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South America » Peru » Cusco
May 4th 2012
Published: May 4th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY


Mancora Peru. Arrived in Mancora at 5.30am feeling dazed and confused after very little sleep due to heat, very windy roads and border duties. Had nowhere booked but luckily there was a moto taxi driver that spent 30min driving us around trying to find a room. Ended up finding one called La Casa de Sebas. Bit pricey but spacey, quiet and didn’t really care as was so tired and just needed a bed. My first impressions of Mancora was that it was pretty shabby and dusty. Spent the afternoon on the beach watching the chaos of loads of surfers all dropping in at once along with kite surfers whipping past everyone. Grabbed some good ceviche (lemon juice marinated raw fish with squid and prawns (cooked) and onions. Was really nice but a ‘little spicy’ was actually super spicy. Had a cocktail in the central bit (lots of loud music and partying) then left as was still really tired.


Mancora, Peru. Had some breakfast at a place overlooking the surf break called ‘Papa Mo’s Green Eggs and Ham’ MASSIVE stack of pancakes! Rich spent the day surfing and Linz chilled on the beach reading and people watching. What is great about the beach is that people walk past all day selling food, drinks and other items so you don’t even have to move. Lazy or what? (But great!). Decided to book the bus to Pacasmayo for Monday as wanted to relax and have a few drinks seeing that it was Saturday night. Had some nice Thai food then hit the bars. Had a couple of cocktails and also got offered cocaine and marijuana whilst there was about ten policemen right nearby. Sat and watched some Peruvians’ bumping and grinding each other until about 1ish. Then headed back and remembered there was a party going on at the campsite. Stopped by, the French DJ’s were great. Kind of Chemical Brothers’ style but one guy also got out his guitar and freestyled with the beats. There was even a dog fast asleep right in front of the speakers, deaf? The party never really kicked off and drinks were a bit pricey so we left at 2.15 and went back to our pad for some wine (why at 2.30am?) and a few games of thumb wars where Linz kicked Rich’s butt. Rich’s ribcage was so swollen from surfing it looked like he had a couple of lower alien style boobs going on. Strange?


Mancora Peru. Linz kicked Rich out of bed at 8.30 so he could go for a surf whilst it was quiet. Surf wasn’t that great. Chilled hungoverish morning then spent the afternoon chilling on the beach, walked down further but could only go so far as it gets a bit dodgy (we were told by a security guy) and we had a camera on us. Rich had second final surf in Mancora, it was 0 – 4ft weird but clean and not that packed. Loads of fish in the water 2lbs each easy you could almost scoop them up while paddling. Had some good cheap seafood and beer then back to apartment to pack and try and catch up on blog.


Got a bus from Mancora to Pacasmayo at 9.30am. Thought we were in luck when we got on a nice air conditioned bus. We had got nice and settled when 3 hours later we were kicked off onto a shabby looking bus where the air con was an open window blowing a gale in your face. At first it didn’t even look like we would get seats together but luckily a nice man swapped his seat with Rich’s so we could sit together. Lucky for Linz she had boshed a travel sickness pill and dozed most of the way. 5 ½ hrs later at about 6pm we arrived in Pacasmayo. Got off the bus on a dusty street feeling like we were in Morocco. The good thing was that Rich had (amazingly) booked a hostel, so we got a mototaxi (tuk tuk) straight there which only took about 5min. Pacasmayo is a small(ish) town with a pebbly beach and a surf break. The only tourists it caters for are Peruvians so we have been getting lots of looks! We went for a wander, found a market selling a lot of tat, Linz got a cockroach on her shoulder (there are loads here) and we found a place for food where we ate ceviche (raw fish marinated in chilli and lemon with onions, yucca and sweet potatoes) and Chicharron mixto (seafood coated in batter). A chicharron in Colombia is crispy pork skin! Grabbed a bottle of wine and chilled at the hostel.


Lazy morning, Rich got up and climbed the hostels specially constructed surf watchtower complete with alarm bell and loads of vulture shit. Surf looked bad so back to snooze. Found some brekky which was a bit of a palaver as the waitress did not seem to understand we wanted a breakfast each. (To me it’s pretty simple, maybe she was just having a laugh?) We first of all just got one (scrambled eggs and bread), then explained we wanted one each, so two in total and ended up getting another two and had to tell them to take one away, it was hard work! We then explored town by daylight, bit run down no late night bars really and only a couple alright restaurants. The waterfront is on a chunky pebble beach which runs all the way to the lighthouse point. Couple expensive hotels to stay in but our packs ain’t that flash! The surf is supposed to break from the point about 2km away to the jetty in town, a 4min ride has been timed here, hence the visit. Rich hired a board a wetsuit and headed off leaving poor Linz to catch up blogging. Water was really cold, Rich wishes he had his own wetsuit with him. Surf was over a not too jagged reef but did have a couple nasty rocks sticking up just after take off point. Shoulder to just overhead high faces on the waves, beautiful as not many people around. Frustrating that the surf break was not working anywhere near full potential. We went out for dinner, ceviche again for Linz!


Rich got up early and Surfed again got in at 7am and had the break to himself for 45mins, nice. Head high plus faces to yourself on a deserted desert point break does not happen too often. Brazilian surfers turned up and we tried to speak in broken Spanish, Spanglish and portuspanyol. Hence to say it didn’t work. Spent the rest of the day chilling on the pebbles and prating about on a longboard by the pier. Packed our bags and got on the night bus to Huaraz via Trujillo, 2hrs to Trujillo then 10 more to Huaraz. Bonus, aircon bus this time which was nice, but a big fat snoring wanker behind us!


Arrived in Huaraz 7am, Rich found a cockroach in his shoe in his rucksack was a bit of a shock in the sleep depraved state he was in! Hostel Alpes Huaraz is a beauty got free breakfast on arrival and Linz went back to bed for nearly 3 hours while Rich researched climbing in the area and van rentals for New Zealand. Dinner in town, nice enough place smells fresh, and is not too in your face. Booked a hike around the “most beautiful mountain in the world” Alpamayo in the Cordilleras Blancas. Trek is four days but can be done in 3 if you handle altitude ok? Max height is 4750m on the second day, but then it’s all downhill. Bought some nice Alpaca gloves and a scarf for Linz (more bloody textiles), then had photos with some little Quechan lady’s and the sunglass wearing alpaca’s, quite funny. Massive Chinese for dinner accompanied with the hottest sauce I think we’ve had all trip, then early bed.


Day 1 Santa Cruz Trek

Had brekky and and got picked up by Galaxia Tours dude. Got into town and met our only two hiking buddies Antoine and Victor, two french geezers. Mini bus took us down the valley to a small town where we began our long switchback ride. All the way up to 4600m to the ridge then down the otherside to about 3600m ish, it took about 4 hours in total. All the way up the valley there was views of electric blue lakes and 6000m snowy peaks, uber good. We met the group who had just done the trek in reverse and they all looked knackered but happy. They warned us of heavy rain and cold nights, happy days…!

We set off with in a happy mood with plenty of energy and not to bad weather. About 100ms down the trail I heard a falling rock coming down towards us, it looked like it was going to hit Antoine, I shouted to duck but he was a bit slow. The rock bounced head height straight at him but luckily struck a boulder to hit right just in front of him, great start. We walked passed lots of farms with big porky pigs tied to stakes and hutches full of guinea pigs, both just as popular on the menu in these parts. 3hrs passed and a light rain started and clouds thickened above and in the valley we were heading into. As we were walking along a creek there was a rustle in the bushes and two mountain foxes came firing out straight passed us as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Then we found a dead donkey in the stream hollowed out by the same foxes I think, there’s a picture if anyone’s interested? Finally we made it to camp and put up our tents and had dinner, food was amazing the two lads cooked up chicken soup and then deep fried more chicken with rice, proper job. Had a few random cows come and check us out and some horses, the horses decided it was a good area for mating! At ten we went to bed in the pissing rain only to find our tent full of water. In our tired state we thought the ground sheet must be in a puddle. Only option was to move the tent, I unpegged the tent and chucked all the kit into my poncho. When I lifted the tent up and looked underneath there was no water? I poured out all the water and moved the tent. We had one cow who was spookily stood in the bushes watching us the whole time, it was a bit eerie when his eyes reflected the light from the head torch! While repacking our kit into the tent I realised the camel back was empty in Linz’s rucksack. The full two litres had emptied into the tent, school boy/girl error and embarrassing in front of the French!


Day 2 Santa Cruz Trek

After a rain soaked cold windy night we awoke under a cloud but rain had eased. Antoine had spent the night with his feet in a puddle of water and looked pretty knackered. Hearty breakfast at 7:30am packed up and up the valley we continued. Soon we started to see glaciers at cloud level above the large black cliffs to our right. The feeling of altitude started taking effect and everyone slowed down. After climbing over four big ridges we finally started the ascent to the highest point on the trek, santa cruz pass at 4750m. Victor stormed up it way ahead while Linz and Antoine needed a little encouragement. We finally made it at 1pm! The weather was not the best but you could see miles down each valley, dropping away either side of the pass, glaciers to our north and sneak peeks of the mountains surrounding us, very big scenery well worth the effort. A rain/hail/snow cloud hit us so we started down the other side. Two hours hard walking and we had done the hard work and made it to camp two. Tried to keep warm by getting in sleeping bags in the tent, it was really cold! Later the rain stopped and clouds started clearing, I took loads of photos. Dinner was again bloody good, lomo salteado (chips, peppers, onions, soy based sauce. We were all tired and went to bed about 9pm, Slept like logs.


Day 3 Santa Cruz Trek

6:30am We awoke freezing cold, bonus was the sky had cleared and we could see the full breathtaking scenery in full HD! I (Rich) got up and ran across the plain to get a better view of Alpamayo, the so say famous mountain used by paramount? All the mountains were out though about 9 visible peaks surrounding our camp. After porridge for brekky we headed down the valley, after about 30mins and a fair descent I realised the guide did not intend to take us up to Alpamayo base camp as the itinerary stated. I wanted to go, so the guide Ruben agreed to take me and let the others continue down to the next camp. Me and the guide then headed back up the track but then he took a left straight up the side of the mountain at about 60 degrees steep. We bush whacked it up about 250m to the other path in about 5mins which at 4600m above sea level is a right bitch. After about an hour we reached the base camp and could sea up the back of a hidden mountain behind and had a much better view of Santa Cruz peak itself. Unfortunately for me the peak of Alpa mayo had be swallowed by cloud. When we got back to the edge of the main valley we used my binoculars to try and see Linz and the two frenchies but they had made it too far down the valley. But as luck would have it a giant Condor was circling above so we looked at that instead. 3m wingspan big black thing flying 800m above us at 5000m+, it then shot off down the valley at about 50mph in Lindsey’s direction. We carried on down the valley for the next 5hrs trying to catch up on the others two hour lead, taking lots of good photos and tracking their foot prints. Perfect day perfect scenery, blue lakes, lush vegetation towards the end and wildlife to boot (see photos, I cannot begin to describe it all) Lindsey had made friends with some donkeys and was partaking in a bit of fishing but all she managed to catch was a rock! I got into camp shattered but happy and had a freezing cold bath in glacial river water, ouch. We also got savaged by some high altitude mosquito style insects. Linz thought she had random cuts all over legs as was bleeding only to wipe it off and find out it was bites!


Day 4 Santa Cruz Trek

Awoke cold but soon the sun had come round the mountain casting its golden rays and warmed us back up. We walked the last 5 miles into the local town where we got phone reception and found out we were3hrs ahead of schedule. We said goodbye to Eban (maybe ivan) our trusty donkey driver/chief /tent helper who about 10mins after unloading said he had to get back home, right at the beginning of the trek! Poor bloke had to go 45kms and would not be home until 2am weather permitting. Had some victory beers in the sun at 10am and chilled out. A four seater taxi turned up at last for 5 of us plus kit! WE managed to squeeze everyone in just and set off on what we soon found out to be Peru’s version of the famous top gear Bolivian death road. Little gravel road 400m drops plus no barriers, plus Victor was shit scared of heights when in moving vehicles, entertaining to watch. We eventually got back to Huaraz at about 2pm and had a power nap at the hostel. Later went out for pizza and beers with the French lads.


Me (rich) and Victor went ice climbing on a glacier at 4400m. While linz had a lazy day in the hostel writing and posting a blog and then popping into town for some rich free shopping! The ice climbing was really good fun I’d never been before , I even made it up an overhang that the guide said no one on the tour had done before. This was even when a load of rocks and melt water poured down onto me and left me hanging by one axe for about twenty seconds. The area was beautiful and weather was good. We even saw two mountain rabbits on the way back. (Unfortunately I did not back up the photos and they were lost on our dodgy hard drive with some of Ecuador’s photos too!) I met linz at the depot and we went for food then packed to leave.

Straight onto the Cruz del Sur Night bus to Lima, I was knackered!


Arrived in Lima at about 4.30am so got a taxis across the deserted city centre to the airport. The city felt hot to us and muggy compared to the high Andes. The sun was just rising, Lima looked quite nice,shame we had no time to explore. We flew from Lima to Cusco and checked into Hostel Mallqui. (Landing in Cusco delayed due to low cloud, good thing too as the plane comes down a valley to land with houses and hills very close.) Cuzco’s touristy areas are really nice but you don’t have to wander far to find the litter filled crap bits. Easy solution: stick to the centre which is massive. We wandered into town and found a good cheap 3 course meal for £5 then booked our Inca Jungle Trail including Machu Picchu and wandered around town looking at all the stores, later a beer in Paddy’s (highest Irish pub in de world 4010?) then to a veggie place for yummy soups.


Wandered Cusco. Checked out Inca walls. Had lunch looking out over the square. We went on a cheesy bus tour to viewpoint and to go past Sacsaywoman (Inca ruins). Went shopping for textiles and jewellery. (Much to Rich’s dislike) Had a yummy meze style snack at Jack’s Café, followed by a wander then to Paddy’s again. Shared a cheeseburger in Paddy’s didn’t want to spend anymore money so home to bed with a bottle of wine!


Went to an Inca Museum in Cusco. Was pretty informative but hard to translate the Spanish! Lots of artefacts such as pottery, jewellery, tools etc. Also included some strange elongated skulls. The Incas used to bandage their heads to change the shape. Looked pretty alien like. There were also some mummies. In the courtyard were some local women weaving their cloths. All the wool is dyed using natural dyes and woven on a loom that looks pretty prehistoric! It looks like back breaking work as they are sat on the floor with the loom attached to them. There were some other museums we wanted to go to but you have to buy a ticket that allows you to see every attraction which cost about £40 and it wasn’t worth it as we wouldn’t be able to see them all. Wandered around Cusco again, up the winding cobblestone streets, Linz checking out more textiles! Went to a Chocolate Museum. Found out a lot about chocolate, got a free sample then Linz had a hot chocolate and a fondue, Rich had a coffee with various chocolates. The hot chocolate was out of this world. It came with melted dark chocolate in a bowl with a jug of steaming hot milk. You put the milk in the cup with a stick of cinnamon and a couple of cloves then poured in the hot chocolate, it was delicious. The fondue was another bowl of melted chocolate with a fruit kebab that you dipped in, ummm dreamy! Later that evening we went to a curry restaurant called Korma Sutra. We had alpaca curry which was really tasty apart from Linz felt guilty about eating the alpaca as she thinks they’re really cute! Then the palm top ate its own head and would not reboot, piece of Samsung crap!


Inca Jungle Trail Day 1

Woke up early as we were getting picked up at 6.15. We were then taken to Lorenzo’s house (Lorenzo owns the company) for breakfast. Munched an omelette and bread got kitted up with our helmets and free t-shirt and then headed off in the van to the start point. The start point was pretty high at 4500m. We got our bike safety kit on and then free wheeled it down a beautiful valley, we also had to go through a few rivers so we got pretty wet. By the time we got to the bottom we were at 1400m and it was very warm as we were in the jungle. Had a tasty lunch and managed to get our guide Wilbur to give us a free beer. Very strange town (Santa Maria mark 2, first got washed away), out the back of the restaurant on the way to the toilets there were random rabbits running about and a kid having a bath! Not a lot going on in the town at all. Got taken to our rooms, not bad at all, very basic with bathroom with a window but no glass but at least we had our own room! Rich decided he was going to go white water rafting, I drank beer with the others! As it was getting dark we were wondering why the lights wouldn’t work and figured maybe the town’s electricity supply was on a timer (it does happen in some places!). At dinner there was still no light and we found out there was a power cut. Rich felt really ill during dinner and had to go and lie down. I found some big cockroaches on my bed and had to kill them, YUCK! As I was just cleaning my teeth Rich ran into the bathroom and puked up big time. Not nice for me whilst I was cleaning my teeth! We figured it must have been all the river water Rich swallowed whilst rafting! Off to bed, although I didn’t sleep too well as kept freaking out about cockroaches and when I got up in the night had to kill another that was sat on the bed next to me staring at me!


Inca Jungle Trail Day 2

After breakfast we started our hiking after a ride in the back of a caged truck we came across a landslide, it was weird because it looked kinda like the road but at a higher level. I stepped onto it thinking it was solid to take a better photo and sunk straight away into the soft jelly like substance. All the other tours turned up, Antoine (frenchy from santa cruz trek) was with them. After a detour into the jungle and a guide assisted crossing of the main mud shoot (occasional mud flows flowing down scaring the person crossing) we crossed our obstacle and started our hike. First stop a small field of cocaine plants (not for cocaine but for the tea called mate (mattay), learned that the locals chew at least one hundred leaves at once to get high (not very though), raise their work load, eat less food and reduce effects of altitude, funny that! (it takes 1ton of leaves to make one kilo of cocaine). Next stop up the trail was a local house with a pet monkey, that knew how to pose for pictures while robbing chocolate bars out of your rucksack, quite a trickster. Went up the hill some more to another house were we stuffed our mouths with coca leaves and awaited results. By the way, chewing coca leaves and drinking the tea is legal in these parts, it also is nothing like cocaine, just a herb which just makes your mouth a little numb, supresses your appetite and is supposed to alleveate symptons of altitude sickness. The Inca's valued it as a very important part of their culture. It gave us numb mouths and tasted disgusting, you have to keep a massive wad of leaves in your cheek and chew it every now and again. Linz almost puked because it tasted so disgusting!

The woman at the house then turned up with a creature held by its feet and gave it some coconut to eat while we took photos, the thing looked like a mini wombat crossed with a guinea pig. After getting up about 500 vertical metres we found an Inca trail cut into the side of the cliffs, pretty narrow and lots of steep steps on edges. The trails allowed the relay communicators to get messages undetected from Cuzco to Quito some 3000miles in just five days! Nice views at the top and back down to the river the other side. Along the river we could see remains of a railway that got washed away in four days of flooding a few years previous, old tunnels and the odd length of bent track still existed. We came across another landslide and had to bushwhack over it, bit dicey. This made the crumbling high cliffs to either side of us a little more foreboding.

Lunch was had in a little jungle house. In the garden grew all the local fruits and berries, avocados, coffee, coca, melony things papaya, passionfruit mangos, etc. About 4pm we came to a wire and cage river crossing which meant you had to sit in pairs back to back and pull yourself across the rusty steel cable about 4m above the extreme raging river. Someone thought they heard thunder but it was big boulders rolling along the river bed. A 40 minute walk further we made it to some hot pools for a relaxing dip and beers. Two of the six original pools were buried under a massive land slide. We also found out that the hostel the tour used to stop at for the night was just across the river but was swept away with the railway. The second hotel in the village of Santa Teresa was pretty good, no cockroaches and the food in the restaurant was not bad either, the usual bowl of soup followed by hammered meat with rice. Blagged Wilbur to give us some shots of Inca tequila and then went to a random night club where all the other tours were too, all getting pissed and trying to pole dance.


Inca Jungle Trail Day 3

After a drive up a part of the sacred valley passing the hydroelectric plant where they had drilled a tunnel wide enough to drive a truck through the mountain that’s exit was about 200ft up said mountain, creating a pretty impressive waterfall we arrived at our first destination, ziplining. We got kitted up in out zip wire gear and hiked up to the first run which was about 150m above the ground. There was 6 zip lines that covered 3kms the longest being nearly 900m. Like birds we soared across the valley. The last part of our hike was along the picturesque valley railway next to the roaring river and working railway. Had a really tasty lunch half way along. We got to Aguas Calientes at 4pmish and booked into the nicest hotel so far, tv, wifi and hot showers. Had an evening meal in the touristy town which serves as launch pad for tours of Machu Picchu, it reminded me of a ski town in the alps. Unfortunately the pizza was sweet, yuck! Early bed for our early start.


Inca Jungle Trail Day 4

Up at 4am and out by 4:30, we started our walk back to the foot of the 1890 Inca steps to the entrance of Machu Picchu, it was a killer racing up trying to beat the sunrise. The place is as good as it is reported to be, amazing views amazing setting etc. etc. see photos! After exploring the town we went up a further 1600 steps to the top of Hyuana Picchu, the best bit by far. The weather came in and it rained a fair bit making the rocky steps slippery for our descent. After getting our second illegal passport stamp Linz went and chatted to the llamas while I and two others fast walked up to the sun gate. It was further than it looked but the sun was out again so I could take the classic postcard photos. I got back to the entrance 10mins late and Linz had started down the steps without me. After catching her up near the bottom we got our stuff from town where we had to get our stuff and then get to the glass roof train back to Cuzco. We tried to squeeze in a quick cup of coffee and a slice of chocolate brownie with our tour mates Vicky and Celia but we soon realised the coffee was not getting made until the cake was bought from the Bakery down the road, put on a plate and charged at 3 times the price. We gave up and ran to the train, which didn’t depart for another 15mins, panic over, and enjoyed the brownie. The train ride out of the sacred valley was impressive, snow capped mountains Inca ruins and river valleys, but it stopped halfway and we had to get on a little leg room bus the rest of the way. It did not matter too much as it was dark. Got back to town and had more cheap soup then bed.


Got up late and tried to find a place to fix the laptop, found a mall dedicated to computers and through Google translate managed to convey we need to recover all the photos and try and fix. We managed to recover some photos but lost a lot of Ecuador and early Peru. Plus the computer needed a new hard disk, shit. Made the most of Cuzco again and then got on the night bus to Copacabana, Bolivia country number 12.

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