Huayhuash!

Bam, just got back from a nine day wilderness adventure to the pretty impressive Cordillera Huayhuash just south of Huaraz in Peru. Due to certain budget constraints and the fact that it was wet season and there was noone about this quiet little city of Huaraz, I ended up doing a solo mission. Nine days with your own thoughts is a bit bizarre, but a good feeling being completely self-sufficient and carrying it all on your back. My pack must have weighed close to 20kgs at the start with all my food and equipment, which made it pretty tough climbing the nine passes at between 4000-5000m altitude. I think it partly ended up being more of a physical challenge than a relaxing wilderness walk to be honest, but successful none the less. Here are a load of snaps from the amazing grueling escapade!

Day 1: Took the early morning 5 am bus to the cozy mountainous town of Chiquian, and then a connection on to the even smaller town of Llamac and a bit further to the end of road at a tiny town called Pocpa where the hike begins. I had to pay gringo prices and kicked up a stink with the bus driver and we left on bad terms. I hiked along a dirt road past a couple of local mines and then on to my first camp (Cuartelhuaim, 4180m) below the first pass. From here I was harassed by some extremely annoying local children for the afternoon throwing stones at my tent, just delightful.

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Road Leading up into the mountains.

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A cosy little valley where I lunched.

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Tent view #1.

Day 2: Awoke early to evade paying the local camping tax and began the journey up to the first pass (Cacanam punta, 4700m). I thought I was pretty well acclimatised after my Santa Cruz hike and spending almost a week in Huaraz but hauling a pack up to this height was taxing on my frail vegetarian body. Eventually I made it over and headed up into the next valley towards laguna Mitococha and another smaller glacial lake up a bit higher up just below Mt. Jirishanca (6094m). I camped on the Southern side of the laguna to again evade the camping police which was effective ish. But, being wet season the whole camp site was flooded except for a tiny section right next to the lake. So I pitched the old tienda and hoped that it didn’t rain profusely overnight.

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About to attack the first pass, let the pain begin.

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Numero Uno.

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Pass #1 : Cacanam Punta (4690m).

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Laguna Mitococha in the early afternoon.

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Small glacial lake just up from Mitococha called laguna Ninacocha. I scored some A-grade glacial agua from the waterfall in the back.

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I tried to set up camp here but some excessively territorial cows were preparing to charge at me so I legged it.

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Campsite night 2.

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Tent view #2.

Day 3: I escaped the boggy marshlands of the lake and meandered for only 4-5 hrs out towards the next pass (Carhuac Pass, 4650m) and over to laguna Carhuacocha which was to be my next camp. On the way I met a strange local who wanted to swap my dodgy old alarm clock for his semi-functioning bandless wristwatch, to which I opted out of the transaction. The man clearly upset by this later came to collect the local camping tax for the area which totalled a whopping 40 soles (16 bucks). To be fair it was a pretty swell camp site, facing onto the lake and with the towering Mt. Yerupaja (6634m) in the background. He claimed the facilities were second to none here, which I assumed included the doorless loo which flushed directly into the local creek. Gotta love Peru’s environmental protection standards.

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Clear morning sunrise over Mt. Jirishanca (6094m).

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A clearer shot of the campsite on the morning of day 3.

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Token mountain reflection shot. Now I feel like a wilderness photographer.

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Numero Dos!

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Pass #2: Punta Carhuac (4640m).

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Tent view #3.

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Laguna Carhuacocha with Peru’s second highest mountain Mt. Yerupaja (6617m) behind.

Day 4: Feeling pretty rejuvenated after a relaxing afternoon by laguna Carhuacocha I powered up the hill and was verbally attacked by a trio of angry perros. After evading being mauled I made my way to the next pass Punta Carnicero (4600m) and on towards the next campsite at Huayhuash. I arrived super early and the thought of the thermal springs at the end of the next leg of the walk. This was way too enticing so I decided to continue on to the next campsite another 4 hours away via pass Portachuelo de Huayhuash (4700m) to Laguna Viconga. I was verbally attacked by a duo of perros this time who actually looked physically threatening this time so I legged it again. It cleared up in the afternoon and the views over the lake were delicious but not as good as the water temperatures at my private hot springs later on.

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Morning view.

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Fluffy angry perros.

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Numero tres.

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Pass #3 : Punta Carnicero (4600m).

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Overcast panorama of the Siula Grande and Chico.

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Views leading up to pass Portachuelo de Huayhuash.

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Numero Quatro.

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Pass #4 : Portachuelo de Huayhuash (4700m).

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Laguna Viconga.

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Co. Negro (5038) and laguna Viconga.


Tent view #4.

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Private thermal springs with a view.

Day 5: Left my thermal spring paradise for the highest pass on the circuit punta Cuyoc (5000m) and then on to the Guanacpatay campsite located in an extremely cold valley. I ran into a humble poncho rocking donkey herder who tempted me to head to the next camp over another +5000m pass, but I got severely lost in some cow tracks and ended up having to turn back. I set up camp at the top of this cliff looking over the valley but wind picked up so I had to cut my losses and ended up camping next to a waterfall where I spent probably the coldest night of my life.

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Success.

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Numero Cinco.

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Pass Punta Cuyoc (5000m).

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I made a cairn. Teacher said mine was the best one.

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Tent view #5.

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View looking back up the pass.

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A mountain.

Day 6: After surviving the coldest night of my life I awoke to a frozen tent fly and blue skies. I spent the early morn defrosting my tent and then attempting to bust up over a seemingly impossible mountain range. I couldn’t find the locals track so ended up snaking up some cow tracks up the the pass and then up some steep and super dangerous scree slopes. I think at one point I actually thought If I slip here I would most likely roll for a kilometer to the bottom of the slope breaking many bones along the way. I almost got to the top before spotting the actual track 200m below me down the slope. Luckily I had watched that episode of Bear Grylls and was well prepared for a descent. I eventually made it to the top of pass Mirador San Antonio after a good 3 hour battle and was rewarded probably the best view of the hike looking up over to the mountains of Jirishanca and Siera Grande famous for being the setting of the adventure, book and documentary “Touching the Void”. The only problem left now was getting down the other side which took a good 2 hours of the bush-bashing downhill until I reached the valley floor a good vertical 800m down. Here I got swarmed by a herd of possessed cattle and had to bust off to another campsite after visiting another seriously blue laguna.

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Great campsite choice.

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Frozen tent fly.

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View from the cow tracks of a clear morning.

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The last battle up the pass.

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Pass #6: Mirador San Antonio (5000m) looking back.

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Numero Seis.

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Found a fossil!

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Pass #6: Mirador San Antonio (5000m) looking forward.

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Touching the Void anyone…

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Laguna Jurau.

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A tough calf hiding behind a boulder.

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Blueness.

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Tent view #6.

Day 7: From here I descended back down under 4000m to only town on the hike Huayllapa which I bypassed after I met a local lady going up to collect her cow which was located along the way. Whilst heading up to the next pass the weather turned pretty foul and started raining sideways combined with a hefty gail. So I was forced to set up camp in a boulderfield before reaching the actual campsite, this was the first I had seen of the apparent rainy season. It took me ages to set up my tent because I couldn’t feel my hands, so the tent got soaked on the inside and I ended up having to sop up pools of water inside with my soggy socks. The situation was not ideal.

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Tentview #7.

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Boulder field campsite.

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Pass #7 : Punta Tapush (4748m)

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A manly cairn.

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Numero siete.

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Snowy times.

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Laguna Susucocha.

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looking up the valley to pass Yaucha Punta (4847m)

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Numero Ocho

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More beastly cairns.

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Last campsite by laguna Jahuacocha with Jirishanca in the rear.

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I was sick of eating powdered dinner so I accepted a local lady’s offer for some potatoes and cheese thinking I was getting a potato bake turned out to be this.

Day 9:
I got an early morning visit from the lovely little old lady/debt collector who made me pay a fake camping fee because it was remotely close to her house. But she looked super poor and also asked for some pain killers for her back problems so I paid her a small donation and went on my way. Reached the last pass Punta Llamac (4300m) and made my midday bus which turned out to be the same dude who ripped me off last time.

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Tentview #8.

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A delightful last morning at altitude.

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A lost lamb.

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green.

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Numero nueve.

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last pass! Punta Llamac (4300m)

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Back to civilisation.

Evening! I just returned from the succulent Santa Cruz hike up in the Cordillera Blanca in central Peru. The hike is supposed to have some of the best views of the Cordillera Blanca with views of towering peaks, glaciers, high altitude lakes, and luscious green valleys- But when I went it was overcast and there was a consistant blanket of cloud about 100m above my head at most times. Still it was pretty swell. The hike is a cruisy 50km which most people walk in 4 days due to some logistical problems. I added a couple of extra km’s heading up into some of the valleys hoping to get a view of some of the +6000m peaks but only achieved tiring my legs out. I started in the sleepy mountain village of Vaqueria and hiked up to a high pass called Punto Union at 4600m and then back down the valley to the town of Cashapampa. Here are a couple of shots of some fog.

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Park Entrance.

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Horse off.

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Camp night 1 (Paria).

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Tentview #1.

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Mountain!

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Multiple mountains!

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Punta Union Lookout. I’m pretty sure there is supposed to be a super sharp looking mountain in the background here.

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Something like this… Cool jumper.

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Mist-ical laguna.

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panoRAMA.

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Camp night 2 (Tuallipampa).

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Blurry cow skull, my ipod doesn’t function well in fog apparently.

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Tentview #2.

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The grass near my bag was the best in the land they said.

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Ate some bad grass.

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Some large mountains were in the area.

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They do time…

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To eat or not to eat.

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Looking down the rocky valley.

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A glimpse of a large mountain.

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Wetlands.

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Camp night 3 (Llamacorral).

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Tentview #3.

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Fog.

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Walking down into Cashapampa.

Next up the Huayhaush circuit.

Laguna 69

After arriving into the cozy mountain city of Huaraz aka hikers paradise located somewhere in the Peruvian Andes, I made some friends and organised some transport out to the interestingly named Laguna 69 (none of the other lakes are numbered). The hike took us a bit longer than expected after suffering a bit of the old altitude breathlessness on the climb up from 3900m to the Laguna at 4600m. I think the gang may have clocked in at a bit over 3 hours and lost one friendly German lass on the way. Views were pretty suave.

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Laguna llanganuco on the ride up into the mountains.
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Nevado Chacraraju (6108m)
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Looking back onto Nevado Huascaran tallest mountain in Peru at 6768m.
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Bam! Laguna 69 with a funky waterfall in the distance.
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panoRAMA
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Selfy!

Duuuuuunes

Still on the gringo trail in Peru. Here be some shots of the sleepy oasis town of Huacachina just outside of Ica. Here I did the done thing and went on a dune buggy/sand boarding tour of the surrounding dunes. The whole time I had The Presidents of the USA – little blue dune buggy in my head. Fun place, fun times, photos…

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Boats, oasis, dunes.

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Strange.

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Oasis panoRAMA!

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Dunes and buggy.

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Our beast.

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Sandy sunset.

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Steep sandy slopes.

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Hostel luxury.

CaƱon de Colca

Just returned from a 3 day adventure into the heart of the Colca Canyon: DEEPEST CANYON IN THE WORLD! (by some kind of technicality). Stayed in a hostel at the bottom in a place called oasis of Sangulle or something similar. Also saw a condor. Here are a few snaps.

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panoRAMA!

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The trail leading down some 1200m. I think I almost rolled my ankle 6 times.

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Raging rio colca at the canyon bottom.

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Looking back through the canyon from a mirador.

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My eco-friendly bus back to Arequipa.

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The salmon office, a neccesity in the small town of Cabanaconde.

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Goodnight sweet prince. My trusty shades had been through a lot so I put them to rest in the lost property box in the hostel.

Machu Picchu

So I regained my sight back just in time for a pretty much perfect day at Machu Picchu performing the art of tourism. Mountains, rivers, ruins and llamas. A dangerous combination.

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Sunrise over Machu Pichu town.

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Sunrise over the mountains around MP.

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My amigos and I on top Huayna Picchu.

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Baby llama being born. Slimy little sucker. But pretty cool birth place none the less.

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Llllllllama!

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Stairway to heaven. The Incas clearly had lower safety standards than present.

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Huayna Picchu. Clocked in at 20 minutes to climb this beast.

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Ruins.

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Inca trail.

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Main gate. Entrance to the town.

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View of MP and HP from the sungate.

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panoRAMA!

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Looking down from HP to where we hiked for the last couple of days.

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Selfy for the parents.

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Conquered!