Company: Booked through Wild Rover Hostel
Cost: 115 soles (not including: entry to park – 70 soles; buffet lunch – 25 soles)
- Water: this depends on how much water you need. The trek is a bit draining, especially the second day, so it’s worth bringing at least 1.5L. I find it easier to bring two small bottles rather than one big bottle. You can buy water on the way so it’s not a disaster if you don’t bring much.
- Food: the trick is not to bring too much food. I found myself in Ecuador with a bag of dry granola that I’d bought for this trek in Arequipa and never touched. They feed you well on this tour, so you only need a few supplementary snacks. I would recommend some biscuits, nuts, and maybe something small for the morning of the 2nd day: a couple of bananas. I’m a big fan of peanut butter, both as a source of energy and because it tastes like happiness; but be aware that in South America it’s always expensive. If you don’t mind spending money then you can pick up snacks – and alcohol and cigarettes – at the relatively frequent rest stops.
- Warm-weather gear: it’s only cold in three places: in Arequipa on the morning of the 1st day; in the Oasis at Sangalle during the night (remember that you’ll start the 2nd day during the night); and at the highest point, Patapampa, towards the end of the 2nd day. Take a warm jacket but don’t load down your bag with too much cold-weather gear, it’s unnecessary.
- Swimming costume and towel: useful but not essential. I went in the swimming pool at the oasis and at the thermal baths in my smelly underpants, but a swimming costume would have been better, and more hygienic. A towel is a good idea – it’s cold when you get out.
- Sun hat: much of the path is exposed to the Andean sun, and if you’re not running up the climb at the beginning of the 2nd day then the sun will catch you. You can buy cheap sun hats in Arequipa – it’s an investment worth making.
- Head torch: useful but not essential, both for reading at night in your candlelit cabin, and for the beginning of the trek up the side of the canyon on the second morning.
- Lighter / matches: beside my candle in my cabin was a box of matches containing just two fragile matches. And besides, matches or a lighter are always useful.
- Sun cream: it’s sunny and you’re high in the Andes so use a high SPF factor.
- Blister plasters: to my knowledge they do not sell blister plasters like Compeed in South America, so you’ll have to bring them from farther afield. I ended up with a couple of blisters after the first day. If you have a pair of thin socks then using them underneath your trekking socks should help move the friction that causes blisters from being between the thick sock and your foot to being between the thin sock and the thick sock.
- Proper trekking shoes: you can do this trek in trainers, but it’ll be more comfortable if you’ve got proper trekking shoes. And don’t underestimate the climb on the second morning: it’s hard!
- Walking sticks: I’ve never really used these but some friends swear by them: it’s true that they allow you to keep some weight off your knees on the downhill and can be a real help on steep uphills. You can rent them in Arequipa for very little.
- Sleeping bag inner liner: I always take this with me, not so much for the cold (I don’t really get that cold) but because I know where it’s been, unlike the sheets (or rented sleeping bags) that tours provide. It is also tiny and doesn’t really weigh anything.