Straight to Cusco
We arrived after a 24 hour bus ride
Peru - 3 Months
I flew from San Jose back to the Uk for 2 weeks and then straight to Lima, Peru.
A night in Lima
then a 23 hour bus ride to arrive in Cuzco
. We spent a few days here visiting the local ruins and enjoying the facilities in Cuzco to acclimatize to the altitude, the Sacsayhuamán ruins were particularly impressive.
We left Cuzco, for the Inca trail start, at midnight due to the affect of transport strikes and a few kilometres from the start we encountered a road block and were surrounded by protesters, who knifed/slashed our tyres. The guides set up camp on the road-side and we had to walk to the beginning of the inca trail next morning, an extra 6 km walk to the beginning of the tour.
The second day involved a 1200 metre climb up to the "Dead Woman's Pass"at 4050m above sea-level but the hiking was done at quite a relaxed pace. Along the way there were many ruins surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery and on the morning of the forth day we reached the fantastic machu pichu ruins. The setting
The wall containing the 12-sided stone, an example of the precision used in ancient times
in the Sacred Valley was spectacular, made even more impressive with the cloud hiding the ruins. The ruins were amazing, I enjoyed seeing the techniques they used to break the rock and the view of Machu Pichu from Huayna Picchu (the mountain opposite that means "Young Peak"), although you had to really use your imagination to see the condor shape of the ruins.
After a night out in Cuzco, to celebrate our trail success, we bused to Puno on lake Titicaca, visted the floating islands, a mass of floating aquatic plants, mud, and peat that float around the lake. Then we stayed with a family on Taquile, a long thin island made of rock, where the people wear different types of hats to show the marital status.
my friend Gareth flew home and I continued on bus to Arequipa, to stay a couple of nights before traveling north to stay in Cabanaconde, a village set in a beautiful valley. From here I took a 3 day tour and hiked down to an Oasis in the canon del colca. On the descent into the canyon we got to see about 4
900 years old but I didn't see the Puma head
condors, flying high above us but they still looked massive circling at great heights, at least a 3m wing span. A great trip, some amazing scenery.
The next stop after Arequipa
was to see the Nazca lines, created by the Nazca culture over a thousand years ago probably more. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks or orcas, llamas, and lizards, I flew over them for 35 mins and found them fascinating.
I stopped at Pisco to visit the area. I got to visit some vinyards, the lake and sand dunes at Huacachina, where I tried sand-dune boarding and the Paracas National Reserve and the Ballestas Islands, the home to one of the largest sea-lion colonies in the world, and I also saw tonnes and tonnes of birdlife.
On the way to the islands we saw El Candelabro de Paracas, another huge rock carving.
I traveled into the spine of the country, via Ayacucho, to Huancayo, a city in the Andes at an elevation of 3,271 metres. Here I stayed for over 3 weeks absorbing
The Inca trail
Well almost - our tyres were slashed by protesters so we camped a few Km short of the start
culture and making friends. During this time I visited schools, appeared on the radio (an hour long interview about Genetics) and I was welcomed in to several family homes, including one family that had built their house between the end of two chains of attached houses. I visited a lake and a trout farm, a textiles factory and best of all I walked on and sledged down the Huaytapallana Glacier, with amazing views at over 5000m.
I quickly passed through Lima to reach Huazca, one of my favourite places in the world, located between the 2 mountain ranges Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera negra. I did a trek to Huayhuash, in the Huascaran national park and ate freshly caught trout while watching parts of a glacier crack off, we took a guide and some donkies to carry all the camping equipment. Trujillo
had some really cool ruins nearby, in particular the mud city of Chan Chan with some great artwork and fantastic details. Cajamarca
was a nice town and I got to see the power of the rain in the tropics as during some torrential rain the roads were
Walking to the Start
We followed the river to meet the start of the trail
turned into rivers.
Shortly after leaving Cajamarca I crossed into Ecuador, with a insignificant stop in Piura.
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