 AM

After failing the Pisco in Huaraz a month earlier, my body nagged me a lot to do another volcano/mountain. Arrived in Arequipa I was greeted by Misty and Chachani on my way to the hostel.

 

I chose Chachani because it's easier than Misty which,although is lower than Chachani. I had the advantage of being in Huaraz for a month and did many trekking before and my body is well acclimatized.

If you do Misty, you have to ascend more than 1300M on the first day and another 1200M to the summit, since the base camp is lower. If you're fit and not sure if you're acclimatized yet than Misty is yours.

 

It took us about 3 hours to reach the drop of point.  And from there we walked only about an hour to reach the base camp Azulfera. We had to carry at least 5 liters of water each person, because there's no water source up on the base camp. We brought tent, mattras inside our backpack, while our guide busy taking kitchen equipments.

 

It was only about 2PM and so windy, our tent was so noisy the whole time I was there due to strong wind. We hang out in the kitchen tent, the only warm place on the spot of course. We squeezed ourself to sit on that tent and obviously over the tent capacity. The guide cooked spaghetti and mixed it with eggs and some boiled vegetables.

 

That night perhaps one of the coldest night I've ever experienced but still not as cold as Tibet in the winter. There's something wrong with the sleeping bag, near the zip there's a tiny little opening and it's enought to froze my toes.

 

We had breakfast at 1AM and start walking at 2AM. We walked up to the Angel Col ( pass ) before we traversed El Angel Mountain on the steep scree slope. We're lucky to have the full moon that night, the trail was so bright and we didn't even have to use our headlamp.

 

After we traversed El Angel we reached Fatima Col before we ascend the hardest part of the climb, climbing up to Fatima Mountain. The switchbacking trail didn't really help me to minimize the steep climb I had to do.

 

Just before we reached the the summit of Fatima, we traversed again the Fatima mountain and reach another pass before we made our final push to the summit.

 

 

 

 

The trail to Chachani is much easier than climbing Fatima. So after 6 hours of climbing from the basecamp, I made it to the summit of Chachani 6075M, the highest point in my life so far.

 

 

 

 

Huayhuash Circuit

Posted by Artesia Irawan on August 29, 2010 at 8:13 AM

Huayhuash circuit easily become the top highlight of my trip in Peru or in South America so far. The scenery was unbeatable, so scenic only accessible by camping.

 

If you only have to do one trail in your life, Huayhuash is the trail. The spectacular glacial lakes, the gigantic mountains and hotspring is hard to beat.

 

Mitacocha Laguna and Jirishanca

 

 

We did the circuit in 10 days, and I can't recommend enough to do it in minimum 10 days, some of the scenery are best to enjoy in the afternoon, but if you do in less days and in a rush you won't be able enjoy it, since during winter/dry season the clouds covers the mountains every now and then in the afternoon.

 

The trail is walking along the range of 20 jagged peaks in Huayhuash range and going over 4800M pass every singleday until we made a cut between Cuyoc mountain ( 5550M ) and Rinri Jinca mountain at Cuyoc Pass ( 5079M ) the highes pass during the trek and then we end up on the other side of the mountain range.

 

 

Cuyoc Pass ( 5079M )

 

From Cuyoc pass, we went up to San Antonio Pass ( another 5000M pass ) and we could see Carnicero ( 5960M ), Siula Grande ( 6344M ), Sarapo ( 6127M ) from the top of San Antonio Pass and the trail become all clear that we're on the other side of the mountain range.

 

Approaching the Rio Pumanriri hotspring

 

Tips :

1. I went with Galaxia Expedition again, made sure you have a guide and a cook during your trek.

2. It's bloody cold up there, fill up your water container with hot boil water before you go to bed and bring it inside your sleeping bag as your 'heater' and in the morning the water would pleasantly drinkable for your trek.

3. If you have your own sleeping bag, tell the agency that you also need a sleeping bag, they lend it for free anyway,  so you can sleep with two sleeping bag. ( Another heaven-sent invention )

4. Trekking pole + Camelback ( Buy them or rent them,  bring them, use them! )

5. Due to the cold, the battery runs out very quickly. First bring extra batteries. During the night, take the battery from your camera, along with the spare batteries and put them in one of your socks/gloves and sleep with them inside your sleeping bag. Or if you only have one or two batteries, you can put them inside your fleece pocket.

 

Complete photos of Huayhuash Circuit

 

Sour Pisco

Posted by Artesia Irawan on August 15, 2010 at 8:36 PM

Yeah... I know it's supposed to be Pisco Sour, but this one is the failed Pisco, sour Pisco. That one particular day I got bored so I went back to Galaxia and checked out any other trek or activities I can do. Was actually planning to do the Huayhuash but one group just left that very morning and the next one would be sometimes next week.

 

Being me, stupid as always, listened to the guy behind the desk selling me the Pisco mountain and I agreed within minutes. I thought ah well I know I'm slow, but I will always managed to reach the top. Within the same afternoon I booked the trip, tried the boots, the pants and stuff and ready to leave the next day.

 

The car dropped us just above the trail down to the valley. This time my climbing partner is Graeme, a Canadian and Edgar is our guide again. We walked up to the base camp for about 3 hours, well I walked up for 3 hours while Graeme already having a nap by the time I got to the base camp at 4600M.

 

The base camp

 

The view from base camp

 

This time we had Ruben as our cook so Edgar can relax a bit and preparing for the climb that very same night. We're going to start climbing around midnight, so we can reach the summit early morning befor the weather changed at the summit.

 

I shared my tent with Graeme, pretty much only for couple of hours beacuse we have to wake up during midnight. We tried to sleep, this time I used two sleeping bag which is a big help, a bottle of hot water works as a heater inside my sleeping bag. It was nice and warm that I could sleep for the whole night.

 

But nope, we had to wake up at midnight and had breakfast. yeah breakfast at midnight. I used only my pants without any layers, since I always feel too warm to walk after a while with lots of layers. I wore my thermal top, shirt and other 2 layers. This time Edgar packed my daypack with ice axe and crampons.

 

We walked up to the edge of the moraine part, took us obout 45minutes to reach the top and we had to go down again to the moraine world full with boulders and rocks. We crossed this part in the dark and we had to really carefull, once you loose your balance you can stumble or fall against those sharp edge rocks. I felt like walking around that area, cause honestly it's all the same and too dark to get some sense of direction. I only just follow Edgar in front of me. Walking on the those rocks, succesfully drained my energy since I couldn't even control my pace over that rocks.

Right at the end we reached the lake and we walked up around it and continue on the very small, fragile trail that you had to keep walking over it. Scared to go back, too scared to stop I forced my self to walk and walk and walk up again.

 

When we almost get to the glacier I told Graeme that I don't want to go, I'm giving up and can't do it. But Graeme told me "No, you have to continue, we're not living you behind and that's not how it works" I almost cry and keep walking. When we get to the glacier, I thought maybe it will give me motivation to continue or even to drag myself up there. But I have lost my energy, my mind was not with my body, I felt like my body is falling apart, worse is my mind doesn't even try to get hold on 'everybody' which essential.

 

After walking for an hour maybe on the glacier, mostly dragged by Edgar. We reached the bottom of the steep slope looks like a giant wall in front of me, I said to myself. No fucking way. I told Edgar that I'll wait here and you guys continue. I thought it's only perhaps an hour away before they reached the summit, mislead by the couple who came down already mistaken with the other couple who's by then still half way to the summit.

 

The 'Giant Wall'

 

I almost 'die' waiting for them, the cold started to eat my toes alive, although at that stage I couldn't really feel my toes anymore. I kept moving around, since Edgar hook me with a rope and the ice axe. So I made circle just like a dog trying to make myself warm.

 

Eventually the time when I almost walk down alone to the rocky part ( thank god I didn't ) there's Spanish couple coming down from the summit and offered me to go with them to the rocky part instead of waiting on the glacier. Apparently Edgar told them to take me with them. So I walked with them safely back to the rocky part. had my lunch pack while waiting for Edgar and Graeme to come back.

 

 

Going back to the camp site wasn't as enjoyable as I thought it would be, the plastic boots I rent from the agency was slightly a bit too small and when we're descending I hurt my toe nail and walked limping over the moraine part again. ( The next 3 months, I had a black/blue toe nail )

 

Ruben the cook was waiting for us on the bottom of the moraine part and took my bag, eventually when we reached the edge of the moraine I had to descend again, but the hurt toe stopped me from getting to the camp site faster.

 

To be honest, of course I'm sad and dissapointed that I couldn't get to the summit but some part I was proud that I know my limit and know when to stop. We stayed another night before heading back to Huaraz.

 

Santa Cruz Trek

Posted by Artesia Irawan on August 11, 2010 at 2:51 PM

After 4 days of relaxing at Huaraz and mostly at Jo's Place.. I finally book Santa Cruz Trek. Vicky ( the owner of the hostel ) helped me to book the tour with Galaxia Expedition . 120 dollar for 4 days trekking.

 

Santa Cruz is very popular for lots of traveler who passed by in Huaraz, they did the trek either to warm up for other trek or simply had not time and just want to do the shorter trek but enough to get the little preview of Cordillera Blanca.

 

They picked me up at 6AM and dropped us at the place for breakfast at Encuantro restaurant. The only place that is open in the area. We didn't move untul about maybe 7-7.30AM. Which is stupid, I could have had more sleep and have my own breakfast at the hostel. The idea of 'forcing us' to have breakfast not a very good start. If they pick us up at 6AM, I expect we start going straight away not to spend another hour to have breakfast.

 

Ah well, at least the bread is good.

 

We started our journey about 3 hours drive north east from Huarax. We all thought we're going to start from Vaqueira, which supposed to be easier than starting from the other side  from Cashapampa.If you start from Vaqueira, you'll be walking up hill pretty much only on your second day. And the opposite, if you start from Cashapampa, you'll be going up hill almost everyday, except when you decend from the the Punta Union ( the pass ). So being reassured by the sweet french couple, Emilio and Anna. I started to readjust my position in the minibus, since according to the map it's still long way before we arrive at the lake. But only about 10 minutes drive, I saw a sign of CASHAPAMPA on the street, straight away I knew we're not going to start from the 'easy' trail.

 

The confusion, the dissapointment, anger and frustation coloured our first hour of trekking. The trek it's hard already without us being disgruntled. But we kept wallking as there's nothing we can do about it, the minibus we took 'perfectly' picked up other trekkers who finished their trek at Cashapampa. Jealous in a way that they finished the trek and they took the easy one.

 

So we walked uphill for 3 hours, it was dusty and hot and I wasn't fit enough so I was left behind.

I didn't enjoy the walk, got a stomach cramp for indigestion. But when we reached the first camp site near the river it's so beautiful. We saw lots of cows resting and some buffalos  settling down next to the river. There are lots of trees. It looks very picturesque, the sun light created ray lights through the trees and some created a color and reflection on the river.

 

After we arrive at the meadow, we had lunch break near the river. That's when I ge to know the nasty flies. Anna got bitten by those flies and bleeds.At the same time Edgar our guide created a bread with some avocado for us.

 

After lunch we walked on the meadow, which is nice and flat. But later on Edgar had to turned around, since we still haven't seen our donkeys carrying our stuff. From the other donkey driver, we learned that our bags still in Cashapampa without donkey. So Edgar had to go back and fix the problem.

 

We finally arrived at the camp site  Llamacorral ( 3600M ) without guide, without tent. But we had such a great group and we laughed over it. Started to get to know each other. Hilda from Mexico. Anna and Emil from France.

 

The sun went down long time by the time we saw Edgar coming out from the valley, but without donkeys. We started to laugh again and start looking at other people's tent. But Edgar arrived with big smile and good news and the donkeys is just behind him. 10 minutes away.

 

 

Lllamacorral Camp Site

 

We helped getting the tent up and Edgar start cooking, with the help of Roland, perhaps the best donkey driver in Peru ever.

We had chicken with aji colorado, which is some spices and pepper marinated the chicken. Taste really good.We had a guide who can cook!!  After dinner we had lots of choices of hot drinks, chocolate, variety of teas, coffee.

 

Second day we walked pass by the lakes Iciccocha and Jatuncocha. The interesting part was walking on the river bed, so it was nice and easy walk until we arrived at the bottom of the steep switchbacking trail to the Alpamayo base camp ( south side ). We had lunch here before we start walking up.

 

After about one hour walk, we reached the view point. And as usual I reached the top last. I decided not to continue to the base camp while the rest of them left already to see the lake at the base camp. I traversed and continue to the camp site while Roland and the donkeys waiting for our arrival.

 

Second night we camped at  Taullipampa ( 4250M )  where we can see Nevado Taulliraju ( 5830 ). There's only another group of two people besides us at this camp site, which is very nice and quite. We had tequenos in the afternoon with our tea. Tequenos is some kind of fried wonton spring rolls like.. sometimes they put cheese inside or some sausages. And Edgar made a guacamole as dip. One fine afternoon.

 

 

 

 

The next morning is our hardest day, we started walking to reach the pass. We walked on the shade at the first one hour which is nice. We climbed gradually until we reached the switchbacking trail all the way to the pass. After about 3 hours, I reached the pass and the view was amazing, clear day, blue sky and we can see all the trail we walked, the mountains, the lakes.

 

 

 

After about half hour hanging out at the pass, we start making our way down to our last camp site. The trail was really steep in the first couple of meters but later it's nicely gradual downhill all the way to the valley passing by beautiful Laguna Piramide. The descend took longer than I thought, since I got stomach cramp again. It was a nice easy walk, but I had no energy left even to smile. Anna and Emil were so nice, they waited me and to make sure I showed up. We reached the camp together and saw Rolland the donkey driver again waving at us to lead us the way to the hidden camp site away from the rest of the other groups.

 

The afternoon was beautiful in the valley, the sun slowly dissapearing behind the Nevado Taulliraju

 

 

 

Our last day to Vaquiera took about 3 hours, we reached there around 10AM and then the car arrived only about 15 minnutes after we finished trekking. It was perfect. After all the confusion at the beginning of the trek, we all found the trek was perfect, the guide, the food, everything. So none of us wanted to complained about what happened, since we we enjoyed the trek so much.

 

On the way back to Huaraz, we drove about 3-4 hours passing by the high pass ( 4760M ) to see the view of all the mountains and the road track.