Our alarm went off at 2:30am for us to get checked out and ready to catch our bus to the canyon. We tried to sleep on the bus and were mostly successful, but it was far colder than we imagined it would be. The inside of the bus windows was a sheet of ice. I guess that’s what you get passing over 5,000 meters at 4am. We arrived in a few hours to the town of Chivay where we stopped for breakfast. This seemed to mean juice, tea, and bread. After that we continued on with the drive. The road got very gravelly and rather unpleasant to ride on for quite some time. Eventually we arrived at Cruz del Condor to see the condors flying. We got very lucky and there were a ton of them soaring around. We all took the appropriate pictures and continued on to Cabanaconde.
We arrived at the town a little before 10 and went into the hostel whose information we had been using. They had helped us book the tour bus transportation and the rooms in the canyon before we left. During our stop in they were able to provide us a map and some verbal guidance. I also enjoyed cuddling with a dachshund looking dog named Chola who seemed to love the attention, but also got very playful around shoelaces. We got some more info about bus times for leaving the city, and then started off on our trek. Chola followed us from the hostel into town, but then she ducked into a tienda as we headed away from the square and toward the canyon.
We had all the information we could need to get us from Cabanconde to Llahuar. And we started off so full of hope and energy, looking forward to the trail and the views. Unfortunately the hot sun, relentless wind kicking up mini sand storms in our faces, and miserably unstable downhills wore down our excitement after a few hours. I was still planning to follow through with the three day adventure up until one of our rest breaks. I started to feel sick to my stomach after forcing myself to eat something for energy. And shortly after that I got stung in my left side by an evil wasp who was willing to fight for my backpack. And we still had a good 90 minute hike to the lodge left. I was not happy. I was no longer sure I could survive 2 more days in the harsh canyon.
We pressed on and 5.5 hours after beginning back in town we reached Llahuar. It was a great sight to see and be welcomed to. The hostess showed us to an adorable hut with a bamboo door, a reed roof, and a very comfy bed. There were cold showers available, an all vegetarian dinner would be served later, and if we could handle another 10 minute walk there was a natural hot springs down by the river. Llahuar was definitely a location you know you were privileged to experience. I was proud we had made it down to Llahuar, but the general sick feeling and intermittent stinging in my side was still putting me off any more trekking this trip.
I rested in the hut while Eric went to ask the owners of they had any ice for my sting, and if there was any way to get assistance back to town the next day as I wasn’t feeling well. They said they didn’t have ice because they had no way to make refrigeration or freezing at all, and that if we walked back to the dirt road we passed there would be a local bus that would stop if we hailed it. She said it would be about a 2 hour ride to Cabanaconde, and it usually passed by around noon but we should start walking the road early so we wouldn’t miss it because it is not an exact timetable. The idea of waving down a bus presumably full of rural Peruvian farmers sounded like an adventure in itself. I stayed laying in the hut trying to feel better while Eric went to check out the hot springs. I encouraged him to, how could we come this far and not have at least one of us go try them out? He took my camera to take pictures, and I told myself the hot spring water wouldn’t feel good on my sting anyway.
Eric came back and told me all about the hot springs. How he talked with some other hikers that we had seen on the trail and how the water felt. I wasn’t too disappointed I missed it. We napped together another hour and then it was dinner time. I was surprised how dizzy I felt when I got up, but made my way to the patio anyway. It was like a disco in the mountains. Colored lights flashing, music blasting. We sat down at a table and were promptly served a delicious soup that seemed to be maybe a thin potato broth with slivers of carrot and onion in it. It was a good thing for me to try to eat. I got most of it in, but then my stomach started feeling bad again. The main course was a huge plate of spaghetti with tomato and onion ragout on top. The perfect meal for any serious hiker. I think I managed 5 small bites and gave up, but Eric finished his. The hostess knew I was feeling sick and tried several times to get me to drink coca tea, but I kept declining. It’s their cure all for everything, but I didn’t believe it would help me and I knew I disliked the taste. After dinner we sat outside our hut and enjoyed the stars for a bit. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn were all visible which was a nice treat.
We went with an early bedtime again since I wasn’t feeling well and it had been a long day. (Our hike into the canyon)