Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 3 - Barranco camp

To sum up day 3, we walked a distance of 13km in 7 hrs for an overall gain of a mere 100 m in altitude. The purpose of that was to acclimatize the hikers to the high altitudes. This leg of the journey has some stunning views of the mountain and the valleys, including a curious geographical formation called the Lava Tower at 4590 m.
Day3 - Walk To Lava Tower
I happened to spot a beautiful sunbird on the way to our camp. Janine, from South Africa, who happened to be walking with me at that time identified it as the Malachite sunbird. She told me about her husband, Jacques, who she said was carrying a birding guide for this region and could validate her identification. I casually mentioned to her that I'd like to take a look at the book to put names against all the other unknown birds I had photographed so far. Later in the evening, the couple were nice enough to track my tent down in the crowded encampment and we ended up having a really long chat over at our dinner tent.
Day3 - Malachite Sunbird on Lobelia
By this time Warren and I had been inducted into the prestigious Kea gang. Following the tradition of that clan, we had been blessed with nicknames; mine was 'Birdman' because I stopped to photograph every bird I met, and Warren's was 'Inspector Gadget', after the gazillion instruments he carried, including a device that uploaded his GPS location to a remote server every 15 mins. Jacques was to earn the moniker 'The Real birdman' in an apparent slight to me, because he carried a field guide in his pocket and I didn't. Here he is with his wife Janine.
Day3 - JnJ
The camp was next to a 1000ft near-vertical rock face called the Barranco wall. The camp was at an altitude that seemed to be make-or-break for a lot of people, as we heard continuous retching through the night. It's bad enough that they retched, but to have it played back to them as an echo from the neighbouring wall provoked a few muffled laughs. I must say I found it funny too. Exactly two days from then I was to find out that there's nothing remotely funny about throwing up.

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