We picked up the trail again on the other side of the rockslide, and from there, we crossed a rickety bridge to Fure, where we were shown to our room for the night: a mud hut with four walls, a dirt floor and a mattress propped up on bamboo and logs.
After a wash in the town’s natural spring and a dinner of soup, squash puree and white rice, we went to bed and slept not as soundly as we would have liked until 6 a.m., when we set out for our ultimate destination, the Huaruro waterfall.
Face to face with the fall
After a relatively mild hour-and-a-half hike that included fording two rivers Oregon Trail-style, we approached the waterfall. At first, all we could see was a watery mist drifting up into a vivid green pasture. Then we turned a corner, and suddenly we were at the foot of a mass of water plunging to the ground. The vegetation was dripping wet from the mist, and the noise from the water’s 250-foot drop silenced our conversation.
Though impressive, Huaruro wasn’t the largest or tallest waterfall I’d ever seen. But that didn’t matter. With this secluded fall that we’d glimpsed from our hotel in Cabanaconde now towering above us, it felt as if we’d just discovered our own secret wilderness, a sense that I hadn’t experienced in longer than I could remember.
We took pictures and spent time just gazing at the waterfall and reveling in the mist. Then we hiked back to Fure for some mediocre pancakes before beginning the day’s trek down to the Sangalle oasis, where freshwater pools and a tropical climate awaited us. The hike was mostly downhill and luckily drama-free. By around 3 p.m., we arrived at the oasis.
Our hostel owner showed us to a half-stone, half-bamboo hut, sans lighting (our room in Fure had had a light bulb, electricity being a recent development there). This hostel was teeming with freakishly large wood bees and other unsavory insects, and our room was full of holes for them to fly or crawl into. I’m the first to admit that I can be quite squeamish when it comes to most bugs, though of course they love me. So I was particularly uncomfortable with our setup. The oasis has four hotels, and I’m fairly certain that ours was the most “rustic.”