Eight of our girls took an unforgettable trip to Peru this Summer, see the account here.
Dates: Sunday 5th July – Sunday 26th July
Company: Outlook Expeditions
Written by: Miss Snaith
Finance – Sarah and Kate
Food – Harriet and Katherine
Transport – Poppy and Emily
Fuel/Gas – Beth
Project – Lauren
Sunday Final Preparation Day (FPD) at Uxbridge College.
Girls went through final pack of their personal kit, pitched tents to ensure that they had everything and booked first accommodation in Cusco.
Monday was mainly travelling from Heathrow to Houston to Lima.
First day in Cusco was just about girls getting a phone and wandering around to get acclimatised. The second day the girl planned their meals for project and went shopping. They were in groups of 4, and were independent for the afternoon.
Kate’s birthday today and I couldn’t find a cake, so bought some biscuits for us to have after dinner. Sung her happy birthday as well!
Project: Day one in Patacancha
Thursday morning we were picked up early by pre-arranged minibus as there was a protest/march in Cusco that was shutting roads off. The trip took about 3-3 ½ hours, plus we stopped for a loo stop just outside Ollantaytambo.
As soon as we got to project we were moving some pipes out of the community hall and starting to sand the windows and paint the first layer of “glue” on the walls of half the hall. Dave and I looked at accommodation before the girls took their kit and settled in in the late afternoon.
The villagers also offered us breakfast when we arrived – Alpaca and potatoes. Most of the girls at least tried it.
There was no running water in the village for the first day as the villagers were laying new pipes. The village has only had running water for 1 year. The girls realised how important it was to make sure they had pre-prepared water (ie 2 litres of chlorinated water).
After working during the day the locals asked us to play football with them. The girls played with the young girls and ladies and then some of the other young girls just played on the side lines.
On this first night 5 of the girls lay outside of the hall and watched the stars – the sky was covered!
Project: Day two
Girls were painting again in the morning, and then preparing the wood for the shelving in the afternoon. Again before dinner the girls played with the local children. Lauren had brought balloons for them to play with. The girls were very much getting involved with the artisan market, but also interacting with the local people.
Project: Day three
Girls were preparing some more wood for the artisan market. They then cleaned/tidied the room.
In the afternoon we watched as the local men who had done most of the carpentry work painted the tin roof red.
The local president then came over to us and offered to prepare lunch for us. This was to be the sheep that they had brought us in the morning. We hadn’t realised it at the time. They gave us sheep and potatoes and then a herb tea. Most of the girls at least tried it.
After this the local ladies brought their goods to the market and there was a presentation to us of bracelets that they had made us to thank us for our help. The ladies then lay their goods out for us to buy some bits. This was the purpose of the room, and I’m guessing when more tourists visit or they have a market to sell goods this is what the room will be used for. They sold socks, hats, alpaca key rings etc etc.
Again St Marys girls played football and played with the younger girls. I then brought out some modelling balloons for the locals – even the adults were chuffed with these!
Project: Day four
This was pretty much a rest day for the girls. We were hoping to have some local ladies show us how to do some weaving, but it didn’t happen, and I think this may be because one of the ladies had to leave the village with her husband. So the girls spent time organising their meals for the trek, feeding back on the project and in the afternoon we went for a walk in the local valley.
Bus took us back to Cusco. Girls showered, changed, organised themselves and then we met our guide for the trek, Jorges. He took us to the local market and showed the girls where to buy food. Emily said this was the first time she had been to a market. Girls were then left to shop. They returned to the hostel with food for 15 people for 8 days, plus dinner for that night.
Trek Day one:
Bus to start of trek left Cusco at 6am. We have 2 local guides (Jorges and Juan).
Got to village and sorted kit and then started walking about 11.30am. We had a few stops along the way to rest, lunch, get extra drinks etc. We didn’t get into camp until after dark. We had to walk into camp using head torches. Girls set up own tents and Rebecca and I sorted out dinner as the girls were clearly struggling with tiredness. They covered about 18km – rising about 500m and descending 1200m.
Trek Day two:
Awake at 4am. Left camp at 5.40am (in the dark). Descended to the valley floor (500m) and then climbed the mountain the other side (1500m). Some of the girls really struggled today, and lots of motivation had to be given to get them up the mountain. Lauren got on the mule at the midmorning break. Rebecca followed her on foot to the top. We all met back up at the top of the mountain mid afternoon and made the last stretch to the campsite together.
Over dinner we discussed the plans for the remainder of the trek, it was decided by the girls to have a couple of rest days and not climb the highest peak, but still do the last 3 days.
Trek Day three:
Went to Choquequirao today (300m climb and descent). It is an Inca site, second to Machu Picchu. Jorges gave us a guide around the site and then the girls wandered around by themselves. We ate lunch there and then returned to the campsite.
Trek Day four:
We had to walk up (300m), to then walk down (1900m) and up again (1100m). We walked through Paddington Bear mountains, but didn’t see any. Sarah and I descended together and had to find shade at the valley floor. We all ate lunch together and then Lauren got on the mule again to go up the other hillside. Over lunch the girls were able to put their feet in the river and cool down a bit. This campsite is basically a farm with pigs, goats, horses/mules and chickens with a bit of grass for people to camp on.
A dog followed us from the last campsite all morning. He sat with Sarah over lunch, but then disappeared in the afternoon.
Trek Day five:
1200m climb to the pass. We all climbed at our own pace. Lauren got on the mule at one point, but there were lots of steps and the mules were having to jump them, so it wasn’t safe for her. It was also very muddy in parts and slippery for them. At the top we all had lunch together again. Beth’s birthday so I took some extra sweets/cakes for everyone to have over lunch. We then all walked together down to the next village. Jorges went ahead and got a truck to take us to La Playa where we are going to rest for 2 days. He said this was best as it was market day otherwise we may not be able to get transport the next day if we camped here. The truck took 4 hours to go over the next pass (4700m) and was quite cold in the truck. Once we got to La Playa, we pitched tents and had food. This was a late night, but the next day was a rest day.
Trek Day six:
Girls read their books, played cards, washed their clothes and generally wandered around the campsite and relaxed. Lauren’s team cooked omelettes for brunch.
Trek Day seven:
Harriet cooked fried potatoes for breakfast. Another relaxing morning. Freddie the owner of the campsite cooked us lunch (Jorges knows them and even he was surprised!) and then in the afternoon took us around his land – bananas, coffee beans, avocados and limes/lemons. Showed us how to pick coffee beans and how to make coffee, and then served us some of his coffee. Juan also showed the girls how to play a game (throwing metal rounds at a wooden base to score points).
Trek Day eight:
Rebecca, Emily and Lauren got the minivan with our bags to Hydroelectrica. The rest of us walked on an Inca trail. Last day’s trek. On the trek we visited another Inca site and were able to see Machu Picchu across the valley. Then we descended to the train station. We got there earlier than expected, so we had quite a wait before getting the train to Aguas Calientes.
We got to the hostel and the girls were able to have a shower and then we went out for dinner (literally across the road). This is the first civilisation we have seen for a week!
Walked to the start of the trail in the dark (4.45am), and then started the trail up the mountain with a lot of other people. It drizzled a bit on the way up, but that was nice as it was quite humid even at that early time.
It was cloudy when we got to the Inca site, and we walked to the top and the cloud started to disperse, and we saw “that view” of Machu Picchu. We walked altogether towards the sun gate, but it was a lot further than we expected, so we arranged to meet the girls later and we all went off in our own little groups to see the site. As we got to midday, it was getting much busier and much hotter. We all met up again and headed back down to Aguas Calientes. Some of the girls went to the hot springs and the others went to the market. The hot springs didn’t turn out so well, and they were back quite quickly.
We sorted out group kit/food and then headed for dinner. Some of the girls then went to the market in the evening as well.
Train from Aguas Calintes to Ollantaytambo, and then minivan to Cusco. Girls then had to sort trangias/transport etc and then we went for our last meal together. Some of us tried guinea pig!
The girls then had some free time to do some souvenir shopping. They all came back to the hostel before the curfew time and spent some time in our dorm showing us all their goods.
Girls had more free time in the morning. Met back up at the hostel before getting taxis to the coach station. 23 hours on a coach from Cusco to Lima.
Coach trip and then taxi from Lima coach station to the airport. We had a few hours to wait in the airport before the check-in desk opened.
Flight from Lima via Newark this time. Very quick stopover in Newark – girls were great running across the airport and then final flight to Heathrow.