WARM wouldn’t normally be walking at this time of year as it is way too hot, so this month I want to take you to Peru and talk about walks we did in the area of the Cordillera Blanca.
Most people visiting the Cordillera Blanca stay in Huarez, but we got a micro (local small bus) to a lovely little town called Yungay and found a newly opened hotel run by a nice family. We walked twice with our host Julian and his four year old son Jan who chatted constantly and decided it was his job to look after Chris, my husband.
At one point that included holding Chris’s hand as we crossed a river on a rickety bridge in case he fell in!!
On the first day we went to visit el Campo Santa which is the memorial to the avalanche that completely destroyed Yungay in 1970. Julian lost his father and brother and he said he survived because he was young and fit and he ran to high ground near the cemetery. It was one of those sobering moments in your life when you meet people who have survived natural disasters.
Our second trip was through the Rio Santa valley, following the course of the river with fabulous fields of wild flowers alongside cultivated areas where local people grew maize, leeks, cauliflowers peppered with avocado and apricot trees.
On day three we had a complete change of scenery as we walked in the mountains to Lago 69. Our ‘guides’ walked in winkle-pickers and jeans and it might not have been one of our better choices, but we lived to tell the tale. Our walk started at 4,000m and finished at 4,500m which under normal circumstances is not a huge height gain. High altitude is anything above 2,500m and although we had spent a few weeks at altitude, walking uphill is another matter. We started in a valley with the mountains in the clouds in front of us; there were small streams to step over and a beautiful carpet of yellow flowers.
Once we began to climb we had to slow the pace as first the headache and then the breathlessness overtakes you. After about four hours and about 100m from the top, I could go no further as I knew there was a three hour walk back down. Chris made it to the top and the Lago was pretty spectacular. On the way down the sun had come out and the small streams needed to be jumped over as the snow melted above us. It was an amazing day in a stunning part of the world.
We left Yungay with very happy memories and as we knew it was our last walk of the trip we gave some of our walking gear to Julian to help his fledgling business.
The new WARM season will start in September. We send details of the next walk to our WARM mailing list, normally about a fortnight ahead. If you are interested in joining us on a walk and want to be on our mailing list then contact Norma on Warm2005@gmail.com