Published: April 21st 2012April 21st 2012
Finally early the next morning we crossed into Peru, although Fabi and Danny were threatened to be put in jail as they crossed the border without authorisation. We were all happy to have finally left Bolivia and sat reminiscing about our experience while we enjoyed breakfast looking over the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. After breakfast it was a short drive to Puno were we all had a quick lunch and strolled the city before starting to prepare for the next day.
The next day we woke around 8am and were ushered out to our personal tok tok’s which were powered by small Peruvian men on bicycles; these took us down to the seaside markets to buy presents for the families that would be hosting us for the night. Travis, Kylie, Josh and I were grouped together and we managed to find a soccer ball, rice, pasta, oil and various other items for our family and we then headed down to the Warf to board our boat. The first islands that we headed to on Lake Titicaca were the floating islands of Uros where the people original moved too in order to escape the Spanish. Here there are thousands of islands together in a small bay which are made of reeds that grow on the banks of Lake Titicaca. As we arrived on the first floating island we were welcomed by a singing group of local ladies all dressed in brightly coloured traditional clothes. The first thing everyone did after leaving the boat was to jump up and down on the island to feel just how spongy the reeds were, we then sat down for the beginning of a presentation from the local island president. The president told us how the islands were built, about local life and how they source food on the islands. After a quick tour of the houses on the island the local women dressed us up in the traditional clothing and showed us some of their home made craft work, we then boarded a traditional reed boat to take us to the main tourist island of Uros. After the quick 30 minute reed boat journey we were back on our own boat and heading to Taquile island where we would find out how truly unfit and sick some of us were. After a 20 minute walk to the top of the island along the local stream we stopped to have a quick look at the markets and learn some more about the local culture. After another 15 minute walk we had reached our lunch destination which overlooked the whole island and bay, we all feasted on trout from the lake and local grown vegetables which was fantastic. The whole group then scrambled down the stairs back to the boat not quite understanding how the locals manage the steep climbs. Our final destination for the day was the island that we would be spending the night on with our families in their homes, after quick introductions and exchanging of presents we were shown to our rooms and then to the soccer field. It was on Gringos vs Locals in soccer and volleyball unfortunately we lost both and gained some additional injuries. After a quick dinner back with our families we were once again dressed up to join in a local night of dancing, we all collapsed into bed by about 10:30pm.
Then next morning we farewelled our families and headed back to the mainland where Tranquilo was waiting to take us to our next destination, Cusco. After 11 hours of driving we finally arrived and after a nice warm shower we all hoped into bed.
After a quick city tour in the morning we headed to see some mummies in the local Inca Museum and then went to the temple of the sun, the cultural hub of the Inca Empire. Once our stomachs were full with a baked potato from the Real McKoy we got the last of our supplies for the Inca Trek and headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Our first stop the next day was Saqsayhuaman or as we remembered it “sexy woman” we then travelled through the sacred valley to Pisac and Ollantaytambo all ruins left by the Incas. After buying the last of out supplies we had a quick dinner and then headed to our hotel for our last hot shower and warm bed for three nights.
At 8am the next morning with duffle bags packed we boarded our bus with the green team (our porters, cooks and guides) and headed for the start of the Inca Trail. After a later than expected start due to one of the porters being left behind in Ollantaytambo we were on our way. 12km into our 47kn walk was our first camp site on a beautiful lawned area surrounded by a creek, everyone was feeling confident after a relatively flat first day. Dinner was amazing considering everything we ate had been carried up by our 21 porters, we headed to bed after tea once it was dark to prepare the following day which we had been warned was the worst.
We were woken at 5:30am with hot coco tea and a bath to wash our faces, then after another spectacular meal we were on our way. We began our 11km trek up “dead woman pass” which is a 5 hour climb of 1100m, reaching the peak at 4200m a.s.l. Josh reached the top first of the group followed by myself we rewarded ourselves with a snickers bar and some skittles while enjoying the view. Then it was a short 2 hour walk down the rocky stairs to our 2nd
camp, in the valley between the two mountains. We were clapped as we walked into camp and given glasses of cordial for our efforts. A quick nanna nap in the afternoon before ‘happy hour’, where the chef made us popcorn, hot chocolates and mochas.
The third day was going to be a struggle, a 17 km part uphill climb with some flat areas before 2000 steps at the end to get to our final camp, where we could just catch a glimpse of civilisation (Aguas Calientes) from the top. We all got there pretty late and settled in with more hot chocolate, coffees and some games of cards. That night we had our final meal with the guides, Odon and Lissandro, and had a chance to thank all our porters and tip them for there amazing efforts. They were all pleased and everyone was a bit sad that we would have to say goodbye the next morning.
Waking up at 330am for a 4am start to beat the morning rush at the checkpoint, we were a bit disappointed to have to get our ponchos and rain coat out to avoid the rain, and started our 6 km journey to the end, Machu Picchu. We arrived at the sun gate at around 630am, to find out it was more of a cloudgate then anything, and had a short rest and some words with Trav (the sun monkey) who had promised that he would sort the weather out for the final day. Realising the clouds weren’t going anywhere we continued down the stairs to the ruins. Still very cloudy, Odon decided we would head out of the ruins for a toilet break and a cappuccino, and came back in once the clouds lifted, normally about 10am.
Odon gave us a tour of the ruins, taking us to the sun temple, the food storage areas, the temple of the condor, the sacrifice areas (where animals and humans were killed) and the endless terraces. Climbing back up the steps to higher points of the city, we settled in for the weather to clear, admire the views and try to capture that “postcard picture”.
We left the ruins at lunchtime to the town Aguas Calientes for a big feed of Mexican, chicken enchiladas and a ‘grande cerveza’ (1100mL beer). Slowly the 4 days worth of fatigue caught up to us and we were looking forward to the 3 hour train and bus trip home to Cusco. The wig party we were all excited about had been postponed because everyone was to tired to head out and just washed the 4 days of sweat and dirt off and jumped straight into bed.
We woke up at about 8am the following day to beat the crowd to Jacks Café, an Australian owned breakfast café that serves the best breakfast in Peru. This was delicious and we relaxed around the city until 130pm when we had our chocolate making course at the Choco Museo. After three hot chocolates we were able to make our own chocolate bars to take home, had a 1 hour massage, some dinner then another early night to get up to head to Chivay the following morning.
The drive to Chivay took us through some of Peru’s old volcanoes including the final resting place of Wanita the famous Inca ice mummy and the highest point of the trip at 5000meters. After a day of driving we were all happy to get to Cabaconde were we stayed in a traditional hotel close to the centre square.
Early the following morning we woke and went for a quick walk to town square and then hopped on our van to head to see the famous Inca Condors; the heaviest flying bird in the world. A short time after arriving we were lucky to see up to 12 birds in flight riding the thermal winds rising from the Colca Canyon; some even landed within meters of us for the perfect photo opportunity. After a huge buffet lunch of alpaca stew and various other goodies We then headed off to Arequipa (one of the prettiest cities in Peru) stopping at 5000m for some photos and throw snow balls at each other. We arrived late in the afternoon and all headed out to tea to try some of the local cuisine, including the cuy/ guinea pig; this tasted a little like rabbit, but didn’t have much meat on it.
The following day we went down to the Inca museum where Juanita the ice maiden is normally on display, but unfortunately she was being kept out of the sunlight (as this damages her) and a substitute sacrificial mummy was there. Carly also snuck into the massive cathedral during mass and was fortunate enough to be shown through some of the rooms by a security guard! Just before lunch we decided to try our luck at posting some items home this turned into the worst possible idea and took us close to 1 and a half hours. We then headed to KFC for lunch and then after an afternoon of researching the Galapagos we headed back to KFC for a quick dinner then early bed.
We woke early ready for the next 4 nights of camping on the beach after driving for 1 and a half hours we all cheered to see the beach, unfortunately this was short lived as we soon realised the we had made a wrong turn only to have Danny and Fabi confirm this shortly after. Instead of our afternoon at the beach we ended up driving 14hours only to arrive at our campsite at 8:30pm with a lot of unhappy people; after a delicious tea of beef stroganoff we all headed to bed.
The next morning we woke to the waves crashing on the beach, after a quick breakfast of bacon and eggs we headed off to explore the strange desert meets ocean landscape. We spent the day relaxing on the beach and playing volleyball before we cooked up a huge BBQ feast for dinner including baked potatoes, chicken heart, fillet steak and coleslaw. After everyone was to full to move we headed to bed only to be kept awake to 4am by local celebrating the Easter long weekend.
After a quick breakfast we headed to Nazca stopping on the way at a 1000 year old cemetery that had been dug up by grave robbers, after looking at various bodies including kids in the tombs we were back on the road. We spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool and catching up on our sleep from the night before.
The next morning (Easter Day) we woke up early and headed to Huacachina for some sand boarding and relaxing by the pool, that night we enjoyed a home cooked curry thanks to Kaye. After a breakfast of pancakes, bacon and caramelized banana’s we headed off to Lima, the final day and destination of the tour. On the way to Lima we stopped at Paracas to visit Belarus islands (the poor man’s Galapagos) here we enjoyed watching many species of birds, seals and penguins swimming around the rocky islands as well as an unexplained candle Labra which has been engraved into the sand. Once we were all sick of taking photos we headed back to the mainland to feast on local seafood, we then hoped on the truck and continued our journey to Lima. 6 hours later we arrived and said goodbye to Jill and Michael as they were on their way to the airport to fly to Rio, everyone else headed out for a group farewell dinner and after some sad farewells we headed off to our beds to get ready for our flight to Quito.
After a late breakfast we headed to the airport and hoped on our flight to Quito, arriving at 3pm we got a taxi and headed to our hotel and home for the next three nights. After meeting our new tour guide Mirko and finding our we were the only 2 people on the tour we headed to tea where we were surprised by how cheap everything was considering they use American dollars in Ecuador.
For the next two days we got to know Quito, we headed to the equator, old town, went to the cinemas and relaxed before the next section of our journey. The following day we left the hotel at 10am to board a bus to Tena (Ecuadorian jungle), 6 hours later we arrived and then jumped in the back of a ute to head to Francois’s lodge. Here we enjoyed and amazing dinner and some cheap beers before we headed to bed.
We started the next day with an amazing breakfast of eggs, cake, banana chips and fruit thanks to Francois. We then headed out to explore the jungle with Sergio, first we went canyoning and hunting for medicinal plants between ducking to prevent bats flying into us, then we shimmed our way up some waterfalls before heading to the Shangrila for lunch. In the afternoon we trekked through some more jungle to an amazing viewpoint of the local river, we then headed home sweaty and ready for a shower.
After another early start we headed out in our ute for 1 1/2 hours to a local village where we boarded a dugout canoe and headed another ½ up the river on the way spotting Squirrel monkeys, after arriving at our destination an animal shelter in the heart of the rainforest. After a quick tour around the shelter meeting a variety of animals including; Jaguanas, Tucans, Wooly monkeys (one which was mentally retarded), Macaws and some smelly pig things we hoped back on the boat to head back to the Shangrila lodge. Once our tractor tyres were tied together we headed to the river only to find one had popped so we squished onto the remaining 5 and headed down the river to a local tribe. We pulled up on the rocky beach and walked through the rainforest for ½ and hour when we saw some kids with a Rhino beetle tied to a piece of string while they watched it fly around after walking a few more meters we arrived at the village of Santa Monica. In Monica’s home (the founder of the village) we tried some local tea, and painted ourselves to look like locals then we headed back to our makeshift raft to head down the river to our pick up spot. For tea François cooked an amazing BBQ including some of his well-known local mushrooms (cooked in Banana leaves).
Our final day of adventure in the jungle started with pancakes and then a 30 minute drive to a local community. Once we arrived we put our gumboots on and started walking up the local creek which turned into a huge water fall, after attempting to climb it and nearly losing one of the guys in our group we decided to climb around. Shortly after we came to another water fall and after nearly being drowned by the water we made it up shuffling around some of the rocks, after this we finally made it to the top and had a quick swim to cool down before heading back down to the local village. We then headed back to the ute to go further up the river for lunch and a swim in a local spot with a natural slide and some real quicksand. We then said goodbye to Andy and Rory and spent the afternoon relaxing at the lodge.