We have spent the last couple of days in Huaraz, which is the center of the universe for the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in Peru. This place is unbelievable, and honestly could be as spectacular as Torres del Paine national park in Chile. It does not have the tourist infrastructure that the national park does, however the views are simply spectacular. This is a trekking center, having treks from 5-30 days leaving from Huaraz. The one thing that is apparent here is that it has not become totally dependent upon Tourism. Largely tourists don’t come here because it’s not on the main (Lima, Cusco, Puno, Arequipa) circuit. However, having been on that circuit, and now having been to Huaraz I can say that this place could be more spectacular than any of the others. Yes, Machu Picchu is great and special, but this is a natural beauty that was not made by man.
We were able to take a great day hike to Laguna Shallop – except that it was billed a bit shorter than we experienced. In the end we did about 16 miles at 14,000 feet. Everyone’s legs and knees hurt the next day, probably due to the climbing down. The hike was good, but we were dead tired in the end. Cindy wasn’t feeling that great yesterday so the boys and I went on a tour, which was really just a crazy drive up a mountain to see the mountains on the opposite side.
Here’s the thing about this place though. All the pictures you see, the snow levels and glaciers used to be much lower. I read an article about ice climbing here – which is now prohibited due to the glacier retreat. In this article they said that the glaciers could be gone by 2018 – given that is in three years I doubt it, but after talking to people in town and our guide I believe it. It is clear after speaking to many people on our hikes who have lived here for their entire life that the conditions are changing. The ice/show has retreated a lot. It’s something to consider when you look at something like this and realize it must be preserved – or somehow better taken care of. To lose it would be an incredible loss – and we are losing it slowly.
Ok, so we learned about and finally saw this strange Peruvian Dog today. This dog doesn’t have hair/fur. Here’s the thing about it though – it goes back 4000 years, pictured in ceramics of the Mochi empire. The dogs are guardians and guides of the dead – favored by Inca nobles. They are good guide dogs for blind people and have healing properties. Supposedly the dog and having contact with it’s skin is supposed to cure Asthma is children. It has a unusually high body temperature, and people tuck them into bed with them after bathing to help with rhumatism. I’m not sure if it works, but sometimes ancient things tend to work and we don’t know why. They get my “not so cute” vote though…
WE are now back down on the coast of Peru, heading up the coast towards Ecuador. WE are going to visit some more ruins and spend about 4 days on the beach before going to Guayaquil to start the car shipping process.