August 1, 2007
Choquequirao-Machu Picchu Trek Day 4
Stats for the Day: 1200 meters up to 4100, then 500 back down to yet another valley.
This was to be the hardest day of our trek, but I was assured before leaving that we would be able to contract a donkey to carry our stuff from Mysal up to the pass. The situation turned out to be even better than I had expected. Since there was already a tour group at Mysal and they were going to the same place today as us, we could just throw our backpacks on the donkeys they were already using to save money, and they would even carry our stuff all the way to the next camp, rather than just to the pass.
We had about 1200 vertical meters to cover before hitting the Alta Quebrada pass. I was still tired from yesterday, but with no backpack to carry, walking was easy. The side of the canyon we were on didn't receive much direct sunlight, so it was a completely different environment than the other side. The forest was generally lush with lots of green plants, mushrooms, and bamboo stalks. We also passed a few abandoned mines during our walk that were exploited by both the Incas and the Spaniards.
Of course there was an amazing view from the top. We could see the entire Cordillera Vilcabamba, as well as the valleys that lay ahead of and behind us. We had lunch and attempted once again to converse with the tour group members without success. Other than one Italian guy who we got to talk a bit, nobody said a word to us, or even to each other. I don't know if they resented the fact that we were using their donkeys or if they were just asses, but they were the most antisocial bunch I had ever seen in South America. I think their guide should have kicked them to wake them up to the fact that they were in such an amazing place. Chantelle and I didn't feel like being ostracized anymore, so we started yet another long downhill climb before the others.
It took a couple more hours to reach Yanama, our destination for the day. The town was very spread out, but nice and friendly. Kids came up to us to say hi, and didn't even ask for candy or money. We were able to buy a few supplies from a shop for about double the normal price, which was fair enough considering the nearest town with road access was two days' walking away. The tour group purchased a pig and watched as a lady slaughtered it and cleaned its guts for a tripe soup. Maybe that's where their $600 went. At any rate, we're going to walk further than the tour group tomorrow, but we'll still get to use their donkeys at the beginning of the day. It's a good thing we're not camping in the same spot because as them because I'm sick of them already.
The photo album for this entry is here.