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cordilleras
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Friday, 29 June 2018

For our last weeks before going back to France, we have eventually decided to go back to the Peruvian highlands near the mountain ranges of the center of the country, among the highest of south America. We might as well enjoy our training to high altitudes to go and admire from close these tropical glaciers.

paso llanganuco paso llanganuco

As usual, we don’t take the shortest way, and go loose ourselves in remote valleys where we often wonder if the road is going anywhere. On our way, we fixed a puncture for a taxi, pulled a 4WD which engine was not powerful enough to climb a 4800m high pass, gave many Peruvians a lift, missed to damage the car on an ambitious overcoming and seen upside down trucks in ditches. We came to the conclusion that Peruvian roads are the worse of the continent, so are the Peruvian drivers.

huanza valley 1 huanza valley 1 huanza valley 2 huanza valley 2

huanza valley 3 huanza valley 3 pastoruri 1 pastoruri 1

After having driven across the Reserva Paisajistica where we haven’t seen much because of the snow, we stop and visit the impressive “stone forest” and its strangely shaped rocks, and some more Inca ruins (don ‘t forget we are in Peru).

Reserva Paisajistica Reserva Paisajistica bosque de piedras bosque de piedras

We then pass the pretty Cordillera Huayhuash, driving a beautiful road in between lakes and glaciers, and head north to the famous Cordillera Blanca. This huge mountain range, which peaks exceed 6000m high, hosts most of the glaciers in the tropical area and is a highlight for south Americans mountaineers. It’s pretty touristic, so we aim to its more remote parts, using bad roads and counting huge daily difference in level. That’s how we met 2 others couples traveling in landcruisers near the Laguna Wilcacocha. We spent 2 days with them, talking travels and admiring the magnificent view on the white capped mountain range...

Huayhuash 1 Huayhuash 1 Huayhuash 2 Huayhuash 2

Huayhuash 3 Huayhuash 3 Huayhuash 4 Huayhuash 4

Huayhuash 5 Huayhuash 5 Huayhuash 6 Huayhuash 6

Wilcacocha 1 Wilcacocha 1 Wilcacocha 2 Wilcacocha 2

But you have to do something special to enjoy some of the natural landscapes in this trek paradise, so is the Laguna 69. Together with the Nevado Pisco, we have to walk 20 km and climb 1000m to reach them. Even if it’s a bit sporty, we are so used to the altitude that we don’t really notice we are at more than 5000m high! Once at the top, the splendid emerald blue lake nested just below the glacier reminds us a bit of Patagonia. That will be anyway our last walk, the downhill in the old glacier bed, now a maze of stones made Sophie’s knee suffer a lot...

laguna 69 1 laguna 69 1 laguna 69 2 laguna 69 2

To complete our knowledge of the area, we pass by a valley where we can admire the rare “Puya Raimondii”, very strange plants living only in this area. They live around 100 years, and die after flowering, measure up to 3 meters and look like giant pineapples...

pastoruri 2 pastoruri 2 pastoruri 3 pastoruri 3

laguna padron laguna padron cordillera blanca cordillera blanca

We finish in the canyon del Pato, so steep that the road passes by more than 30 one-lane tunnels. The use of horn is mandatory (that’s not a big change for Peruvian drivers), but surprises still happen. At the north end of the canyon is a superb colored valley, dotted with mango fields. Sadly for Jeremy, the season is not ready yet, we’ll have to come back!

canyon del pato 1 canyon del pato 1 canyon del pato 2 canyon del pato 2

 

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