Distance traveled: 73 miles (12.13 miles walked)
Difference in altitude: 8,802 ft / 7,178 ft (4,564 ft / 1,043 ft during the hike)
Quick note that will be also useful for the next episodes, about the differences in altitude. The two numbers are respectively for the positive and negative level differences. Here, during the hiking, we walked 4,564 ft up and 1,043 ft down. It’s important to keep both of the numbers, because if we speak, for example, about a round-trip to a summit, like 4,000 ft / 4,000 ft, then even if you end at the same altitude, so a difference of 0 from your starting point, you would have still climbed 4,000 ft up and 4,000 ft down, so a total of 8,000 ft. It’s walked distance, and we don’t want to be considered as amateurs, do we?!.
Back to our lamas (the local sheeps …).
Really early wake-up: 3:30 a.m.. Hard to move and get ready. Breakfast, wash, bags and we go to the little hall of our hostal where our driver will come to pick us. We will be 11 in our group, for the trek, and we’re supposed to drive through Cusco to get everyone on the way, before going to Mollepata.
4 o’clock, we’re ready. Looking at each other, laughing, chatting and saying goodbye to Sophie who will leave us. She has to get back to Europe!
4:45 a.m., our driver is finally here. “Peruvian delay”. A small bus is waiting. We get in, put our bags, and I fall asleep after 10 minutes. No information about the road and the landscapes, but I can say that the bus was shaking a lot .
We arrive in Mollepata, 2 h 15 later. 9,498 ft alt.
I wake up slowly. We’re all together, and we start our day with … a breakfast. Second one :) . A few minutes to meet everyone, but we don’t go into details about us, everyone’s still a bit sleepy.
We then gather on the main square where Daniel, our guide, introduces himself. He talks about the trek, the security things and says that we’ll have to do our best to enjoy our trek and the days together. “Believe me Dani-boy, it’s what I’ve planned!”. For the next five days, the language will be the English, as it’s the common language to everyone.
And it’s time to start. Smile on my face. Here we are!
We walk to the North, and get to a small dusty trail, that we leave quickly to get into the nature.
20 minutes later, first break. Daniel asks us to introduce ourselves.
– Amie and Jenny, two sisters from Australia,
– Emily and her boyfriend Oliver, from England,
– Hugo and Antonio, two friends from Brazil,
– Sandra, Peruvian,
– and the four of us.
A nice team, young and waiting for adventure!
Back on the trail. We stop every 30-45 minutes to get some rest, the first day is quite physical, “a training for the second day, the hardest one of the trek” Daniel says. At each break, the view is amazing, making hard to start again (or maybe it’s because we’re already tired?). Valleys, peaks, hills, plateaus, glades. The landscapes on this first day are really … wow.
1:34 p.m.. 5 h 30 after we left Mollepata, we reach our lunch spot. We put the bags down, breathe, lay down on the grass. There are tables, a roof made of metal sheets, and the first meal prepared by our chef. Delicious. We do have a chef (and what a cook!), from here, who will be with us during the entire trek and who will feed the group. He will surprise us at each break, day after day .
We eat, drink tea, and the break ends. Just some seconds for me to write a bit in my/our travel journal, and we’re already back on the trail. Two more hours to go, and we’ll arrive in Soraypampa, where our campsite for the night is.
The afternoon walk is easier: 4 miles of up false flat (1,312 ft of difference in altitude), going up by the West side of the valley. We are on a ground trail, and some jeeps bypass us, several convoys with donkeys, and we move with other tourist groups who have the same destination. Green, waterfalls … we go fast and we arrive in the Soraypampa valley.
Good thing we’re almost there. It’s 3:20 p.m. and the Sun is already setting down behind the mountains, and at this altitude, in the shade, the air gets colder really quickly. We put our sweaters and bonnets.
We discover our campsite. A green field with several little shelters, and for us, a shelter made of metal tubes covered with a blue tarpaulin. It will protect our tents from the strong wind.
Bags down. I’m happy to drop mine (26 lb). And it’s snack time! We gather around the table, light the candles. Some hot water, for tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Some crackers and two plates full of … pop-corn. . Our chef knows how to make us feel better after this first long day! Fresh and still warm pop-corn.
I go out to attach the GoPro to some rock, I will leave it there for a while so it can take pictures for timelapse of the Sun disappearing behind the Nevado Humantay (19,412 ft) and of the first stars appearing.
Our dinner is ready half an hour later, after Daniel takes some time to explain the route of the next day. Tomorrow, we’ll have to face the most difficult and exhausting day of the trek. But I’ll get to that later.
Everyone goes to bed quickly, I go out to get my little camera back, and take some minutes to sit, rest and look at the sky, very bright because of the full Moon but still with a lot of visible stars. Some pictures. I don’t stay outside for a long time, don’t have to forget that we’re at 12,795 ft alt., and the temperatures are now negative. Last shot at 7:14 p.m.. Bed time. Tomorrow again, we’ll have to wake-up early!
To be continued in the next episode!