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Peru

PERU | Monday, 14 May 2007 | Views [1340] | Comments [2]

Now time for some real travel. Did a red eye into Lima but Lan air was great, even better than quantas! Only spent 1 night in lima but had 2 full days, one looking around miraflores where we stayed at loki hostel, then one looking around central lima. Stacks of impressive architecture, and grand plaza. Managed to order lunch and get a couple of cabs with our dodgy spanish.

19hr in a bus got us to Cuzco, the party/inca capital of Peru. Have been here for a week now getting used to the altitude, hitting the clubs and touring the sacred valley of the incas (pisac and Ollantaytambo). Amazing ruins set into breathtaking scenery. Wont harp on too much but will get some photos up before too long.

Cuzco is gringo central, everything is based on the tourist dollar. Every 5 minutes peruvian are trying to sell you post cards, massages, beanies and shoe shines. Its a worry when 6 year olds are pestering you at 2am to buy finger puppets!

The hostel lifestyle is much better down in SA than new york. They are set up with lounges, bars, pool tables and lots of social events so you meet heaps of other travellers. Its get to meet some new people and get out of matty and sheepys arm pits. (no probs at all but nice to branch out)

Our trek to Machu Picchu starts tomorrow. 5 days and 4 nights at up to 4200m so will be a test. Only supposed to be 1 really hard day. Cant wait if the sacred valley is any indication of how good its going to be.

Other points of interest

-Have also done an afternoon of horseriding between more ruins. -Matty Scotts dancing form has not faded(the dance floor at Extreme needs relaying), But neither has his hangover form.

-have met up with James, Holty and Jess (physio mates) which is great

-Lost one of my credit cards so have to play the anoying game of waiting for a re issue.

More to come after Machu Picchu --------------------------------------

This is more for my own record so I appologise if its long winded.

Just got back from our 5 day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. The most amazing thing ever! We only had 4 people in our group, the usual 3 plus Luise an Austrian girl. Lucky for us and for her we all got along really well, however she now has a very distorted opinion of Australia.

The trek experience was bizarre. We had 5 support staff for 4 people, we ate 3 course meals 3 times a day, so were looked after really well. Its was strange having people scurry around and do things we could easily do ourselves like put up our tents. We had pack horses so only had to carry our day packs. It became clear that there is great competition between the tour groups so they are always trying to make their service better. In the end, we would have been happy to be more self reliant and less pampered.

That said, we hiked about 63km in 5 days. The first night we camped at Salkantay pampas at he foot of Mt Salkantay. At 4200m the air is pretty thin. Freezing cold but the most sureal and beautiful spot, surrounded by snow capped peaks and glaciers. The second day we walked to the Salkantay saddle (4600m) then down into an amazing valley surrounded Salkantay and Humantay. It almost felt like we were on a different planet. By the afternoon we had walked down into the jungle and camped on the banks of rio Salkantay. An Australia vs Peru soccer match milked whatever energy was left after 6 hours of solid walking.

Day three was an easier day, about 5hr wandering through temperate forest, down to 2000m. Seeing some of the 300 wild orchids in the incan andes, and eating wild passionfruit (beautiful!). AS lazy afternoon saw australia beat brazil/canada in another football game, plus a swim in the river and beers with Holty, Jimbo, Jess and their tour group.

Day 4 was the hardest day of walking for the trek, we could have bused or trained some sections but choice to walk it all, after all, that was what we came for. The 5.30am start began with 2.5hrs of straight up hill walking was rewarded with a distant view of Machu Picchu and Salkantay. The 2.5hrs downhill blew Sheepys knees out but he battled on. After a long lunch at the Hydroelectric powerplant, we walked the final 3hrs into Agua Calientes along the train line. We carried our packs for this leg, and my crappy mountain design pack broke again. Dont ever buy a mountain design pack! Its still functional but very disapointing. It was strange being back in civilization, and disapointing too. We stayed in a hotel, when we would have preferred to camp. Yes a shower was nice but it took away from the atmosphere of the trek. The town was a little like niagra, completely touristy and no heart. After long dicussions with our guide mario (super mario) we insisted on walking to machu picchu in the morning rather than catch the conventional bus. It seemed completely counterproductive to walk for 4 days then catch a bus for the last 5km.

Day 5 started at 3.30am and on the road at 4am. The climb to the front gate only took us 50min, 40min faster than mario had suggested. Finally we were at the front gate. At 6am we went into machu picchu as the clouds slowly lifted and the sun rose over the jagged mountains. It was a magical moment to see this huge incan ruin purched on the edge of cliff. mario gave us a 2hr tour of all the significant sites then left us to wander for the rest of the morning. I climbed waynapicchu, the mountain that overlooked the city. This gave a magnificent view of the city and the beautiful mountain range surrounding it. I then walked to the luna temple and finally up the traditional inca trail to a look out where I was able to sit for half and hour by myself and just soak up the most increadible view Ive ever seen. It was a good, if not better than I could have imagined. In the end we left at about 12noon, just as the bus loads of grey haired suitcase tourists were turning up and covering the ruins like ants. The train then bus then saw us back in Cusco by about 4.30pm exhausted but elated. The pictures dont do anything justice.

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30/6/07

10 hrs on a bus, a border crossing and we are back in Peru.  We are in Arequipa and have grown to love this place too.  The Point hostel is brilliant, a great party atmosphere, a great place just to hang out, and fantastic staff.

We have got out though, we did a 3 day trek to the colca canyon which is the second largest in the world and home to the magestic condor.  We spotted a few on the last day with wing spans of up to 3m!  The trip was interesting with 3 yobbo aussie boys and 2 conservative canadian couples!  Matty made quite the impression on the first day with a solid hangover, but we all got along well in the end...i think.

Had a morning white water rafting outside Arequipa, that was brilliant, with one class 4 rapid to keep us on our toes.  Next we are going to try Climbing Chachani, a 6000m peak.  Fingers crossed our lungs are up to it!

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29/7/07

Its been a while since my last entry, so will try and rap up Peru.  We made it up Chachani safely.  It was an amazing 2 days, only spoiled by a lack of food.  This almost caused me to faint a couple of times, but with some lollie snakes and snickers, we got to the top.  Hiking in crampons was facinating, but necessary as Sheepy almost fell off the cliff twice, only to be saved by his ice pick.  The air was very thin at 6000m but the view and sense of achievement were incredible. 

After another couple of big nights in Arequipa, we got a short visit from Lizzie, Paige and Ellen, which was great.  We crossed paths for about 8hrs so were able to have a short catch up.  They then pushed onto Puno and Cuzco, while we headed up to Huachanina via the Nazca Lines.  The flight over the lines was one of the boxes to tick but not overly captivating.

Huacachina was a little disappointing too, the dune buggy ride was brilliant, and the sand boarding was fun too.  But the atmosphere and weather we a little dull.  We did manage to have some interesting nights at Casa de Aveinda?!

Our last stop before Lima was Pisco, known for producing pisco for pisco sours and being close to Ilsa Ballistas (home to millions of sea birds and sea lions).  The boat trip to the islands was great but the town was a dive so one night was enough.

We finished our time in Peru with about 4 days in Lima, which were largely spent at our hostel (the point again).  We did get out a bit to see the Monestary de San Francisco with its creepy catacombs full of thousands of bones and the black markets.  We did have 4 massive nights though that were memorable for a few things, James the Kiwi, boring backpackers, big beers, cooking some great food, f&$king facebook, throwing bread at Matty, Tequila rocks niteclub and last but not least American Dad.

Now for Argentina...

Tags: Mountains

Comments

1

Mate - sounds awesome - think my heart rate got to about 150 reading ur recount! I think South America may have to be visited at some stage! Good to hear all is well, trip sounds absolutely superb, all your preparation seems to be paying handsome dividends! If you could cut down on recounting Matty's DF stories would be much appreciated! Any jocks ripping so far? Keep it real, keep up the good posts!

  Brad Smith May 24, 2007 4:41 PM

2

Thats one big arse trek.

How sweet would it be on a motorbike tearing it up?

Im kidding!

sounds great simmo.

  Lee Ashby Jun 25, 2007 10:27 AM

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