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PERU | Wednesday, 24 September 2014 | Views [359]

Gary has informed me it is now 6 months since we left OZ. We are now in Bolivia at the bolivian end of Lake Titicaca,but back to the north and Peru.We travelled into Peru by o/night bus from Equador and woke up whilst travelling to find a bleak landscape.It was like a desert with no vegetation escept in towns etc and brown sandy/rocky landscape as far as the eye could see.We got off the bus at Chimbote on the coast and then travelled across the Andes (SE) to Huarez and the Cordillera Blanca - wonderful mtn scenery. The Cordillera Blanca is so named because the mtns are covered with snow and glaciers.This area is all about the hiking and our first one was up to Laguna Willacocha (approx 3,300m) in preparation the next one to Laguna 69 at 4,600m. Laguna 69 is a beautiful blue lake with glaciers around. Whilst lunching there you could hear the glaciers cracking and see some small pieces fall into the lake.It was a struggle to get up the last rise to the laguna but well worth it. On the way there we also saw other blue/green lagunas and wonderful mtn scenery.We left the splendid scenery of Huarez and travelled down through the Andes to Lima on the pacific coast. Once again it was desert like country coming into Lima. Striking Lima on a friday night with peak hour traffic meant a slow trip into the bus station and so it was 9pm before we were settled at the hostal Thankfully a supermarket nearby meant we were able to have bread,tomato and cheese for tea. Our couple of days here showed us it was just another big city and we only saw the sun for half an hour one day due to pollution and clouds. Lima sits on cliffs and we were able to get down onto the beach area but no sand only pebble beaches and signs pointing the way up in case of a tsunami coming in from the pacific.Much of the city seemed to have a thin layer of dirt over it.Thankfully we then flew onto Cusco. Cusco whilst very touristy has a nice feel about and a big plaza in the centro historico (we didn't go the modern areas) and fascinating buildings that have inca foundations and spanish/modern structures on top.It was nice during the days and cool at night. We did a one day Sacred Vall;ey tour and saw ruins at  Pisac - marvellous inca terraces,and Ollantaytambo -huge terrace like structures here.There was lots more to see here but unfortuneately we didn't . WE also did a couple of free walking tours around the town and got into some of the history of the place and back streets. The centro historico in places is like a rabbit warren and not made for cars though they try. So time for our Inca trail trek to Machu Picchu. We left a lot of stuff at the hostal to come back to and at 5.30am one morning we were picked up. It was about 4 hrs before we finally were at the 82km mark of the trek and ready to set off.Passports duly stamped with the Inca stamp and on a clear warm sunny day off our group of 13 and 2 guides went - along with many other trek groups too.Our group ranged in age from 21 to 63 so we were second to oldest. There was one other aussie couple from Woollongong in their 40's.Of course the young ones set a cracking pace and we plodded along like the turtle. It was uphill and down but mostly up on the first 2 days and then down at the end of day 3 and up to Machu Picchu on the morning of day 4. A hail storm on top of a ridge at lunchtime on day 3 stopped us for a while (luckily we were in the lunch tent when it struck),before we continued down in the drizzle to camp. The porters were marvellous carrying every thing required for camping on their backs (even gas bottles for cooking) and then virtually running between b/fast,lunch and campsites.We would just rock up and sit down and eat and then move on trekking or to bed. Early bed and early starts esp on day 4 when we got up at 3.30am for b/fast and to line up for entry onto the track up to the Sun gate at Macchu Picchu.Entering the complex there with the sun shining on it was a fantastic site and like the postcard pictures.We left the complex around 1.30pm that day to go down into Aqua Calientes (the nearby town) for a meal and a hot shower at the hostal we booked. The best thing after 4 days. We went back to Machu Picchu the next day however the weather was overcast most of the day. We even climbed Machu Picchu mtn (a 3.5hr round hike) for another overview of the complex but the mist was too dense to see anything down below. Oh well more exercise. Once again we returned to Aqua Calientes but this time to catch the train back to Ollantaytambo and then bus to Cusco. Delay at the train meant we didn't get back to hostal till after 11pm - a long day. Back in Cusco for another couple of days to get washing down done and regroup. So 2 days later we got on an overnight bus to Arequipa - SE of Cusco. WE arrived at 5.30am in the morning and luckily our hostal let us in at that hour.On our day we managed to see a bit of the historic town centre and organised ourselves to go on a 3 day Colca Canyon trek. So once again up earlish for a 7.30am pick-up. There were 11 on this trip with a guide and driver. We made our way up to the Reserva Nacional Salinas and Aguada Blanca (highest point 4,800m)in the tour bus -saw rock formations,vicunas,alpacacas and llamas as well as andean geese,ibises and ducks. It was then down to Chivay for lunch and back up through the mtns skirting a valley with pre inca terreaces to finally reach Pinchello for a night at a Mtn Lodge.Best accommodation yet - king bed,down doona,hair drier and log fire in dining room,but only here 13 hrs so couldn't enjoy all the facilities. Over the next 2 days we hiked down into the part of the Colca canyon,explored around the immediate area and back up again. We were proud of ourselves hiking up in a couple of hrs.On the third day after the hike up we soothed our muscles in hot springs and had a buffet lunch.We were then dropped off to catch the bus to Puno on Lake Titicaca. The 5 hr journey there saw us go through various climate changes including a stop at a lake at the top of a pass where it was raining/snowing slightly. Thank goodness it was down to Puno and not so cold. The next day we visited the floating reed islands of  Uros on the lake nearby. Interesting but very touristy.This excursion was the end of Peru adventures and the next day we crossed the border nearby into Bolivia.








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