Friday, September 5, 2014

Getting High in Peru, Year 2: 15,787 feet high

Biking Down Mt. Chachani from 16,000 feet!

Jueves, 4 September 2014
It may be a bit redundant, but here is my bike and Misti in back again.

Last night I received a call from Quechua Tours about guiding a group down Chachani on bikes. I said “Si” and asked no questions other than what time are you picking me and my bike up Thursday AM?  So, 8:30 AM I was ready; we loaded my bike on the rack and headed up by 9 AM. It was a Dutch couple, just married and on their honeymoon to Arequipa and to other places in Peru. Ana was from my hometown in the Netherlands, Den Haag, and Pieter was from Delft. I was able to practice my Dutch again. This day was super and would continue to be so. The weather was cool and sunny, and it got colder as we ascended to 15,787 feet (4755m), slightly higher than the last time I was up here. On our way up, Misti, just under 20,000 feet, was on our right and Chachani on our left. Chachani is just over 20,000 feet, but the only road goes up to the towers at 16,000 feet. 
The Dutch couple on their Honeymoon and I was part of it on Sept 4, 2014.

It took 2 hours to reach this point since this vehicle was not as fast as the previous one (90 minutes). We dressed up, put on our knee and elbow pads, drank some water, took pictures of us at near 16,000 with Misti behind us, and it was all downhill from there. As before, on previous trips, it is a jarring ride. The exceptions were when we took the loose volcanic dust shortcuts. There was no one out here this time—no other bikers—or vehicles carrying trekkers up to Chachani or Misti. We were alone in the vastness of this terrain. We saw numerous tracks belonging to llamas, alpacas, and vicunas, but we saw none. The numerous bird tracks were of grouse (I heard later the Peruvian word, but I did not write it down). These we did see. I saw other animal scats, but I did not bother this time to cut them apart to determine the animal. 

4755 meters = 15,787 feet

The Dutch couple here and below enjoying the ride.

Finally, we hit pavement once again (2 hours later) and then had another exhilarating but now fast ride down to 10,000 feet where we loaded the bikes and descended down to 8000 feet in Arequipa. It was only a 35K downhill ride, but remember the jarring and the likelihood of falling in the loose volcanic sand or slipping off a rock onto the road. But, that’s what the pads and helmet are for, correct?
Paz, Neal Bierling 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru, Year 2: Canon del Dolca with...

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru, Year 2: Canon del Dolca with...: Getting High in the Andes: Canon del Colca   One of the soaring Condors, above and below             We left Arequipa, Per...

Getting High in Peru, Year 2: Canon del Colca with the Condors

Getting High in the Andes: Canon del Colca
One of the soaring Condors, above and below

            We left Arequipa, Peru (estudiantes, profe, y yo) a las ocho (8 AM) on Saturday, August 30 for Canon de Colca, which not only has a deep canyon but also the soaring condors (Cruz Del Condor). It was a 4-hour bus ride to Chivay but well before there we stopped for and photographed several times llamas, alpacas, and vicunas. At times we were able to get up close and personal with them before they jogged away. 

Group shot with the vicunas behind

Helen's 2 pics above and below

            We stopped a rest stop restaurant for coca tea just in case of problems with the elevation. We reached an elevation of 16,222 feet (4886m) at the Mirador de los Volcanes where we stopped to take pictures. (Some people asked me if I was not too cold in just a tee shirt. My response was—I’m from Michigan, el norte in EE.UU.) Here we were surrounded by sometimes active volcanoes.

4886m = 16,222 feet

             Once over the pass we stopped for our boxed lunch before continuing on to Chivay, the entry point into the Canon del Colca. Here we stopped for perhaps 30 minutes before continuing on to thermal baths where we had a relaxing 60-minute soak (La Calera Hot Springs). Actually 60 minutes without leaving the pool is too much, but I left too totally relaxed and then had to climb back up above the river to the bus. 

Box Lunch Break before Chivay (and below 3)

Our Hot Springs Bath above and below

            Back on the bus we got onto the Cruz Del Condor route in order to get to our hotel, Kuntur Wassi (Hotel of the Condor at 11,000 feet) in the village of Cabanaconde for the evening (elev. After an excellent supper and a birthday cake to celebrate Jenna’s birthday before Sunday (since we would be hiking), we separated to spend the evening talking with our travel companions or walking through the town’s Plaza. In the morning several students mentioned waking up early due to the roosters and donkeys; therefore, I added a picture that donkeys were pastured just outside our hotel which actually was a country comfort to me. 

The town

The donkeys

A chapel on top with snowy mountains behind
            On Sunday, we just had to travel a few miles for breakfast and the first Mirador (lookout point at 12,200 feet) for the condors. We later went to another Mirador (at 12,600 feet) for the condor where we also had Sunday devotions (I hope to add video) and additional time to watch for the condors. At each stopping point the students aided the economy of Peru by purchasing alpaca sweaters etc. (for family members).
Giving "thanks" through a devotional (above and below)

El Condor Pasa

Group Shot

Group shot from Kayla

By the first Mirador

Another group shot

Condors above and below shots.

View from the Mirador

Helping Peru's economy by buying treasures here for family or friends (or self)

Shots of the students above and below

            At one Mirador, I took a few shots of a group of four girls taking “selfies” with a camera posted on a hiking pole in order to take all four of them on one shot. “Times are a changing.”  

The "selfie" shots above and below.

            Before reaching Chivay and above the river, we had a boxed lunch prepared for us by the Kuntur Wassi Hotel. Here Profe practiced her knowledge of the Quechua language much to the delight of the local people. She should have “Quechua” somewhere on her C.V. Then it was back up to 16,000 feet where we did encounter a snowfall, but since most of us are from Michigan, we had no interest in a snowball fight, and continued onto sunnier and warmer Arequipa.   

            Two of the pics with me included were provided by Helen and a group shot with me on it in the Colca Canyon was provided by Kayla.
            Travel arrangements were again made by our friend and associate Katia Zegarra Castaneda.
Paz y Shalom, Neal Bierling