Today we said goodby to Lima for two weeks and off we went onto our Peru adventure. The morning started at 3 AM with everyone waiting to pile their luggage into a bus. It looked like we were on an survival expedition lasting months, not four days !
With the bus being 30 min late, we would have made it in time for an european or U.S. airport to catch our 5.20 AM flight to Cajamarca. Our two last travellers, Harry and Sally joined us that morning, so we are now 10 in total. The lines were long at check in but huuuge at security. Our group got split up all over the place. We’ve asked several officials if we should skip parts of the line due to the upcoming boarding of our plane, but they all made us understand that we are fine. Heck, what do we know?! And actually the line was moving forward pretty fast. Security control was very efficient.
But once we were through the process, the screens showed final boarding for our plane. Eight of us made it barely onto the plane, and that was with Chris O. literally holding the doors to the bus open! Unfortunatly Jih-Ho and Chris R. did not make it. The signage and confusion about departure gates at the airport in Lima ( two different airlines were going to Cajamarca ) had them arrive too late at the gate. No amount of begging and pleading helped.
So eight of us took off on the flight to Cajamarca, where a nice breakfast awaited us. All bags arrive OK, even Chris R‘s bags got sent. The computer thought he and Jih-Ho were on board since we were all on the same reservation.
We took the bags into our custody and made our way to Laguna Seca our breakfast place. For the first time in days we saw blue sky an the sun shining!
Laguna Seca is a lovely spot just outside of Cajamarca. This place is known for their hot springs, Los Baños del Inca’. Cajamarca served as a major town in the North South Andean travel for centuries. Here is where the Spanish defeated the Inca and took their king hostage, be paid a huge ransom in gold and silver just to kill him later anyway ( listen up Chris R. and Jih-Ho! Forget about bribing security ).
Unfortunately we had no time to take a nice dip in the hot springs as we had a bus drive of around eight hours in front of us, most of it on very windy roads and it is highly advised not to drive after dark. More to that later.
Walking through the ‘Los Baños del Inca’ and we saw steaming streams , pools and even fountains with their white evaporation , giving this place a mystic touch.
The breakfast was delicious and we sampled again some new things. Cactus fruit, all pink and juicy as well as home made cookies with dulce de leche filling. Yum!!! Fun fact, coffee gets served as a concentrate here that then needs to be topped up with water to be drinkable.
While we were enjoying our breakfast, Leslie had already made arrangements for Jih-Ho and Chris R. who got left behind in Lima, to get picked up from Jaen, another airport and their alternative flight route, that had a better road to where we needed to go. That way we could make our road through the Maracana Canyon to Leymebamba as planned and still meet up our two lost souls at the hotel in the evening.
At first the drive was climbing up a massive mountain range up to about 2.900 meters above sea level. The road was just curves, no straights but very scenic. Vast dry slopes and green valleys everywhere. Some higher peaks shrouded in mist.
After passing the first pass we went all the way down to Balsas, a small village right at the only bridge that crosses the Maracana river.
What a difference in temperature and humidity! It felt like walking into a hot house!
At Balsas we stopped for a light lunch, consisting of incredibly fresh fruit, nuts and cold coconut juice. Another new taste experience for all of us was a taste of the mamey sapote fruit. Looking like a peeled brown coconut from the outside , it was a bright orange inside and had a large core. The flesh felt a bit leathery to the touch but tasted sweet and very pleasant. This fruit grown in tropical climate, but nobody of us had heard about it until now.
We are always amazed what new tastes we find when visiting a new country!
Off we went again climbing up steeps mountain slopes, the road winding like an endless snake. It felt like hours and many of us had to keep their eyes on the horizon so as not to get sick. We climbed ever higher – until we came to a complete stop.
Road works, delay of one hour before we could move on we got told. Getting out of the car and stretching our legs was very nice. The sun was pleasantly warm and we started continuing up the road on foot , knowing that the car would eventually pick us up. It felt so good walking , while others were happy to just wallow in the sun.
Views were stunning!
After the car had picked us up we climbed even higher and once we crossed to the other side we saw a the mist and low hanging clouds obscuring the peaks. This is where the sun rarely shines and fog is permanent. We’ll be having lots of it in the coming days. Saying good bye to the sun with lovely rainbows we started into the misty world of the cloud forest.
We could hardly see the road in front of us sometimes, so dense was the cloud cover. As the entire road is only one lane wide and visibility is close to nothing, we could very well see why this trip was better done during daylight hours.
We climbed our last pass of over 3.000 meters, all covered in mist, and made our way down again.
Finally after a long drive we arrived in Leymebamba and were welcomed very warmly by Nelly, our host for the next few days and owner of a wonderful small hotel called La Casona.