Today we sadly had to head back to Leymebamba from Los Chilchos. We all really enjoyed our time there and to see the difference in people’s lives a small initiative like Hatun Runa could make.
Many of the kids we saw will be going to the new school hopefully later this year or early next year. Los Chilchos is a growing village and the larger school will be needed urgently very soon. It will allow the village to offer a true and adequate 5th and 6th grade for their children.
After a last breakfast we set out early as the trek back will be just as long a day as coming here. The weather gods were with us again and we set out in brilliant sunshine at a brisk walk along the river.
We mounted the horses once the uphill slope started, and what an uphill it was! 8.000 feet (2.500 m) of altitude difference for us, our horses and the mule. Deep, rutted tracks of half baked clay steps were laying in front of us for the first part of the journey.
It was very exhausting for our animals and we took turns walking and riding. Uphill being on a horse definitively was faster than walking and we had to make sure to cover enough of a distance so we would not run into the dark at the end of the day.
Ever up we climbed until we were at our lunch spot, at the little casita called Laurel Lodge around noon time.
We had the best vegetable tortilla with fresh avocado we all had ever eaten! There was not event time to take a snap shot for our food blog entry, it was gone that fast!!!
Expecting and suiting up for wind and colder weather up on the pass we set out walking further up the mountain path.
The odds were very slim to ever see the highest pass not in clouds, but we were so lucky and the sun came out again and magically cleared the entire mountain region of rain clouds. The views were breathtaking.
Green, lush virgin forest as far as the eye could see in all directions. There were hardly any signs of civilization to be seen. A roof top here and there, a small path, a passing farmer on his mule, a discarded candy wrapper were the sparse signs of human presence in this remote part of Peru.
Having climbed up 8.000 feet, we needed to get down 6.000 feet (1.800 m) again back to where the car was hopefully waiting for us. It was a long, windy, slippery and wet downhill trail. Half of our group preferred to walk and downhill they were actually faster than the horses.
Half of us rode and it was a unique experience to feel the horse move and shift underneath you with incredible precision and balance. After all they not only needed to get their own weight down the mountain slope, they also had to balance our weights on top of that.
They clearly had done this many times before. In addition, this was heading home for most of them, so that gave them an extra burst of energy.
The last part of the trail as fairly flat and wide, and our horses clearly wanted to stretch out and run. Four of us had a fun race to the end, losing badly tied items on the way. Xavier one of our main guides luckily saw it and stopped and picked them up. Gracias!!!
Talking of our guides, they were fabulous! We had three of them always accompany the riding/ walking party and two were always with the pack horses. We had 11 horses for riding and five for the packs. The two senior guides, Xavier and Senessio as well as Saul walked and rode with us, taking turns, while Lennis and Einstein (his actual name was Albert, but he went by Einstein ;o) ) made sure the packs were properly loaded and unloaded and the pack horses kept up.
Those five clearly were a well oiled team and everyone was grateful for their attention to detail, patience and knowledge they provided during the entire trek. We could not have wished for a better crew!
Arrived at the car again, we had to say farewell to our beloved mounts and took one last group picture before splitting into two teams, one driving down and one riding down to take care of the animals.
After arriving in Leymebamba again, we were all craving hot showers and a good wash!
Needless to say that we all were ready for an early night!