The title says it all.
We just finished a 4 day trek in Santa Cruz Valley, Peru, having started from the city of Huaraz which sits approximtaley 3,100 metres above sea level in the Peruvian Andes.
Without hesitation, I can say it was the best thing I have ever done and the scenery was the most spectacular I think I'll ever see. Having already done tours in Colca Canyon and Grand Canyon it is some feat, but I am adamant in my exclamation! Check out my images and videos on Facebook and you'll see what I mean.
The altitude was the first obstacle to overcome - on the first day alone we reached heights of over 4,800 metres above sea level. Just walking and breathing were a challenge whilst my body was still aclimatising. Our walk started with an ascent for approximately 1 hour and it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest! The lack of oxygen in the air means your heart has to work much harder to pump the blood around to afford your organs the oxygen they need to function. Luckily I had a piano with me so there was no promblem there.
We arrived at our camp approx. 5 hours later and our tents had already been set up by the young chap who was guiding the donkeys that carried our equipment. Within half an hour lunch was being served and I was amazed at how resourceful the guides were with limited cooking facilities and ingredients - the food was always fresh, filling and nutritious.
Day two was the hardest slog in the world, ever - official! We ascended 1,100 metres up to 4,700 metres above sea level via a rocky path, avoiding bad tempered bulls (well, slightly agrieved) and the occasional donkey. I took my pulse at one point and it was over 140 bpm! I have come to realise I love hard challenges - there is a very fine line between be exhausted and ecstatic I believe. When we finally reached the pass through the mountains the views were breathtaking.
By days three and four my chicken legs had grown meagre amounts of muscle and my poor heart has started to aclimatise so the walking became easier - I am a machine!! The scenery continued to delight and we had so much fun. At one point were were transcending a valley that was criss-crossed by small rivers, and I took it upon myself to cross them long-jump style. I duly obliged to entertain the group and fall arse-over tit into mud (and possibly horse shit).
Our group was fantastic - a German, an Italian, an American, 2 French (yes, they ate garlic) and two Peruvians. And yes, of course, I was the most handsome!!
We head to Ecuador tonight and then after 2 weeks to Colombia - WHERE HAS ALL THE TIME GONE??!
Ciao for now.