Published: July 30th 2011July 30th 2011
Lots of waiting around to fly over the Nazca lines today. The lines are huge and quite amazing, although tricky to see. There belongs a mystery as to how or who created the lines, however later in the day we visited the cemetery of Chauchilla, which showcases Nazcan mummies, and our tour guide told us that the lines were easy to create with rope and the only reason that they are surrounded in mystery is commercial!
Night bus to Arequipa, which is where I had my best sleep to date.
In Arequipa we visited the Convent of Santa Catalina, a nunnery. Very interesting. We also admired El Mistri volcano from afar before going out in the evening to watch Peru´s semi-final in the Copa America against Uruguay (dressed in a Peruvian football top naturally). Unfortunately they lost 2-0.
We travelled to Chivay via a pass of 4900 metres. Becky and I felt nausous despite chewing coca leaves (good for altitude sickness apparently. We also saw 4 members of the camel family: llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas, the latter having the most expensive wool. We also saw a Peruvian rabbit, which may have
been the ugliest creature that I´ve ever seen! Becky bought an alpaca hat to combat the cold and we saw Andean people dressed in typical attire for the first time. We checked in at the best hotel to date where we sampled alpaca - yum! We then headed to the thermal baths and after we had an evening of typical Peruvian dancing and music (I somehow managed to get dragged into it and received a whipping - bizarre!).
We woke early to spot condors at Colca Canyon (possibly the worlds deepest canyon, but there seems to be deateable). The condors were majestic. We also spotted a hummingbird. Later we headed back to Arequipa where Becky and I sampled Guinea pig for dinner. Tasty but tiny (no shock I know!).
We flew to Cusco for a quiet day observing the churches and cathedrals in the area. Had an awful dining experience in the evening.
Visited the sacred valley and Ollantaytambo, following a weaving demonstration at a local community supported by GAP. At Pisaq we saw our first Incan ruins, followed by more ruins later at Ollantaytambo - a great appetiser for Machu
Hiking the Lares trek begun, which was fantastic, not only as it was our first exercise for an age! It is simply astonishing how good the cusine was given that the cook had to use a gas stove in a tent that the porters carried up the mountain-side. After lunch we climbed our first pass at 4200 metres - I struggled massively with the altitude and struggled to get my heart-rate under control. Finally made it to the summit, where there was plenty of snow to play with. Descended to overnight camp where we played cards solidly for a few hours.
Day 2 of the Lares trek began with a climb to 4600 metres. Bizarrely I felt fit as a fiddle, unlike the day before, whereas a lot of the rest of the grup struggled. Awesome views at the top. Got to overnight camp early and rugged up as it was very chilly (Becky opted for 6 layers of clothes!).
Final day of the trek was downhill (literally) all of the way. Finished at 10:30 and cracked a beer to celebrate. Then thought at 2900 metres it would be a
good idea for the tour guides to play the tourists at football - a heart attack waiting to happen! We equitted ourselves well considering our team comprised of a Canadian and American (not the best known footballing nations). We later travelled by train to Aguas Callientes (a short bus trip from Machu Picchu) in preparation for the following day.
Woke nice and early to visit Machu Picchu. Enthralling!!! Our tour guide explained a little of Incan history and how the Spanish invaded and destroyed most Incan communities, which was eye-opening. Back to Cusco in the evening for another disappointing culinary experience.
Amazon rainforest was our next stop. So much wildlife, observed turtles, caymen, giant otters, piranhas, 5 types of monkey (squirrel, spider, dusky titi, capuchin and tamarind), spiders galore (tarantulas, wandering and wolf spiders to name a few), birds a plenty (macaws, tucans, parrots, parrakeets, cormorant, heron, woodpecker and ¨stinky birds¨), thousands of butterflies, a rainbow boa constrictor and Capybara.
Went birdwatching and piranha fishing in the morning, before visiting a shaman in the afternoon (interesting). A few people had a dip in the cayman infested water but Becky and I bottled it, must be getting old! Had a night tour after dinner (food at the lodge was lovely, as were the cocktails). Spent each evening squeezing past the mosquito nets into our bed, which was practically outside, to avoid being eaten alive. Great fun.
Watched the sun-rise above the canopy of the rainforest which was beautiful. Later we flew back to Cusco. Tomorrow we head to Puno and Lake Titicaca - can´t wait!