We were waiting to move north so we could become part of the lucky ones to visit Cordillera Blanca. Here, after about a month of delay, we finally arrived in the kingdom of six thousand. A kingdom that no doubt already holds a huge part in our hearts.
The Cordillera Blanca is the highest mountain tropical chain in the world. It is located in the Andes and is located in central Peru. Undoubtedly, it acts as a magnet, attracting thousands of climbers, climbers and simply mountain lovers like us. In this "white kingdom", more than 180 km long, extend beyond 50 peaks higher than 4.800 meters, with the highest peak in Peru, Huascarán, also "lying" there at a modest height of 6768 meters.
The choice of paths was great. After adjusting to the altitude with Plamen, we decided to take on the so-called Santa Cruz track, which by many is one of the most beautiful and panoramic tracks in the world.
We bought supplies for about a week and with heavy backpacks, we "threw" into the unfamiliar mountain range.
There was no food along this route, and if you didn't want to stay hungry you should carry. So there was no way we could get away from a lot of pasta and back pain. Here is the time to insert that the local villagers with donkeys and horses make their living this way. Richer tourists and larger groups rent donkeys to carry their backpacks across the mountain. But as the saying goes, "Donkey without the owner, it's not the donkey!" So, in fact, the donkey owner is hired, so it costs double. Some of the villagers also want to be provided with food for the transition. A luxury we wanted to afford at times but couldn't.
Day one proved to be extremely difficult. Mostly because of the fact that Plamen and I were asleep and the luggage we carried. Most of the day we climbed. The only thing that pulled us forward were the huge mountains that opened up in the distance.
We knew that in about 2 days we would be much "closer" to these beautiful creations of Mother Nature, so there was no going back. After a lot of sweat, breaks and needles in the neck, we finally reached the campsite. We were one of the last, and upon arrival, we immediately fell to the ground. Strange sounds began to emerge from us, which I would not describe, but we knew that they were sounds of joy and relief. With the few forces left, we ate one apple (each bite tasted better than ever, because that meant a lighter backpack the next day. Great!) And pitched camp.
Contrary to expectations, it was unusually noisy. Obviously those who had rented donkeys were not tired and had the power to make noise until midnight. We did not like this and made us sleep in the non-designated camping sites during the remaining days.
In the mountains you have to give enough of yourself if you want to see a lot. We knew this simple rule and early in the morning we headed up the path. We were waiting for a lot of walking, which turned out to be many times more pleasant than the previous day. Already the mountain was beginning to open up in front of us. We had the feeling that we would eventually make such a friendship with her that we would not want to leave. All the time we came across lagoons, lakes, cows and rivers that we had to jump over. Plamena did not cheat on her style and after a "lion" jump, just landed and slipped to the ground. The river was crossed and there were no injured, so we continued with smiles.
We came to a crossroads where the path branched off. We had two options: straight and up. A French traveler we had talked to the night before had told us that if we went up we would see perhaps one of the most beautiful views during the trek. We were tired and going up meant at least 3 hours walking. We wanted to go up, but we also wanted to give some rest to our weary backs, so after a long wander we came to a very important decision. We decided to hide our backpacks and continue up without them. We found a suitable bush away from the path and quickly left "our best friends" to rest in recent months. Something we definitely didn't regret.
Inspired by what our eyes had seen and unaware that the day in the mountains was shorter, our tired legs almost ran us to the backpacks that, to our great happiness, were there. We "met" them again with our backs and shortly afterwards found a nice camping spot where our tent was company with several others. The group looked civilized and unlike the night before, we slept like babies this time. The height and cold of 4300 meters were not enough to deprive our tired bodies of a good night's sleep.
We woke up around 6: 00 hours, and we didn't want to go anywhere. Outside, there was a strong wind that made our small mobile home the most comfortable place in the world. We were having an unusually slow breakfast, and since the bowls were already empty, there was nowhere else to waste our time and get into the unpleasant job. We were almost as fast as the wind and continued upwards.
The mountain was already closer to us, and we could feel it. This friendship of ours went through the humble 4750 meters we were headed to. You can probably guess that with heavy backpacks and tired bodies, the lack of oxygen was felt even more. We slowly climbed upwards and while resting saw a group of donkeys loaded down. They looked good, unlike their host who asked us for analgin or paracetamol. Although local, the man suffered from a headache, probably altitude, strong sun, cold wind and fatigue. We served him and wished him luck. He, for his part, said we had a little more left - something we did not believe. Often within a few minutes the locals travel the distances we travel for 30-40 min. Without backpacks and a lifetime in the mountains, people who grew up in the Andes can be called proud "wildlife" substitutes for goats roaming the native mountains.
It took more than the man-told minutes, and we were still going up. Something that didn't surprise us. Climbing up, we were already seeing another view of the Tauliraho Mountains (more than 5830 meters high). It was a sign that we were near the famous Punta Union Pass. After a series of heavy inhalations and exhalations, we reached Plama with our desired destination. Both of us, looking more stuffed than ever, said to ourselves, "It's worth it!" To make it even better, the group that had arrived before us was just leaving. So we had this "magic" place just for us!
Tired but surrounded by incredible mountains, with Plamena we decided: We just have to sit down and catch our breath and find out exactly where we are! We could see peaks everywhere we turned. I had the strange feeling that these mountains were competing with each other, yet they could not be a winner.
Staring at the "ice queens", once again I realized how powerless we were in front of Mother Nature. How small it makes us feel, or at least that's how I felt!
We had undisturbedly spent about two hours on the passage and realized it was time to go down. We were waiting for at least 3 hours of walking, and time was advancing. This seemingly easy task proved to be difficult. We didn't want to say hi to all the mountains that were around us. Not because we would have disappointed them, but ourselves that we had not spent more time with their captivating beauty. We left and turned every 2-3 minutes to look at the mountains that were already behind our backs. We were like little kids looking back for a toy, friend or parent.
With the descent the mountain changed. Gradually populated meadows populated with cows, horses and donkeys. Here we had already descended enough to feel the unpleasant insects around us as we stretched our tent. And new mountains were opening up before us! Still mysterious and majestic!