Peru 2001 - Trip Report


Daily Log





This page is the summary of my Peru 2001 trip: A 6-week trip packed tightly with outdoors- and cultural events.
There are 2 parts of the trip that different kinds of people may find interesting:

  1. A 3 week mountaineering part, climbing 3 mountains in the Cordillera Blanca near Huaraz. (see here)
  2. A 3 week round trip of sightseeing and visiting many of the major cultural sites of Peru. (log starts here)
    Sorry - Part 2 is not completed yet, I still have to scan the slides to add pictures and add more text.)

Let me say first, that 3 weeks for either of these parts is the absolute minimum one could recommend. Our guidebook recommends at least 4-5 weeks without the side-trip to the jungle. (Btw: Why did you have 6 weeks of holidays ? Click)  We managed to pack it into 3 weeks, but we didn't encounter any waiting times for buses, no flat tires, got around 2 strikes well and had no longer illness that stopped us,
each of which hit many of the people we met one time or another. Also we didn't have a lot of rest-days, and many people would consider this more as hectic than holidays. We enjoyed it anyway, and sure saw a lot.

How this page is organized:

 Overview / Maps:
Here are some Maps so you can get an overview of the country and the places described below:

All of Peru  Cordillera Blanca
Cordillera Blanca 
Alpamayo & 

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  pe-map-blanca.gif (10743 bytes)

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      pe-0100-cordblanca-n-alpamayo-arteson.jpg (715009 bytes)

Feedback / Questions:
I am happy about any comments on the trip or this page you have. I will also try to help if you have a special question related to things mentioned on my page or to any of the climbing conditions. Please understand that my time is also limited and I cannot answer every standard question that is already answered by reading your guidebook, or doing a simple search on the web or news. See the More Info in the Links section where to find such answers.


Daily Log


Stuttgart ->

Leaving from Stuttgart, Germany
I looked for a cheap airline, and Lan Chile offered the best deals from Germany. Their planes were OK, the service sometimes a bit rough (but who cares). At least we were lucky to get a huge weight allowance (see Tips) The flight took a tiring 22+ hours, it stopped in Madrid and Santiago de Chile.

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2 -> Lima

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Arrival in Lima (Altitude 15m)
Lukas picked me up at the Airport, and we took a taxi  (see Tip: Taxis) to the Hostal Marfil which served as a great "Base Camp" in Lima. The people there Yma and Cosy will also take good care of you and make your start in Peru a pleasant one.  In the evening we took the over-night bus to Huaraz, eager no to loose any time for the mountains ;-)  (see the second part of the trip for the sights of Lima.)

3 Huaraz
Relaxing in Huaraz. (Huaraz: 3000m)
Huaraz is a nice little town, but has neither historic nor pretty buildings. Instead you can find a lot of Restaurants, Equipment rentals, shops and Tour operators. It is ideal as a base-camp for all tours in the Cordillera Blanca.

Gallery Huaraz Impressions


4 Arhuac

Gallery: Arhuac

First Acclimatization Tour. (Arhuac: 5077m)
For our first acclimatization tour we chose a rocky ridge near to Huaraz, that runs westwards from Willcawain and ends in a 5077m peak (even with a little bit of snow at the top ;-) It was quite a challenge and we pumped air in and out like crazy. On the way we met a Shepard with his sheep, and it was funny to talk to him, and use his native slingshot for some trial shots (everybody duck now ! ;-)  we even helped him bring his sheep back home later, after his dog ran off. On the way back, make sure you take the way past the Laguna Arhuac, which is real beautiful. 

5 Vallunaraju,
Base Camp
An odyssey to the base camp. (BC: 4300m)
The night before we had hired a guy to bring us to the base camp for our first (acclimatization) peak. He came - and had a surprise: he had 'organized' 7 people more to join us that we didn't know yet. Well, as we are always willing to get to know nice people, we agreed and his overloaded collectivo-minibus scrambled up the dusty, rocky road past Willcawain.
After half the distance he stopped and was not willing to continue as he was feared to wreck his minibus. After some arguing we were lucky to find a pickup the rest of the way, only to find out that he didn't have enough gas in the tank. So we had to walk the rest ourselves, and what should have been a short drive ended as an all day tour. 
The base camp site is nice: there is water and great views to Ocshapalca and Ranrapalca.

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6 Vallunaraju,

Gallery: Vallunaraju


The first peak ! (Peak: 5780m)
We left in the middle of the night and crawled up through grass and later loose rock to reach the snowline at dawn. The snowy part is quite scenic, the route is non-technical and everyone who has used crampons before can get up. Still the thin air slowed us down considerably, despite Kristian running away from everybody as if it was nothing. On the way down we all had a little bit of headache but it wasn't too bad.

7 Return
-> Huaraz
No car ? Lets walk ! (BC: 4300m)
As no driver had agreed to pick us up again, we decided to just walk down with our packs again. -> Lesson learned: Don't take extra stuff, just because you think: "We'll sit in the car anyway" ...

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8 Huaraz


Just another day in the 'big city' ;-) (Huaraz: 3000m)
The usual ritual: Have clothes washed, buy food, organize equipment for the next tour, and enjoy a great dinner at a nice restaurant. (Tips: Logistics in Huaraz) During the day Eva and Marie France (see People)

9 Artesonraju,
Mid Camp
With "Turbo" to the Base camp ! (Mid Camp: 4300m)
We took the collectivo to Caraz (1$US/pers) and then hired a taxi to bring us to the Laguna ??? where the trail to the Base camp leaves. We were lucky to find a young but very capable driver. When we left the paved road, he jumped out and fiddled around at the motor, and smiled when he got back in: "Now we go Turbo !" which he then did. He still avoided all bumps as if his car was the magic carpet - bravo ! 
The valley is beautiful and has very steep walls on each side. There is even a nice big-wall visible: Esfinge. From here we had to shoulder our ~35kg packs (crazy!) and walk. The trail to the Mid-Camp (Tree-camp) is quite pleasant along the laguna and then up but not too far. It is also possible to camp lower (Base-Camp, 1h before) or higher (Moraine Camp 1h after) 

10 Artesonraju,
Moraine Camp

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Rest for Tomorrow (Moraine Camp: 4600m)
This was a day for relaxation. We got up late and only walked the rest up to the next camp, which took an hour. Then we went to bed early as we would start in the middle of the night for the peak.

11 Artesonraju,
Glory and Tragedy - so close together ... (Peak: 6025m)
We started in the middle of the night at about 1 am. First we crossed a flat glacier that has no crevasses, but instead some knee-deep holes filled with water, as Lukas and Marie-France found out soon. With their wet feet the tour ended before it had begun. Kristian, Eva and myself continued walking up the snowy slopes (with crevasses!) to reach the wall itself. The bergschrund is easy, and the climbing is technically not very demanding. Still it is very strenuous to climb at this altitude and it was quite cold. I had to stop in the middle of the wall to put on my down jacket I had with me for emergencies. Kristian froze two of his toes a bit, despite the warm plastic boots.
We reached the top after ~7 hours and had a wonderful view on the surrounding mountains, including Alpamayo which was our next destination - so close but still so far away. 

On the way down we joined forces with 3 Basque climbers and rappelled with 4 ropes to save time. When we left the top, we saw two climbers starting at the very bottom of the wall. We thought that this was a crazy idea because they were almost certainly going to end up in the night. On the way up like we did it, this is no problem, but for the way down you need to find the snow-stakes that people left in the wall so you can rappel down. This is very hard in the dark, as often all you can see from the stakes is a small piece of string. Rappelling down 16 full lengths cost us more time than going up and much of our energy. After 15 hours we were sitting on the glacier again, completely exhausted but happy. 

Although we were a bit worried about the two last climbers who had just started their return from the top, everybody stumbled back to camp except for Kristian, who wanted to enjoy the last rays of sun for some more minutes. A few minutes later Kristian witnessed a tragedy: He heard a scream from above and saw one of the climbers fall down the complete face hitting the glacier in a place that he couldn't see exactly. He was sure that this was his death, but it was too far to get there easily and Kristian was all on his own. Back in the camp many climbers including Lukas volunteered to go back up and look if they could bring help. They left when it got dark.



12 Return
-> Huaraz

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Waiting for news - depressed Return. (MC: 4600m)
At 3 in the morning, the official Peruvian rescue team appeared with 6 guys, all equipped with the latest North Face gear. The even carried a gamow bag up, which was of no use of course. Four of the guys stayed in the base camp and never even went on the glacier. Two of them helped the others search, stating that they will check the 'usual' crevasses. (obviously most people survive this fall and they can be collected from some standard- crevasses). At 2PM everybody returned, bringing back the Japanese climber, but unfortunately they did not find the Peruvian guide and gave up any hope for him. We decided that we couldn't do anything up there any more and returned to Huaraz quite depressed. The taxi driver told us, that the had 5  children :-(


13 Huaraz
See the 'real' Peru ! (Huaraz: 3000m)
One thing I enjoyed much in Peru was to explore its markets: This is the place where the 'real' Peruvian people are. There is so much to see: People selling vegetables and fruit, butchers that chop complete pigs or large fish in smaller pieces, people eating at the indoor market or just stop for a quick fresh fruit drink. A funny sight was a guy that had a cart with little chicken on the bottom that laid eggs, in the middle he stored the eggs and at the top he cooked and sold them: A mobile egg-company and restaurant. Huaraz has a boring indoor market but an exciting open-air market west of the bus-station to Caraz (near the river).
That evening fellow climbers asked us to join them in the 'El Tambo' Discothèque. We didn't really feel like it, after that tragic event, but as everybody went there, we went too. I usually never go to Discos at home, but this one was different: we met almost every climber we had seen in the mountain and it was nice to exchange news and enjoy the music till late.

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14 Alpamayo
Trek Day1
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A slow start... (Day 1 Camp: 3800 m)
When the clock woke us up early in the morning, it saw two very tired climbers not willing to get up. We did anyway as my time was running short. Lukas and I had planned to do Alpamayo despite the short time which left no extra days if sth. didn't went wrong. (Kristian didn't want to go as he had been to Alpamayo before). The way to Caraz and Cashapampa passed by half sleeping. Then we organized 2 donkeys to carry up the packs to the base camp in 2 days. It was the first time for me to use such a service, and although I usually always carry my gear myself wherever I go, it was a good idea here. First the donkey driver earned a little money and second we both didn't feel well. I had obviously eaten sth. wrong the day before and had stomach problems. We walked through a short canyon and then up a beautiful valley and enjoyed the views until we came to a great camp-spot. 


15 Alpamayo
Base Camp
A pleasant hike. (Base Camp 4300m)
Today we had a late start again and got up only after the sun hit the tent, and our donkey driver got nervous. The hike was again through the beautiful valley past lakes, waterfalls, trees and flowers. We reached the base-camp at 2PM and the donkeys went back to Cashapamapa right away. We thought about going up higher, but the thought of carrying the 30+Kg  packs ourselves now and knowing that we couldn't change the time plan we just stayed there and relaxed for the rest of the day.

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16 Alpamayo
Col Camp
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The real challenge... (Col Camp: 5400m)
This day was the 'real' challenge on Alpamayo: Shoulder your huge pack and crawl up a rocky trail, stumble over a loose moraine, and then climb up a steep snow-face (45+ degrees) with your ice-tools. We were passed by a group of 12 Germans that were part of an expedition. They had daypacks and were a 'bit' faster for that reason. Soon after them their group of porters carried up their stuff including a cooking tent. When I reached the col-camp I couldn't believe the number of tents that were already pitched there. I thought I was in the wrong movie. The clouds around Alpamayo went up shortly, so Lukas and I could discuss which route to take. The 'French direct' looked good, Ferrari was reportedly not possible this year for reasons nobody knew, instead the trade-route was the so called 'French-Basque' left of Ferrari. I would have liked the French Direct, but we would decide in the morning.

17 Alpamayo
My most ugly mountain (Peak: 5947m)
We started early as we had heard before that Alpamayo is a mess if there are climbers above you that throw a lot of ice. The decision which route to take was easy: Fog and clouds limited the visibility so much that it was even hard to follow the trail in the snow from the last climbers. We would simply follow their steps, which led us to the French-Basque route. We were followed closely by the expedition with the 12 climbers and 3 guides. When we reached the Bergschrund, we found that they had put fixed lines from there all the way to the top. We ignored that and climbed normally on the ice with belays. Then the group (being pulled by a second rope tied into everybody and the 3 guides) started to speed up and pass us. This was OK with us as they all used jumars to pull themselves up, so I figured there would not be much ice falling. Unfortunately I had overestimated these so called 'climbers': They were complete idiots, all inexperienced in ice, equipped with huge (walking-)ice-axes and busy bashing the wall with them despite their jumars. This caused loads of ice-blocks to fall down and crash into us, which I didn't enjoy with 10-20m of loose rope to the last screw beneath me. There was no chance in arguing, there were just to many of these cretins. Blocks hit me on the chest hard, Lukas on the head and the other groups following climbers in the face, some had bleeding noses and alike ...  
I was very angry at first, that someone would allow such people to be on this mountain, when they obviously shouldn't be there looking at their capabilities. I asked myself (and them) what the use of this exercise should be: How can someone who pulled himself up a fixed line with jumars say that he 'climbed' the mountain ? Finally I came to the conclusion, that it all was my own mistake: Why did I choose to go on a mountain where paid expeditions with clients go ? Next time, just go where they can't go with their limited abilities and enjoy being alone.
Adding the fact, that we were stuck in snowfall and clouds the whole time, for me this was my most ugly climb I ever did, on what many people call 'the worlds most beautiful mountain' ...  

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18 Return
-> Huaraz
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Another long walk back home (Camp: 4000m)
After the climb yesterday we had walked down with our packs to the base camp and decided there that we would walk back without donkeys. The weight of the food was gone and we felt enough pride now to want to feel different than those 'expedition climbers'. So we just continued all the way down to the laguna.
This morning we got up very early and left shortly after 6AM. Five hard hours later we were in Cashapampa.

19 Huaraz ->
Leaving the mountains ( Lima: 15m)
On the one hand it felt bad to leave, because I had enjoyed the time in mountains a lot. On the other hand, our last experience on Alpamayo wasn't so pleasant, and the weather in the eastern part of the cordillera looked very unstable. And last but not least I was also very anxious to see the rest of the country that so many people in Huaraz had told me about.
As I wanted to see the countryside I chose to day-bus. The views were nice but nothing staggering: First you see the Cordillera pass by on your left, then you seem to drive down a dusty wide canyon, and then all of a sudden the typical coastal fog drops in. Huge sugar-cane plantations and an unspectacular coast are the only sights on the way to Lima now.

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20 Lima

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Part 2 of the Trip
  • I spent the morning in downtown Lima wandering around the cities center without any specific target.
  • Then I picked up Heike from the Airport, which was the beginning of the second part of my tour. I hate to travel alone, and it was really nice that I could travel with Heike as a charming companion for the next 3 weeks.
  • We spent the evening in Miraflores, which is the wealthy part of Lima, so Heike would have less of a culture-shock on her first encounter with the country.
  • But then actually I was the one who was shocked and just stumbling around the fancy shops and restaurants of Larcomar, a shopping mall that looks like one of those very expensive malls in the USA (ever paid an entrance fee to get into a mall ? ;-) All in all a completely different world within Peru.

21 Lima
Lima Downtown Tour:
  • Church of San Francisco: This beautiful church and monastery with the catacombs were certainly the highlight of the day, and maybe also for all of Lima. It is a nice and quiet place and you can feel the colonial times coming back to life again here. Although the monastery in Arequipa is even more impressive, you shouldn't miss this one either. 
  • Changing of the Guards: By accident we were able to be witness to this event that is due every day at noon. Funny to see, but not worth changing your time plans for the day if it doesn't fit in.
  • Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Arquelogia. The reason we went there was the location: it is in Pueblo Libre, close to our Hostal Marfil. Although it was quite nice and had enough to see for an afternoon, you might prefer the bigger 'Museo de la Nacion', if you are staying downtown.

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22 L. -> 

later !

Leaving the fog !
Unfortunately the train from Lima does not run any more, and no matter what your Guidebook may say, I would presume it won't run again. The Train station in Lima seems permanently shut down. So you are bound to take one of the many bus companies that all leave in the same area, south of downtown, near the university. Just go there and see which one leaves next.
The most important event of that day is the escape of Limas endless winter fog. Possible that one gets adjusted to it if you (have to) live there long enough. I simply get depressed by the gray skies after a while. But as soon as you leave the low altitude at the coast, the sun peeks through the fog, and life looks brighter again. The bus winds itself higher and higher to the highest point passenger train in the world (if it only would run ;-) At 4800m you are at the altitude of the Mt. Blanc, so the air is quite thin if you are unacclimatized. From there on the road follows the river to Hunancayo.


23 H. -> 

later !


24 Ayacucho

25 A. -> 

26 Cusco

27 Cusco

28 Inka Trail

29 Machu Picchu

30 C. -> Puerto
Monkey Island

31 Tambo Lodge, 
Fitzcarrald Boat and Villa

32 Tambo Lodge, 
Lago Sandoval
Sea Otters, Turtles, Birds, ... and swimming among Piranhas 

33 T.L. -> Cusco
Farmers Tour

34 Cusco
 City Sights

35 Puno
Floating islands, Yavari

36 Arequipa
Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Juanita

37 Colca Canyon
Thermal Bath

38 CC ->
Cruz del Condor

39 Nasca

40 Lima

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Paragliding in the city ?
Because I felt pretty weak, we didn't do much. We wanted to do another walk through the city, and decided we would go wherever the next bus went: Downtown or Miraflores ? It was Miraflores and the walk along the coastal rim was very nice. Then all of a sudden a paraglider soared above us - in the middle of the city ! The explanation for that was the strong wind from the west, that pushed up the wall from the shore. We thought it looked quite spectacular and talked to the guys that do this regularly there. You can find some pictures in the gallery to the left. They also had a clubs website which now somehow seems broken :

41 Lima->
A looooong flight ...
For some reason the flight took even longer this way and other than some nice views to the Chilean Andes there was not much fun to it.

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42 Stuttgart

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Finally Back Home !
Good old Germany welcomes us back with a big splash of rain after 6 dry weeks. Anyway, the positive side is: everything is sooo clean and sooo green ! Unbelievable how you can miss the slush green (here: "Filderkraut";-) after all these dusty, gray countryside views of Peru.









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Side Notes

My holidays
 I was amazed how many (mostly US-) people on the trip were amazed that I had 6 weeks of holidays from a regular job, so I'll answer their question here again: First,  European holidays are a 'bit' ;-) longer than the average holidays in the US. Additionally I am lucky to have a work-contract that allows me to save up holidays as long as I want, and take them when I want  to.