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South America 2016: Day 09 (Peru 09): Nov 30

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Of course, we’re a bit slow to pack up and go. We leave around 4:20 instead for the 3hr drive to the starting point. Nap. 

Just the 3 of us for this 2d1n trek, so we have a lot of freedom and leeway as to where we could go and where we could spend our time. 

Unlike the 1 day tour, we go around to see the glacier and ice covered mountain summit, back down to a camp, then a trek that approaches the Rainbow mountain from the front before traveling back. The 1 day goes mainly uphill and approaches from the side. 

As we get to our breakfast spot, the first thing we notice… ALPACAS! So fluffy. All over the place. And so much alpaca poo. After breakfast, we drive up another 5 minutes or so and meet our horses! I didn’t want to get them at first, but I was convinced and luckily so after that challenging Inca Trail and the higher altitude. 

The altitude starts higher than Dead Woman’s Pass of the Inca Trail. It definitely affected my breathing and pace. Riding the horses whenever we can, the altitude still hits me on any part that we had to get off the horse due to steepness or water or just to give them a break. I took my sweet time going uphill.

Since it was just the three of us, we strayed off the path a bit to the peak of some other red hills. After some photoshoots and rests, we make our way up. I’m going slowly. We leave our horses behind to graze. Up up up. Our horse guides accompany us up as well, arriving much earlier than we do, of course.

At a rest point, Ovaldina, one of our horse guides, signals to us, and we look up at the hill. A small herd of Picuna! They are rarer to see, and afraid of everything, so we were told to keep quiet. They traveled the peak and off into that distance. 

As I crawl up to reach the first peak, the view sneaks up on me. Amazing. The snow, ice, lagoons, so white, but like everything, slowly melting. 5150m altitude, oh man. I can feel it. Taking it in, taking a lot pictures, and exploring just a little bit, it’s time to go downhill! The fun part. 

We tighten our boots and we go! Sliding, running, zigzagging, downhill is so fast and so much sand got into our boots. We make our way back to the horses and continue on to our campsite. 

The small village of Anata. Looks like a lot of Alpaca farming. Flashpacker Connect actually employs a lot of locals, so Ovaldina actually lived close by. When they aren’t farming or shepparding, they would also be horse guides, etc. Our tents were setup and we settled in a bit and napped after lunch. We introduced ourselves and we met our crew. Our chef, from Ollantaytambo, I forgot his name. Edison, 19, one of our horse guides. Victorio, 20, our porter. Ovaldina, 36, also a horse guide. 

By this time, I had a pretty bad headache. From the altitude most likely, and we were hoping a nap would help. And by the time it was time for dinner… Nope. 

Dinnertime. We were joined by a local kid, 12. I took a pill to help, as well as a couple of minutes of pure oxygen from a tank and mask. I think it helped..? Then we all played UNO, after Noah taught them all how to play. Lots of fun. The group of them stayed up a bit later to play a couple more games. 5am wakeup. 

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