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Tropical Peru

Peru trip 2005

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large_1297706_14316161952680.jpgWe had one full day of shopping and relaxing in Cusco [Cusco-travel-guide-1308635] before taking a flight in to the Tropical regions of Peru, the Amazon. We landed at Puerto Maldonado [Puerto-Maldonado-travel-guide-905058] where the warm wet blanket of the tropics embraced us. A small bus was waiting to take us to the Tambopata Lodge office, there we had to leave half our luggage, the rest was put in duffel bags and back on the bus with us. After a short drive we arrived at the 'harbour' with the uplifting name 'Inferno', it's not much more than a few houses and a boat jetty. On the boat we were given a lunch package consisting of fried chicken, jungle fries, vegetables, an orange and some cookies.large_1297706_14316162047575.jpg During the 4 hour boat trip we enjoy the view and this lunch and try not to have it blown out of our hands by the strong wind.

The color of the water is reddish due to heavy rains earlier this week, normally it's more greenish. The sand of the banks is the same red color as the water. Halfway our trip there is a checkpoint, they want to know exactly who enters the reserve. We can get a stamp in our passports as proof we've been here so we all want one. It's a pretty old stamp but with some imagination you can make out Tambopata national park. On the banks of the river we see lot of butterflies and we make a small detour to look at a group of Capybaras (this is a kind of very big hamster, the size of a german shepherd)

At the Tambopata jungle lodge we have to go up a long stairway from the river up to ground level.large_1297706_14316161967311.jpg We get a welcome drink and the key to our luxurious hut, provided with everything except electricity. We have candles and matches and the paths wil be lit by oil lamps at night. The only electricity in the lodge is the generator in the kitchen to keep the fridge running. Before dinner we get a night tour in the bush and while we are waiting for the dark to come we can go up a big tree, $8,- for a treetop view. Dark comes quick in the jungle and so were of on the night tour with guide Roxanna, a biologist so she can tell us lots about all the small creepy things we see in the light of het flashlight.

Next morning a jungle hike, 10 minutes by boat and then a nice walk through the jungle. I have lots of photos of plants, the walking palm, the pregnant palm etc. etc. etc. We hear lots of birds, but we don't see any. Then exploring a small lake by boat. There's supposed to be a big alligator living here and there should also be an anaconda or two, none of them showed themselves.large_1297706_14316161999736.jpg Then another bit of hiking. Back on our boat we get our lunch, great food, but you can also attract fish with it so half of it goes in the water. Now we are getting somewhere with the wildlife, fish, birds, some bats on a tree stump and lots of butterflies who seem to be attracted by our insect repellent (?)

Back at the lodge our real lunch (like they knew we threw some in the water ...) The lodge has a feeding stand for monkeys and there are lots today. The lodge also has a semi-pet ara, he was brought up by humans but is free to go if he wants. He just doesn't want to leave, he likes tourists I guess.

Later that day we visit a local farm, jungle meets civilisation or something. It's nice, lots of information on various plants and fruits. We all get a tattoo with juice of a certain plant which starts colourless but then turns blue.large_1297706_14316162001230.jpg Mine's supposed to be a butterfly but it looks more like someone hit me too hard.

Later tonight alligator spotting in the dark, keep your hands inboard! The boat has a big light but as they point is at the alligators they don't stay put for long, they don't like the light. The man operating the light knows exactly where where they are, he spots them way before we do. When he spots on he shines the lite in the trees above the spot so the captain can steer the boat closer and then he shines on the animals so we can see them and take pictures in the few seconds before they flee into the water. On our way back the captain stops the boat so we can enjoy the sounds of the jungle by night. The stars are magnificent and I saw some fireflies.

Next morning it's back to Inferno, into the bus again, picking up out stuff at the office and then to the airport to go all the way back to Lima


Posted by Stefmuts 01:29 Archived in Peru Tagged jungle amazon puerto_maldonado tambopata Comments (0)

Machu Picchu by train and Bus

Peru trip 2005

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large_1297706_14316153829020.jpgRaquel picked us up at 15:00 as we were told, there had been some things gone wrong with our arrangements for the Inca trail and Raquel tried to get some extra information about that. We will complain afterwards but we won't let this ruin our vacation. We joined our group again, they did the Lares trail instead and they told us it was a nice walk. We needed extra money, some others in our group did too so three took a taxi to the nearest ATM and Raquel and I went to the train station to buy our tickets. After that we went and had dinner with the whole 'Lares group', Pizza, seems to be a quite common dish here in Peru. The cheese on the pizza tastes different than the 'European' cheese but that's what makes it Peruvian.

After dinner it's off to the train station, a short walk downhill. Unfortunately no beautiful views from the train, too dark already.large_1297706_14316153847342.jpg We could see the entrance to the Inca trail because the office and the bridge were well lit (##Grmbl##). In Aguas Calientes we have rooms in a lodge uphill, lots of steps. We go to bed early, tomorrow the bus at 6:30.

Breakfast is in a too small corner in the reception room, the boys skip breakfast altogether so we dont have to take turns at sitting down at the table. At 6:30 we get in one of the busses to go up to Machu Picchu [Machu-Picchu-travel-guide-1290616]. There is a trail going up but since we only have one day to visit Machu Picchu the bus is the better option. Note: If one is to walk up to Machu Picchu and decides halfway it's too heavy, the busses won't stop, you will have to go all the way down to get on a bus. At the entrance we have to wait on Julio and the 'Inca trail group', he has our tickets.large_1297706_14316153856813.jpg We join them for a quick tour and then we can explore the site on our own till 14:15.

We start with walking to a higher point to make the famous postcard view picture, the rest of our group get in line to climb up Huayna Picchu from where you could see the condor shape of Machu Picchu. Since we didn't finish the trail I did want to go up to the sun gate Inti Punku, we did the first part of the trail so I wanted to do the last part as well. We started walking till we saw a sign saying 'Inca bridge' curious as we are we followed that sign (which is not the route to Inti Punku) We couldn't get all the way to the bridge because the path ended in an abyss, but you had a nice view on it because the mountain made a turn. It turns out there are 7 original inca trails leading to Machu Picchu but some are no longer passable, like this one.large_1297706_14316153874359.jpg We turned back and started walking in the direction of Inti Punku but due to the time we only came halfway (##Grmbl## again). We did manage to get some nice pictures of the Inca city. At 14:15 we were at the agreed spot, only just a minute before the rest. The climb up Huayna Picchu took a bit longer than expected, the view was pretty great (I saw their pictures) but they couldn't make out the condor shape, the boys said it looks more like a fish (?)

At 14:30 we were on the bus back down to Aguas Calientes. We have to pick up our luggage at the Lodge and the for a late lunch on the railroad track (?) The restaurants terrace is so close to the track I always tell people it was on it. At 15:55 we take the train all the way to Cusco [Cusco-travel-guide-1308635], this time with the view, but its difficult to take pictures because of the trees an the side of the track, so I just sat down and enjoyed the ride.


Posted by Stefmuts 01:29 Archived in Peru Tagged machu_picchu aguas_calientes postcard_view Comments (0)

(No) Inca trail

Peru trip 2005

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large_1297706_14314509171480.jpgIglesia de Santa Domingo / CoricanchaFrom Puno to Cuzco was a 7 hour drive and then a bit to get to our hotel. Our hotel is next to the convent of Santa Domingo which isbuilt on the foundations of the Inca temple Coricancha or the sun temple. From the hotel we can almost look inside.

Since we are the only two of our group doing the Inca trail we had a briefing at 18:00. The others would walk the alternative Lares trail and had a briefing at 16:00 so we had some time to get a shower and repack some things.We specially asked for an airmattress for my husband because of his bad back but that was a problem, they could bring an extra foam mattress though.large_1297706_14314509288387.jpg Before dinner we watched a procession, all little girls dressed as angels. The next day we could go sightseeing Cuzco so there was nothing keeping us from checking out the Cuzco nightlife after dinner. And that next day we did go sightseeing Cuzco, and a bit of shopping/souvenir hunting. And we decided to go take a look at our neighbours, iglesia de Santo Domingo. This evening no club's and no bars.

Our guide for the trail, Julio, picked us up and after an hours bus ride we arrived in Ollantaytambo [Ollantaytambo-travel-guide-1311232] where we had to pick up 4 other group members. Then it was off to the starting point of the Inca trail. After the paperwork wasthoroughly checked we could get on to the bridge,it was wobbly and some of us were glad to have passed it.large_1297706_14314509294859.jpg I wasn't feeling 100% yet, still having stomach problems and feeling tired. I know I'm not the greatest hiker, always the one in the back, with my camera as excuse, but now it was worse, and this was the easy part. We passed the Inca site Q'ente in the distance, Julio told a bit about it and I was just glad to catch my breath. We passed some other ruins on our way to the lunch site. The porters were already there and made some hot water for us to wash our hands. The lunch was amazing and way to luxurious for a trek like this. After the lunch we still had an hour to go but when we arrived at the campingsite our tents were already set and a big dinner tent was put up. Again warm water and bio soap to freshen up and then tea in the big tent. Dinner is in only two hours but now there was popcorn, crackers with jam and some other snacks. We told the cook to postpone the dinner for another two hours. The cook had planned for a fish dish, apparently they didn't tell him one in our group dídn't like fish and on was a vegetarian, but no problem, he made them something special, with beans instead.large_1297706_1431450953256.jpgOur hotel ?We all had filled out a form with our dietary needs so no idea what happened there. It wasn't the only thing that went wrong, the extra mattress for my husband wasn't there either. He didn't want to make a big thing out of it and went to sleep on one thin piece of foam.

Next morning I was feeling fine, but my husband wasn't, he hadn't slept most of the night and he had severe back pain. Yesturday I wasn't sure 'dead womans pass' would be a good idea for me but today I thought I could make it, bring on the steps! But now my husband wasn't sure if he should go on. Problem is if you go further on the trail you have to finish it, or in worst case you can be airlifted out but thats not the best option. We decided to play it safe and go back, with pain in our hearts.large_1297706_14314509587163.jpg On our way back I can only think how much better I'm doing compared to yesturday, and how much worse my husband. At Ollantaytambo we call GAP, we can stay in the hotel in Ollantaytambo and tomorrow Raquel will pick us up at 15:00 so we can join the rest of our group at Machu Picchu. We had to pay the hotel ourselves but we're just glad we had one! A good night sleep on a decent bed worked wonders for my husband. Next morning he was good as new. We had some time to kill so we checked out the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo.

It's a real pity so many tourists miss that one, most people only know Ollantaytambo because of the train to Aquas Calientes. And we were almost among those people. The old Inca city was built on two sides of the valley, we only had time to visit one side. It's most famous for the Wall of the Six Monoliths, I wonder how they built that one, the stones are huge! There are also many fountains throughout the city. We almost had the whole city to ourselves which was great. After visiting the ruins of Ollantaytambo I wasn't so sad anymore about missing the rest of the Inca trail. I do want to try again someday though!


Posted by Stefmuts 01:28 Archived in Peru Tagged hiking machu_picchu ollantaytambo inca_trail Comments (0)

The islands of lake Titicaca

Peru trip 2005

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large_1297706_14308502858671.jpgSo we follow the police car ...We took it easy this morning, from Colca [Colca-travel-guide-897410] (Chivay) to Puno [Puno-travel-guide-1308566] is only 275 km. We offerd an old lady a lift into town, our driver was not too happy about that, she had dirty shoes and straw on her skirt so he had to sweep his bus again (sorry about that Julio!) A little outside of Juliaca we are stopped by the police. Theyask our driver for papers that people who work in the tourist industrycould not have, so it's probably just about money.large_1297706_14308502881871.jpgHere's Puno
We had to cometo the police station in Santa Lucia, our driverwent inside and after half an hour they said that allwas in order and we could continue our journey.

Puno is a bit messy, a lot going on on a small area with narrow sloping streets. We are dropped off at the corner of the street our hotel is on becouse it's too narrow for even our small bus. We had lunch in a narrow restaurant and after lunch we went sightseeing Puno and in search of an Internetcafe with working computers ( the second worked ) It did take us almost an hour and a half to send one mail. Back at the hotel we had some tea before dinner and after dinner we got a briefing about our Amantani [Amantani-travel-guide-1315899] Island homestay.large_1297706_14308502902608.jpg We can bring gifts but don't give money etc. It can be cold so bring your warm outfit etc. etc. etc.

Next morning we left the hotel by pedicab, ideal for the small streets of Puno. At the harbour we did some last minute shopping: some rice, olive oil, appels, candles and pencils, this was our gift bag for the family where we were going to stay. Our first stop were the floating Uros islands, they were planned for the next day but it was said the locals were planning a strike so to be sure we changed the schedule a bit. The locals were mad because they did not benefit enough by visits of tourists, our guide said it was because there are a lot of bad travel agencies who pay too little, not ours of course (!?)

The Uros island are made out of reed and though most locals have a home on the shore now, you can imagine what it was like in the early days. Whole small villages were built on the floating reed islands. We sailed between a couple of those islands on a traditional boat made out of, you guessed it: reed.large_1297706_14308502918672.jpg Then we got back on our motorized boat to go to Taquile [Taquile-travel-guide-1328255] island, this is a natural island, not a man-made like the Uros islands. The village is on top of a steep hill so we were all out of breath when we came to our lunch site. And after lunch on our way to Amantani island where we were welcomed by the women of our guest families. We were staying with Hilda and her family, they had a special guest room with lots of extra blankets (itchy horse hair blankets, but warm!) We went to a local soccer game and when we came back we could sit and watch Hilda cooking our dinner in her kitchen, 'nono, no help! just sit!' so we did. We met the rest of the family but there was a bit of a language barrier, they mostly speak Quechua, they speak spanish to us ( but my spanish is not that great ) and only father Francisco and the oldest son speak a little English. After dinner (soup and sweet potatoes) we had to put on some traditional clothes and go to a party, there we met the other group members again and we all laughed at how silly we looked.large_1297706_1430850293413.jpg The party was fun and we danced with everyone.

Next morning the oldest daughter brought our breakfast to our room, a pancake with coca tea. One of the sons made us some warm water to freshen up. Francisco walked with us the first part of the path to the boats and halfway Hilda took over. When everyone was there we said our goodbyes and got on the boat, the locals waived until we were nearly out of sight.

As was said yesterday the strike was on so we couldn't get to Puno harbour by boat. We were dropped along the the Titicaca coast where the bus would pick us up. Since there was no bus in sight we decided to start walking and enjoy the scenery. We walked for about two hours before we were picked up by the bus. And after a short drive we had to pull over for a flat tire, all in all it took us 5 hours to get from Amantani to our hotel in Puno, we hadn't planned anything for the afternoon so thats oke.


Posted by Stefmuts 01:28 Archived in Peru Tagged boat lake titicaca uros floating_islands taquile_island amantani_island Comments (0)

Night Bus to Arequipa and onwards to Colca Canyon

Peru trip 2005

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large_1297706_14294368187545.jpgThe night bus was pretty comfortable. Note: thanks to our small group. Had we been with more people we would not have traveled first class, no leather seats with lots of space and a warm blanket. Not that we slept great, but at least we were not cramped up when we arrived in Arequipa [Arequipa-travel-guide-894601]. In Arequipa we got on to a small bus again which brought us to our hotel. We were lucky, breakfast was still going on, the breakfast on the nightbus was not much, coffee, crackers and a cupcake so we could do with some more breakfast.

After breakfast we all split up to go sightseeing in Arequipa. We went to the monastery of Santa Catalina. It's a small city within the city with lots of small alleys.large_1297706_14294368194628.jpgView from the bus (almost there)There are some viewing points from which you can see the volcanoes. There are several but Misty is still active, if it blows there won't be much left of Arequipa, but nobody seems to worry about that. We spent most of the day in the monastery but after awhile my stomach went crazy so back at the hotel I skipped dinner and went straight to bed.

Next morning we left for Colca Canyon with an extra guide and our driver Julio. I'm not all better but at least I had some breakfast. We had to cross a high pass (4800 mtrs) and had a small stop at the highest point, just to feel what it's like at that altitude, for me it was like my body put the breaks on, three or four steps and i got dizzy and had to sit down. I wasn't the only one though. At our hotel the guide suggested a small hike, the Great Condor is best viewed in the early morning but there were hummingbirds.

On the 20th we had to get up really early to go and see the Great Condor. It was pretty crowded at the viewing point. I'm no longer the only one with stomach problems, were three now. I was doing a bit better after a good breakfast. As we are waiting together with all the other tourists we get the feeling we were being fooled, there are no Condors coming today. But after a while one Condor, two, three, lots. They are really big and they are looking at us like to say: "If one of you drops dead, he or she is mine!" They really are Great Condors!


Posted by Stefmuts 01:27 Archived in Peru Tagged arequipa monastery colca condor Comments (0)

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