Colca Canyon Without A Guide – Day 2

Trotting on

Sangalle Oasis to tiny Fure

The floor was packed mud, the door and ceiling corrugated iron and two of the bedroom walls had blue plastic sheeting covering crumbling dirt brick. Despite the Winnie the Pooh fleece comfortingly tucked onto my bed, this was definitely the most rustic room I’d ever stayed in. There isn’t even a road into the tiny settlement of Fure. This is how we got there.

Rachael and I in our new home.

We’d seen our path the previous day, a mirror zigzag up the other side of the canyon. After filling our water bottles from a stream; in fact we’d had to run back because we didn’t realize the bridge we’d seen spanned cliffs 15ft above the river; we purified our water and tackled the slope. Halfway it levelled to a plateau coated with a strange garden of labelled cacti. It was so hot! Perhaps that upped our level of silliness. We took photos of ourselves pretending to be cacti, Rachel got stabbed in the foot, and we carried on past the terraces up to the horizontal road.

Follow the white zigzag from the top right to the oasis (that was day 1) then continue up left on the otherside of the oasis (the beginning of day 2)

Playing in the cacti garden

When our road began to head down, we looked up and spotted hikers on a parallel path above. Backtracking, we converged and without wasting breath by initial story swapping, a girl with spotlight blue eyes said, “Are you going to Fure? Stay with Carina and eat the plato tipico.” We quickly swapped more information about route and logistics while one of their group boiled water for tea, and then headed off on the right track this time.

Arriving at 12.45 meant we could eat a surprisingly delicious meal of oriental tuna and biscuits and rest before tackling an hour to the biggest local waterfall, Huaruro. A round trip of two hours for the others, I was transfixed and wanted to find a way to the base. It seemed impossible. While Vickie was game for a while, eventually we both gave up and instead sat still, soaking in the tremendous noise and peace of the place.

When we came back the sun had long gone behind the jagged mountain teeth and the air was crisp. Rachael had great fun hosing down Vickie (I couldn’t believe she was game!), but there was no way I was going to take a mountain shower and lower my body temperature any more. My clothes smelt of wood-stove once more and I was probably pretty stinky but no one cares while trekking.

That day something changed in our group. Perhaps it was the map reading and making decisions together as a team, maybe it was the width of the road enabling our group to mingle and chat more easily, but we gelled. Before supper we all sheltered from the desert night in mine and Rachael’s room and someone had the wonderful idea of massaging each others trekked out bodies. As we pummelled each other we talked and talked and then with all our layers on we continued with horror stories of pregnancies – real girl chat. Poor Tom! He took himself off to listen to music.

Vickie’s room adjoined ours and the wall between didn’t touch the ceiling. Again after lights out, we shared stories. I think of both their kind, curious enquiries that night into the story of Bronson and I. I felt a warmth expanding in my chest as I told our tale, a feeling of love and luck and incredulousness.