After not a great night sleep in a luxury night bus (they serve dinner and breakfast, free WiFi, business class seats etc.) we arrived to Cusco really tired. Anyway the first thing we had to do was to organize a tour for our upcoming 4 day trek including world famous Machu Picchu. Because the Inka trail permits are limited and we didn’t book them on time (we don’t know there is a 4 month booking in advance) we’ve decided to do an alternative route – Lares trek.
Luckily we got to book a private tour to the Lares valley, where Inca’s descendants still live in a traditional way. We got picked up at 5.30 AM by a driver and our guide Edson. Then we had a Sopa de Cabrito (goat’s soup) for breakfast at the local market of Calca and continued.
After about 2 hours we arrived to a small community up the valley where two young boys waited for us; Nidio the cook is 21 years old and Nicanor his younger brother is only 12, together they packed and tied around four mules, all the equipment we needed for the next days.
Immediately when we arrived a little girl came with a blanket and unpacked wool souvenirs, a minute later an older woman did the same. We gave them some fruits we had bought the day before and they were really happy.
As we were 3600 mts above sea level we started hiking up through the mountains before hoping to get some advantage from these locals who are quite more used to climbing mountains at this altitude. Anyway they quickly caught up with us and headed on quickly to a shelter where we would have our first lunch. At first the weather was cloudy but after and hour or so it started to rain and then the higher we got it started to snow. We hid behind a huge rock and “enjoyed” the snow fall across a blue lagoon.
After reaching the first pass we started our descent, by that time we were soaked and freezing. It was about 3 hours until we reached the shelter made out of stones, half of the ceiling was made out of straw and the other half was open to the air. There Nidio and Nicanor had already unpacked all the kitchen utensils for lunch, including a small gas stove, chairs, table, etc. I hadn’t noticed before but Nicanor was wearing sandals made out of old tires, they’re long lasting and cheap so according to our guide it has become a tradition. A huge booger was hanging from his nose, he was shivering just like the rest of us, there was around five degrees celsius and we were all wet but he was wearing sandals!
A vegetable soup was the first dish, followed by beef with mashed potatoes and steemed vegetables. We then had a lot of tea to try and warm up, still shivering and shocked by Nicanor’s feet we began to walk to the first campsite in the next village downhill. Sitting on wet chairs didn’t help to get dry nor warm so we went on wet and still freezing while the boys had to wash dishes with the freezing water of the river nearby and put everything again onto the mules.
After about an hour we arrived to the community where the boys live. On the back yard of their humble house they built up the tents and prepared our beds which where thermo inflatable matress and sleeping bags. We hoped this would warm us up. We took off the wet clothes immediately and tried to relax but the sleeping bags turned out not to be very warm.
Then came tea time; popcorn, crackers, bread, jelly, butter, cocoa, coffee and tea. We were told to dig up: “A long day awaits us tomorrow!” said Edson the guide, and so we did. We where not even finished when the hot quinua soup came followed by Saltado de pollo and vegetables and some strawberry desert that I couldn’t even try anymore, it was too much.
With full stomachs we returned to our tent where we would have a very cold night, even with some wool blankets the family offered us.