Location: Ollantaytambo to Lares
Our day started out with a bus ride – a very long bus ride. Everyone was pretty quiet as we all got up early to pack for our trek, so the only noise for most of the ride was the ridiculous mash-ups that the driver played over the speakers. These remixes consisted mainly of Rhianna, Ke$ha and Lady Gaga and were as strange as they were entertaining. The noise and energy levels picked up, however, as we drove further up the mountains. The scenery was absolutely stunning and people got pretty excited when we started passing large flocks of sheep, alpacas and llamas. At this time the main sound that could be heard on the bus was a collective and resounding “awwwww.” The “awwwwing” continued for another half an hour until we reached the snowy peaks of the mountains and stopped at the highest point on the road. This resulted in an excessive amount of photo taking and shivering as, at this point, everyone realized that we were not prepared for the Andean climate. After several more pictures and at least three interjections of “gosh it’s cold,” we got back in the bus and continued on to the hot springs of Lares. What most of us didn’t realize was that the amount of snow on the mountains was unseasonal so not only did our bus ride take longer than expected but our hiking route needed to be changed as the original one was unsafe. By the time we actually got to the hot springs, it was too late to start any hiking so we spent the rest of the day chilling in the warm water and eating in the tents. The springs were lovely aside from the unsettling brown color the minerals caused. It did take some time for us to get comfortable in the water though – because one pool was too hot and one was too cool – but eventually we found one that was just right. We then truly started our “glamping” experience by having both lunch and dinner and even a teatime cooked for us and served to us in a large dining tent. So, all in all, despite not being able to start our trek, we ended up having a pretty nice day. There was beautiful scenery, lots of photos taken and food in a tent – a great way to prepare for our hike.