Day 5: Into the Cloud Forest and the Mini-Bus Ride of Terror

After a relaxing day and a night of great food and dancing, it was up and at ’em bright and early the next morning to head out of the mountains.

A portion of the trail we were supposed to take had gotten washed out, so instead of trying to hike over a rockslide we opted for an alternative route.  Because of this, the first part of the hike was some serious up and downhill along cliffs with narrow, partially washed-out trails.

After the initial up and down the road flattened out, and the next few miles were on a wide dirt road running along a ravine, at bottom of which a (pretty raging) river ran.

pit stop

Eventually we reached our destination in the middle of the mountains, the end of this part of our trek.  From here we were going to catch a ride to our next trail head.

So we bought a few refreshments from the tenants…

…said goodbye to our mules…

note: the guy in this pic is apparently over 100 years old

…and to the team that had helped us get there.

And then, we all hopped onto the mini-bus of terror for a death ride.

For the next 45 minutes we wound our way along a narrow dirt road packed in a top-heavy mini-bus, wedged between a rocky mountain face and a sheer cliff that dropped, oh, about a thousand feet down to the river.  I was, of course, in the seat by the window on the cliff side. It was not one of my finer moments.

A few heart palpitations later, we made it down to the river, where the bus dropped us off and I dropped to my knees and kissed the ground.  We followed the trail through a bunch of plantain trees and coffee plants…

coffee plant

…into the cloud forest to the 4th lodge.

Which was, of course, ridiculously awesome.

Plus everyone was feeling great because we were no longer at altitude.

That evening we took a little walk down the trail into the jungle to visit the house of a couple who grows coffee…

…where we learned how the beans are roasted and ground and, with a little help, made our own little pot of fresh ground coffee and got to taste it straight off the stove.  It was AMAZING.

And yes, of course there were guinea pigs running around the house.

Waiting for dinner to start that night we played some local (?) games that Leo suggested.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for some people) it doesn’t look like I have copies of any of those pictures.

It also happened to be the 50th birthday of one of our hiking mates.  The staff baked a beautiful cake and we celebrated with a lot of Peruvian wine.  It was a great night with great people, we went to bed happy and ready for our final day of hiking along the trail.

Next up: The First Sighting

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