Saturday, September 21

Peru, Day Six: Colca and the Trek to Llahuar

Although we had already experienced a Peruvian trek earlier this week (on the Inca Trail), the fact that we knew it was a) for a single day and b) well trodden convinced us to try something a bit more... involved later in the trip. And so that's why we had ended up here, in the Colca Canyon, hoping to stay out in the wilderness for three days and two nights.

Before the trekking proper however, we had some of the tourist trail to clear up. We made two stops on the way to Cabanaconde - first in Maca, a small village (and to be honest I'm not actually sure why we stopped here, but it was quaint) and the second at the Mirador Cruz del Cóndor where we were lucky enough to see some fantastic birds in flight.

Cabanaconde is another small village that serves as the starting point for most of the more popular Colca circuits. This choice enabled us to keep things flexible until we arrived, but after talking to a very helpful tourist guide we finally decided on what was known as the "second hardest" loop (the hardest being doing the same loop but in reverse). Needless to say, we felt pretty fit and confident at that point.

The hike was great. The views didn't disappoint, and the journey itself was quite special, both physically and mentally. For me the experience was already much better than what we walked on the Inca trail and apart from being able to say "we did it" our first day in Colca alone would have made a perfect substitute for anyone's trekking needs in Peru.

Four hours and 10km later, and we were in the natural hot pools of Llahuar Lodge, waiting for both dinner and electricity to be served. It was bliss, and came close to the feeling I got on islands like Koh Rong or Ile Aux Nattes.

That said, there were differences. After a few games of Coup the lodge pretty much took an early night and was dead by 9:30pm. This felt a bit anti-climatic until I realised the biggest difference between a trek like this and the islands - this trip is demands a whole lot of hard, hard work: and by virtue of being in the middle of nowhere there was much more to come.

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