02-Jul-2005 -- I made this trip to the Capamarca point with Jesús Chavez and Purificación Pila. The point lies on the border between the Cusco and Apurimac provinces and is on the way to Progreso and Andahuaylas, the long way. We took off out of Cusco Peru in the morning at 5:30 am. According to my estimate, we would pass within 1800 feet of the point and that meant a short walk, or so I thought. I had seen the point near our route to Challhuahuacho, a town we are staying in while working. Of course in the mountains to the Southwest of Cusco, there is no such thing as a short walk and the road from Cusco to Challhuahuacho has more than 150 swithchbacks. It passes through two impossibly deep and steep river gorges. The first is the Apurimac gorge but from Cusco that lies at over 10,000 feet above sea level the climb took us up to 14,460 feet above sea level.
The road is dust from the start and could not be much more difficult and bumpy. The air-conditioning did not work, of course and leaving the window down was not an option either, given the dust. This was no problem in the morning but in the late afternoon, it was less than desirable. We climbed away from Cusco and passed through Yaurisque, then up to Paccarecctambo, Ccoipa (the “Cc” is pronounced as a very guttural “K” in Quechua), and Ayusbamba. We hit the high spot there and began the descent towards the Apurimac, one of the largest tributaries of the Amazon. Of course, here it is just a good sized river. We dropped past Urhus and finally hit the river bridge.
From there we climbed through innumerable switchbacks to the town of Ccapi, the only one on the uphill climb out of the gorge. Once at the top we hit clouds and the highest point along the whole trip, 14,460 feet above sea level. From there, it is a relatively short hop down to where the road comes closest to the point, by now we have been on the road for about five hours. My alarm goes off and we pull over, take a bearing and head out. We are on the outskirts of Ccapamarca, the namesake of the point. I am convinced it is just at the creek bed, down a very steep hill and we begin. We pass through an adobe village with abundant Eucalyptus trees and a lot of Maguey plants big gray green Aloe looking succulents. Men greet us while they are digging up ground to build a new building.
Of course, the point is halfway up the other side. And we have to make our way through the valley floor and cross two creeks. Despite the steep downhill, uphill and pretty uncomfortable sun strength, we get there. It is Jesús and Purificación’s first confluence point.