Logistics II - Jeeps, Mules, Camps & Cooks.
Our Take on Field Logistics:
Due to the fact that we are generally limited to a two week period for our trip, we elect to work with a logistics provider to facilitate road transportation, arriero services, food acquisition, base and camp cooking, ticketing, and miscellaneous other services. While this may seem extravagant, we have all reached a point in our lives and careers that cooking dinner after walking a dozen miles or climbing to 18k+ is a luxury that we can each do without. We surely could waste a week assembling a program, which would not approach the quality that can obtain through the services of a professional logistics provider. But you know what . . . we take vacation to enjoy it and spending time garnering the food and then fussing over who will cook and who will clean is a part of the climbing experience that we have all experienced in the past and just don't want to do very much of anymore if we don't absolutely have to do so.
After researching providers and talking to Chris Benway, the fantastic logistics provider we know from Huaraz, we chose Carlos Ames' Aventura Quechua to provide the necessary services, including all of the above services. Let me assure you, we made the BEST choice. Carlos Ames' operation put together a flawless trip in which EVERY aspect, as to EVERY connection, and EVERY detail was covered and completed in the best possible manner. Was I impressed? Yes, I was . . . and Carlos and his staff deserve and receive our thanks for a marvelous job. Is this a recommendation . . . damn straight!
Our total logistics cost came to $3700 for three people (a bit over $1,230 each for a 11 days in the field) and covered every service and experience you will read about in the narrative that follows, excepting airfare, town meals and trinkets to take home. If you compare our costs to commercial "expeditions" you will find that we bring the trip in for about 40% of the commercial trip price, without having to "experience" cooking for one's tent mates "expedition style." The savings is not the only aspect that sets a trip apart from a commercial venture . . . . we don't have to put up with a mountain guide, their set schedule, and the company of those to whom we are not already "accustomed." Granted this was our seventh (7th) climbing trip to South America but if you are ready to venture forth and are willing to give up the "guarantee" of a summit or even knowing the name of the peak you miserably fail to perform upon, give thought to our approach. If you do and Peru is your destination, give consideration to Carlos and Chris.
Carlos provided all vehicle transport to and from the airport, the train station, and the trail head. Our driver/expediter was John and he had all bases covered. He spotted me as a "slow" Spanish listener and made sure I understood what the game plan was. There was no need for 4Wd transport on this trip so we had the comfort of a van to and from where ever we needed to go. John was on time, EVERY time, knew where he was going and was great. I'd ask for him by name.
Carlos provided four horses and two arrieros for our climbing trek. Arrieros are usually "pieces of work" if for no other reason than they seem to socialize better with their mules than they do with other people. This trip was the exception as our arrieros were simply great. Leo and Rocky knew where we were going, understood that we were not a "go" every day trekking group and took every day in stride. They helped out with every camp chore and were simply great to be around. A good arriero knows not only the country but the locals along the way and we had no doubts at any time that all would be well along the route and that the gear was in the best of hands. Again, an unconditional recommendation.
We were blessed with the services of Domingo. I've had mediocre cooks and I've had good cooks but Domingo was the BEST cook. Three squares a day, afternoon snack, fresh food, well planned meals, variety, I couldn't top this guy if I was in my own home. I don't know what else to say . . . would you believe that we summitted a 17'er, an 18'er, tried for a 19'er, and walked over 80 miles . . . and I gained two pounds over the course of the trip. Domingo was an absolute pro and if you are trekking or climbing out of Cusco . . . you ought to ask for him by name.
We provided our own sleeping tents and Carlos provided all of the other camp amenities. Domingo had a cook tent that he used for meal preparation and we had a meal tent with a folding table and stools to cover camp meals. The eating tent provided a place to hang out on rest days, after returning from climbs, and to stave off the inevitable trip to the sleeping tents when the sun went down, the lies were all told and the chill of the night finally set in. Domingo had everything he needed for meal prep, including details such a a net to procure trout from one of the high mountain lakes along our route.
Our logistics were on a par with a well organized commercial trekking group but with the advantage that we controlled the path of the trek to facilitate the climbs we wanted to make. The gear was always in camp before we got there, the meals were always timely, hot, and well prepared. We had the best driver expediter we could ask for and two arrieros who were part of the team and we were glad to have them for their movement of the gear and every other nuance they looked after along the way and in camp. Did I mention that Domingo could really cook?
I have no reservations in recommending any of there folks and Carlos Ames as a logistics provider for any trip out of Cusco. Give these folks serious thought if you have similar needs.