Marching to the Mirador in Moquegua and up Cerro Baul
I found myself in the mountain desert city of Moquegua in southwestern Perú.
I’d noticed the sign pointing to the mirador, or lookout point, the evening before, so I ventured from my hotel room just after six am.
After a strenuous 25-minute uphill walk, passing some stray dogs and a street food vendor whose breakfast drink hit the spot, I ended up at a little park that provided background splendor for the mirador. There the cloud-shrouded urban valley view brought me into a state of admiration.
After gazing and taking in the imposing view, I thought I’d try to head down and figure out how to get to Cerro Baul, a hill that I’d read sported a great one hour hike to a summit.
After walking downward for five minutes, a little public transportation van came by and picked me up. After telling the driver and other passengers where I was going, they dropped me off at a shared-car heading to Torata, the town next to Moquegua, that boasts Cerro Baul or Baul Hill.
There I was able to buy an avocado sandwich and a Maca, a warm Peruvian breakfast cereal drink that’s packed with nourishment.
Immediately after eating, I was the fourth and final passenger to fill the car. It was then that I clearly explained to everyone where I was going, just to be 100% sure I was in the right car. 20 minutes later a woman in the back seat with me said:
Aqui, Cerro Baul. El necesite bajar.
Right from the road I was able to start my rise. Two minutes into the hike I ran into a woman.
She explained that I needed to pay 4 soles or $1.43. After paying 70 Soles or $25 to hike at Colca, the charge here felt minuscule. I didn’t see any other hikers so perhaps I was the only customer that day. I thought: That four soles wasn’t even enough to pay the woman for the day or even the morning. It was worth it as I got her to take a picture of me, above. I offered to email her the photo I took of her but she had no access to email.
I thought: The digital divide continues to shock me. Here there are no social programs to help the poor get online.
I often try to get email addresses with the intention of sending the photo(s) I take of people. This is good travel practice.
We said goodbye and I merrily started hiking up the mountain or hill. It felt great to be under the early morning, dry, desert sun while heading straight up. It was the perfect cardio workout that started not long after 8 am.
As the altitude of 2,207 meters or 7,241 feet at the bottom and 2,650 meters or 8,694 feet at the top wasn’t high enough to cause much shortness of breath. I felt fantastic during and after this ideal morning hike.
It isn’t a straight shot up. The path winds around the side of the rocky cliff.
Here is the non traditional summit. It took me a little while to figure that out. I perused the area for a bit, taking in the scenery and peace. At times the only thing I heard was a very mild wind. It felt good to breathe the very clean air.
The hike down was fast. It took maybe 40 minutes.
After arriving back on the street it took less than five minutes before a shared van came by to take me back to Moquequa. I got back in time to shower, pack and check out of my hotel.
From there I’d get on a bus that would take me in the direction of the Pacific coast and the Chilean border.
The minivan ride from the Mirador area to the shared car to Cerro Baul cost 50 centimos or $.18. The shared car and minivan to and from Cerro Baul from Moquegua cost 3.5 soles or $1.25 each way. As mentioned above I was charged 4 Soles for the hike.
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Have you ever hiked in a desert?
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