In the past, rumours of snow on the equator were received with derision and doubtful remarks. Some prominent geographers even referred them to the realm of myths. And before it does actually become reality due to the global warming, we decided to have a closer look at some of those mythical snowy peaks…
In the „Equatorial Republic“ or Ecuador there are ten peaks exceeding the altitude of 5000 metres and nine of them remain covered by glaciers. All of them volcanoes, and quite active in some cases. In the course of our four-week expedition we focused not only on the most famous ones, like Chimborazo (6310m) and Cotopaxi (5897m), but tried to approach the less visited, but this in a more interesting way in terms of technique - Cayambe (5790m), Antisana (5704m) or Iliniza Sur (5263m). More than ever before, we wanted to look at the local culture, meet with some Czech countrymen, taste culinary delights ...
For quite some time I was itching to get out and far from the Czech Republic. My girlfriend didn’t have any problem sharing my feelings, so the only spat was about which destination to choose. There were some emotions, but eventually we made our choice: a month in Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile.
The start was not ideal. A few weeks before leaving, I fell off a cliff and could walk only with telescopic sticks. Also shortly before, my lady had some kind of business to do in Spain. On the day of departure to Lima, when I picked her up back at the Prague Ruzyne airport, she recalled that she had forgot the have herself vaccinated… At the last minute too, I was trying to buy all kinds of practical little stuff in a nearby store. Holiday was about to start…
But in the end it turned out well, we really enjoyed it and lived many adventures.
The intention was to climb up the two highest hills in Africa: Mt. Kenya (5199m) and Kilimanjaro (5895m). However, we didn’t want to stick strictly to the well-beaten hiking trails ...
The two highest points in Mt. Kenya massif are closed to tourists. They are called Batian (5199m) and Nelion (5188m). It was because of them that we carried all the climbing gear with us. In the case of Kilimanjaro and it’s highest peak Kibo/Uhuru Peak (5895m), the situation was considerably complex. Our intention not to follow the ordinary hiking trail went into the wall… within very limited time we failed to negotiate a climbing permit. Nevertheless we did finally enjoy the climb without the crowds and even tried to get some sleep in the crater of the highest African mountain.
We went to Russia with a sole objective - a quick climb to the higher – western – summit of Elbrus (5642m), which happens to be also the highest point of our old continent.
Our intention was to try to get to the summit by an alternative route via Kupol, but a difficult acclimatisation in the Alps, which took away more strengths from us than we would have liked, together with somewhat unfavourable weather in Russia, forced us to take the standard route from the south, including the use of the system of connecting cableways.
It was a girls´ ride (Eva and Milena). In addition to the traditional tourist attractions of Machu Picchu, the Nazca geoglyphs and the like, we wanted to look into the life of the locals. Through the Inka Foundation (Prague) we support one indigenous boy, whom we wanted to see. We met with him and his family and got a taste of what was it like to live high in the Altiplano.
It was in September 2008 and we hope to have seen a bit more of this beautiful country than what’s usual.
Our first attempt to climb the highest mountain in the Americas in 2006 failed. But Aconcagua (6962m) cast such a spell on us that right from then on we were determined to trying it over and over again.
In January 2008 we arrived to Argentina with a clear goal – an alpine-style crossover of Aconcagua from east to west, which meant taking the „false Polish route“ and descending by the „normal“ one. Apart from Aconcagua, we spent a couple of days in the beautiful mountain range of Cordón del Plata, which served us as acclimatisation stay.
Our second big expedition. We wanted to travel a lot and also get on top of the highest mountains in Argentina (Aconcagua) and Chile (Ojos del Salado).
The travel was amazing: Bolivian Altiplano, Lake Titicaca, floating islands of Uros, a crazy downhill bike ride of the world's most dangerous road and several attempts to climb up the South American six-thousanders. In most cases, unfortunately, nothing more than attempts.
It all began with this very trip. We spent there six wonderful weeks and travelled Chile from north to south. We were attracted mainly by Chile’s legendary diversity of nature – something you don’t find in many countries around the globe.
We came primarily to admire the wonders of nature but very soon we found that Chile means above all wonderful people who helped, advised or joined in for a night ride.
This first trip made such an impression on us that since then we keep coming back to the South American countries and still continue to be charmed by the magnificent folks and amazing sceneries.
There was not much planning of this three-week trip. On the eve we got our backpacks ready, and in the morning some of us went to school, work or just stayed in bed waiting for take-off. From the previous haggling about where to go, if Thailand, Japan, Cyprus, Sicily or Turkey, Morocco emerged as second to none. The following day we got our entry visa at the Moroccan Embassy in Prague and booked a flight bound for Casablanca. It was back in November 2001, well before the low-cost carriers began to flood this country with weekend trippers from Europe.
Greece in 2000? We were young, crazy, rushing headlong into all sorts of endeavours. This was no „expedition“, rather a two-week roaming around the ancient landscape, but for us it was a turning point regarding the way we travel. This was the very first time we could afford to buy plane tickets ourselves and go to the unknown.
The style of this journey, and especially overnights, were up to our wallets and experience. We didn’t look down on sleeping in shrubs by the road or on the hard floor of an ancient temple. At times, we just picked oranges in an orchard or, by contrast, wined and dined thanks to the great people we met on the road. It was a hoot and surely we have a lot of memories...