On Saturday we all went on an 3 hour hike to Cajas National Park. The scene was brilliant and the hike was breathtaking. At 12,800 feet above sea level, we were able to see where the earth meets the sky. Our guide showed us the many plants that could be found in the national park to help with survival in case we get lost. There were flowers that helped with stomach aches, headaches, altitude sickness, etc. We also saw many unique birds, llamas, and rabbits.
The trails were very slippery and the climate was around 40 degrees F. We all needed to purchase gloves, beanies, scarves, and a water-resistant jacket for the hike. There were portions of the hike that required us to jump over streaming fresh water, climb muddy slopes, and trek through prickly vegetation.
Every few minutes, our guide allowed us to drink water and eat chocolate. Chocolate helps with altitude sickness and lack of oxygen. Being that most of us reside in Charleston, SC, where it is at sea level, the change in altitude was a little difficult.
After our hike we went to lunch in a restaurant located in the middle of the Andes mountians. The food was wonderful and very much needed after such a long excursion.
Our last destination was La Piedra de Agua. It was a spa where we enjoyed a steam bath, two mud baths, a steam box, and a warm pool. It was very relaxing and smart to do after a long hike. Our bodies were able to recooperate and heal. This spa is known to have hot springs from a local non-active volcano in Cuenca.