March 29, 2008

At 0330 when the earthquake woke me up I began to wonder whether taking 15 kids on a walk from 2000m up to a waterfall at 2800m, in terrain where there are frequent rockfalls and mudslides when it rains, was really such a good idea. However at 0700 when I arrived at school I’d forgotten that the earthquake had happened – I thought it was just a bad dream! It was only at about 0800, when the kids’ parents started to ring their mobiles to see if we’d felt the second earthquake that we got a little concerned. However after a call to the local police, who said that Palacala was unaffected, we continued in the minibus towards our starting point. Passing a number of fresh rockfalls on the road there did make us all a little uneasy though.


The falls at Palacala are being developed as a tourist attraction, as such the route is well marked on stones along the way! However by British standards it’s hardly a touristy walk. It is almost entirely uphill to the falls, and although there is a marked path it is not easy going! It’s at a much higher altitude than I’m used to (we got out of the minibus at abot 2000 m and the falls are at about 2800 m) and there are places where you have to scramble rather than walk. There is also a 2 sol (40 p) charge to walk in the area (1 sol for students and school groups – lucky us!)


The views were spectacular, the surrounding mountains are huge and the tops are lost in mist! We passed a number of small settlements on our way and also bumped into some of the locals (and their donkeys!). We were accompanied on the walk by a friendly black dog (who looked a bit like Skipper in the face, for those of you who remember him). He was a bit mangy – there were a couple of patches of red, bare skin near his tail, but he seemed delighted to join our pack for the day (he tried to get into the minibus when we got back too, which was less helpful).


The weather for the ascent was lovely, warm and sunny, until we got to just below the falls, then the mist came down (or perhaps we’d walked into it). At first the coolness of it was a welcome change, but then it started to get a little cold. Just as we got to the falls and began to eat lunch it started to rain. Real rain, not like the sort you get in Lima! Followed quite quickly by some impressive rolls of thunder. Most of the kids hadn’t got any waterproofs (neither did I as mine are still in a box in the Port for some reason along with my walking boots…) and so we all got wet and cold quite quickly. Because of this it was a short lunch break before we turned round and headed back. The dog LOVED lunchtime – he was spoiled with tit-bits from everyone’s pack-up.


The journey back seemed much shorter than the journey up, despite the rain. That is until we got to the ‘alternitive’ route down, that was steeper and less well maintained than the route we’d walked up. This is apparently a lot more typical of tracks when walking in Peru, and was really to show the kids what they could expect fom the next walk, and why they should buy proper walking boots! This was the only part of the walk where I really wished I was walking in my boots and not my trainers. It was VERY slippy – hills in Peru seem mainly to be made of gravel and sand. That is until you slip over, then it magically turns into lumps of jagged granite.


It was really good to get out of Lima for a bit and see some other parts of Peru. Having something constructive to do, that wasn’t work, made a nice change. I actually think that it’s the first weekend when I haven’t ended up walking to Larco Mar and getting a coffee. When I unpacked my bag I found a good example of Boyle’s law. I had put an empty water bottle, with its lid on, in my bag at the falls. This is what it looked like closer to sea level…



  1. Wow at the bottle, that’s a fabulous illustration!!

    Did you just write a blog post about a trip to a waterfall, with pictures, but no pictures of the actual falls??

  2. Erm – waterfall – the big long white watery thing in the photo next to the group photo. :p

  3. Cool walk. Might have to take a visit there, should I get to Peru again. Bloomin’ hope so.

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