We have two daughters!!!

It seems that every time we go somewhere new, I proclaim it to be the greatest place on earth! But I think with Colca Canyon I might have got it right! It’s definitely up there on the same scale as the glaciers, and possibly even more beautiful (How typical of the Americans to name their canyon “Grand” when Colca is actually twice as deep, reaching over 4km in depth in places).
Our day started at 3am with a pick up by mini bus which collected around all the hostels in Areqipa. It’s always entertaining to try and guess the nationality of those getting on. English tends to be the common language which is very handy, and quite right too! At one of the hostels, The Wild Rover, the expected travellers failed to appear. I’ll come back to that later on….
A long bus journey into the mountains, and passing through 4910m in height, with stunning scenery. Eventually we arrived at the starting point at about 10am, in blisteringly hot sun and clear blue skies. Perfect! Here we discovered that most people were on the two day trek, whereas only four of us were on the 3 day trek, with Jonathan, a local, as our guide. This was where our luck really kicked in, as our two fellow trekkers were introduced to us as Anne and Laura, 21 year olds from Denmark on a gap year. We were to discover over the next 72 hours that we probably couldn’t ever meet nicer people while travelling! Always smiling, always happy, enjoying life and great fun!
Our starting point was at 3300m above sea level, and the 11km of the first day dropped us to the canyon floor at 2200m. Incredible paths with breath taking views. One of the many highlights was seeing Andean Condors gracefully gliding just above us. These are the second largest flying birds on earth, after the albatross, and were hypnotic to watch. An absolute privilege to be able to experience them.
Now, this next bit will bring great happiness to Dave, Dave and Hugh – in true Rock trekking tradition, we had a lovely black dog follow us out of the village, who stayed with us for the entire trip! He did the usual guiding routine, running from back to front, making sure we all kept together, and at night times he slept outside our huts on guard! That’s the third time this has happened to me now! Brilliantly, the dog was hugely attracted to Anne, who couldn’t have been more of a dog-hater! Very funny! The girls named him Bobby, as that I think is the Danish equivalent of Rover!
The descent into the canyon was hard. Very steep, very stoney, and very very hot. It took us nearly 5 hours to reach our destination, a “lodge” (ramshackle wooden building) accessible only by foot or mule. Lunch of soup was waiting for us, then it was off for a rest. Charlotte was really feeling the effects of the altitude and the heat. We rested in the hot spring for half an hour (sourced from the geyser) before she began to feel very unwell, to the stage where she had our guide worried. She was physically sick, and couldn’t eat. Jonathan foraged various plants to make a tea for her, which saw some improvement, but it was a terrible restless night, and actually quite worrying. Anne and Laura were fantastically helpful, and we owe them a lot!
Up early again for a 7am start, and Charlotte was much improved. Between us we were carrying 3 litres of water so that she could constantly drink. Plenty of coca leaf tea helped too. Shortly after we set off we came across an elderly Peruvian lady selling avocados. 10p each, and they were the biggest, juiciest, ripest, greatest tasting avocados we’ve ever eaten! Superb! I wish I’d bought her whole stock! We walked for 11k again, climbing about 600m before dropping back down to the river. More indescribable scenery and wildlife (we saw an eagle perched 10m from us!) Jonathan kept telling us what each plant was used for – almost every one had a medicinal purpose. My favourite though was the enormous cactus used to make tequila! Charlotte coped admirably, much to all our surprise as I’d never have thought she could even walk that day. Having set off early we reached our second lodge just after lunch. Appropriately called Oasis Sangalle, I was stunned to find a ranch type building with lovely swimming pool! No electricity though. A great swim to cool down before a lazy afternoon. In the evening Charlotte began to feel poorly again, so we went to bed early. I have to admit that at one stage I actually woke her up to check she was still alive…..seriously!
The final morning was a 5am start! This was to try and get the most of the ascent done before the sun hit the mountain. Charlotte, still alive and surviving on coca leafs (I’m surprised she was even coherent!) wasn’t too keen on walking by head torch. But it was one of my all time favourite treks. We had to climb 1200m in 5km, so I make that about 20% gradient for 3 miles???!!! Anne and Laura were always way ahead of us, boundless youthful energy, and Bobby was still there too! As the light grew, the views were among the best I’ve ever seen, with the clouds below us. Truly inspiring. I’d like to say that Charlotte never moaned or cursed or swore. But I can’t! However, 3 hours later she stood on the top, and I’m very proud of her, even more so considering how ill she’d been.
For the bus journey back, we were joined by another group who had been doing a two day trek. Remember our bus had stopped to collect people at The Wild Rover but they’d not shown up? Well, the two lads were now here in this party. Turns out they’d slept thru their 3am alarm after drinking til 1.30am! They were James and Elliott, two very nice 19 year olds on a gap year having finished Eton! I was very impressed with them! My first ever Etonians! (Which is immeasurably better than Evertonians)
We stopped at the high point of 4910m, and when I got off the bus there I became really dizzy, as if I’d just glugged 10 pints! Weird feeling!
Anne and Laura had supposed to be moving on last night on an overnight bus, but wanted to go drinking with us! So they stayed another night, and we met up and had a brilliant night with beer and cocktails and gin! They admitted to us that someone had asked them if we were their parents!!!!!! So, we’ve now adopted them, and it’s a pleasure to have them as our daughters! Anne, Laura, I know you’ll read this, so thanks for being so much fun! Easily the best people we’ve met on our travels so far! We will catch up with you somewhere!!! Be safe!
Today is an admin day – finances, restocking of things, and laundry. We’ve reached the stage where we can’t be bothered to do the laundry ourselves! It’s all been collected from the hotel, taken away for washing and drying, and should be back with us by three! All for 60p a kilo! And tonight is the night bus to Cusco, then Machu Picchu! Brilliant! South America is just fantastic! I’m going to live here!!! I’m sitting writing this while drinking pure coca powder, partly to help with the altitude but mainly for fun!! 😃

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Condor. Magnificent.

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Oasis Sangalle, our second night stop, at the bottom of the canyon

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Llahuar Loge, the clump of buildings on the left, our first night stop

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Bobby!

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Charlotte defying the weight limit on the wibbly wobbly bridge

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Beer of the day! Arequipena!

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Our lovely friends!!

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2 thoughts on “We have two daughters!!!

  1. Hi guys, I am truly jealous of your trip into the canyon. The pictures look fabulous but you can tell that they don’t do it justice!!
    Loving the hair Rocky, you’ll have that pony tail in no time.
    Your blog is, as alway, brilliant and is keeping me going on some quite boring days. Take care x

    Like

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