Published: August 12th 2007April 20th 2007
Well well well...
South we have gone stopping here and there to check out the ´cool´things to do on the Gringo Trail. You know you´re on the Gringo Trail when you keep running into the same travellers not just once, but in every new place we have been to. But there is a reason everyone is doing the same trip, to see the best sites in the shortest time. So here´s a rundown.
We skipped over Lima due to the mutual feeling that large Latin American metropolis´are becoming somewhat monotonous by now, and headed to a desert oasis named Huachachina. Cool little spot surrounded by 700 foot high sand dunes on all sides with your picturesque oasis in the middle. Here we did the mandatory dune buggy excursion out into the desert. You learn how to sandboard and get the living daylights scared out of you by the buggy driver who pretends he doesn´t know what´s over the next dune...tons of fun. Honed up the ol´sandboarding skills (it´s a lot harder than it seems) and burned many calories trying to hike up steep soft dunes for an epic line down (ok I lie its not nearly as epic as
snow but when you are deprived of snow for 12 months it starts to become epic). To top it all off, everyday ends with an all you can eat and drink barbeque and you can all guess how that turns out...
The major town near this Oasis had a really interesting museum on ancient cultures that inhabited the area and had some great mummies that were well preserved (no pictures of course). Also there were some great examples of skull mutilations that were really creepy.
A couple days there and we set off to Nazca and the famous lines that are shrouded in mysetery. They still don´t know exactly why they were built but they were built over many generations from 600 BC to the 1500´s and spanned more than one culture. Regardless of all the theorys, the lines are are astonishing considering how symmetrical they are and the fact that the constructors were never were able to view their work. Also is amazing that it hasn´t rained in more than 2500 years! We took a flight over the lines and got some good views, as well as some motion sickness from Ben who proclaimed, ¨That was first time
I´ve ever puked in a baggy!¨
From there hopped on an overnight bus and rode down to Arequipa, Peru´s second largest town nicknamed the ¨White City¨for its old colonial buildings that have been built with volcanic stone that is almost white in colour. A scenic city, it is surrounded in volcanic mountains which were considered Incan Gods way back when. We viewed an ´ice mummy´, a 500 year old child who was found on a nearby mountain top. So far they have found more than 6 frozen mummies in the mountains around here and have concluded that they were human child sacrifices to appease the Mountain Gods during hard times in Inca Culture. Because they were frozen the entire time, they are remarkably well preserved including skin, hair and clothing.
The last adventure to date was the exploring of the Colca Canyon, the second largest canyon after its nextdoor neighbour 163m deeper. At 2800m at its deepest point, its a big canyon alright. But it is in a much different context than most people´s idea of ´canyon´ i.e. Grand Canyon. This one starts at snowy peaks and just drops steeply down to form a big valley. Experts say
this is a canyon, but my opinion says it is really just a big, steep valley. Regardless, we had to hike to the bottom of it and we had a grand time doing it. At the bottom of a 1300m deep section is a beautiful spot known as the Oasis. They have built some beautiful crystal clear pools with spring water for weary hikers to rest their aching joints. We restored ours for an entire day before saying goodbye and hiking the 1300m up and out. A tough slog but well worth it. And the big hype here is seeing the Andean Condor, South America´s most ´majestic ´bird. We saw quite a few but they are nothing compared to our eagles back home.
So with that we are off to Conquer the Incas´ in their homeland in the Sacred Valley - Cusco and Manchu Pichu. Miss you all.
There are more photos below