I decided to do the hike with Cóndor Trekkers, a charity that organises hikes in the local area and supports local communities that also runs a vegetarian cafe. Again you can hike the trails yourself but they are not so clearly marked on the maps. I awoke against early, if I can’t handle early mornings when I get back to London then there is something seriously wrong and was outside the office for the 6:30 call time. I met our guide, Alex, who could speak fluent French and English and had spent a year studying in France and my four French hiking partners. I’m writing this about two weeks later so I’ve forgotten all of their names. But I was outnumbered once again and the only solo hiker on the trek. All I can say is that there are a lot of French people in Bolivia
After around an hour of driving we arrived at our starting point and had a quick breakfast, i mentioned above that one thing that Cóndor do is run a vegetarian cafe so all the food on the hike was veggie, and then we were ready to hit the road. Here are the views from where we had or breakfast.
There was a very short walk up the road to the top of the pass and here we started walking along the Inca Trail. You follow the path just over 4km downhill.
Alex told us a lot about the plants and trees and I decided to take a load of photos having been given the opportunity as my hiking partners were pretty slow, slough it’s good there were as I was still left at the back of the pack.
The path was used by villagers until about 30 years ago when a dirt road was built. So right up until the late 1980s this would have been the only method to get to the villages in this region. It’s still used by some today and you can see evidence of donkeys on the trail as the path winds down through the mountains.
One thing that Cóndor does is works with the local community as evidenced by this sign. They are an NGO and this is one reason the path is kept in a decentish state of repair, hence the sign apparently.
Towards the end of the trail it’s less well preserved although this is a good thing as it’s not so easy to hike on stones that were laid hundreds of years ago. You can see the scenery changing as we made our decent.
Soon the Inca Trail ended and we had to sign in and pay the fee. Make sure you do this if you are hiking alone. Sadly for the rest of the morning we were hiking up the new road that linked the villages. It’s a dirt road mind so don’t expect much but it’s a lifeline for anyone who lives in this area. I just prefer trails and I think in a similar way to how I don’t perceive it to be a hunk unless mountains are involved someway, and I don’t mean the hills we have back home, I don’t really consider it to be a hike if I’m just following a road.
We stopped for lunch and there were a bunch of chickens looking for scraps.
And afterwards we crossed the Roger we had been following using a rather long bridge. I went first and realised I was not scared in the slightest despite the bridge listing badly to the right and being pretty rickety. I don’t know if I’ve crossed so many now I don’t care anymore or if worrying about things being safe is something that’s better not to do here.
We then began our first climb of the hike, which to be honest was easy and I can now devour hills. I think if I was a cyclist then I’d be one of the guys that does well going up. I used to like down but i find this is where I fall the most, it hurts my legs and I’m just really slow. Going up on the other hand i just power through. I get as much speed as I can and push the others out he way, because if I stop I don’t know if I will make it. So who would have thought that? I used to hate hills. I’ll still take flat over up but you don’t find much flat in mountains. Tends to be one extreme or the other.
My fellow hikers were pretty slow here so I pushed in ahead and the guide told me where to wait for them.
We had a little break at the top but te climb seemed to have left everyone without much steam so again I pushed ahead. There was one part where the path is only about 30cm wide and is really gravelly. You are right up against the rock and if you slipped then it’s goodbye. You can see it in the photos below but with this in mind I just pushed ahead and waited the other side. Afterwards having seen the others struggle, yeah I’m amazing I know, the guide asked me if I was scared. I said no, I always think about falling but I’m not scared of the heights anymore. I’m more scared I’ll jump as I always get that feeling but I’ve walked in too many places where I’ll drop off the edge to care anymore. Besides the witch doctor in La Paz said I’ll be fine. She didn’t say I wouldn’t get hit by a bus when I get back to London mind.
After another couple of hours walking we made it to the crater and at this point my bag was getting really heavy and I was looking forward to stopping. There are two towns in the crater, an old and more, and no one seems to live in the old anymore.
After dropping out things in the hostel we hiked to a nearby waterfall.
And I wondered off to take my usual shots.
And then the aún came out a little for sunset. I don’t know if you can tell in the photos but the afternoon had been pretty grey, which is good for hiking as it’s not so hot, but really bad for photos.
I was exhausted after not recovering from the night bus and having been on the go so I took the opportunity for an early night and it was also freezing. I was sad to miss the stars as the sky cleared and Alex told me it had been amazing the next day.
And you can see the sky had cleared from the photos. So I’ve not really talked about the Crater too much but apparently far from being a crater where a meteor hit its actually an unusual situation where due to seismic activity the earth here was moved around 360 degrees which creates the lines on the mountains.
We hiked up to a small museum which was a little random and still confirms why I don’t really like museums and then on to another waterfall where we could look out over tee valley we saw the day before.
We then followed the river bed for a few kilometres before heading up our last ascent.
The most striking thing about his part of the journey for me was the colours. Remember that none of the photos below have been altered in anyway.
We stopped for a break on the ascent and looked back on the crater. It was here that I learnt that some of my hiking companions were injured and sick but we had to carry on to meet the car. Actually they could have jumped in the car here but opted not to.
There was one final push up to the top of the final hill.
At the top and next valley
And then we saw the next valley where is was a fairly quick downhill walk to the car.
When we got in the car I was told that we had ended the hike early, which really annoyed me, especially as we drove the last 4 kilometres that had the not spectacular views of the trip. I wasn’t even given the opportunity to take photos. We were behind schedule and I appreciate there were injured members of the party but they could have been put in the car sooner and I wasn’t even given the opportunity to walk the last distance which I would have been completely capable. Why even bother telling me? I was annoyed but there was nothing I could do and I think this valley was much more beautiful. There is a mountain called the white mountain and I put a point in the map where I think would be amazing to hike and I’ll come back one day. It’s a shame as until this point the hike had been perfect.
We drove for an hour before stopping for lunch. The food on the trek had been amazing, and that is impressive. There are some photos to enjoy below. And after we headed back to Sucre and for me some much needed rest.