Topic: South America
The Lares Trek should really be called the hike for the disorganized. I'd come to South America for a trip, and my mate Ted said he wouldn't mind getting out of town for a while, instead of watching the Bombers miss the finals again. I got an arrival date for him in Peru. I sent him a list of stuff we could do. He sent me a bill, I paid. I still had no idea what I was doing but we were organized. This was good because that's all I got. Did I mention Ted communicates for a living, something Vague about Machu Picchu might have been mentioned.
No hordes of Gringos queuing up in front of us, the Lars valley is a ancient pathway over a 4800 meter mountain pass. Untouched by time it is still home to the local Quechua people living their mountain lifestyle, barley touched by the odd group of trekkers passing through. It involves lots of walking, a bit of camping, and I suspect a bit of pain. I get a sleeping bag and a mat issued to me. Ted must have missed the bit about nothing below five star.
Very early the next morning we pile on to three buses. The first day both groups are headed to the same place so we get mixed up with the organized people. They tend to be Scandinavians, or people in upper management. Our trip is going to take most of the day, with a few stops to look at some ruinas (Pisac), a local community run market, and a posh lunch. Our last stop Ollantaytambo, is a great little trekking town that reminds me a lot of a few places in Nepal. Last stop for espresso coffee, and a good nights sleep. It's also the main place to start the Inca Trail.
Next morning we divide again. Los desorganizados are finally together. Most of our group is in their 20's to 30's, then there is Ted and I, along with Jacqui who is traveling with her daughter. We are a bit of a "UN'. Aussie's, Kiwi's, Swiss, Canadian, Welsh, and a Yank. Into the bus we head for the hills. First stop is the market to buy some stuff to give to the kids we see in the villages on the trek. I take a photo of one of the fruit stalls then everyone else wants one too. Finally we arrive in Lares, to our ensemble. Eight horses, Ten Lamas, 2 Chefs, 5 caballistas, and 2 Guides, Lucy and Pamela. The guy's load up our stuff, tents, food, etc, a quick group chat and we head up the hill. The start winds up along a valley, passing little farms, and houses. The teachers are on strike at the moment, so the little kids are all out to ambush us. They all have guilty smiles. We stop and ask them their names in Quechua the local lingo. They giggle at the Gringos and for their trouble get a bread roll, toy , bit of fruit, or all of the above. Life looks pretty hard here, and food is appreciated. There a not a lot of trips through here and we provide a bit of work, and currency for the locals. We are pretty high here (3800m) and a few of us are starting to feel the effects, did i mention it was cold. After a couple more hours we get to our camp. Here the guides have done a wonderful job. Tents set up, Hot water, cups of coca tea, ( good for the altitude sickness), and a bowl of hot water each to have a wash in. There are three local women selling locally made gloves, scarfs and other handicrafts for a couple of bucks each, unfortunately they are not big sellers, their beer is a winner, and gives them a couple of sales for their trouble. Dinner is a produced, Cake and jam, honey, more drinks, main chicken rice, veggies. Afterwards the group sit around playing some sort of drinking game. It's to much for me, there is an early start I go to bed looking at the southern sky.
Up before dawn, who organized this again. Long day to day over the Huacawasi pass, (4800m). Coca tea in the tent with another washing bowl to help us wake up. Porridge and bread for breaky we are "listo" for a long day. Lucy gives us our itinerary for the day and a snack pack each. The local dogs trot along beside us knowing they will get something eventually when we take a break. They seem to hang around about an hour then wander back home. Lunch is on the other side of the pass about seven hours away. Unfortunately our Mother and Daughter team are non starters, they are down with existing illnesses they had before they started. Pamela our other guide takes them down the hill to see a doc and spend a couple of nights in a warm hotel. We look on enviously. We walk and rest, walk and rest. We see, Llamas, Chinchillas, and Hawks. Lucy tells us about the locals and their lives up here in the hills. Fortunately the weather is great, no wind and lots of sun. As we advance up the valley the views just get better. There are still snow covered peaks way above us. Lucy urges us on, after about 5 hours we can see the pass, only another hour to go. Most of us are suffering from the altitude now. We have our emergency horse following us just in case any one can't make it, lead by one of the guides 14 year old sons. He's romping it in, and probably wishing the teachers would stay on strike a bit longer. Lauren say her lungs feel like they're on fire. I'm feeling pretty good, I shouldn't be. I've got the worst chest cold I've had for ten years, lungs full of crap, but my big advantage is I have been above 3000m for 4 weeks. I'm acclimatized. As we get to the pass I have a little bit of a headache but it goes away when I stop for 30 seconds. High fives we all make it. Photo stop, after all it didn't happen if you don't have the picture, from here It's all down hill. A lot of down hill. Two hours, and a couple of hundred meters lower, we can see our lunch stop. Just five exactly minutes more say's Lucy, of course she lied. The guys have set up the lunch tent, the sun is out, people pass out for a power nap on a couple of tarps. Whats not to love. Lunch is chicken, rice, pasta, cakes, coffee and more. The altitude has killed Teds hunger. Just as well he's got me as backup. Lucy herds us off telling us it's not far to the camp, I feel a bit skeptical.
We get there at five, to find the the usual setup. How easy is this camping. It's been a long day, and the down hill has taken it's toll on some feet and knees. Paola has found a sick puppy and has it wrapped up in a towel, feeding it biscuits, and snacks. It spends all night in the mess tent with us, then gets snuck back into her tent that night without the knowledge of her friend. All's fine till it throws up in the middle of the night, one too many biscuits. It looked much happier at breakfast. After breakfast the chefs presented us with a cake with icing congratulating us on our walk. These guys where great. We only have a couple more hours to walk till the bus. Paola hands the puppy back complete with new towel to the next family down the hill. Puppy smiles like its done it's job. Meanwhile while we get rid of the last of our stuff we bought for the kids from the market. The track gets less steep, then it's a road, then there is a bus parked on the side. The end is a bit anticlimactic really. We go to our lunch Spot and meetup with Jacqui, and her daughter. They look much better after a couple of nights in a hotel. Los desorganizados are reunited. Here we have to say goodby to our local porters chefs and second guide Pamela. The guys did a great job. We give them a tip and our thanks. But It's not the end for us. Tomorrow Lucy leads us to a much bigger challenge. Battling the hordes to Machu Picchu.
Thanks to G Adventures, the guys did a great job. The also work hard to help the communties they pass through. Keep it up Guys.
Click the big pic above for more Pics, if you use an I phone you may have to click Here to get the photos
Posted by bondrj
at 12:01 AM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2017 2:53 AM NZT