You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

HuayHuash

Trekking in the Peruvian Andes

Story by everything's a photo August 20th, 2014

The Huayhuash Cordillera, The Andes, Peru. 125 Kilometres, 5000metres altitude, 4 donkeys, 1 horse, 1 donkey driver and 1 guide.

Spending 10 days camping in the Andes is no mean feat. The temperatures hit 20c during the day, and can plummet to -15c at night. It can suddenly start snowing, hailing, raining.. or the sun can burn hard, cutting through the atmosphere at the high altitudes. Water comes from the river and all food must be carried by donkey as there are very few people living at this elevation. Oh yes, the altitude. No amount of hot tea can offset the effect of altitude when you spend 8 days camping above 4000 metres.

Huayhaush was made famous by the film Touching the Void, but there is so much more to this trek than seeing the Suila Grande. The hard work is more than rewarding…

IMG_1609.jpg

By night, the stars shine down on your tents. With no light pollution the only thing that will interrupt your view of the night sky is the view of the glaciers.

We lost count of the number of glaciers that we camped in front of, let alone trekked past during the 10 days.

The ominous sound of avalanches in the distance was a constant reminder that the hills are very much alive.

IMG_1557.jpg
IMG_1560.jpg
IMG_1554.jpg
IMG_1690.jpg
Huayhuash is packed with beautiful lagoons, shimmering different shades of blue. And many of the rivers feed into tributaries of the mighty Amazon.

IMG_1788.jpg
IMG_1781.jpg
IMG_1785.jpg
IMG_1792.jpg
IMG_1765.jpg
IMG_1755.jpg
IMG_7282.jpg
IMG_7158.jpg
IMG_7276.jpg
IMG_7352.jpg
Each morning we watched the sun rise and the scenery change colour. We took these three photos of the same landscape at evening, before and during sunrise.
IMG_7185.jpg
IMG_7216.jpg
IMG_7222.jpg

The few people we did encounter were either sheep or cow herders or farmers. Living at 4000metres means no electricity, little communication with the outside world and a simple but happy life.

IMG_7264.jpg
IMG_7291.jpg
IMG_7327.jpg
IMG_7267.jpg
IMG_7338.jpg

The passes reached 5000 metres, where the land was arid, the landscape - almost lunar like - and vicuñas scurried on the distant horizon.. out of view of our lenses.

IMG_1816.jpg
IMG_1837.jpg
IMG_1843.jpg
IMG_1848.jpg
IMG_1564.jpg

During the last few days of our trek we descended through vast copper tinged valleys and camped at night under a full moon.

IMG_2008.jpg
IMG_2015.jpg
IMG_1953.jpg
IMG_2001.jpg
IMG_2069.jpg
IMG_2093.jpg

Our wonderful guide Abner with Tipi the horse.

IMG_7410.jpg
IMG_7439.jpg
IMG_7402.jpg

The trek ends in Chiquian, a beautiful mountain village that sees few tourists, sitting at 3500 at the footfills of the Andes.

IMG_7553.jpg
Footnote: Photo taken by Dave and Lotte de la Peña in August 2014. With thanks to our amazing guide Abner at Los Amigos de Huayhuash http://losamigosdehuayhuash.free.fr/
Cordillera Huayhuash, Ancash, Peru