Read my contribution to the InsureandGo blog about an adventure while backpacking.
The Cordillera Huayhuash, a 30km long mountain range in Peru’s high Andean region of Ancash. The rugged landscape and it’s wild and unpredictable weather conditions is crowned by the high snow covered peaks of Yerupaja, Siula Grande, Jirishanca Yerupaja Chico and Rasac, all of which reach skywards at altitudes of over 6,000m, making it the second highest mountain range in the tropics.
Each year trekkers come in groups, or alone to complete the unforgiving 160km circuit of the range, where altitudes rarely dip below 4,000m. The tough but rewarding trek follows trails and small segments of old Inca road over high pass after high pass, through an Andean wilderness where condors soar high along the ridges and peaks in search of carrion, and wild horses graze in small herds.
Unlike the its much larger sibling to the north, the Cordillera Blanca, the Huayhuash range is not a national park. Small farming communities live among the many grass covered valleys, tending to livestock put out to pasture during the drier seasons and providing occasional supplies and refreshments to the trekkers and climbers that pass through the land.
My contribution (10th down) to this piece on the Guardian, the trek is actually called the Quilcayhuanca to Cojup trek (aka Jo’s Trek) and is in the Cordillera Blanca : Great treks around the world: readers’ travel tips | Travel | The Guardian.
Last June I went to Peru. Looking to fulfill a lifelong ambition of seeing condors, I set off on two hiking expeditions into the Cordillera Huayhuash, and the Cordillera Blanca. I took some photographs, wrote some stories, and now I’ve made a film. My good friend Mick Harrison and his National Screen Service music project provided the stunning soundtrack, so do it some justice, play on good speakers, or headphones, and turn it up loud. Thank you.
My latest travel story/photo blog
The giant bird glides on a thermal above me, adjusting its path with the slightest of movements. Its long black feathers spread out like great fingers across the tips of its enormous wings, its white collar bright among dark plumage. It’s huge, maybe 3m across. The rare and sacred Andean condor, one of the largest birds in the world.
When I was seven years old, I read a Tin-Tin comic in which the young adventurer was carried away by a condor. The image struck a chord in me. Imagine a bird so huge? I’ve dreamt of seeing one ever since.
I first came to Peru in 2010, spending six weeks zigzagging between mountains and coast, until eventually crossing the Andes and into the Amazon. Only without seeing a single condor. Three years later, and there’s one right above me.
This morning I awoke on day three of a solo trek…
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