Ayabaca - Huancabamba,
Para-crossing of the andes


grafik_inca grafik_inca The route from Ayabaca at the ecuadorian border to Huancabamba, the main town in the valley of the river with the same name is the path that both, the chronicler Pedro de Ciezas and A.v.Humboldt took on their way to Cajamarca. Close to the way are remainders of the old Inka road, ruins of an Inka bath and of some palaces. From Ayabaca to the valley below there is still a kind of bus, but from there on there is only a foot path along the Río San Pablo up to the magic lagoons, Laguna Negra, Laguna Huaca, Laguna del Rey, Laguna Grande, Laguna Shimbe commonly known as "Las Huaringas" (see Ayabaca Province). These places are visited usually only by curanderos, shamanes and their patients for healing ceremonies. From the Laguna del Rey there is flight possibility southeastward into the Huancabamba valley to the Laguna Shimbe, and further down to Huancabamba. Altogether the trip took me five days.



Start in Ayabaca, situated on a hill of 2715 m, relatively cold compared to the hot valleys at the border below from where you arrive. The name comes from the old Ayapate = terrace of death (quetch.), an old Inka palace nearby.

A.v.Humboldt: "The road of a width of almost 5 m goes on with almost no interruption for 12 miles. ... Ruins of old palaces we counted nine." Since I want to visit the magical lagoons I don't follow the old way but hike straight over the mountain ridge.


Down in the valley at 1300 m. The first of the many Peruvian bridges which are to be crossed.


Further upwards along the Río San Pablo. Foreigners are rare here. Frequently I am invited by friendly campesinos into their huts for a chat or to stay overnight. There is always some "rare" food like chocolate that I can share or I leave them one of the thin spanish paperbacks from which I carry lots with me, since I love reading. Unforgettable the night, when a young campesino, surprised to find me sleeping alone outside in the open air invites me in and tells all his genuine experiences with haunting spirits he met in the valley at night.


Night camp to the Laguna Huaca (huaca = sanctuary quetch.), 3480 m. Scattered around rests of the healing ceremonies that are celebrated here in the cold water.


Further up...


The Laguna del Rey, the highest one of the healing lagoons, directly below the ridge which opens the view to the eastern, amazonian slope of the Andes at 3730 m. Gusts of strong wind and rain drift over the ridge. Looking down to the other side thick fog covers the whole valley. Sometimes the strong wind tears openings into the white maze to unveil brief views of the magnificent Laguna Shimbe below. Impossible conditions for a flight. I wait all day long and spend the night up on the ridge. Strange jack-o'-lanterns appear after dusk. The tent hardly withstands the tempest of the night.


On the next day no weather improvement so I continue by foot along the ridge, looking for a more pleasant crossing. Fantastic landscapes but everywhere the stormy wheather sweeps over the ridge. A paradise for sure, just maybe not for paragliders...


The last part finally, at El Porvenir (a giant detour) by horse. I take turns riding with Anastasio in front. In the saddle-bag all my goods and chattels, including the wing of liberty therefore a slight tilt to the right...

I had more luck with my flights in the Huancabamba valley.


----------------------------------------------- With a paraglider above the Inca roads -----------------------------------------------