Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cataratas de Antankallo

I'm the little person standing next to the big sign!

From the left, it's Sarah, me, Kristen, and Tara. In the background to the right is the waterfall.

Every Wednesday, Sarah organizes an excursion for all the volunteers. Unlike last week's failed attempt to learn surfing (the weather in Miraflores was really cold and windy), this week's excursion to Matucana was awesome.

Matucana is a little town about two hours east from Huaycan, up the in the mountains. It was so beautiful -- all of its buildings were painted bright colors with murals, it was surrounded completely by mountains, and there were trees and grass everywhere. Its main attraction is the "Cataratas de Antankallo", a beautiful waterfall in the mountains above it. Our plan for the day was to hike there and have a picnic at the waterfall.

Getting There

We all woke up at 6, left Huaycan at 7, got to Chosica by 8, then caught a bus to Matucana. Because we were up late the night before, all but one person fell asleep on the bus ride up, and we almost missed our stop. While every website had said the bus ride would be 2 or 3 hours, we arrived at Matucana in only 1 hour.

After getting off in the main plaza, we figured we'd be able to easily find the trail to the waterfall. After all, it's the only thing Matucana is known for. But we couldn't find any signs or anything, so we decided to walk to a government building nearby and asked the man where the waterfall was. He was very nice and said that we just had to walk 3 blocks down the main street and take a left. So we took off down the street expecting to see an obvious trail or sign, but hit the end of the road a couple of blocks later. We doubled back and asked a shop owner where the waterfalls were. They said to go two blocks back down the main street, so we walked towards where we had just come from. We walked three blocks without seeing anything, so we turned around, and asked another man where it was. He told us to go two blocks, then take a right.

By this time, the whole town was directing us. (Apparently the town doesn't often see a group of gringas looking for the waterfall.) When we got to a corner, we'd stop and point, and the people nearby would yell at us to keep going. We accidentally turned down a road that led to a bunch of farms and got some very funny looks from all the farmers. But eventually we turned on the correct road...which promptly turned into a fork. All we had to do was stop, and the people nearby started pointing to the left, then had us turn right again. After walking across town about 5 times and running into a big herd of cattle and a few donkeys, we finally reached the base of the trail. At the base of the trail, a dog started walking with us, and he ended up leading us down the trail to the waterfall and back.

The Hike Itself

The first segment of the trail was a series of switchbacks up the side of a mountain. (You can see them in the first photo above.) Between the altitude and lack of sleep, another girl and I were having some trouble with the hike. But we eventually got up, taking lots of photos along the way. After that we had to walk along the side of a mountain. There was a tiny path cut into it, but at the edge of the path was a sheer drop off. As if that wasn't intimidating enough, we came across a massive sign saying "Dangerous Curves". The sign was probably double my height, and perched very precariously on the side of the cliff. (You can see the sign and me standing next to it in the very first photo.)

After finding a trickle of water running across our path ("It's the waterfall!"), we eventually made it to the real waterfall. It was so huge and had so many different levels that I couldn't get it all in a photo. (Because I didn't get many good pictures of it, I borrowed a friend's photo of it to put on here.) After lunch there, we hiked down and caught a bus back. Despite the fact that I only had half a seat to sit on, I fell asleep immediately and didn't wake up until 5 minutes before we had to get off. After a shower and several servings of lomo saltado, I collapsed in a chair with three cups of tea to watch The Count of Monte Cristo. It was incredibly fun, and we hope to be repeating the process in a few months with all of the new volunteers.


  1. I know! That's what the rest of Peru looks like...not Huaycan. I'm sort of jealous now.