Climbing a Glacier in Peru – Nevada Huaytapallana

By Erin Hancock

Huaytapallana (Quechua for “a place where you collect wildflowers”) is a spectacular place to visit in the Peruvian Andes. Few places in the world provide the opportunity to actually climb up a glacier and walk to your heart’s content. This is one of them. It is the highest peak in the Andes. When you hike up, you cannot mistake that feeling of being super old (it’s just altitude). Pace yourself.

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Adrenalina Tours offers daily excursions to the glacier leaving from Huancayo. After a short drive, you arrive at the bottom of the mountain. Along the way, do not believe the tour guide when he says you are almost there. You are not. But keep going because it is definitely worth it.

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You’ll probably see llamas and alpacas as you scale the mountain. It’s a medium difficulty hike. Take breaks as you need them. It’s mostly the altitude that gets you. Take lots of water and food. It’s a 6-hour hike in total.

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The glacial lagoon is a glowing turquoise (above left). It serves as a focal point when climbing to keep track of how far you’ve made it.

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The guide explained that we should take a break before we took on the last leg of the journey. We had a little pit for a sacrificial ceremony for a good journey and a good life and giving gratitude to the gods and many others things it seemed. It entailed drinking pisco straight from a bottle that got handed around to everyone in the tour group, taking a couple drags of a cigarette and tossing some fruit and chocolate into the pit.

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Don’t worry about bringing the proper equipment for climbing. Your guide will simply leap up to the top of the glacier in one fell swoop (in rubber boots) then hold a simple rope and invite you to grab then climb up the 25 m up. When in Peru…

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It’s cold up there. A snowstorm came through while we were up on top of the glacier which made the climb down a little tricky with icicle hands. 100% survival rate though (ok, 1 broken arm). Marius and Heather tried the surfing approach with moderate success 🙂

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This little guy on our trip saw snow for the first time. That’s right. That is a snowman…ish…type thing.

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Missing my European adventure buddies (Heather, Marius, Eliyse, Michelle and Bernard).

If you love glaciers, you might love the unique landscapes of Iceland. Check out some posts here: Iceland Tips and Info and Touring Iceland.

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Into the Jungle, Peru – La Merced

By Erin Hancock

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La Merced is a warm, humid and sunny spot compared to Huancayo in the mountains. It is situated in the central east area in Peru, about 220 kms northeast of Lima between the Andes and the Amazon. You basically drive into summer as you head to the lower altitude. This region known as Chanchamayo boasts great coffee and cacao, as well as waterfalls, an abundance of fruits and lush green scenery.

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Have your coffee straight up or take it in liqueur form. Careful – it goes down way too smoothly! Nothing like Peru’s most popular spirit pisco (made from grapes) paired with some of the world’s best coffee.

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You can visit a pretty great market featuring most of the local products. If you’re ever heard of the really expensive coffee that is extracted from animal feces and apparently tastes amazing, you can buy it here. A small package runs you the equivalent of $40USD per cup. Enjoy!

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If you want to be on a river in the jungle, that’s easy. The scenery is limited as you are in a valley between mountains but it’s a nice way to spend some time at sunset.

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There are several different waterfalls to visit. If you want a longer hike, check out Bayoz.

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“El velo de la novia” is a great spot to swim and is accessible after a short walk. You can even sneak behind the powerful waterfall to a little cavernous hiding spot.

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There is a village demonstrating how the local indigenous people live. Once you arrive, before you know it someone has painted your face and dressed you up. It has to be one of the strangest and most pushy experiences into full-on cultural appropriation perhaps, but take it for what it is. It’s a little village doing their thing to make a living and showcase what matters to them. We were all up dancing. My friend Eliyse (from Estonia) even “got married” apparently in a ceremony. The community allows men to have multiple wives so she became the newest addition to his group. He may have been 50 years her senior, but they made a cute couple. Marius (from Norway) battled a snake. Ok, he just held it.

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The coypu is a local animal that looks similar to a beaver. He was friendly and allowed for lots of hugs.

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We opted not to swim in the rushing river, but the local children were more than happy to show us their bold swimming skills after jumping off the bridge and hustling to the shore.

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And then….the next week our friends in the jungle saw this in the same area…..

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If you’re falling in love with Peru, check out other posts like waterfalls in Huancaya. More coming soon – a glacier, Huancayo in the foothills of the Andes and Lima.