Another Day With the Asses

August 2, 2007
Day 673
Choquequirao-Machu Picchu Trek Day 5

Stats for the Day: 600 meters up, 1000 down, a relatively easy day.

Picture of river.

The river we followed on the way down.

With donkeys carrying our stuff once again this morning, the walking was easy. We followed the Victoria River upstream along a gentle slope that led us up about 600 meters. We were surrounded by the Vilcabamba mountains the entire time. The tour group left before us because all they had to do was wake up and eat the breakfast that had already been cooked for them, but we soon caught up and passed them. They walked unbelievably slowly considering that they never stopped to talk to anyone.

We still had one more pass to cover on our trek, and for the first time, the weather wasn't cooperating. By the time we got to the final steep part before the pass, the weather had abruptly changed from hot and sunny to freezing and foggy. I couldn't see anything on the way up, so I just trusted that I was on the right trail. Near the top I began shivering because my cold weather gear was all packed away on the donkey. At the top, the friendly muleteers told us to continue for a bit to the lunch site so we could get out of the cold.

While Chantelle and I ate lunch, the muleteers put up the warm eating tent for the tour group, who began strolling in just as we were ready to leave. The Italian guy talked to us a bit more, but the rest of them just went into the tent and never emerged, despite the fact that the fog began clearing and providing us with another great view. The tourists were the only thing colder than the weather that day. We continued before them and never saw them again.

We had another few hours of walking ahead of us to get to the bottom of the latest valley. Luckily it was an easy walk through more beautiful scenery. Several times we saw what appeared to be either ruins or just abandoned houses. Sometimes the definition of "ruin" is gray. By 4:00 we were in Totoro, a little village where there tour group would be stopping for the night. The entire place was covered with manure, and there were barking dogs, crowing roosters, and oinking pigs everywhere, so we quickly grabbed our backpacks and moved on.

After two more hours of walking downhill, we got to the point where our trek met with the much more popular Salkantay trek. There were a few paths to choose from, but it looked like we'd have a good campsite below us. A blond girl with a guide walked up a path toward us and looked excited to talk to us. Here's how the conversation went:

Girl: "There are some amazing hot springs down there that are exactly thirty-eight degrees Celsius (100 F)."

Chantelle: "Oh, so you went swimming?"

Girl: "No, I just walked down to look at them." (Not spoken sarcastically.)

Chantelle: "Which way to Machu Picchu?"

Girl: "I don't know."

Chantelle: "Which trek are you doing?"

Girl: "I can't remember the name." (How can you not even know which trek you're on?)

Chantelle: "Is it Salkantay?"

Girl: "Hmmm, sounds familiar. Is that the one you're doing?" (Oh man this girl's dumb.)

Chantelle: "No, I think that's the one you're doing."

Me: "So which direction did you come from today?"

Girl: "I don't know."

Me: "And where are you going now?"

Girl: "I don't know."

Me: "OK, thanks for the info!" (very sarcastically)

Girl: "No problem, see you!"

I don't think she even understood which planet she was on, yet she knew the exact temperature of the water, even without going in. At least she had a guide with her who could lead them up to the cabin they would be sleeping in.

We decided to walk down to the river to camp. This was the best campsite of the trek, and one of the best I've had in South America. We were surrounded on all sides by green mountains, there were snow-capped peaks behind them, two rivers were flowing near us, there were hot springs coming from the peaks above, there were no farm animals in sight, and all of the other trekkers were camped in a cabin far away from us. I couldn't believe nobody else decided to camp there, considering how perfect it was.

The photo album for this entry is here.

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2 thoughts on “Another Day With the Asses

  1. cole

    So which trail do you take when you hit the abancay trek? Don´t short us on the important details man! =)
    thanks, cole (Ca)

  2. Dan Perry Post author

    On the last part of this day, you'll see the Abancay mountain for quite awhile in the distance. When you get to the base of the mountain at the confluence of the two rivers, just take a left and head downstream. Or just follow one of the thousands of tourists you'll encounter at that point. Definitely camp at the confluence. The only problem is that it's a treacherous life-risking maneuver to get water from the rushing river.

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