Birding · Historical Significance · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Need to Know
This can certainly be attempted without local guides but I would not recommend it.
The Nevado de Cachi at 20,932 feet is the ultimate goal of these segments. Due to scheduling constraints our attempt was made on a 6-day plan with no reserve days. A better approach would be 7-days with a couple reserve days for weather.
The section one trail is relatively straightforward. The trailhead departs from a corral near Cachi next to Rio Las Trancas. After rising gradually through a river bed the path switchbacks up for a while before taking a long diagonal approach to the high point at about the 6-mile mark. After this it maintains mostly a level pitch at about 11,500 feet with some ups and downs scrambling through intervening water courses.
Our destination was a small, probably squatter farm where one man lived. The valley previously had many residents but this has declined to three people at this point. They are raising goats, sheep, and llamas. We spent two nights here with some side hiking to assist in acclimatization.
Like many of the paths in this neighborhood it is identified as an ancient indigenous tail and also as part of the Inca Trail. Up this way one can head to La Puna and the the Chilean Atacama.
The nights before and after the ascent we spent the night at the excellent La Merced del Alto Hotel. From the hotel it is about a 25 minute drive to the trailhead. Burros had been arranged for our climb up to the high camp at around 18,000 feet.
Flora & Fauna
There about about three "farms" up the valley as noted with goats, sheep and llamas. We saw quite a number of condors, other birds, and a few vicuna. Puma and fox are apparently plentiful be we did not observe them.
Shared By: Frank Trotter