From Trujillo, we took our first night bus for the 9 hour journey high up into the Andes. It was a surprisingly pleasant experience, as we went for the slightly pricier seats which reclined quite far back and had a decent amount of leg room and before we knew it we were waking up in the mountains.
At 7am, straight of the bus and feeling a little groggy we decided not to waste any time and get on with our first adventure activity, a mammoth downhill mountain bike ride. After checking and double checking the brakes on our rented bikes, we loaded them on to the roof of the ricketiest old bus you´ve ever seen. We´ve been on some dodgy buses on our travels but this one had to be the worst. Before we got going everyone got off, and we noticed that the bus started rolling down the road. It was only when everyone got back on huffing and puffing that we realised the driver had asked everyone to get off and push to get it started, and we were sat there like a pair of lazy tourists completely oblivious to what was going on! After it´s shaky start it wasn´t surprising that the bus broke down another two times on the steep 1 hour journey, but we eventually made it to the top of the mountain. The views of the surrounding mountain ranges were awesome but we were feeling pretty breathless being so high so we didn´t hang around and began the super speedy 3 hour (all downhill!) ride.
It was a really excilerating experience zooming down the windy roads at top speed, and it was made even better by not having to peddle once! Towards the bottom of the mountain we had to cycle through some local villages and lots of the children seemed very excited to see us, waving and shouting !Hola¡, as we went past.
In the evening, it was time to do what I´d been wanting to do since arriving in Peru....eat some Guinea pig. We chose a decent looking restaurant in the hope that it may be prepared in a slightly more delectable way than we´d seen in other places, but it turned out Guinea Pig only really comes one way...slapped on the plate! The picture says it all really.
The taste of it wasn´t actually too bad, a lot like chicken, but it wasn´t easy eating something which still had its head, paws, and a few hairs still attached. There were only a few mouthfulls of meat on it anyway so the ordeal didn´t last long. It seemed a nice touch that they decorated the plate with creamy yellow slime, just to complete the experience!
On our second day, we took a tour into the Cordilleras Blaca mountain range, the highest in the world outside of the Himalayas. It was a very bumpy hour and a half mini bus ride climbing a dirt road through the valley to two stunning bright turquoise lagoons nestled in a glacial valley.
We were treated to yet more jawdropping scenery, quite similar to Tiger Leaping Gorge in China.
In the afternoon we visited the town of Yungay, which is the site of the worst natural disaster in the Andes. An earthquake in 1970 caused a landslide of 15 million cubic meters of granite and ice and almost all of the town´s 20,000 inhabitants were buried alive in 2 seconds. They rebuilt the town elsewhere and the site of the disaster is now a picturesque memorial garden of flowers and palm trees. It was quite eerie walking around the place in the dusk light as the guide told us that only 92 people were able to escape by climbing a large monument which is still standing. Some of the rocks from the landslide have been left where they fell and they´re literally the size of houses. Just before heading home we watched the setting sun turn the snow capped Mount Huascaran bright orange, which was a rather impressive sight.
In the evening it was time to take our second night bus back down through the mountains to Peru´s capital, Lima.