Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Active in Arequipa: Cocla Canyon Trek

I could have stayed in Lima forever but adventure and the wonders that Peru holds beckoned me. I was no longer going to be lazy in Lima. With a heavy heart I boarded a 15 hour bus for Arequipa in the south.
Arequipa is famous for the mountains, volcanoes and nearby Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world. I guess the Grand Canyon in The United States really isn’t so grand. With all of these topographical features come hostels and agencies trying to sell you treks. Don’t get me wrong I’m quite an active sporty person but in the past I have seemed to turn my nose up to these overpriced, herd you like cattle up a mountain treks. The lure of an oasis with a swimming pool and hot springs was too tempting. I just had to get past the fact that the tour left a 3:00am.
On the bus leaving we past people entering bars, they were starting their night and I was starting a trek. Manicures and pedicures of Lima soon gave way to dirty finger nails and sweaty smelly feet. It wasn’t as bad as I expected. The first day we hiked down in to the canyon after spotting condors. It was hot and dry and my fingers turned into fat sausages from the altitude. A mud hut with dirt for floors awaited us for our first nights rest. I shared my hut with three English girls, Sasha, Allegra and Katie.
The second day was a bit of a tease from where we started trekking you could see down into the canyon at our oasis with swimming pool and waterfall but looking down into a canyon objects seem closer than they appear. We eventually reached our paradise after 5 hours of walking down on a windy trail in the dry sun.
Day number three, the hike up. I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle 3 hours of uphill hiking. I’m not experienced at all. Then visions of Volcan Baru in Panama came flooding back where Peace Core volunteers convinced me to climb a volcano in the middle of the night for the sun rise. Like the savvy traveller I am I brought my carton of wine to enjoy the view. Seven hours later of straight up hill in the dark then pouring rain in minus temperatures at the top, all the time lugging my wine. So this time I was prepared, water and my IPod. Daddy Yankee, Shakira, ABBA and the Bangles joined me on my ascend to the top. I was cruising along, leaving my group behind and passing others. A friendly local man with a Donkey put out his hand which I thought he wanted to encourage me; instead he pulled me down the trail while laughing at me. Despite his attempt I made it to the top with Sasha. We were one of the first up. Now I am addictited. I crave more treks, more moutains and volcanos!!

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