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We’re at the base of a mountain in the company of half a dozen donkeys. The rocky path leads straight up through a mountain pass. After several hours, the llamas saunter by carrying our overnight bags with the porters in toe. It’s not their first time traversing the trail. They walk with ease over the hazardous terrain and are unaffected by the altitude.

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The sun has sole propriety over the heat. By night, the temperature dips to -10 degrees and spreads a thick layer of frost over the mountains. Though, despite the extremes, many civilizations thrived here once. The ruins are a credit to their industriousness.   IMG_0964IMG_1022

Still, there is a mountain community that exists today that remains untouched by much of the modern world.

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This boy and his dog followed us for miles in the early hours of the morning. He was searching for his llama. By noon we’d thought we’d kidnapped him. It wasn’t until we’d reached the other side of the mountain that his mother came to claim him.

Every turn, every bend in the path offers a view more breath-taking than the last. We climb to 4,550 metres above sea-level. The air is cold and thin, and the altitude adds a substantial drag. The only respite is to continue on along the path knowing that each step brings you closer to camp.

The greatest difficulty is to write about the emotion that is experienced. Crossing the Andes exposes you to the most profound examples of beauty, hardship, community, perseverance, preservation and self-awareness. I don’t believe that anyone can leave unchanged.

 

 

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Written by Elyse Kishimoto

Elyse Kishimoto is a regular girl with an extraordinary sense of adventure. She's done everything from hiking up volcanoes in Iceland at midnight, to sitting down to dinner with royalty. She's climbed Mt Fuji and the Great Wall of China in the same week, and explored the lost glowworm caves in New Zealand. You never know where her next story is going to come from, but you can be sure that it will be packed full of fun! After spending years reading her favourite classic novels to her students, Elyse is excited to publish her second action/ adventure novel, Sky Watchers in the popular series, The Dining and Social Club for Time Travellers. www.thetimetravellersclub.com

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