First stop-off was Huaraz, high in the Cordillera Blanca. The town is a nucleus for international hikers, climbers and skiers, plus anyone else keen to visit the national parks and their stunning scenery.
We spent a day up at the Pastoruri glacier, happy to be in glorious nature once again, though saddened to witness the constant meltwater running off the glacier’s sides. Rising temperatures have caused half of it to disappear over the last twenty years, and may lead to it melting completely within the next decade. It makes a sad symbol for what rising global temperatures are doing to the planet’s ice, and for what we can expect to happen if the trajectory isn’t altered.
The following day was a three hour hike through the Huascarán National Park and up to the famous Laguna 69. The trail follows a river along a mossy green valley floor before hitting switchbacks that take you to a plain. Crossing the plain, you climb more switchbacks as the scenery changes with the altitude from green to rocky grey until you top out at 4,600 metres to be rewarded with your first view of the lake. Deep, flawless turquoise shines up like an enchanted mirror, reflecting the ice covered peaks and slopes of scree that hug the sides.
It’s a magical place. We stayed long enough to enjoy a slow lunch, take photos and rest deeply, content to let the time pass in such peaceful surroundings. For anyone hoping to visit Peru, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Huascarán National Park and the Laguna 69 hike.
But we couldn’t stay forever. We caught another bus, this time on to Trujillo. We were there to visit the ancient ruins of Chan Chan.
Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and was the capital of the Chimor Empire from AD900-1450, until the mighty Inca Empire assimilated it. The ruins are particularly impressive in that they are all made from adobe – essentially air-dried mud. It’s remarkable the mighty walls and carved intricate detailings are still standing today. And it was fun to walk along the mazy streets, imagining the bustling scenes that would have been playing out before us in this once powerful city.
And finally onto Piura, where we are now, and where we will, in a few hours, finally be getting back onto our bikes. It’s been a big break, these past couple of weeks, and not one that we’d expected. I’m considering it Half Time. After all, I’ve ridden 6,400 miles and, with the detour through Belize on the cards, have a further 6,000 to ride. Now, I’d better get some sleep.
Vida! Saúde! Felicidade!
As ever, if you’ve enjoyed reading these posts, or if you see value and a challenge in this trip, or if you’d simply like to support a wonderful cause, it would be great if you drop a little sum towards my fundraising goal for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Head over to https://www.justgiving.com/Mike-Edmondstone/ to get involved. Thanks 🙂