A mountain jolly in the Cordillera Blanca range

This time we headed south from Huaraz and we were carrying our accommodation and kitchen with us. If you thought we were travelling light on our foray down Duck Canyon you were right.

After 8km on the highway we turned west up the Rajuculta Valley and onto a nice dirt road that we planned to follow for 30km to the lake at the head. This trip was for mountain views and acclimatisation.

Huaraz is at 3000m and unlike a lass we met in the hostel who went from Lima at sea level to 4200m in one hit (and suffered for it) we had a saner plan.

After enjoyable riding through small rural villages, ploughed fields and reasonably well behaved dogs we found a nice campsite out of view of the road at 3700m and had a lazy afternoon letting our bodies do the work of acclimatising. Cloud covered the mountain views but no afternoon rainstorm like the previous evening in town.

We woke to clear skies and a hint of the mountains we were heading towards. The road was steeper in places which had us breathing hard and sometimes needing to walk.

At the Huascaran National Park boundary we were met by a brightly clad friendly local woman requesting 5 Soles each and a locked gate we had to clamber round. Not far on the 6400m peak Huantsan, dominated the head of the valley and the rest of our day.

Up at the glacial lake under Huantsan, a team of men were installing a satellite system for early detection of the glacial lake overflowing or bursting. So sadly Laguna Rajuculta had been lowered to minimise the chance of this, along with a small dam. Both of those things meant it was no longer a pristine alpine lake. We camped a few minutes ride back down from the lake with phenomenal mountain views and at a respectable altitude of 4100m.

Next morning was a frosty one and we had early morning visitors of dogs and cows tripping the guylines of the tent.

We made it back to Huaraz in 2.5 hours, faster than the dam engineers said it took them in a car (3 hours) which says something of the roughness of the road. Our plan to have just one night in Huaraz has been thwarted by Alan’s head cold…stitch in time…they say

We made use of the free day to chill in the morning and in the afternoon we walked into town to visit the museum where the highlight was the garden out the back with a hundred or so prehispanic carved figurines dating back a few thousand years.

On our way to pick up supplies we were treated to a musical  flashmob that danced and played it’s way into the main Plaza. We think it was a Patron Saint celebration as the earthly manifestation sat in front covered in flowers while dancers dressed in bright garb with masks entertained while the brass band played in behind.

Tomorrow we head off for another 3 nights in the mountains, a contrast to busy Huaraz.