Friday, July 15, 2011

Ubinas volcano: the home of the creatures of fire

By the Colca Specialist

Ubinas volcano is one of the active volcanoes located in the southpart of Peru.

Ubinas volcano presented a strong volcanic activity in 2010 and the inhabitants of the local communas moved to Arequipa and after the volcanic activity decreased locals started to come back home.

Some weeks ago I was invited by the owner of Naturaleza Activa Eduardo Sánchez to join his team of mountainclimbers whose main goal was to reach the top of Ubinas volcano. (I load up a video in youtube so you can check it.The link is the following :

According to the inca traditions mountains and volcanoes were considered sacred. The mountains and the volcanoes were the home of the Apus, spirits of the mountain with the shape of a totem bird,condor,hawk,eagle. They are the equivalent of the catholic angels.

The destruction provoked by a volcano was considered as something terrible in those times and the inca used to perform animal or human sacrifices in order to keep the gods calm.The incas had several types of ceremonial dedicated to the spirits of the mountains and the most special ceremonial they had was the ritual of Karpay in which the spirits of the mountain spoke directly with the participants.

These rituals are considered obscure in these days, but they are still practiced by the altomesayoqs or keepers of heaven rituals in the south part of Peruvian andes.
As a specialist in aboriginal and indigenous cults,the trip to Ubinas was going to be for me a special experience.

The first time I visited Ubinas was in the eighties when I had the opportunity to visit the volcano with an English family who were on a photo safari.
All the time I visited Salinas lake I could see Ubinas impressive image so I was eager to climb it.Then the phone call arrived. It was Eduardo who needed a guide specialized in Andean cults. I was ready for Ubinas.

The next day I met the tour leader of the group . Her name was Gundula and she is a professional mountainclimber. The group she was guiding came from Austria and Ubinas was one of the volcanoes they wanted to climb in Arequipa.

We departed early in the morning and on the way we visited Chiguata, a settlement next to Misti volcano, then we visited Salinas lake and from there we had a wonderful view of Pichu-Pichu volcano and a little far away we could see Ubinas .The flamingoes are one of the different types of birds available in the area. Don José de San Martín, a general who fought for freedom he inspired himself in the flamingoes he saw in a dream in order to create the national flag of Peru: Red and white.

This trip was definitively something different. It was not just another mountainclimbing tour with the classical non English speaking guide with a poor knowledge about the indigenous cultures. As a specialized guide in Andean cults it was very special for me to share the knowledge I inherited from my ancestors with the group of visitors. When you learn about the Andean ancient ways the trip it doesn’t become just another description but it turns into an unforgettable experience with the Inca culture.

The beautiful landscapes and all its components: alpacas,lamas,etc gave a special touch to this special Andean landscapes where the wind and the silence are the keepers of this land considered sacred by our ancestors.

We camped in Piscococha area. There is a small lake in the surroundings with the same name. The altitude of the area was 4,300 meters and it was very windy outside.
At night we had a special ceremonial in order to ask the apus or spirits of the mountain for permission to trespass. Apu Ubinas accepted the offering. We were ready to climb Ubinas volcano the next day.

The next day we woke up very early in the morning. It was freezing cold but with the help of some hot coca tea we could resist the low temperatures.

After some hours all the group was on the top of Ubinas. On the way important lessons were learned on the way. After the exchange of hugs all the differences were left aside.

We were all just walkers walking through the ancient paths of the Incas. When I was at the top alone I could saw the beauty of the land where I was born and I thanked the Creator for allowing me to walk once more again through the path of my ancestors in order to learn more about the kawsay or the way of living well.

At the end I couldn´t avoid laughing about the empty way of living of certain peoples in the cities who are struggling against their Tv sets all time.I wish I had my beloved ones with me in that moment but it was not necessary. Wherever they were they felt my happiness inside their hearts in that important moment.I was on the top of a mountain not just a common mountain: it was Ubinas.

Kodak Time my friends! Enjoy the pictures!

This is a view of Salinas and Aguada Blanca Lake which is located behind Pichu-Pichu volcano.In the picture we can see a couple of wild vicuñas roaming freely on the Salinas.The view of Misti volcano in the background is impressive too!

The vicuña is one of the southamerican cameloids that is adapted to the extreme weather conditions of this area.

This is the prize for being the first on the top.In this picture we can see the smoke coming out from the carter of Ubinas.The sulphur smell is very strong in the crater area.

A frontal view of the crater of Ubinas.

Eduardo Sánchez Bendezú and Jose Arias from Naturaleza Activa.A travel agency which is specialized in adventure and specially exclusive tours and explorations.

The crater is deep so I don´t plan to get closer!

Once more again the smoke starts to come out.

The trip was awesome and I would like to thank my friends from Naturaleza Activa once more again for this wonderfull trip to Ubinas: the home of the creatures of fire and to you my readers for your time!See you soon!

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