Having spent a few days in pretty Sucre, I wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few days. Condor Trekkers offer treks for all abilities, and as a not-for-profit organisation that invests time and money into local communities, their three-day adventure is the perfect way to give a little something back to this magical place.
We drive to Sucre’s highest point and see the sunrise over breakfast. The food was healthy and fresh, complete with hot drinks. As the bus trundles back down into the city, it’s all on foot from here.
Peering over the other side of the mountain, I see the Inca Trail for the first time. Partly cloaked in morning mist, it is a work of careful engineering. Each stone has been specifically placed to slot into this ancient camino, and as we pick our way down I can’t help but think about the countless others who have followed this very path.
We pass a small farm and continue through emerald green fields and babbling brooks. The mountains in the distance are checkered with green patches, remnants of altitude-defying pre-Columbian farming. Cows and goats wander aimlessly and birds are singing in the forest.
At another point we are scrambling along a narrow grit platform with nothing to hold onto, other than the hope that we won’t slip down into the waterfalls below.
What’s extra special about the trek is the people you meet. One lunchtime we stop at a farmer’s house, who gives us an impromptu concert, strumming away on his guitar while we dance in the sunshine. We also meet some really sweet kids, who have set up their own enterprises such as selling home-made bracelets. By the end of the trip, everyone is wearing a knotted band on their wrist and our packs are a little lighter from giving away fruit and other bits and pieces.
These were just small, spontaneous gestures, but by giving our money to Condor Trekkers we were also contributing to something much more long-lasting. The company works closely with local communities to support various projects. In one village, Condor Trekkers bought the pipes to plumb running water into the valley for the first time. In another, some beautiful holiday cabanas are being rented out by the community, which we had the pleasure of staying in. In the city, Condor Trekkers are also helping to support educational programmes and support networks for young families. Everyone works as an unpaid volunteer, except the local guides.
Our guide, Antonio, is an absolute star. He is great with the kids and is equally patient with the trekkers as we splutter and gasp to keep up with him through this amazing world.
He doesn’t announce the dinosaur footprints, allowing us all to do a double-take as we clap eyes on these prehistoric signatures. It’s as if they wandered past that morning – they are astonishingly clear and completely unmistakable.
The final stretch is much smoother, allowing us to take in the stunning views and reflect on the last few days. This is a beautiful place and Condor Trekkers are doing some fantastic things to help preserve the countryside and the traditional way of life out here.
Email CondorTrekkers@gmail.com to come along on a trek or enquire about volunteering. You can also like them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Condortrekkers and follow them on Twitter (@CondorTrekkers) to help spread the word.