A Travellerspoint blog

Huacachina, a fun oasis


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Following my adventures in cold Huaraz, I decided to renew with the sun and warmth by doing a pit stop in the Peruvian desert, in Huacachina.

Located in the south of Lima, Huacachina is a little village near Ica, and has the particularity of being built around an oasis in the middle of the desert. Needless to say that there are not much to do there, not even a vibrating night-life, but tour agencies offer fun buggy tours in the sand dunes, as well as offering to practice sandboarding. So no need to stay more than 2 or 3 days, but Huacachina is the perfect place to have a bit of fun in the sand and relax with a cold beer whilst enjoying the amazing sunsets.

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Unfortunately for some people, locals and tourists, the desert is also a huge waste... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

Unfortunately for some people, locals and tourists, the desert is also a huge waste... :(


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Posted by manolo84 00:19 Archived in Peru Tagged oasis desert sand english dunes Comments (0)

Santa Cruz Trek

semi-overcast 16 °C
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After spending then a few days in Huaraz and after having climbed to the Laguna 69 (see previous post), I wanted to take on a bigger challenge. There are several famous treks near Huaraz which range from 3 to 10 days treks but given the time of the year (mid-October), setting for a long trek would have meant that I would have certainly had to experience some rain and cloudy landscapes at some point.

Apparently one of the best treks is called the Huayhuash trek (some people even say it's one of the best treks in the world!) and it's a 10 days hike with guide, porters and cook but as I said, I didn't have much time and was concerned by the weather so this will be for another trip...

Therefore I set my choice on a trek called Santa Cruz, which is a 3 nights - 4 days trek, starting from 3900 meters, going up to 4700 meters and which is quite popular among the backpackers coming to Huaraz. The trail is not the hardest in the area but you still get amazing sceneries, a mix of high-peaks mountains, forests, lakes and more... You can obviously do this trek with an agency (which includes guide, mules to carry your stuff and cook) but for one reason (personal challenge?) I decided to do it on my own after renting all the equipment I was missing (tent, mattress and stove). It would also mean that I would have to carry all my food but 4 days was still manageable (I don't imagine the weight of the backpack if you carry food for 10 days...).

  • Day 1

So after buying a map, a bus ticket and all the food required (I think my backpack was between 15 to 20 kg), I started at 6.30am on a local bus which would take me to Vaqueria, a small village where the start of the trail is. The bus journey was actually a bit long (4 hours) and arduous as we would cross the Portachuelo Llanganuco pass, a narrow road overlooking the mountains, which was sometimes a bit scary. Fortunately thanks to the driver's skills, we made it in one piece (I guess even him didn't want to die!) and reached Vaqueria around 11.30am. When I say "we", I also include a young German couple who like me, had decided to trek with all their gear, without going through an agency.

We then started together by first going down a slope until reaching a river and then going up on the other side of the valley. That is when you realise that carrying a big and heavy backpack makes a big difference on your pace. But whatever, I was already acclimatised to the altitude and wasn't experiencing any breathing issues which can happen from 3000 meters and above, so with a steady pace, I left the German couple behind as they were struggling a bit more, and reached the first campsite called Paria around 3.40pm after having walked for about 4 hours, including a 45 minute break to eat a bit.

As for the water, as many of you might ask how to carry enough water for 4 days, well there are plenty of streams and rivers to fill up your water bottle so that's not really a problem. The only thing is that you need some kind of purifier system, either a water purifier pump or purifier pills (which I had) so basically you fill up your bottle whilst making sure there are no debris or particulate matters, add one pill and wait 10-15min before drinking it. I have to say that I actually quite enjoyed doing this, as it gives you a feeling of living from the nature and forces you to manage your water carefully in order to always have enough water with you.

With a bit of hindsight, I think this first day was the perfect warm-up for the rest of the trek: not too hard, not too easy and not too long. I was the first person at the campsite so I started to find a space to pitch my tent for the night but after an hour or less, other people, around 8 or 9, who were doing the same trek (but through an agency with mules and guides) arrived and started also to pitch their tent just around mine... Actually it was their guides and mules' drivers who set the tent for them whilst the other tourists were resting. I think I had become a bit snob at that point and had thoughts like "these guys are just lazy" or "they invade my personal space"... but after a while I decided not to pay attention to them anymore and started to chat with the Germans who by that time had also reached the camp.

Afterwards, I have to say that my first cooking experience when trekking would have been a success, if it were not for the f****** midges (small flies) which kept crashing and dying in my pastas. But I guess all that is part of the adventure... Anyway after this full day and a last coca tea, I went back to my tent and turned off the light at the earliest time I can remember going to sleep: 7.30pm! But a hard day was awaiting me the next day so I had better to get some rest.

Views from the bus to Vaqueria

Views from the bus to Vaqueria


Let's go!

Let's go!


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Friendly mules around...

Friendly mules around...


Alpaca (cousin of the lama) resting

Alpaca (cousin of the lama) resting


Finally the first camp!

Finally the first camp!


So much for being "all alone"... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

So much for being "all alone"... :(

  • Day 2

Waking up at 6am and after having a small breakfast, I folded my tent and started again on the trail around 7.45am (yes I like taking my time in the morning). The first part of the trail, during the first hour, would go up slowly then would gradually become harder and harder until reaching the Punta Union pass, at a height of 4750 meters. The last 500 meters were incredibly steep but keeping my steady pace, I was pleasantly surprised to catch up with the other tourists who were not carrying anything on their back. From the first camp, it had taken me 4 hours exactly to climb up so not a bad achievement at all.

The views at the pass were literally breathtaking and after taking a few shots, I decided to find a quiet spot away from the pass and away from the other tourists to have lunch. I think because I had decided to do this trek alone, I suddenly had become an antisocial being and was sulking about people who were spoiling "my" mountains... ;) Actually I think I was lucky as October is not that busy and apart from this group and the German couple, I would only meet a few locals or shepherds guiding their cattle. I don't want to imagine what the trail looks like in the high-season but I'm sure I wouldn't have liked being surrounded by hordes of tourists.

On my map, the indications were saying that the total amount of time to reach the next campsite that day was 7 hours, so after resting for an hour, I resumed my walk down to the other side of the pass (a lot more easy surprisingly... :p ) but reached the camp after only one and a half hour, ahead of the schedule, around 2.30pm. I could have carried on to the campsite of the Alpamayo, located less than 2 hours away, but at that time I didn't know it and also didn't have the exact location of all the campsites on my map so I decided to find a desert spot to pitch my tent, to avoid the situation experienced the night before. So that time I was really alone in the emptiness of the Santa Cruz valley, except for the occasional cow or horse wandering around (actually it was quite hard to find a flat spot to pitch a tent which wasn't covered by cattle's shit... not very pleasant...). Later that day when wandering around the valley (I had time to kill until diner), I would meet the German couple (for the last time) and learn that they had taken 2 hours more to reach the pass earlier on. They seemed really tired and were probably not expecting the hike to be so difficult.

And later on when starting to make diner, the weather which had been so far a mix between blue sky and big white clouds worsened a bit and drizzling and hail made their appearances. Not really annoying, except when you are trying to cook and have nowhere except your tent to hide and eat. But once again, this is part of the adventure...

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Yes! Finally at the pass!

Yes! Finally at the pass!


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This mountain is known to have inspired the logo of the Paramount pictures company

This mountain is known to have inspired the logo of the Paramount pictures company


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Second camp!

Second camp!


Finally alone, and with a rainbow in the background

Finally alone, and with a rainbow in the background

  • Day 3

The comments on my map said that this day was also a 7 hours walk to the next campsite, like the previous day (which had actually taken me 5 and a half hours) so I was assuming that it would be the same this day again. Leaving then around 8am, I started in direction of the Alpamayo basecamp which was actually a detour from the trail in order to see a superb lake and the surrounding peaks, weather permitting.

I realise that I have mentioned the Alpamayo peak a few times already but haven't explained what this mountain is:

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Quoting wikipedia, the Alpamayo (in hispanicised spelling), Allpamayu (Quechua allpa earth, mayu river, "earth river") is one of the most conspicuous peaks in the Cordillera Blanca of the Peruvian Andes. It is named after the river Allpamayu which originates Northwest of it. It is a steep (sixty degrees), almost perfect pyramid of ice, one of a number of peaks that compose the Pukarahu massif, the northernmost massif of the Cordillera Blanca. Although smaller than many of its neighbouring peaks, it is distinguished by its unusual formation and overwhelming beauty. It actually has two sharp summits, North and South, separated by a narrow corniced ridge.

On July 1966, on the German magazine "Alpinismus", a photo made by American photographer Leigh Ortenburger, came together with an article resulting from an international survey among climbers, photographers, etc., making the choice for Alpamayo as "The Most Beautiful Mountain in the World".

It is also to note that climbing this peak can be quite dangerous (proper mountaineering gear needed) as two Peruvian guides died last May trying to do the technical climb: link.

That being said, I wasn't going to try to climb it, but just access to the glacial Laguna Arhuaycocha (4420 m) before going back down to the valley and the third campsite, Llamacorral.

It took me actually 2 hours and a half to reach that Laguna, time when some drizzle also started and clouds hid the peaks. Being a bit frustrated by the lack of sight, I decided to wait a bit in the hope that after an hour or so, the clouds would clear up, which is what happened partly, because I could see pretty much all the high peaks around me, except for the Alpamayo.... Anyway, time had now come to go down if I wanted to reach Llamacorral in time. Going down was definitely easier and I started with a fast pace, going through different lakes in the valley. Actually before the first lake, I had to cross a desert which can seem quite odd here, but the story is that back in March 2012, a combination of heavy rains and an avalanche created a massive landslide in the Santa Cruz valley, starting in the corridor between the Nevado Artesonraju and Nevado Paria mounts and sweeping down the valley. The hillsides were ripped away, the Rio Santa was diverted, and the once steep-sided Santa Cruz valley was filled with millions of tons of rock and earth. However now, this valley looks really like a desert, and you can even find skulls of animals...

So after crossing that desert and walking along 2 different lakes, Laguna Jatuncocha and Laguna Ichicocha, I arrived at the third campsite LLamacorral quite late actually, around 4.30pm. The walk had been mainly flat for the last hours but even with a good pace, there was quite a distance to cover. Physically, my legs and feet were still ok and I could have carried on for a while if it were not for my back which had started to be painful towards the end. I'm not sure if it was my backpack which wasn't the best or just me not spreading the weight appropriately in it, but all that to said that I was really glad to reach the campsite that day. I was also a bit surprised not to see the German couple in the camp as I thought they had skipped the detour to the Alpamayo basecamp and the lake Arhuaycocha and would have been there already but maybe they had pushed further down the trail and were camping somewhere else. Anyway I just had enough time to pitch my tent and make dinner before the rain started once again. And when rushing in my tent to eat, I find myself with the outside zip in my hand, with the tent halfway closed. Well I wasn't going to try to repair it now with the rain and take the risk to leave the tent completely opened for the rest of the night, so I decided to finish my dinner and go to sleep immediately... 6.30pm, another early night....

I am the king of the mountains!! <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

I am the king of the mountains!! :)


Laguna Arhuaycocha

Laguna Arhuaycocha

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My contribution to this trail, a little cairn

My contribution to this trail, a little cairn

Crossing the desert

Crossing the desert

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Finally reaching the last camp, my back was definitely happy about that!

Finally reaching the last camp, my back was definitely happy about that!

Looks a bit dark from where I came from... and it's coming!

Looks a bit dark from where I came from... and it's coming!

  • Day 4

The last day of this trek was more a formality really, with the path going down gradually with some steep parts, but after less than 3 hours, I could reach the end of the trail and the first village, Cashapampa. It was 11.30am and I was just on time to catch one of the last colectivos to Caraz. But before that, and I think I definitely had deserved it, I got myself a cold beer and looked back on those amazing few days I had spent in the wilderness. Another colectivo later, I would reach back Huaraz around 2pm.

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The end of the trail!

The end of the trail!

  • Summary

To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect when going alone on this trek, and how I would react, but with some hindsight this was probably one of my best experience so far in this round-the-world trip. Just being alone in the wild is an adventure I would recommend to everyone, as you are not relying on anyone else, with the only condition being to be fit and already acclimatised to the altitude. And that is definitely something I would try to do again, now that I know better how much food is needed, how to spread the weight in my backpack, etc...
Besides I think I got relatively lucky with the weather given the time of the year as it would mainly be sunny during the day, allowing me to see all the mountains around, and only really cloudy and rainy (and windy) during the late afternoons and evenings.

Posted by manolo84 23:25 Archived in Peru Tagged mountains nature english treks Comments (5)

Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca

Laguna 69 Trek


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While the Himalaya gets all the attention when it comes to high-altitude trekking, Peru's Cordillera Blanca offers the solitude of big mountains with far less people than in Asia. It's also a less-crowded alternative to the hordes headed to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. The mountains take precedence here—the Cordillera Blanca are one of the most concentrated collections of big peaks in the Western Hemisphere, with 33 summits topping 5500 meters and 16 over 6000 meters, including 6768 meters Huascarán, the highest mountain in Peru, all squeezed into a 21 km-wide, 180 km-long corridor.

Having heard of all these features, I arrived on the 6th of October in Huaraz, at 3050 meters, the biggest city located near the Huascarán National Park (a UNESCO nature world heritage site) where many visitors from around the world arrive to the city to practise outdoors sports like climbing, hiking, snowboarding and also to visit the glaciers and mountains of the Cordillera Blanca.

Needless to say that at this altitude, you need at least a few days to acclimatise so before embarking for any challenging treks, I decided to do a one-day trek to visit the Laguna 69 and spend a few days in Huaraz wandering around the city. This trek wasn't too challenging as only 2,5 hours were needed to go up and 2 to go down, but we were rewarded by fantastic views and a lake of pure blue waters.

Here are a few pictures of the trek:

View of the Cordillera Blanca, from the bus

View of the Cordillera Blanca, from the bus


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The Pisco mountain is one of the famous climbs in the area

The Pisco mountain is one of the famous climbs in the area


Lots of cows around the trail, some are peaceful, some...well... better not to angry them!

Lots of cows around the trail, some are peaceful, some...well... better not to angry them!

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Laguna 69 in sight!

Laguna 69 in sight!


So blue....

So blue....


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At an altitude of 4400m, you're quickly out of breath when going up...

At an altitude of 4400m, you're quickly out of breath when going up...


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Waterfall   Sun = Great pictures

Waterfall + Sun = Great pictures


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Some crazy people jumping into the frozen water... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Some crazy people jumping into the frozen water... ;)


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Better be careful with the cows when their calves are around...

Better be careful with the cows when their calves are around...


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Posted by manolo84 14:35 Archived in Peru Tagged mountains lakes nature english treks Comments (3)

Jungle Trek to El Mirador

(English version)

semi-overcast 30 °C
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Here is a post which I meant to post back in August, from Guatemala, but it actually took me more time that I thought...
I am also planning to translate it in french soon so hang on there french readers! (I don't have the time actually...)

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During my time in Mexico, I made some researches on the internet to know about the best treks to do in Central America and came across the ruins of El Mirador in the Guatemalan jungle. El Mirador was actually discovered a long time ago (I think in the 20´s) but the actual restoration work only started in the 80's and slowly, because of the lack of money (as usual). And in a way it is a shame because El Mirador is probably the biggest and one of the earliest Maya settlements in America, with the biggest pyramid in the world (according to National Geographic).

So this was my main goal when reaching Flores in Guatemala, first to find out if doing this trek was still possible (because we were in the rainy season) and if it was, to find a group to go with as it is more complicated and more expensive to go alone (and not as much fun).

After visiting Tikal and El Remate, I then arrived in the hostel Los Amigos and started straight away to chat with a Dutch guy sitting in the lounge area. And after exchanging our names and chatting a bit about our travels, he told me that he also was considering trekking to El Mirador in the next days. I had found my first trekking companion, Jeroen. And apparently Jeroen had been talking during the last days with a German guy travelling with his mother, who were also looking for people to join them to El Mirador. And that's how in less than an hour, we had a group of four: Jeroen, Lars and Maria.

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Time had now come to find out about prices and when we could start.

There are several tour agencies in Flores offering packages to trek to El Mirador, and the average price for a 5 days trek is about 250$ US, so not that cheap. Searching after reviews on the internet, we found out that the situation in Carmelita, the village from which all the treks depart, is quite complex. I will try to explain this in another post if I get the time but basically the locals are fighting a bit to be the only ones to guide tourists in the jungle, as this is a good business for them. So after going back and forth between agencies, we finally booked a 6 days trek (which avoids going back the same way you took and make you do a loop) for a total cost of 235$ US, which I think is one of the best deal we could find. It would possibly have been cheaper a year ago but these days, the prices for services have risen a bit.

And in the meantime, we had found (or rather we were found by) a new companion, who had heard us talking in the hostel about the trek. Joël, from Quebec, would be our last companion and our fantastic group was now complete, ready to battle through the jungle with the mosquitoes, jaguars and all the other ferocious animals the jungle has to offer... ;)

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  • The Trek

The dry season being from January until May, starting our trek in the end of July meant that we would really be in the middle of the rainy season, and for this reason we decided to buy gumboots at the local market before leaving. As I said before, doing the 6 days version of the trek meant that we would be walking for two days before reaching El Mirador, then spend a full day around the site, talking with the archaeologists and seeing their most recent work, then carrying on walking for 3 more days to see other ruins before reaching back Carmelita on the morning of the 6th day.

  • Day 1 - 4 hours walk - 18km

Starting from Flores at 5am, we boarded the unique bus which goes to Carmelita, the last village before the jungle, and after a 3 hours bumpy journey and 2 different control points, we reached Carmelita in the morning and met our guide, cook and said hello to the lovely mules which would be carrying our bags. The first problem occurred when the local organisation which takes care of the trip, "la Cooperativa" told us that we had too much things to carry and that we didn't have enough mules to do so. Apparently they had contacted back the tour agency from which we had booked the trek but the only response they had received was to find a solution which doesn't involve more money (so no additional mules)... Nice...
Anyway after a little while the solution found was to take as much stuff we could with ourselves in our backpacks and that more food would be sent during the middle of the trip through another way.

Then we were on our way, Juan Carlos our guide leading the group through a small path filled in with mosquitoes, and clearing branches and other plants with his machete. It took us about 4 hours and a litre and a half of water each to reach the site of El Tintal where we would first camp.

El Tintal, which is the second largest city in the Maya World, lies then halfway between El Mirador and Carmelita. These two sites are linked through a 20 km long causeway, "la Caretera Maya". Tintal has monumental ruins scattered densely over a 9 km2 area, with at least 850 large structures up to 50m in height. What is surprising about the settlement pattern is that the civic centre is completely surrounded by an artificial moat of 2.2km long, 15m wide and 8 metres deep at places.

  • Day 2 - 6 hours - 21km

On day 2, after a big breakfast cooked by our cook Doña Marta, we started early (6am) following the ancient Mayan highway (unfortunately still not cleared and completely recovered by the trees and mud) and reached El Mirador after 6 hours of walking. It was not a surprise after my trip in the Peruvian jungle 2 years ago, but I still have to say that it is quite impressive to see these clouds of mosquitoes following us, all craving for fresh blood... So the goal was to never stop and carry on until we could reach our final destination (the mosquitoes are slow...).

In the process we passed through the complex of La Muerta (The Death) , an archaeological site which received its name from the chicleros some years ago following the sad death of the cook that accompanied them, bitten by a snake and far from any help... It is found approximately 3.5 km south of the encampment of El Mirador.

  • Day 3 - El Mirador visit

That day, we spent it relaxing our legs and visiting the different structures of El Mirador and the biggest pyramid in the world, la Danta. I have uploaded a few pictures and diagrams which you can see below (more in the gallery section).

The archaeological site of El Mirador includes La Danta, El Tigre, Los Monos, León, Tres Micos and Guacamaya Complex (group), the Great Central Acropolis and dozens of other smaller groups and structures. The monumental architectural constructions are accompanied by numerous homes scattered through the center of each site and other remote regions. The epicentre of the site is composed of the groups Eastern, Western and Los Cruces, covering an approximate area of 2.07 km2.

The Great Plaza of La Danta is one of the largest plazas in the entire Maya region, measuring up to 300 x 200 m. Unfortunately unlike Tikal, the excavation and restoration work is slower (always a money issue) and the entire site is still under trees and ground. I could give you more information about the size and all the work which has been achieved in El Mirador but if you are interested, the best is to check this website (ElMiradorHike) and download the pdf document (on the right - "the hike") which is very complete.

As a reward for our efforts, we ended that day by going to the top of the other pyramid (El Tigre) and watching the stars and the milky way around a bottle of rum (two things which were not allowed apparently, drinking and climbing in the dark...) :)

  • Day 4 - 3 hours - 10km

Starting another time early, this walk was quite easy compared to the other day (only 3 hours on a pretty much flat surface). I was just letting my buddies clearing out the path and getting all the spiders and cobwebs in their face... :)
So around 10am, we reached another site called Nakbé. This is probably one of the oldest Mayan site ever discovered and is also massive in size (but the pyramids are not as tall as the ones of El Mirador). We ended up spending the day going around the site (not much has been cleared and restored yet unfortunately) and trying to provoke the few howler monkeys which were around us and definitely not happy to find us in "their" territory.

  • Day 5 - 10 hours - 28km

This day was probably the toughest of all, starting early and still with our hiking shoes, we soon ended up in a very muddy area which was really hard to go through. It had rained a bit the day before and some parts of the track were really wet and even flooded. At first we were trying to avoid the mud and walk on the side of the track, but it quickly became clear that it wouldn't be enough and at that point I think all of us regretted not to have taken our gum boots which were travelling behind, on the mules... Anyway we all became wet with water above our ankles (or more) but after a while, with the warm weather, everything dried up quickly.

The other annoying things were the mosquitoes that day. Usually it would be fine as when you walk, they are mainly following you and are not really a bother. But that time for lunch, we had to stop in a clearing and mosquitoes were waiting for us to have their "lunch" as well... :)

Resuming our walk with some more bites then, it took us a total of 10 hours to reach the camp called La Florida, a small Mayan settlement with a few houses. I think our feet were definitely happy that the walk didn't last any longer!

  • Day 6 - 2 hours - 10km

Finally, our last day was quite an easy one. Waking up once again early, we started our walk by exploring the few ruins from the complex La Florida (a few Mayan houses) and then walked back in direction of Carmelita. The whole walk would take us around 2 hours and I can assure you that we were really glad to see the village and get ourselves a cold beer, well deserved!

  • Summary

This whole trek was definitely testing our fitness level and although not difficult technically, the conditions (high temperature, humidity, mosquitoes) made any walk quite a challenge. But at the end of each day we were rewarded by more ruins or pyramids and we also got to talk and share with archaeologists along the way, thing that you can hardly do when you visit other Mayan sites which are already fully or more than partially restored. The fact that there are very few tourists along the way (probably a group or two every day maximum, sometimes none) made that trek also special and off the beaten track of the traditional tourist trail.

The whole ruins are amazing (even though you definitely need a good dose of imagination to figure out how the whole thing looked like thousand years ago, when everything was all cleared, without the trees) and I would recommend it for any aficionado of Maya ruins who wants more than just a simple guided tour. This is really what you will get by trekking to El Mirador, a real feel of the Mayan culture and architecture.

The only negative points I would have would be concerning the organisation of the trek:

Firstly, we felt let down by our tour agency (Mayan princess) who basically left us on our own to deal with any issues which would arise (like the lack of a mule in the beginning to transport our bags) and who were really keen to sign us up for this trek at a certain price (235 US$) but once they realised that they would not have enough people to make a good margin out of us, were trying to make us pay more although the price had already been agreed upon long ago.

Secondly, the situation in Carmelita between the Cooperativa who now organises the treks and the independent guides and families who used to do the same for years is not healthy. Carmelita is a small village full of rivalry or so it seems and the fact that they cannot come to an arrangement between themselves makes that the tourists (us) are being caught in the middle and don't who is right and who is wrong. As someone said before on another blog (see link on the side), there is probably no one who understands perfectly the present situation in Carmelita and this makes it hard to support the local economy of this tiny village, even with the best will in the world. I just hope that the situation will clear up and that everyone will be able to work in good conditions in the future.

3D radar image of the La Danta structure (Mirador Basin Project, 2006

3D radar image of the La Danta structure (Mirador Basin Project, 2006

Our fantastic group, Juan Carlos, Joel, Jeroen, Lars, Maria and myself.

Our fantastic group, Juan Carlos, Joel, Jeroen, Lars, Maria and myself.

The Danta pyramid

The Danta pyramid

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More pictures in the gallery section here.

Posted by manolo84 17:01 Archived in Guatemala Tagged ruins jungle english pyramids treks mayas Comments (9)

From Quito to Huaraz by bus


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This time here is a post which differs a bit from the others as this is mainly an informational post for people who want to travel from Ecuador to Peru at a lower cost. I was looking for this type of advices myself when I was in Quito and wanted to go directly to Huaraz in Peru, but at the time there was only little information available on the internet. So here is the summary of my journey:

  • Quito to Guayaquil: 8 hours - 11$

I was originally planning to go straight to Huaquillas but someone recommended to go first to Guayaquil as there is a huge bus terminal there and it's easy to hop on any bus and compare the prices of the different companies.

I therefore went from Quito to Guayaquil for 11$ (8 hours) with Panamericana buses and left Quito in the Friday evening (10pm) to arrive in Guayaquil around 6am the next day.

  • Guayaquil to Piura: 12 hours - 10$

In the beginning my plan was to cross the border myself by stopping on the Ecuadorian side, getting my passport stamped, finding a taxi to cross the border and getting my passport stamped on the Peruvian side. From the lonely planet and other reviews I could read online, this border crossing is apparently the most dangerous or the most painful as it is frequent that taxis try to scam you (taking you somewhere else to take your money) or that fake policemen do the same.

outside-peru-customs.jpg

So the best was for me to book a bus which would stop at the immigration points, wait for me to get my passport stamped, and then carry on into Peru. I therefore booked a CIFA bus to Tumbes (Peruvian town near the border) for 10$ leaving at 7.20am (so only had to wait 1 hour in Guayaquil), and the bus stopped outside Huaquillas for the immigration (both Ecuadorian and Peruvian), then carried on to Tumbes.

That is actually what has changed recently. I believe the Ecuadorian and Peruvian authorities became aware of the problems at the border and decided intelligently to gather the immigration points in Huaquillas, which means that you also get the Peruvian stamped there, thus avoiding another stop on the other side of the border.

Carrying on, at Tumbes I went off the bus, got my bag and started to ask for other buses to Trujillo, but I was told that actually my bus was continuing after Tumbes until Piura, which was a better spot to hop on other buses. So I went back to my bus and left at Piura (without paying extra which was nice). The whole journey Guayaquil to Piura was quite long as in total from Guayaquil it took us 12 hours, arriving in Piura around 7pm.

With a bit of hindsight, I think the best is to take a bus directly to Huaquillas (like Panamericana) and find the CIFA bus station to hop on the same bus I took from Guayaquil. We were in Huaquillas around 11am-12pm so make sure you arrive early and you will save a few hours and probably a few dollars as well.

  • Piura to Chimbote: 10 hours - 35 soles

Then from Piura I took a taxi (5 soles) to the Chichay Suyo agency (as I was told they were the only ones going to Huaraz) and but found out that actually there weren't any direct bus to Huaraz and that instead I had to go to Chimbote (which is located after Trujillo) for 35 soles (10 hours). The bus wasn't the best (no space for legs, a bit smelly and making stops all the time) but I think you can take Itzza buses which are more comfortable for about the same price. We then left Piura at 10.30pm and arrived next morning at 7.30am.

  • Chimbote to Huaraz: 5 hours - 20 soles

The Chimbote bus terminal is quite big (a bit like Guayaquil) so it's easy to find a bus to your next destination. As soon as I arrived, I started to look for bus departing soon to Huaraz (I was thinking that I might as well get over with the whole journey as quickly as I could) and managed to find one with Alas Peruanas leaving immediately (for 20 soles)! So no time for coffee or breakfast unfortunately and we were on our way to Huaraz, where I would arrive 5 hours later, at 1pm.

So to sum up this was quite a long journey but the bus times worked perfectly as I only had to wait 1 hour in Guayaquil and 3 hours in Piura. The total bus time was then 35 hours for a price of about 43 US$. I think I saved a lot doing things that way rather than taking an expensive Ormeño bus (which are going daily from Quito to Trujillo for about 80US$). I was going to Huaraz but if you go to Lima, you can find bus services to the capital in both Piura and Chimbote as well so not really an issue there.

The only thing you need to be aware now when planning to cross the border, is that both the Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are wrong as you do not need to go to Peru to get your passport stamped, it all happens in one place now (as mentioned above).

View of a Peruvian canyon from my bus window

View of a Peruvian canyon from my bus window

Posted by manolo84 09:40 Archived in Ecuador Tagged buses english immigration Comments (0)

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