Saturday, November 2, 2013

Danny and Vilcabamba 1...

October 29:

We are staying in Vilcabamba, which is in southern Ecuador near the Peruvian border. We are staying in a lovely hotel with a view of Mandango Mountain. 
Our guidebook said that a trail went to the top, but recommended getting a guide and not to hike alone, to deter potential robbers. The owner of the hotel said that one of his nephews would probably guide me. Sure enough Remy who is sixteen years old agreed to lead me.  We got a taxi to take us close to the trailhead. The trailhead was an unmarked gate, which I would have never recognized as a trailhead. Without Remy my hike would have ended there. My guidebook said most people turned around at this point, but we decided to continue along the narrow edge of the mountain until we got to the top.  

The view as all views from tops of mountains was awesome.  

October 31:
Yesterday I went on a combination horseback ride on Medianoche and a hike to two waterfalls in Podocarpus National Park, which was developed with help from Peace Corps, according to Moon Handbook Ecuador. The cool guy with the machete is my guide Jaime. We traveled to way above Vilcabamba. Off in the distance you can see Cerro Mandango, the mountain I walked up a few days ago and Vilcabamba. After nearing the top of the mountains. We left the horses and hiked to two waterfalls.  We had an awesome lunch of whole grain bread, homemade cheese, guacamole, mangoes and tea made from leaves from thirty different plants. Unlike any guided horse trip that I have done in the past, these horses could and did run. We flew through the streets of Vilcabamba both coming and going. To add to the mystery of the place, we rode on an old Inca trail that was as deep at times as Medianoche was tall.