After Bolivia- which is now firmly cemented as one of my favourite places in the world- we crossed the border to Peru. And sadly, the majority of my time in Peru was spent with a bad case of the runs. This didn’t stop me doing most things, but it did stop me drinking, which is arguably the greatest crime ever achievable by a bacterial organism. At one point I mistakenly thought it had been conquered, proceeded to have a few beers to honour the occasion… big mistake: It returned so violently my intestines still quiver pitifully at the thought of it.
But while I was staggering around in a dehydrated daze, clutching a ragged toilet roll like a junkie cradling his crack pipe, I did manage to achieve a few cool things. Even if they were a bit painful at the time. Note: Peru is not the best place for ‘the squits’, there is a distinct lack of toilets combined with a profusion of long and bumpy bus rides.
One of the cool things was the Colca Canyon. We stayed in Chivay at first, the weather was abysmal with hotels to match so we didn’t hang around for long. The next day we headed out on a death bus to Cabanconde, where we spent a couple of nights in the coldest hostel in the world. I slept in all my clothes, under 79 blankets and the skins of several dead llamas and still lay there shivering like a junkie going cold turkey.
Luckily it was all worth it for the trek down into the canyon, which is the world’s second deepest. It’s twice as deep as the Grand Canyon at 4100 metres, and the knee-punishing trek takes you down about 1200 metres in altitude. Most people spend the night down at the oasis after that, but being perpetual masochists we decided to hike back up the same day. Well I say ‘we’, Jem cheated and took a mule, while I toiled back up the summit and got a sunburnt arm for my trouble!