T R E K K I N G P E R U
GEOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY
Peru, located along the Pacific coast of South America, is larger than many people realize. At 1,285,216 sq km, it is the third-largest country on the continent. The Andes are the principal topographic feature, a massive mountainous spine that defines three regions: coast, highlands, and Amazon basin. The magnificent scenery we see today has been forged by geologic events over millions of years, most significantly the uplifting of the Andes. Growth of these colossal mountains is the result of subduction of the Nazca tectonic plate under the South American plate. The Amazon River, which some twenty-five million years ago flowed to the Pacific, found its route blocked by the rising Andes and eventually made its way to the Atlantic. The Amazon and coastal plains were both formed by alluvial sediments arising from the Andes. Volcanic activity and earth tremors, both related to the shift of the tectonic plates, as well as water, wind, and glacial erosion, are all forces that constantly mold the Andean slopes and their surroundings ...
Several factors will determine when and how you trek in Peru: time, money, language skills, experience, and personal preference. The best time to trek is the dry season, May to September. May is particularly nice, green after the rains and not too crowded in the popular areas. (See also Climate in Chapter 2.) High season for international tourists is June to August, although Cuzco is busy all year. Peruvians take holidays in January through February, as well as for Carnival (February or March), Semana Santa (Easter, March, or April), Fiestas Patrias (one or two weeks following July 28), and Todos Santos (November 1). These are good times to be out on the trail and avoid crowds in cities and towns. The Peruvian government tourist office, iPerú (see Appendix A), is very good and has offices in the main cities. Municipal tourist offices found in many smaller towns vary in quality.
INDEPENDENT VS. ORGANIZED TREKKING
There are several different ways to go trekking in Peru: on your own, with a company or guide, and with or without pack animals ...
There is not enough space in this book to provide all the information you need to travel in Peru. Many excellent guidebooks have been published about the country (see Appendix A) and are a recommended companion to this volume.
GETTING YOURSELF READY
Since the finest trekking opportunities in Peru are in the highlands, where walking up and down steep mountain slopes, often at altitudes above 4000 m is the rule, being in good physical condition is especially important. Even if you are in great shape, you will need a period of acclimatization when you arrive at high altitude. Acclimatization, immunizations, and other health preparations are discussed in Chapter 5.
Your stay in Peru will also be easier and more meaningful if you can communicate with its people. Although some Peruvians in the main tourist centers speak English or other foreign languages, the vast majority do not. Throughout the coast and in the larger cities of the highlands, Spanish is the main language. In smaller highland towns and rural areas, the majority of people speak Quechua, or Aymara around Lake Titicaca, with Spanish as a second language. A few older people speak little or no Spanish. Appendix B is a basic glossary but is not sufficient for your travels. Learn some Spanish ahead of your trip or begin your trip by learning Spanish. Lima, Arequipa, and Cuzco, among other cities, all have Spanish schools. Several dialects of Quechua are spoken in different regions of the highlands, so it is impractical to learn them all, but it is worth mastering a few phrases ...
In Peru an ounce of prevention is worth ten pounds of cure. Safe and healthy trekking and travel are the rule here but must not be taken for granted. Simple routine precautions will suffice to ensure a wonderful experience for most visitors, yet the consequences of carelessness can be severe. This chapter attempts to summarize a vast and complex literature as well as the authors’ experience regarding major health and safety issues. For additional sources of information, see Appendix A and check for updates because things change. Ultimately, most of the safety decisions we take while trekking, traveling, or doing anything else are personal judgment calls. You are responsible for your own welfare in Peru; nobody else will keep you out of trouble.
A NOTE ABOUT SAFETY
Safety is an important concern in all outdoor activities. No guidebook can alert you to every hazard or anticipate the limitations of every reader. Therefore, the descriptions of roads, trails, routes, and natural features in this book are not representations that a particular place or excursion will be safe for your party. When you follow any of the routes described in this book, you assume responsibility for your own safety. Under normal conditions, safe trekking requires the usual attention to traffic, road and trail conditions, weather, terrain, the capabilities of your party, and other factors. Keeping informed on current conditions and exercising common sense are the keys to safe and enjoyable trekking.
Political conditions may add to the risks of travel in Peru in ways that this book cannot predict. When you travel, you assume this risk and should keep informed of developments that may make safe travel difficult or impossible ...
Peru is bigger than you think. If you have limited time, consider doing treks in one area (chapter) or in a couple of neighboring ones. We are confident you will return later for others.
Treks in this section present varying levels of difficulty and run from half a day to two weeks in length. (See the Trek Summaries table at the beginning of this book.) A number of the treks are long. Most of these, however, have several possible entry and exit points. You can trek only part of a route to make it shorter. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a longer trekking experience, there are various contiguous routes that can easily be combined. Chapter maps will assist you in planning.
The routes were selected to offer innovative treks and do not include the most popular ones that may be overused and have already been described elsewhere. There are endless trekking opportunities in Peru, and you are heartily encouraged, once you feel comfortable, to strike out and discover your own.The described treks are grouped into six chapters, corresponding to six geographical regions. Most of the regions are popular tourist destinations in their own right; not surprisingly they also offer excellent trekking opportunities. These regions are presented from north to south. The most popular trekking routes (“the beaten path”) and suggested day walks (“limbering up”) are listed at the beginning of each chapter. The latter include some very nice hikes that are great for acclimatization or as a complement to longer treks. Although not described in detail, they are well worth checking out ...
|English • Español||www.trekkingperu.org||© Robert & Daisy Kunstaetter|