Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit plus Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: we’re back

…. belatedly, as Hazel and I actually landed on Saturday evening, but first thing on Sunday Phil and I headed over to Bristol for Cam and Dave’s wedding and I’ve only just got on top of unpacking and washing, and downloading my 1862 photos.

The Huayhuash Circuit was great – a fab group, plenty of good food from Antonia and Melky (and the occasional mulled wine, freshly brewed coffee, home baked panettone by Val!), interesting routes, nice big snowy mountains and good weather (a bit cloudy at times, but that provided good sunscreen – and we missed the stair rod rainstorms that bookended our trek). Physically harder than the Everest Circuit, primarily because once we’d acclimatised Val set a faster pace and took us on routes that weren’t well trodden paths (no complaints there at all), and partly because the camping means you don’t always sleep so well, get rested etc. But we got some fabulous views and hardly saw a soul other than Quechua villagers/homesteaders for 16 days… Highly recommended, although probably not as your first experience of trekking at altitude and/or camping. I’d trek with Val again like a shot.

The Inca Trail / Machu Picchu was easy in comparison – big paths, slow pace, but mainly because we were reaping the benefits of having acclimatised to higher altitudes so thoroughly in the Huayhuash. The trail itself and campsites were surprisingly people-free and we saw no other trekkers until the last campsite and the following (final) day’s walk to the Sun Gate. The routing on the first day essentially ensured we were half a day out of synch with the traditional route/timings. Totally unexpected, and fantastic. That said, I did feel rather let down by this trip, and in particular the fact that Hazel and I turned out to be the only people booked on it. As a result we didn’t have a true group trip experience, which is why we’d booked via KE rather than directly with a local agent. Whilst the trekking days (3, 4, 5 and 6) were spent in the company of two American gents whose travel agent had also booked them on the Inca Trail with the same local agent, on day 2 we were simply part of a large day trip coach tour, and on day 7 after the guided tour at Machu Picchu we were left with tickets and instructions as to getting the bus back to Aguas Calientes, the late afternoon train back to Poroy and a taxi transfer to our Cusco hotel, and our airport transfer pick up on day 8. Hazel and I are well travelled enough not to have been worried by this – but we did feel somewhat abandoned.

Hazel has put her photos onto Flickr already, in this Peru 2013 set. Some highlights:

Above the snowline!

Laguna Carhuacocha campsite


The Gals

Mountains and lakes

Steeper than it looks!


Final campsite on the Huayhuash – Laguna Jahuacocha

On the Inca Trail

Me and H at Wiñay Wayna

Arriving at Machu Picchu with Claudia, our guide

See Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit plus Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: we’re booked! for the background.