This hike in Vilcabamba began with one false start, then concluded with me walking through a forest full of thorny bushes, crawling through four barbed fencing, appearing in someone’s dumping ground/backyard and concluded with me climbing through my last fence and onto a random road. Let’s begin!
The Chaupai Loop hike, designated as trail A (green), should have taken 3.5 hours and is the easiest hike in Vilcabamba as the trail passes through Chaupai village.
On my first day, I tried to find the begin of the trail, but I forgot to take the map and failed to anything written anything of importance to take with me. I consoled myself by having coffee in Vilacabamba’s town center instead.
With a map in hand, I started off the hike the next day following the water channel.
From the main road (E682), I found a sign that says “Sendero Los Helechos”.
I kept walking left. The road to the right went to the bus station (Terminal Terrestre de Vilcabamba).
At one point in time, I saw a water canal. This was my guide.
At some point in time, I saw a sign saying “Sendaro El Canal”. This was the last sign I saw of this “trail”.
Along this dirt road, I found “Plaza Vieja”.
Further along, I walked by “Villa Beatriz”. This was the last form of civilization on the dirt road.
The dirt road got narrower, and the water canal wasn’t always present.
But the views of Vilcabamba were spectacular!
At one point, I encountered a three-cow roadblock. As I approached them, they all got up. As they were all bigger than me and had horns, I decided to hop over the water canal to avoid any cow-related injuries.
Roughly 4.3km of walking passed before the map indicated the road ended.
The road still looked like a road but not as clearly defined as before. However, the water channel was still to my left.
Then I discovered my first semi-road block. The instructions said I would see a gated fence, and I would need to hop over it. And so I did.
I saw this sign after jumping the fence.
This was when the road/”trail” ended. According to the instructions, it said I should see an iron gate to my left. “From the iron gate on, turn right and go straight down a wide path.”
This was very debatable if this was the iron gate I needed to find. But after searching and walking back and forth, I didn’t find anything else resembling this iron gate.
And this was the widest path I could find. Now, most sensible people would have turned around, gone back the same way they came from, and drink a cup of coffee at a cafe in Vilcabamba. I’m not one of those people.
For a while, I could see a path and then I didn’t.
Then things got dicey.
Barbed wire. I found three on my way down. But since I was quite far down when I found my first set of fencing, I couldn’t really turn back. On the bright side, I did practice my squat walking technique.
I walked, crawled through thorny bushes and fell when the land was not stable. But I kept going because I could hear cars driving and chickens clucking. Then I saw this beautiful sight!
Of course, it was all fenced off because it was someone’s (or several families) backyard(s). Miraculously, I found an opening between the fence and a house, went through it, then I cried.
I found an elderly couple who were surprised to see me. I told them where I had been and were shocked. It was mid-day by the time I found the road, and the Vilcabamba sun was intense.
I waited for 10 minutes for a caminseta/taxi to show up while chatting with the couple.
I happily paid the 50¢ ride back into central Vilcabamba. And then I treated myself to $2 gelato because I lived to write this blog post.
In total, I spent 2.5 hours hiking/crawling. And I didn’t quite make it to the other side of the Vilcabamba Rivera. But I survived, and that’s all that counts!
My lessons learned:
- Go with my first instinct.
- There are reasons why paths are unmarked.
- Maybe tell someone what idiotic thing I’m about to do before I do it.