Archive for the 'Peru' Category

Published by Linda on 17 Apr 2009

Ladies & Gentlemen, THIS is Machu Picchu……

 

DO NOT adjust your screen, this was it! After trekking for days, blisters, vomiting, burning lungs, getting up at crowfart and running up those giant steps, this-was-the-view. Are you kidding me? Boo to the fog, mist oh and just for good measure some drizzle :-( Soooooo disappointing, I didn’t have to worry about seeing it from the sun gate as the others didn’t see a thing. A couple of us from the Lares trek signed up to climb Waynu Picchu, a mountain that overlooks Machu Piccu, but the weather never cleared enough to make it worthwhile.

Over the course of the morning, the weather did improve so we found ourselves running up and down Machu Picchu like mad men. (Damn those Incas and their steps!!! Thought the hard part was supposed to be over!) It is so impressive though, both up close…….

………but especially from a distance…….

…….. I mean, look at that – WOW!! I strolled over to have a look at the scary Inca bridge…….

……you couldn’t walk over it, due to the risk of plunging to your death(!) but check out my video of it Inca Bridge – it shows how sheer the drop is. There was an breath taking view of the valley from there……

…….and being there all alone (for a few minutes anyway) made me feel tiny. So what started out as really disappointing, ended up being very worthwhile and I just couldn’t stop staring at it.

(yes, yes I know my hair has turned red!!)

Headed back to Cuzco for the last time and we celebrated. Both for completing the treks and as this was the end of the tour!! 

Even stole Phil’s leather jacket, which he wore with his cowboy boats for the entire Inca Trail – legend, just had to mention that. Had a good old night out, finishing off the skittle vodka I brewed earlier in the trip – it’s always good party starter

 

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, you do get to know people quite well and when you’ve been travelling around for a while, it’s nice when someone just gets you :-) So thanks to the crew, it was great, hopefully might see some of you soon and if not, stay in touch :-)

My first impression of Cuzco was good, a real party town where you could celebrate the end of trek. By my last visit there, I was pretty sick of it. There are so many people on the streets trying to lure you in with their restaurant or bar or nightclub or post trek massage. It just got a bit wearing after a while.

Next day it was off to Lima, which was not recommended by anyone so far on my travels. To be honest it was just a big city to me, which isn’t really my thing anyway. There were some nice plazas……

…..but one street away from them, it turned pretty slum-like. Headed off for dinner in the nicer area of Miraflores and then off to the airport the following day. Next stop….. Bogota, Columbia……

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616481520640/   http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616391349555/  http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616468252823/

Published by Linda on 15 Apr 2009

Linca Lindy

Had one more day before the trekking started.  We headed to the Sacred Valley to check out some ruins around Ollantaytambo and Sacsayhuaman. Got a great view of Cuzco on the way, you might be able to see they have a Cristo, like in Rio de Janeiro, overlooking the city.

Apparently there is one in Bolivia too but I didn’t get to see it. Anyhoo we checked out a llama farm on the way to the sacred valley. I think llamas are a bit scary at times…..

Like overgrown sheep!! Okay, okay some of them are pretty cute but this is as close as I was willing to get. The ruins and scenery around Sacsayhuaman were beautiful……..

……..and we got a few short treks in over the course of the day. We headed on to Ollantaytambo where we learned more about the Incas and how they achieved architectural marvels by hand – more or less. Check out this face carved into the mountain…….

……pretty amazing!!!! As the crew were all doing the Inca Trail, I left them in Ollantaytambo, where they would start from the following day. I headed back to Cuzco gazing at a gorgeous sunset against the most amazing backdrop but honestly I couldn’t even concentrate on it because the nerves about the trek were really kicking in!! Went back to Cuzco and packed my duffel bag (which the porters would carry) and the lightest possible day pack.

Okay so I made a decision not to do the Inca Trail just because I heard that it is really packed and I heard about an alternative called the Lares trek. It’s another (less heard of Inca trail) which was said to be just as nice as the Inca trail. It’s about 5km shorter but the altitude is much higher so I heard that it was really tough. All through Bolivia, I didn’t really suffer badly from the altitude so I knew I’d be okay, apart from maybe slight nausea and dizziness. The only thing I was a little sad about was missing seeing Macchu Pichu from the sun gate which can only be seen when you do the original Inca Trail.

Anyway the day arrived and I was picked up at 6am. Met my group and we drove towards the town of Lares. Stopped off at a market to buy little gifts for local kids we might meet along the way. Next stop was Lares which was the last stop in “civilisation” but on the way I started feeling really quesy. I put it down to not much sleep the night before and maybe some nerves. By the time we got to Lares, I was running for the bano (bathroom) and having some serious upchucks!! Boo to that. Tried to convince myself that I felt better as we moved on to meet the porters and cooks to have our first camp lunch but couldn’t manage it and had a sleep on the grass until we were ready to set off for day one of the trek.

Couldn’t believe I was sick from the altitude and we had not even started!! Didn’t really want to let on to the others how horrible I felt because that would be admitting it and I knew I’d feel worse. Literally just put one foot in front of the other and that distracted me pretty well but to be honest that was a hellish walk to first base.

Camp for the night looked pretty much like this……

……and I counted the minutes before I could go to bed. Managed to get some soup into me and headed for bed. (anyone who knows me well will know I’m ill if I can’t stomach food – it’s just never a problem)  Never felt so dreadful and even though it was freezing (and I mean seriously brrrrrrrrrrrrr) I was feverish yet shivering in my thermals and my -20c sleeping bag!!

Day two arrived and this was to be the day of hell by all accounts. Now I start very slow when trekking anyway but the next morning, I couldn’t get it together at all. We spaced out and I was walking alone for the first while. I’ve trekked a bit on my travels but this was soooooo hard. Actually started crying in the first half hour and that did it!! I just snapped with myself and said “come on Linda, you have to do this, there’s no way back so get on with it” Think I scared myself a little but it worked and I picked up my pace.

One of my group, Rachel had caught up with me and we started walking together. The first pass was just under 5000 metres above sea level and we’d just pick a marker, like a rock or something and aim for that so we could take a break to catch our breath. The funny thing is once you stop, you feel fine straight away but then you start again and 20 metres later it feels like your lungs are about to explode!! That damn altitude is a killer and makes you feel so weak. Anyhoo, by picking our markers, taking shorter strides and looking down, we hauled ourselves up that first pass!!

Woooooo hooooo, we’d made it past the worst point!! Yippeeeeeeee :-) OR SO WE THOUGHT!!! Beautiful view of this lake and we bounded down towards it. The scenery up in those clouds was just amazing and as our group was small and we spaced out a bit, myself and Rachel had it all to ourselves. After a few minutes, it began to twig that we were really descending quite far and then we realised that we would be starting even lower for the second pass!! So  unfair!! We almost cried ………… and then the hailstone started :-( Boo to it but honestly it was almost better than rain because it did just bounce off us. Thank god for small mercies – I think?!

So again we had to slap ourselves and start the ascent up to the second pass. It was just as hard as the first one and all that kept us going was that after that we would finally be coming down from the altitude – somewhat anyway. So we made the second pass and then the trail got a little confusing so with my limited spanish I asked a local farmer if we were headed in the right direction. He pointed us on our way and off we headed to third pass.

As soon as we got over the third pass the trail split into four so we were totally confused. We walked on for a bit and realised we were totally lost!!! Sooooo we had to BACKTRACK to find the others that were walking behind us. A bit of a trial to do the pass again but the thought of being lost in the Peruvian mountains kinda spurred us on. So if anyone is interested in doing the Lares because the Inca Trail is too packed, I can guarantee you won’t be bumping into anyone too easily. Plus this really is some of the most beautiful landscape and to see it with no one around is pretty special.

Anyhoo, we eventually found the others and stopped for our lunch. Ended up doing an extra couple of kilometres which was a bit of a struggle but never mind. We were a much happier and healthier bunch reaching base camp that night…..

……..but some folks decided to do the easier walk the following day. Ended up being just four of us (outta nine) finishing the intended trek. We literally ran up the mountain and back down but I have to say it was worth the walk. Saw some great Inca ruins, probably the nicest so far but I guess the sunny weather had a lot to do with that :-)

The high was really kicking in that day……

 

……..dispite 40km, some quite hellish, and many blisters from going down – which is sometimes worse than going up especially on the knees. But nevertheless I had done it, me – very unfit me – had completed an Inca Trail and I felt I’d paid my dues to see Machu Picchu the following day.

We trekked down to Ollantaytambo and met the others. Caught our train to Aguas Calientes and relaxed in the hot springs that evening, pretty damn proud :-)

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616471465288/                                                                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616382224505/

Published by Linda on 12 Apr 2009

Lake Titicaca, The Islands & The Amazon Jungle

I sadly left Bolivia and crossed the boarder into Peru……..

Headed for Puno, a touristy jump-off town for Lake Titicaca. Had a nice stroll around the local markets before heading to the islands the following day.

Took a cutie rickshaw (or equivalent) to the harbour………

then a boat ride and a visit to the Uros Reed Islands, where we learnt a bit about island life…….

…….and got to dress up in the local fashion…..

….something tells me this ain’t going to catch on at home. By the way those things plaited into my hair were REALLY heavy!!! First impressions of Lake Titicaca were all good……

We floated on to Amantani Island where we would be staying with local families. The altitude is quite high here and so the half hour trek to our houses was a little frightening bearing in mind the upcoming Inca Trail!! Anyway we got there in the end. Myself and Ruth stayed in this house…..

……..which was a few buildings, this was just the kichen and backyard.

Had some lunch cooked by our Island Mammy and Granny in their kitchen…….

which consisted of potato soup, then fried cheese (bleugh) potatoes, potatoes, rice oh and more potatoes!! Now being Irish I can handle my starch but this was insane, myself and Ruth were trying to decide how much we could leave on the plate without it being an insult!!

We headed off in the afternoon to learn life on the island. Farming an weaving are the main activities and we even got a spinning lesson which was much harder than it looks!!! 

See my new hat, my island Mammy knitted it for me – you’ll be able to pick me out of a crowd anyway :-) After work we got to play/watch some football with the locals. As I’m not most coordinated of folk, I settled for spectator status. Have to say it looked pretty challenging at high altitude, as is a walk up to the top of the island to watch sunset.

After dinner (more potatoes – starch overload) our Mammy gave us some traditional costume to dress in for an evening of dancing.

Dancing at 4000 metres above sea level and after eating a ton of potatoes is pretty difficult. Particularly to never-ending Peruvian songs! The costume was a bit of a killer too, top, shawl, petticoats and a sash which our Mammy tied for us – felt like wearing a corset – without the slimming effect!!! Really should have took off my fleece and jeans but it was bloody freezing!

I’m not sure how comfortable I was with the whole experience of staying with a local family, to be honest. It felt a little phoney at times. You know, the western tourist staying for the night. I guess it helps them out a lot but our family seemed to be a little bored of the whole thing. In fact the Dad literally only spoke to say hi and bye but it was interesting to see their way of life.

In the morning we headed off to Taquile island which was just beautiful.

Lots of long hills and steps – again Inca trails haunt me. The men do all the knitting on this island. They knit a hat which their give to their prospective father in law, who in turn pours water into it. If the hat leaks, the “son” has to start again!! He does get three attempts before he’s out though.

Headed back to Puno on the boat.

Sweeeeeeeeet I love boat trips when it’s sunny :-)

Headed to Cuzco which is a serious party town as it is the jump off spot for the Inca Trek so it’s generally full of nervous folks and those celebrating afterwards!! Some great clubs in Cuzco so we went to check out some salsa……..

……..which was all good, well at least for those who can do it – I just muddle along :-) Next morning we took a flight to Puerto Maldonado, and then a boat into the Amazon Jungle. Was seriously debating not going after the 80 mossie bite incident. I really toyed with it but eventually I decided that I couldn’t go to South America and not visit the Amazon.

So armed with two different types of mossie repellent, long sleeves, long pants and a hat with face net, I headed into the battle zone.

Started off with a lovely lunch of chicken, veggies and rice steamed in a banana leaf….

Yum!!! Heading off for a boat trip that night to see if we could find some caimans lurking around in the water. It was a little scary being out on the water at night, listening to the sounds of the Amazon…..

…….but we soon relaxed and watched the stars. Was almost asleep by the time we came back!!!

Next day we headed off into the jungle to see what we could find.

The jungle was hot and humid which was a change from the chilly altitude of late. Our guide was pretty good too and sported this machete………

……..to cut back the greenery, which was pretty unnecessary, I reckon he just had it for effect :-) Anyhoo we saw some interesting things, including this tarantula……

……who was sleeping soundly in a tree until the guide poked him outta there. Very impressed I must say, he was an aggressive little fecker too!! Simon and Julie actually found one in their room that morning!!! That’s a bit close for comfort!!

Anyone who knows me will have heard me talking about my wish to be on Survivor (tv show) so I got a chance to prove I could do the gross eating challenge!! I ate one of those live white grubs (like a slug basically) Didn’t taste too bad to be honest – kinda like very mild coconut milk. He wasn’t too rubbery either and apparently very nutritious :-) Didn’t get a photo because I ate him too quick but he looked pretty much like one of these……..

Climbed up to an observation platform which gave nice views……

……..of the lake here. Took a little boat ride afterwards there too. We trekked on and then took another boat trip to Monkey Island. Those monkeys came straight over looking for bananas….

……they are certainly not shy!! This guy was a little scary too with his fangs!!! He was the boss around these parts too. I was glad I made the decision to see the Amazon, got play Tarzan for a while and stayed in a great place……..

……..saw some wildlife and amazing trees some of which were 500 years old!! Had a good chillax (well as much as I’m capable of).

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616343162661/  and  http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616380501967/