The hills (and they are BIG hills) are only about 100km away from my house, but in Lima you’re talking a 3-4-5hr drive. Five of us met up and caught a “Colectivo”, a shared cab going to one place. In our case, a brand new Kia Soul driven by a young lad who looked about 15.
I always get a bit suspicious when a Taxista quotes a low price. This was a bargain.
Traffic was even more hellish than usual, compounded by a concert by “Daddy Yankee” at the Estadio Monumental, where the police had put gates up across the Carretera Central (the central highway). I heard a hushed conversation between our Junior Taxista where he said “Don’t tell Uncle Pepe I’ve borrowed his car!”
This lad was such a reckless driver and a cowboy that he must have needed to modify the floor to fit his spurs. At one point we cut through a shopping centre, going in the opposite direction, just to miss some lights on red. Amazingly we made it to Chosica in record time (and alive), to catch a bus to San Mateo, a 2hr lumber up the road. Arriving in time for a bit of tucker, a meet-up with fellow trekkers and an early night, where a hundred thousand trucks rumbled up the road and I woke up feeling like I’d been ironed, weighed down by half a dozen alpaca sheets!
A tiny, wee minivan piloted by a man who was a hundred years old if he was a day, took us further up the road and by 7am we were on the trail…
The mission was to get to Laguna Quimacocha, nestling between some very high mountains, at 4750m (15584ft in old money). Not before we had paid the Old Dear who must have been “Guardian of the trail”. She sprinted from her hut, jumped a frozen stream and demanded 2 Soles (40p) off us all. It was a bit of a bracing start, and good to get into the sun by 8am, as it slowly, tantalisingly made it’s way down the valley to meet us.
We had 3 “guides”: Chogo leading the fast group, Karina in the middle and Maria leading up the rear. We were soon strung out like the washing, with one or two hit badly by “Soroche” (altitude sickness, which takes the form of a blinding headache, breathlessness, nausea or dramatic vomiting, or all three!)
By 11am, after a long valley stroll, a sharp climb, a yomp across a frozen bog and one last haul skywards, we arrived at Laguna Quimacocha, and it was more than worth the effort, it was an incredibly beautiful and serene place. Not a single sound, and here in Lima, that is priceless.
As we were the first to arrive, everybody promptly dozed off in the sun.
After some SuperDuperNoodles, we made our way back down and 5 hours later (after stopping for a slap-up meal), Interpid Alex battled the heinous traffic and dropped me and the others off back in the big, bad city.
All in all, a TOP weekend
Johnny, Lina & the Nipper