Based from Huaraz (altitude: 3000+) we did a lot of hiking to lakes, ruins, hot springs and random mountains. After a few day trips (pictures e.g. 1, 2) we went on a longer and more serious hike called the Inka Nani (or Inca Nani) starting in the tiny town of Pomachaca (3, 4). The trek took us over 105 km of old Inca paths – sometimes as wide as 10 meters (and sometimes much much less) – to the large ruins of Huanuco Pampa. The trip took 5 days, with the first and the last day spent on traveling to and from Huaraz (and about 2 hours of hiking).
The trek itself was amazing and very off the beaten track. We met no other travelers at all; just local people in small towns usually not connected by any road. Along the trek there are many ruins. (Since there is little information about the trek we will soon make a small guide and itinerary for other travelers.)
The trek itself is not that high relative to the rest of the Cordilla Blanca (the two highest points of the trek were around 4300 meters), but we did camp at 4000 meters on the third day. Even though we got a little sunburned during that day, the temperature reached below zero during the night. These icy tents were the result:
A lot of pictures of the trek are uploaded to Anne’s Flickr page.
At the moment we reside in beautiful Cajamarca in the Andes mountain range. At a height of around 2750 meters there is clearly less oxygen. However the area surrounding the city looks gentle and lush and reminds me more of dunes (don´t ask me why). A closer inspection reveals loads of cacti (yes that is supposed to be the plural of cactus), some as big as trees!
We went on a brilliantly comfortable bus ride from Tarapoto to Chachapoyas. The only thing removing the ride from absolute perfection was the constant rain of puke coming down on our windows from the guy on the second floor of the bus. From Chachapoyas we endeavored on a three-hour hike to the Catarata Gocta, a waterfall 771 meters high.
Because the water descends from such a great height it disperses into a mist of tiny water droplets by the time it reaches the small lake at the bottom of the fall. Not only did this mist soak you completely in under one minute it also tended to feel more like hail than your average European foggy weather. The hike turned out to be a nice preparatory walk for our next climb to Kuélap.
From Chachapoyas we went to Tingo (a very small town) and left at 5:30 AM for the 1200 meter climb to the ancient ruins of Kuélap. The Lonely Planet warned to allow five to six hours but it took us only 2:30 (Anne) and 3:15 (Peter and I) hours. However the Lonely Planet might be right after all as I literally had to drag my legs over the final steps. The ruins were amazing though and definitely worth the struggle. To me it felt like I was really walking between the remnants of an ancient civilization.
From Tingo we finally took a bus ride to Cajamarca where we arrived yesterday.
We left Iquitos, traveled by another cargo boat for three days and then crossed a small mountain by bus, through a tunnel at the top, to finally arrive in Tarapoto. From here we will head into the Andes, explore some ancient Inca sites and cascades, slowly making our way to Cajamarca. Back in Iquitos Tom and I located “Venice” by the way; beats Italy easily:
So we didn’t actually go on that small boat to Iquitos, which was more than 150km away from Leticia, (that would be crazy; it was just a small April fool’s joke), but on a larger one called the Victor Manuel. Still adventerous though, as it was a rather old boat, not in the best condition anymore. We thought the journey would be around 2 nights and 1 full day (we departed Tuesday at 7:30 pm), but it ended up being 3 nights and 2 full days. After about 1.5 days the boat was out of supplies, but luckily we could buy some water at one of the many many villages the boat stopped at, either to pick up or drop off people (and even animals; a monkey and a turtle), or to load new goods such as wood or pigs.
This morning at 5:00 we finally arrived in Iquitos, a very nice jungle city. Iquitos is completely surrounded by jungle, and to get here (and get away) you need to take a boat or go by plane. The journey further into Peru is another 5 full days. We might take a plane. But for now we are exploring Iquitos, which supposedly has good nightlife.
PS We still upload new photo’s on Anne’s Flickr page now and then.
Today we arrived in Leticia, in the Amazon Basin, on the border with Brasil and Peru. The first thing we did after we found a hostel was buy a boat like this one. It was a small engine and it can support enough weight for us, for our backpacks, for some food supplies, and about one day of gasoline. We hope to frequently find villages for supplies and gas, because the trip from Leticia to Iquitos (Peru) is quite long (one to two weeks probably). We’ll report back in Iquitos!
We are in Cartagena now. Tom, Peter, and Richard (American we met in the bus from Medellin to Santa Marta and have been traveling with since) are asleep. I decided to upload some of our photos to date using the reception computer from the hostel. So far nobody seems to mind. The Tayrona national park near Santa Marta was quite amazing:
We also ran into our Irish friends there. Had a beer together:
We have been in Santa Marta for two days now. Not only is the weather absolutely perfect – 35 degrees celsius during the day and 27 at night – but the Caribbean sea is 200m from the hostel!
During the day we chill out, swim in the sea or in our very own pool! Anne went diving yesterday and in between dives climbed a mountain in the blistering sun as well. Show off…
The clubs we went to yesterday were great! There was an anniversary going on so it was a bit crowded but the music was great!
Today we will go to Tayrona, a national park were we plan to hire a couple of hammocks and chill some more on the best beaches of Colombia!
Just arrived in Medellin. Weather is nice and the hostel even has a balcony! Currently we are playing cards and reenergizing from the night bus trip. The first impressions of Medellin are that it’s a safe and nice city.
We are using my Flickr account to put some of the photos we have taken online. Here is a llama:
All the photos we put online will end up in The Big Trip set. Enjoy!
Promised Michael I would wear this on a night out. Had a blast! Thanks again for the t-shirt! (Oh, nobody recognized it…)