Machu Picchu limeño – The Machu Picchu of Lima
The trip began in Lima, at the ZBUSS terminal, (Zitabus) at Jr. Julian Pineyro 440 – Rimac – Lima. There is also another terminal at Plaza Norte. Cost: Monday –Friday 7 Soles, Saturday-Sunday 8.50 Soles. DNI, Passport required.
After two hours of Jackie Chan fight scenes playing on the bus TV, we rolled into the city of Huaral, located north, in the state of Lima. We took a taxi a short ride near the Mercado (market) where fresh juice, fruit, and water can be purchased. There were several taxi drivers on the sidewalk and haggling over prices, (around 30-35 Soles each person). Luckily we had a couple from Huaral in our group, and they took us to the Tourista Terminal a short walk back down the road. There a couple of vehicles were hired as we had nine people in our group, for 25 Soles each. (Contact info: Jose Rafael P. Claro: 997277583 Movi: 995729290, or 7252578) Jose can haul up to 7 people, 6 comfortable plus gear on top, and can pick up/drop-off at the bus terminal if arranged ahead of time.
It’s approximately three hours from Huaral to the trailhead, following the Chancay River as it winds through the valley patched with agriculture, then off the hard surface onto the bumpy dirt road, which switchbacks up the desert plains dotted with cactus, and then into the foothills of the Andes.
The temperature change was noticeable as we pulled into the quaint little town, or pueblo, of La Florida, 2500 meters. It’s definitely not Miami! La Florida is the last chance to buy water, and snacks before heading up. Also available here is a hotel, and restaurant. A lady was by the cars before we got out, ready to collect a token amount of 5 Soles per person, for collaboration of entering Rupac, and hands us a numbered receipt with information on it, after we filled in our names and ID numbers in a book. The hike can begin from La Florida, however we were shuttled up to the pueblo of San Salvador de Pampas.
Pampas – a town that’s seen better days. At 3100 meters, Pampas was founded by the Spanish in 1600. Now a ghost town of quiet streets overgrown with lush vegetation; most of the windows are shuttered, and doors padlocked shut, but a few remain open and well preserved, while others are in decay. With no electricity, or running water, residents moved away to La Florida or beyond.
One of the donkeys whines ohhhhhhh as Jose straps on a large mesh bag carrying packs and gear from some of the hikers who brought the kitchen sink…..items they didn’t want to carry up the trail. It’s 50 Soles per person each way, for the donkey to carry a person’s gear. By the time the donkeys were loaded, clouds and mist drizzled down upon us as we began our trek, and visibility was low as we neared the wood plank bridge crossing a stream.
Further up the trail, there is a shallow stream to cross by carefully keeping balance as one hops across on exposed rocks. It’s a good place to fill bottles or canteens with water, if the hiker has a purification system. The trail is steep in places with long uphill climbs, and switchbacks that got my quadriceps burning. The exercise felt good though – pain is just weakness leaving the body.
There is a sign showing 800 meters, and then another at 300 meters. On the right side of the trail there is a small tomb with femur bones laying in it, and finally on the left Rupac comes into view through the clouds and mist.
The weather cleared during the night, leaving the air crisp and cold. Early the next morning, I awoke to beautiful views and captured shots as the sun peeked over the mountain, bathing Rupac with its light. Rupac is Pre-Inca, and was built by the Atavillos culture, 900 – 1500AD.
Later in the morning, the sea of clouds broke up and began lifting upward around 10:30am, then the mist and low visibility set in again.
Campers from another group, packed up and left, leaving behind a bag of trash and empty water bottles in the camping area, which we had to haul down. It’s common sense, but camping ethics dictate that If You Pack It In, Then Pack It Out.