Monday, May 24, 2010

Cordillera Blanca

From Trujillo we decided to make a detour into the Cordillera Blanca, reputedly the highest mountains of the continent. The road from the coast into the mountains was the roughest we have ever been on. Big sharp rocks, huge holes and frequent rockslides make 10 km/h the highest comfortable speed. Our first ride was on top of a truck transporting random things, amongst them a sheep and a bull. We were seated on a narrow wooden plank directly on top of the bull´s horns. The truck sped at what we guessed must have been at least 25 clicks, and we were shaken hard on our perch. At first the trucker told us that he will take us for 6 hours. ¨Awesome¨, we thought: a long scenic ride. But after an hour the truck stopped at a desolate crossroads in the middle of the mountain desert and informed us that we ought to take the left road, as he was taking the other one. Damn. There it is on the photo, crawling away.So we started walking in hopes of finding a shady tree. There were none in sight. It was hard walking on the rough surface. In about half-hour a truck heading the opposite direction stopped and gave us bananas and oranges. We ate them immediatly.
We passed a few ghost-villages, with only mud walls remaining. In one of them was a restaurant that was guarded by about 20 dogs. They barked fiercly at us and we made a big loop around the friendly establishment. Finally! A shady bush with a good view of the road. We were hidden under the leafy branches so well that the traffic did not see us at all, so when we saw a car heading our way, we had to leap out like wild bushmen, possibly scarrying a few drivers.
After a few hours of contemplating the red and yellow mountain sides around, we flagged down a Jeep. A true racer was behind the wheel. He floored the gas pedal a few times, and was advancing with an average speed of 40 km/h. He hit the bumps so hard that we were jolted from our seats, he sped around the blind turns and made no attemps of avoiding the big sharp rocks that sometimes fell from the cliffs above. In a few hours we were in Huallanca, where we stopped to eat. As a good omen, as we were leaving town, something burst under the hood and the oil leaked out of the engine (no freaking wonder). We were glad to part ways with our kind but dangerous friend as he took the bus to Huaraz.
We walked a bit out of town in search of a level spot for our tent and came up to a school yard,where we spotted a tent. A french couple was inside it. We decided to camp with them for the night and soon we organised an expedition for firewood, on the other side of the fast flowing river Santa. There was no bridge over the canyon... but there was a busket.You get in and pull the rope until you are on the other side. Scary! When we were on the other side (one by one), we met a grandma who told us that the whole contraption somehow collapsed last year, when four people were crossing at once! Then she wished us a good night and pulled herself to the other side with a huge bundle of grass to feed her guinea pigs. We gathered the wood and crossed back over as it was getting dark. This time two at once (much easier to pull the rope).The next morning we were excited to go through the next section of the road to Caraz. There is a beautiful Pato Canyon and also 35 tunnels in 50 kms of the road! The road was empty at the early hour and we did not think it through when we flagged down the first truck that appeared. We climbed into its closed box and realized that we will miss all the beauty as there was no opening! No, wait, there is a door on the side! And it opens... on the right side, so we watched the rock face fly by all the way. There werea lot of beer bottles, however they were empty. At least we were not in complete darkeness...In Caraz we made up our minds to visit the beautiful lake Paron, surrounded by white peaks and beautiful glaciers on all sides. It was only 35 kms up a very steep and winding road. And no cars. We walked may be 5 kilometers and were completely exhausted. Chewing coca leaves infused us with enough energy to climb the small hill to find a place to camp. In the morning there were no cars again (except for honking taxis speeding up and down) so we walked down to town, exhausting ourselves again. May be it was the altitude (around 2300m), our recent illness or our general weakness, it was hard to say, but no more mountain excursions for us! This photo was our only reward for this fruitless and very hard attempt to visit the lake. The lake is directly under this peak,still a long ways off.Yesterday we walked into Huaraz, a town famous amongst primarily Israely tourists for trekking and mountain climbing. There are tons of agencies here offering all of that and more, but we politely decline their insisting offers. As we were walking towards the main square we met a couple walking in ridgid mountain boots and carrying ice axes and ropes. We shivered.
As we were looking for a spot to pitch our tent for the night, we asked a knitting grandmother sitting on her porch for directions to the beach. In return, she invited us to camp in her garden. We slept tight throught the cold night.


  1. thanks for keeping us up with your adventures! :)

  2. Keep going, guys!

    Btw, you might be interested to with this gal:
    "One of only three remaining original clipper ships from the nineteenth century, the Ambassador of 1869, beached near Punta Arenas, Chile."

    And more info on similar clipper Cutty Sark:

    Have fun.

  3. Thank you, Alex, we´ll make sure to see the Ambassador´s grave.

  4. guys I think you might find this one pretty interesting :)

    And пешы истчо :)