Unlike the fine costal highway, the one leading into the Andes was far from what the GPS should be calling a highway. The deserted dirt road cut along the river valley. It was strangely beautiful and the ride was fun as we caravanned with our German friends Paula and Constantine. Neither of us expected the 260 km to take 10 hours, but when cookies are thrown in your lap from a passing car, no ride seems too long.
Unlike some pretty places we ‘ve stayed, this night’s stay did not qualify in that category. It did however have the ‘secure parking’ title going for it, but not much more than that. We arrived at sevenish and shortly after the gates were locked. Behind them a few families that lived there, what looked like a mechanic garage, chickens, quinine pigs, cats, dogs and a drunk guy making his way around the parking lot.
The next day as we made our way to the Cordillera Blanca, there was an air of confidence as we drove to 3500m where we would make a home base (potentially from our veteran experience with altitude or more likely the’ best top 40’ that was blaring in the car). Here we would hike. This was the second highest mountain range next to the Himalayas, with over 20 peaks past 6000m high.
And we, or more correctly our dear pet was not allowed in. Dogs it seemed were strictly forbidden from partaking in the hikes. Needless, we hiked the outskirts peering through the crevices of these massive cliffs beyond which lay what Lonely Planet termed the ‘meca for worshipers of outdoor adventure’.