After looking at the various hiking options in Vilcabamba we decided to do the Izhcayluma Loop Hike.
Making the decision to do a hike was easy … the area invites you out to experience the majesty, mild weather and clean environment. With that in mind we chose the estimated 5 hour Izhcayluma Loop.
The leaflet advertised it as being through a variety of terrain, along a mountain spine, with stunning views and finishing with a section along a riverbed.
This looked like a perfect balance between a physical challenge and enjoying nature. Little did we realize that this hike had recently been upgraded from the "hard" category to the "worst".
We set out on what looked like a perfect hiking day. Overcast and mild we set out as if the weather could never change. We were lucky and stupid. Lucky that it stayed dry and mist free. Stupid because on a 5 hour hike (that eventually took 7 hours!) the weather could easily have turned nasty.
Our lack of hiking experience showed as we took the wrong route 3 times. The one resulting in a long, hot walk back uphill.
The first part is a long steady climb along a dirt road but this was nothing in comparison with what was to come.
After turning off after a short section on the paved road (which we made a long section!!!) there is a steep winding path. Ever upward. After missing another turn and some bush bashing we diligently followed the blue marked stones.
The spine is breathtaking and adrenaline pumping. From the narrow, about 30 centimeter (2.5 foot), wide path Both sides fall away steeply for hundreds of meters. Very, very scary.
This section goes on upwards with a slightly wider path for a few kilometers.
With all the uphill comes the often more difficult downhill ... it didn't fail to challenge. We slowly made our way down, slipping on the loose stones and sand. Enjoying the few grassy flatter sections. Getting lower and lower but very slowly.
At last the river bed. But no respite as we hopped from the left of the river to the right. It was uneven, slippery and the river bed was only relieved by a few short paths next to the river. This section took a few hours and was tough on tired legs. Another "gringo killer" section.
Along the riverbed we had to make our way through about 5 barbed wire "gates". Sectioned off by the local farmers to prevent their cattle straying.
Making our way up the hill back to the hosteria in the heat of the afternoon we staggered into a local "tienda" for a very welcome Coke.
With tired legs, a few scrapes and bruises, the only long term discomfort was nursing bites from "no see ums".
A tough challenge beaten.
On a mission to help others expand their horizons. Who knows where they can end? Passionate about learning and embracing the changing world. Adventurous and skeptical but optimistic!