Nice try, thanks Chachani

8 05 2010

First morning light on Chachani summit.

The Chachani (6076m, 19.930ft) is the most impressive and highest volcano near Arequipa. We tackled it quite fearless and perhaps with a bit of lack of respect on our own – but had no luck.

With a 4×4 transport it takes 2.5 hrs from Arequipa to get to the begin of the trail at 4855m (15.930ft). Then you hike up to your base camp at about 5200m (17.060ft) which takes around 2 hours.

The problem is: You have to get up at 2.00 am to start your summit ascent. The first part we had checked out the afternoon before so we would find our way with headlamps to a saddle at around 5600 m (18.370ft). In sheer darkness we arrived at the beginning of the snow and ice area and started a long traverse along a quite steep slope. Some days before over 20 people had tried the ascent to the summit so there should have been a well trampled track. So we thought. But after two hours the track fainted more and more and we started to doubt if we were on the right path. Temperatures were way below freezing point and Kim and me had severe problems with cold hands and feet. You start worrying if you can’t feel your fingers anymore, don’t you? As it was still dark we decided to head back and walk down in a rocky valley to check out alternative paths.

As the first sunlight hit the scene we could see that we had been totally right. The icy and snowy path was leading to the next ridge from where you start to hike up to the first and then to the real summit of Chachani. As we detected this it was too late to start a second attempt. We felt a little sorry because this time we had slept well and had nearly no signs of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) like headache or nausea. And we walked quite fast considering the high altitude and the darkness.

With mixed feelings we crawled slowly back to the first saddle where the first rays of sun warmed our frozen bones. The descent to the base camp then was easy. Warm tea and potato soup helped to get back to life. The rewarding of this try was the complete loneliness (it was only us two in the base camp) and the amazing wildlife. We saw a fox strolling through the base camp after we had hiked up a little bit on the first day, two eagles landing 50m away from our camp and a cute brown mouse near our tent making a hell of a noise the whole night through. And we detected puma prints on the path in the snow (our driver had told us that there were pumas in the Chachani area). Or was it the Andean Yeti?

And we experienced an earthquake in the middle of the night. Kim was close to jump out of the tent while the earth was shaking under us. I felt quite lucky to be outside and not in a building in the city. For Remco from our Hostal Tambo Viejo who was organizing all our trips the “terremoto”  was quite normal.

I am still thinking about coming back and give Chachani another try. Volunteers welcome. Now I can act as guide.

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Bike fun in Arequipa

6 05 2010

The white city of Arequipa in the south of Peru is definitely worth a visit. It is surrounded by three volcanoes   – Chachani, Misti and Pichu Pichu with altitudes close to and above 6000m (18.000ft) – and there is a lot of outdoor stuff to do like rafting, hiking the Colca Canyon and biking. We combined hiking the Chachani with a bike downhill from 5000m  (15.000 ft) altitude.

Mountainbiking starts with a downhill from the foot of El Misti.

Two days before we biked around the Misti with a small detour to the town of Chiguata with a beautiful old church built from the often used white volcanic stone named Sillar.

The church of Chiguata made of white Sillar blocks.

Great fun and cultural experience too because you ride through valleys with pre-Inca terraces which are still used today for growing herbs and alfalfa.

Riding through a valley with pre-Inca terraces.

Beautiful landscape close to Arequipa.

The bike tours are offered by Aldo Pena, who was several times Peruvian champion in mountainbiking and road cycling.

An eagle at the church of Chiguata.

Pichu Pichu

2 05 2010

Pichu Pichu means summit to summit

Pichu Pichu means Summit to Summit and it is one of three volcanoes near Arequipa. After a 3 hours drive with a 4×4 we hiked up to 5100m (15500 feet) to set camp there. To get an impression of this vast and lonely landscape check out the PHOTOS.

Lima in two days

25 04 2010

Aren’t we lucky? Meeting people while travelling is natural but with Victoria and Fernando who picked us up at Uspallata it is something special. Fernando lives in Lima and invited us to stay at his place when we arrived from Caracas, Whow. Two days of perfect private guiding through the city of Lima, dining at special places, seeing the nice spots – thanks again, Fernando for two great days.

Scallops galore at the Hawaian restaurant, Lima

Like all the major cities in Peru Lima has a Plaza des Armas with catholic churches and monasteries built by the Spanish conquerors – Lima even has a museum for the Spanish Inquisition – then the way to convince anybody that the catholic God is the only one….

Plaza de Armas Lima

Besides that Lima is the city with the most water fountains we have ever seen, there is even a special park for illuminated water plays. Lima is also sort of food capital of Peru with various restaurants and tons of seefod and an own mixture of Chinese and Peruvian – called Chifa – which is still quite Chinese.
Best was a buffet at the “Hawaian” where you could eat as much as you can with nice conchas (scallops), sushi; all kinds of fish and meat and typical peruvain postres (desserts) which are really really sweet.
The Miraflores district we stayed in is close to the sea where hundreds of surfers are trying to catch the wave – only the water temperature is not really comfortable. Definitely below 20 degrees C.

Waveriding beach at Miraflores Lima, Peru

By the way – they now call it Mira Torres (see the towers instead of see the flowers) because of all the high buildings – but we found it still has its charme especially the beach front with a long stretched park wehere you meet runners, bmxers, skaters and a capoeira group (again) practising.
Fernando helped us getting a bus to Arequipa because LAN had not accepted our booking/payment for flight from Lima to AQP – Oltursa got us in a night drive of 14 hrs to Arequipa, the white city of Peru, surrounded by volcanoes.

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