This morning, being all prepared and geared up from yesterday afternoon, I left the town of Huaraz, and my 5-day Santa Cruz-Llanganuco hike began. Didn't get quite as much sleep last night as I'd hoped for — as it took a while to pack my bags in the evening, and to sort out everything that I don't need for the hike and can leave in Huaraz — so I wasn't up until about 6:30am, and I wasn't on the combi out of Huaraz until 7am (all about an hour behind schedule). But it turned out that this wasn't too late at all: day 1 of the hike went fine, and I finished the first day's route with time to spare.
After checking out of Jo's Place this morning — and dumping all my crap in their storage room — I jumped on a combi (with my massive backpack tied onto the roof), and headed north, through the valley between the Cordilleras Blanca and Negra, to the town of Caraz. Took about 2 hours to get to Caraz, with plenty of random locals hopping on and off along the way. Combi rides are never the most comfortable affairs — not with 25+ people crammed into a minibus made for 15 — but the Peruvians are a small race, and nobody can deny that it's guaranteed to be a fun ride. And a cheap one, too.
Got to Caraz at about 9am, and then hopped on a moto for the first time (a motorbike with a seat and canvas attached to the back of it — could barely fit both myself and my backpack inside it, and it could barely get up the modest hills of downtown Caraz), just to give me a lift between the combi stop, and the place where shared taxis leave for Cashapampa. It's about another hour to Cashapampa, and that's the spot where the hike begins. Wasn't a problem getting a shared taxi: so a few soles and a very bumpy road later (the road from Huaraz to Caraz is paved, but it's dirt through the hills, from Caraz to Cashapampa), I made it to the starting point.
Start of the hike, at Cashapampa.
10am, s/5 entry fee, and I was off.