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Adventure with Good Friends (Peru 2)
The starting shot for the realization of my dream has been fired. The adventure can begin. Now, things have to become more concrete. So, let's think carefully how this could work: through the Peruvian jungle, across the Andes, up to a height of 4,600 meters. I may have no arms and no legs, but I have two rather good friends.
Ziemlich starke Freunde
Torsten and Sven are triathletes. Strong, fit and as crazy as me. Somehow, we still manage to plan: After having excluded all other transport modes – I am not tall, but I simply do not fit into a child carrier – we start liking the idea of a trekking backpack.
Unforgettable: the facial expression of the shop assistant in the fancy outdoor equipment store. "What a mad bunch you are" he blurted out, when Torsten and Sven started putting me in the trekking backpack ready for adventure.
Off we go to test and exercise: In the Elbe Sandstone Mountains it quickly turns out that our Peru tour will be an extreme challenge despite the good shape of my carriers. Slight doubts on my side: Will I manage to sit in a trekking backpack for five entire days?
All great so far
Another great uncertainty of our adventure called Peru, which on our arrival has me pondering again, concerns the enormous difference in altitude. How will we get on when the air gets thin? Beyond 2,500 meters, non-locals are likely to suffer from altitude sickness – particularly under physical activity. The risk for my two carriers who have to carry an additional weight of no less than 30 kilos of Janis plus the backpack's weight worries me a bit. I, on the contrary, get dizzy from excitement alone, a phenomenon I immediately compensate by panic shopping. When on July 17 we depart after a couple of days of acclimatization I have already broken my first rule to keep my supply bag's weight at a "maximum of 7 kilos".
Altitude is not in my blood
First day: bright sunshine, stunning panorama, we are approaching a snow-covered mountain. How I love these natural panoramic views! At lunchtime we arrive at our first shelter. We have already reached an altitude of 3,900 meters and are living and breathing adventure in its purest form.
Still euphoric from our departure, in the afternoon we decide to walk on to a lake at 4,200 meters above sea level. After a while Sven and Torsten realize that the height is in fact starting to take its toll on them. They don't manage to carry me up. Without further ado our guide helps out. He grew up here and the height doesn't bother him. His body simply produces more red blood corpuscles which provide the cells with an extra-portion of oxygen. My body obviously doesn't: On the following day I get tortured by headache and feel a bit sick. I am totally exhausted. However, a tough section lies ahead of us on the second day of our tour. We have to cross the Salkantay Pass.
Learn how to manage your energy
The Salkantay trail winds through the Andes at breathtaking heights – up to 4,630 meters of altitude. As the terrain is getting more and more impassable we have to literally swap seats: Our horses carry us safely over the steep scree trail. However, as I am not able to hold on to the horse, I have to share the saddle with our companion. And the saddle is made for just one person, which makes the ride "slightly uncomfortable" to put it mildly. Things still turned out relatively well. We are even extremely lucky. One day later we would have been caught by a heavy snowstorm. It's hard to imagine. The icy wind and thin air don't seem particularly inviting. Fact is: The same day we have to descend by 1,900 meters to reach our next night's shelter. One more reason for us to be put on horseback. Sven and Torsten need their strength for the descent.