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Cam & Suz’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 21 Jun 2005

Location: Cuzco, Peru

MapAfter bidding farewell to Karen it was back on the overnight bus to Arequipa again (sorry to say Karen, this bus only took 14 hours). Arequipa is one of our favourite cities in Peru, a very nice "tranquilo" feel to it. Our agenda for our last couple of weeks in Peru was two more decent hikes. We set off for the Canyon del Colca, the 2nd deepest canyon in the world and it certainly felt like it due to the large gains and losses in altitude and the dusty and rocky terrain. After the steep decent into the valley floor (which saw a couple of tears!) we then had the very long 3700m ascent to the pass of 5100m. Along the way we went through incredibly remote villages. We enjoyed the hospitality of the locals cooking us dinner and slept in a very dusty room which was also the meat (and probably everything else) storage room. On day 6 as we hobbled into the final village some locals invited us in as they prepared for a "fiesta" which was in a couple of days time. The fiesta seemed to have already begun as they merrily stirred the traditional alcoholic "chicha" drink in big drums over a fire... which of course we were obliged to try.... not exactly what we were craving after 6 days of hiking! As our bus left the village and precariously climbed the narrow switchbacks of the mountain our eyes were glued to the window. We pondered life (and how quickly it could end!) but just how rare our experience had been and how lucky we are.
After such remoteness, we hit the internet and were happily typing away when the room shook like we were in a subway - just one issue, Arequipa has no subway. We realised that we were in our first earthquake...5.6 on the richterscale. The epicentre was about 300km away on the border of Peru and Chile which was a staggering 8.9 on richterscale!
After gorging ourselves on pancakes, giving our feet a rest and a much enjoyed chat to our folks, we were ready for the last Peruvian trek - Ausangate Circuit, a 5 day hike around Mt Ausangate. The hike was all above 4700m with 2 passes over 5000m which made it very scenic but also very very very very cold!! Sue is feeling very proud to have survived a night in the tent at about -15 degrees with ice on the INSIDE of the tent!
We leave Peru in a couple of days bound for Bolivia. We have loved this country - especially the hiking.... and of course Jacks cafe (a slice of heaven in Cuzco!)