Previous Post: Day 7 – Rest Day In the Upper Chachakumani Valley
- time: 7:45 to 3:10
- distance: 11 km
- high point: 5040 m
- campsite: 4619 m
- route: kml file here
We had spent the past day and a half at our Chachakumani campsite but it was time to shift into “trekking” mode again. On the menu for the day was a steep ascent to the day’s high point – 600 meters of altitude gain in 2 kilometres – after an easy walk up the valley to a spot where we could ford the river. The high point of the day would be followed by a equally steep descent to the Jaillahuaya valley which we would walk down for over five kilometres. The day would end with a short ascent to the start of a hidden valley which sits above the Jaillahuaya.
Ready for us when we got there were the tents and the cups of tea. There is something to be said for doing your day’s walk with a water bottle and lunch and emergency rain gear and a couple of cameras while the guide takes care of all the route details and a trekking crew takes care of all the food and accommodation and most of your personal baggage.
But then – that is why it costs what it costs! (The Mountain Kingdoms 22-day package [see here] costs 1665 U.K. Pounds but that included three nights in La Paz and three nights at Lake Titicaca before the trek to help with the acclimatization process. You need about a week’s time before you can set off on the trek.)
You could do a budget version with the donkey master doubling as the guide but you couldn’t do it all on your own. And, as already noted, who knows what route from camp to camp the arriero would take you on? Our guide Javier had done the trek more than a few times and has certainly developed a route that delivers on the “Wow” scale.
The satellite image below presents a different view of the route we took from our previous night’s camp up the Chachakumani Valley and then over the day’s pass and high point down to the Jaillahuaya Valley. (Note that Jaillahuaya, like other Aymara terms, has at least a half-dozen different English spellings in use. Jayawaya, Jaillawaya, Jayllawaya … the possiblities are many!I may have used more than one in this post!)
It is amazing to think that in fourteen days of walking not one person twisted an ankle or suffered a serious fall. All but two of us – nine of eleven – made use of trekking poles, some more than others. The descent captured in the photo above was not untypical! The poles were invaluable in maintaining stability and balance on the way down and took a lot of the stress off the knees. As much as I struggled at times on the aerobic-intensive ascents, I got to forget the pain as I danced my way down the slopes.
Once down on the valley floor we walked down the valley for some distance, eventually spotting a bicycle leaning against a rock in the field. Sure enough, it was a sign that a more established trail was nearby; the herder from the village at the bottom of the valley had bicycled up to check on the llamas. We’d take the trail down the valley to the point where we climbed up from the valley floor and onto a plateau which is really a hidden valley above the Jaillawaya River and its valley.
The satellite image below shows the route down the Jailluhuaya valley and the final brief climb up to the beginning of a hidden valley. We would gain about 100 meters over the last kilometer of the day’s route as we walked the sometimes sketchy trail. before we stepped over the stream the tents came into view – and we knew the day was done.