A Day Trip to the Pastoruri Glacier – Day 119

Thu 31st May

I didn’t do much yesterday, another kind of admin day sorting things and photos. I also had to wait until 7pm to see if the Paramount Mountain Tour would run but unfortunately the numbers weren’t enough so I had to book something else – to the Pastoruri Glacier!!!

Thursday I’m up and ready to leave. I get picked up around half 9 and we are a group of about 14 people – a great mix of Peruvian’s, French, Dutch and Canadians.

After 40 minutes stop at a tourist restaurant for coca leaf tea and to order lunch for later our return.

Back on the bus, we set off for a different side of the Huascarán National Park and this time I have to pay my 30s entry fee! Our first stop is at Laguna Patococha….apparently famous for its bird life and ducks (pato) but on this occasion, I didn’t see any! The mountains in the distance were pretty cool again thou.

Piling back on the bus, we stop again this time at a hardly worth mentioning gaseous pond and dried up lake. The only semi interesting bit here were the sort of giant pineapple trees – Puya Raimondii’s which are also known as the Queen of the Andes found solely in the tropical Andean regions of Peru and Bolivia.

They are known as the worlds largest bromeliad – part of the pineapple family and can grow up to 15m tall. A pretty sad existence – they flower only once in their 100 year lifespan with over 1000 flowers, spreading millions of seeds and then die!

Back on and another stop to the lake of 7 colours. Having been to San Andres and seen the sea of 7 colours, I was quite excited to see the lake – massive anticlimax! This was it…

So having made several stops so far, the actual best bit has been the view of the mountains in the distance….totally different from the view a few days ago but equally as amazing.

We get dropped off in a car park and are pointed in the direction of the path…that way to the glacier…

We start the walk at around 4800m and after my altitude problems the other day, I’m taking this one slow. It’s not a hike at all but a stroll up a paved path, but still an incline and at this height, my lungs are again wondering what the hell is going on!

The guides say it takes about an hour to reach the glacier viewpoint but I got here in about 25 mins taking a slow and steady pace. At the mirador point, there’s only me and 2 others guys looking out at this phenomenal glacier below….I’ve never seen one before and it’s quite something.

It’s such a thrilling feeling to be visiting such amazing a d awesome places of such natural beauty in the middle of nowhere. I’m again in awe and thrilled to be lucky enough to be living out my dream too see such wonders.

Apart from being thrilled at the view and I’m also now overjoyed at the fact I’ve finally scaled over 5000m!!!

My head isn’t as happy as me though and I again have an imploding headache. A French girl on my tour offers me some coca leaves and sensibly I accept. Oh my dear god – they are fine in tea but to chew on their own…bloody awful! I hunt for a tissue and promptly have to rid my mouth of this awful taste!

There is a path that takes u to right in front of the glacier. The chap in the booking office told me you can touch the glacier but I was glad to see there is a rope a good metre from the glacier. It doesn’t prevent stupid people from attempting to touch and going near it but everybody up here does seem to be respecting the rope cordoning. You are however still close enough to see the cracks in the ice from the flow of melted water and also some cool icicles hanging from some of its crevices.

Pastoruri is part of the Cordillera Blanca in The Huascarán National Park and one of only a few glaciers remaining in these tropical parts of South America.

It is predicted thou that this natural wonder will not be with us in 10 years time and has already shrunk by over 40% in the last 20 years….the sad effects of global warming right in front of me. This sign shows how much the glacier has retreated over the last few decades. I have read that Pastoruri is actually no longer a glacier due to the fact it doesn’t build up in winter to release in the summer – it is now just a case of melt melt melt….very sad indeed and I’m glad I got to see it before it retreats to nothing. There is a sign post that shows how much the glacier has shrunk in the last 40 years or so.

When u live your life in your towns and cities back home, u hear about global warming and it’s effects but actually seeing the effects of it for real makes it hit home. Pastoruri is now sadly being branded as the place to see climate change in motion….

I venture off towards the lake and a faint path I can see. The view here is even better….a different part of the glacier, with different shades of white and pale blues.

All this, the mountains and stunning reflections in the lake before it.

I stand and just soak up this amazing image for a while. Again, it’s truly breathtaking. This is one of the most beautiful and stunning places I’ve been to in my life. Amazing.

As more and more people start to reach the glacier, I decide to head back down. Absorbing the mountainous views around me the whole time. I absolutely love it here.

Much warmer back at the car park, I grab a snack and it’s time to go back towards Huaraz, back down the windy roads through the amazing Andes

Around half 3ish, we stop at the restaurant from this morning for a very late lunch. By the time they bring out the food, it’s gone 4 and far too late for lunch. Personally I would rather take my isn food and just go straight back without stopping. Everyone us shattered and it’s an odd time to eat too. Luckily I only ordered a sandwich so can still enjoy dinner this evening.

Back at the hostel around 6, I’m in a dorm for the night so sit upstairs in the communal area. I get chatting to a few people I’ve met over the lady few days and end up changing the £35 I have left in Colombian pesos – sweet…a nice little money enterprise going on!

After a shower and some warm clothes – my new alpaca jumper, Lee and I head out for some pizza! Tomorrow we’re leaving the beauty of the Cordillera Blanca for Lima…..

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