Saturday, 31 January 2009
We all now know why our chosen tour operator is called G.A.P… there are many gaps in the adventures!!
When Ed and I had blithely booked our trip, we were both aware when that we would be hitting the Andes in the throws of the rainy season. On getting to here, it dawned on us that we should maybe have taken this more into account! It turns out that in opting out of chasing the other tour groups up the Inca Trail, we had opted for the higher, wetter, more challenging, but possibly more beautiful Lares Trek (albeit aided by 1 machismo Peruvian guide, 1 bucktooth chef, 7 porters, 5 mules and 4 llama).
Our little band of six (plus entourage) set off mid day Tuesday after Ed had soaked himself in the thermal baths of the local town. (As it was already pissing with rain Vanessa and I opted for the warmer option of sitting in the shelter.) A challenging 3 hour climb / wander, adjusting to the increased altitude and learning to suck on coca leaves (rumoured to reduce altitude sickness, jury is still out on this). Reaching camp on the first night was a joy, sadly the “bathroom” option didn’t warrant the same reaction.
After waking up in a puddle we packed up and set off (in the rain) with our Ponchos on. After 3 hours of rain, fog, mist, mud, wind, avoiding a lot of pooooops we finally made it to the Lares pass. The sun broke, spirits lifted and it was literally downhill from here.
While enjoying the sensational views I managed to slip…on either mud or poop and took a healthy chunk out of my knee. Thank goodness for the army trained Finnish “team members” as Macho Manuel had clearly never taken a first aid course…I was unaware the washing up soap was good for cleaning open wounds. (ended up in the local rural health clinic the next day, an interesting experience in it’s own right, but one for another day).
We all learnt that none of us will be attempting Everest anytime soon, but without a doubt enjoyed our trek. We were left moved by the number of local children who ran along beside us (really just wanting candy and food), overwhelmed by the magical mountains and great expanse (at times very similar to the Scottish Highlands) and in addition did our best to put the “adventure” back in G.A.P.