John Packman


John Packman

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Lima May 30th 2016

The hotel in Lima is very comfortable and I slept well, waking before 6:00. We were not due to be collected to go to the airport until 16:00 to catch our flight home at 20:00 so we spent the morning working in our room - I wrote more of this blog and uploaded photos - and then we went out. We walked down to the sea-front first of all to investigate an underground shopping mall and sea the Pacific Ocean. On the way I took a photo of one of the private gardens and street sellers of fruit to illustrate the character of Miraflores which is definitely a rather upmarket part of Lima. We had lunch in an upmarket Japanese restaurant. The flight home via Schipol was fine - though arriving back in Norwich to 12 ... read more
Street vendor selling fruit in Miraflores
View through security gates to private garden in Miraflores
Expensive shopping mall on seafront in Miraflores

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco May 29th 2016

I had thought that after all the physical effort that once back in a proper bed I would sleep well. But I woke early. We met Tony and Lindsey over breakfast reflecting on what a fantastic experience we had been through. We had been really lucky with the group of people we had spent four days with, the guides were excellent and the porters amazing. Looking back we agreed that the trail was not got the faint hearted or unfit. Lindsey had run three marathons, the same number as me, and was planning to run another half when she got back. Her husband, Tony, was also fit. Barry and his wife were also seasoned walkers. John from Seattle, had been working hard to get fit and lose weight before coming on the trip. Joe and Audrey ... read more
Cusco Airport was busy

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu May 28th 2016

Day 4 This was our earliest start - 3:30, though I was actually awake at 3:15. The checkpoint and gate to the final stretch of the trail was not due to open until 5:30 but even as I got up in the pitch black groups were descending the path behind our site using their head torches. We went through our morning ritual, with the porters quickly taking down the tents and packing everything up because they had to get down to catch the 5:30 train. We joined the back of the queue about 4:30, standing in the dark and damp. We had to show our passports to the rangers and then we were let through. The last stretch was undulating and we set off at a good pace. It soon became light and we had views ... read more

South America » Peru » Cusco » Inca Trail May 26th 2016

Day 2 We were woken by the cry of cockerels early, even before the target time to rise of 5:30. The porters brought us cocoa tea - a couple of fresh leaves in hot water, followed by a bowl of warm water for washing. Breakfast was a sort of porridge, quinoa with apple, followed by omelette with potato. We left the site at 6:50. It was distinctly chilly as we climbed gently through forest. This second day was by far the hardest. Although we only walked 11km, it was mostly uphill and some if it was very steep. So from around 3,000 metres we climbed to 4,200 metres. The photos don't do it justice because not only do they not show the true steepness of the path but they give no indication of the impact of ... read more
Typical vegetation for this high altitude forest
Next to the stream showing alpine vegetation
Tony on the Inca paved path

South America » Peru May 25th 2016

Day 1 A little surprising to both of us, Martin and I were up at 5:00, showered, breakfasted and packed ready to be collected from our hotel at 6:00. The six English visitors from our hotel were joined by three Americans from two different hotels. One of these required the minibus to go up such a narrow street that even at the turning area at the end there was barely anymore width than the length of the minibus, thus requiring a nine point turn. The town was quiet at that time of the morning and we made rapid progress through the suburbs and over the hills on the same route as before to Ollantaytambo. The central square was full of bustle, minibuses manoeuvring and visitor from many countries mingling with locals. We were pointed in the ... read more
Group at the start of the Trail
Typical view of the Trail on the first day
Urubamba River

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco May 24th 2016

It has been a delight to have a free day to explore Cusco. While Martin snoozed I did a couple of emails, half an hour's pilates and a shower all before breakfast - felt like a real treat. After a phone call with Caroline and negotiating the process of changing money in a local bank we set off up the hill passing by the site of the former Inca palace. Coming in the opposite direction was a whole school, dancing down the street, the girls twirling in their dresses, some boys carrying religious images and others dressed in strange costumes with whips. All were having a great time. This is a reminder of the strange mixture of the Inca and Spanish heritage. The Inca was a god-like figure who ruled the land absolutely - all were ... read more
Boys in the procession with covered faces and whips
Martin walking next to an Inca wall
Lemonade and mint drink

South America » Peru » Cusco » Ollantaytambo May 24th 2016

Ollantaytambo is a fortress at the confluence of two rivers in the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the northwest of Cusco. It took us about an hour and a half one to travel there by minibus, making our way through the uncontrolled housing development on the outskirts of Cusco and then climbing over a pass with views of the Andes. On the way we stopped and Chinchero, the site of three Inca palaces. This small Andean village is high up on the plain of Anta at 3762 m above sea level. We were given a demonstration of dying wool with local natural materials, spinning it and weaving cloth. Ollantaytambo is the best surviving example of Inca city planning with the modern buildings using the foundations of their Inca predecessors. The site has the most amazing ... read more
Martin at the bottom of the Oily terraces
John and Martin at the Temple of the Sun
Martin with granary in background

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco May 22nd 2016

This morning we explored Cusco, visiting two of the markets but not buying anything just yet. While in Lima we had found a park full of feral cats lying in the sun, in Cusco it was dogs all dozing peacefully. We ended up in one of the big squares fronted by the cathedral and another large church. The square was full of noise and people, including an army band and troops lined up on parade. We learnt later that this is the run up to big celebrations for Corpus Christie. The image of our lady was paraded around the squares along with various dancing troops. In another square hundreds of school children all in their uniforms were having a noisy time. Fire crackers went off overhead and a food festival was delivering enticing smells. For lunch ... read more
Celebration of Saint's Day
Inca temple
Walls to the Inca Palace

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco May 21st 2016

We have had an easy time today, not leaving the lodge until 10:30 for our trip up river. While we waited the sun the sun came out and so did the butterflies. We spotted a large iridescent blue one crossing the space outside the lodge. When we arrived at Puerto Maldonado a group of men were swimming in the river manhandling what appeared to be a raft. We worked out that they had floated the heavy large cut timber downstream in the form of a raft and were dismantling it, so it could be raised by crane to the quay and then lifted by hand onto a truck. I suspect from the weight it was 'iron' wood. Martin looked out for Internet caf├ęs to take pictures of as we went through the town and we stopped ... read more
Butterfly Farm
Street scene in Cusco

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