A Travellerspoint blog

Goodbye Peru, hello Bolivia

sunny 20 °C

We chased our pleasures here
Dug our treasures there
Can you still recall the time we tried
To break on through to the other side

Break On Through by The Doors

Hello from Bolivia

A week has past since I last wrote, we said goodbye to Craig, had a cracking couple of nights out in Cusco, visited floating islands on Lake Titicaca and crossed the border into Bolivia, our 16th country.

Wednesday April 2nd
We started the day with a fry up at The Real McCoy pub and then Craig and I went to watch the Arsenal 1 v 1 Liverpool game. It was a good game with both teams really up for it. After relaxing afternoon we went to the Hierasbuenos Bar for a few beers and a Connect 4 tournament before heading to the Pacha Paca restaurant at 8pm. We had pre-ordered Guinea Pig the night before and we were determined to try what is a delicacy in Peru, despite the fact my sister would not approve as she had 2 Guinea Pigs when she was younger.

The Guinea Pig was tasty, but it was pretty hard to eat, there was not a lot of meat and you had to use your fingers. Still, we enjoyed it and we went back to Hierasbuenos for a few more beers and games of Connect 4 before heading to bed at 11pm.

Thursday April 3rd
We had booked to go on a Sacred Valley tour with www.ecotrekperu.com the company that we booked our Inca Trail hike through. The company is run by a Scottish girl called Fiona Cameron and her Peruvian boyfriend David. Fiona is the sister of Lynn{s hairdresser back in Glasgow, small world!

David met us at 7am and we drove out of Cusco to the twon of Chinchero. We then headed to Ollantaytambo to visit a fantastic Inca site nestled on the hill. After that we visited a traditional Peruvian house complete with Guinea Pigs running around the floor. After lunch we visited a site in Pisac. The site was huge and we spent a good hour wandering around while David explained the history and beliefs of the Incas.

After a small snooze when we got back to Cusco we met David and Fiona in Los Perros for some food and beer, before heading to a club called Uptown to meet Chris, our fellow Inca Trail hiker. The music was blasting and there were a few people dancing, incredibly well, samba style. The music changed to pop and rock with crowd favourites including Queens I Want To Break Free and Aerosmiths Walk This Way. At one point Craig and I got up on stage to dance but I cant remember what song was being played! Lynn and I left at 1.30am and Craig rolled in at 3am.

Friday April 4th
We ended up back in The Real McCoy for another slap up breakfast to ease our sore heads. The afternoon was spent sorting out stuff to send home - rugs, material for curtains, hats, socks, etc etc.

At night we had a few beers and decided to go to the Cienciano v Sport Ancash game at the Estadio Garcilazode la Vega. Craig and I had bought football tops and were interviewed in our appalling Spanish live on TV. We kissed the badges and shouted for Cusco as we had forgotten the name of the team! We then stopped off in a dodgy wee bar next to the stadium for a beer and saw a guy being bottled by one of his friends! We left shortly after! For only 20 soles we had seats in the directors box! The game wasnt the best and finished 3-1 to Cusco.

We got a cab back into town and headed to a funky little club called 7 Angelitos that was advertising a live funk band. The band were excellent and we bumped into a Scottish guy called Barry and his girlfriend Sonia from NZ. The drinks flowed and we danced to the music. I left at 3.30am, determined to get some sleep before our 8.30am bus to Puno the next day, leaving Craig and Lynn still partying hard.

Saturday April 5th
I woke at 7.30am to find that Lynn was still out! She had said that she was determined to party until the sun came up! Lynn and Craig bounced in at 7.50am. They had left the funk club to go to Mama Africas and from there had somehow found an illegal all hours drinking den/club. Trust Craig!

We somehow got our stuff together, checked out and caught a cab just after 8am. Craig had seemingly learned Spanish overnight and attempted a conversation with the driver about the previous nights football game. We jumped on the bus and crashed out, arriving in Puno at 3pm and checking into Hostel Don Julio.

We booked on a 2 day/1 night trip round Lake Titicaca and the floating islands for nly 60 soles each and then went for food. Craig and I had lovely cerviche - Kingfish and Trout while Lynn went for chicken and chips that came very nicely presented. We crashed out early after 2 late nights in Cusco.

Sunday April 6th
We got picked up for our tour at 7.45am, leaving our big bags at the hostel. We got on our boat and sailed for 30 minutes out to the floating islands. We stopped at one island called Jiska Chaulla and got to wander around and then sit down to have the history explained bu our guide. The islands are remarkable, made from reeds and supporting several communities. The islands have a life of around 15 years, but a new island takes around 3 years to build. Words cant really descrive them. Do a google search or check our flickr site when we update it.

We then sailed for 2.5 hours to Amanti Island, a natural island, where we were met by our community leader and found out that Craig, Lynn and I would be spending the night with him and his family! Allexandro, Sonia and their sons Fernando and Ronald. We had lunch in their humble aboad and then had an hours snooze before heading to the islands football pitch to meet the rest of our group.

The pitch was set on a hill with Lake Titicaca shining and shimmering in the background. Some local kids were playing so Craig and I enjoyed a kickabout with them for 20 minutes before we all started climbing the hill to watch the sunset.

The sunset was lovely and we climbed back down to go for dinner at our hosts before meeting up with the rest of our group later for a fiesta. Lynn was dressed in traditional clothes and Craig and I got ponchos for the occassion. We danced and had a beer for an hour or so and then collapsed into our beds at 10pm after a long day.

Monday April 7th
We got up for breakfast at 7am and then said goodbye to our hosts, leaving them a little tip, some colouring books and pencils for the kids. We sailed for an hour to another island called Tequile and climbed for 45 minutes to the main square. We were told about the history of the island and then wentto a restaurnt overlooking the Lake for lunch before beginning the journey back to the mainland.

At night we had cerviche and steak for dinner before wisely deciding on an early night as Craig was leaving to return to Scotland in the morning and he had a long journey ahead of him.

Tuesday April 8th
The alarm went off at 6am. Craig was getting taxi to the airport at 7am with a Canadian couple wemet on our tour and Lynn and I had a bus to Copacabana, across the border for 7.30am. It was great to spend two weeks with Craig, we had such a laugh and he is a top friend.

Our bus arrived in Copacabana at 11.30am after rather shambolic border crossing that involved us changing buses. We checked into the Colonial Inn Hostel and then headed down the street for some food. We opted for Piza to stisfy our hunger and soon wished we hadnt!

We got back to our nice room with views out to the lake and settled down to watch the 2nd leg of the Liverpool v Arsenal game on ESPN. It was a cracking game. I thought Arsenal were going through after equalising to make it 2-2 with 5 minutes to go, but Liverpool scored 2 late on to go through.

Shortly after the game Lynn was sick, then I was sick. This pattern continued for a few hours and we can only asusme it was the Pizza. This went on for a while until we collapsed exhaused.

Wednesday April 9th
We woke feeling weak after getting rid of everything in our system through one way or another. I will not go into details. We eventually ventured out at 1pm and had a light lunch before returning to the room for the Manchester United v Roma 2nd leg. Unfortunately ESPN was showing the Barca v Schalke game, so we snoozed and woke at the end to catch the United highlights, United winning 1-0 to go through to face Barca in the semis. Liverpool play Chelsea in the other semi. 2 mouthwatering games, with the prospect of United playing Liverpool in the final a real possibility. We had a light dinner at night, making sure our stomachs were back to normal before having an early night.

Thursday April 10th
We both feel a lot better and managed breakfast with no problems. We intend to have a lazy day to fully recuperate and decide whether to do an Isla del Sol tour tomorrow or just head to La Paz.

Catch you soon
Murray and Lynn
xxx

Posted by murray2701 07:54 Archived in Bolivia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and a proposal

sunny 25 °C

I got a heart that just won't stop beating for you
I got a love I just can't stop feeling for you

Aren´t You Glad by The Beach Boys

Well.................

So much has happened since I last wrote. We are in the beautiful city of Cusco and have enjoyed an amazing 4 days hiking along the Inca Trail to the lost city of Machu Picchu. Yesterday I asked Lynn to marry me and she said yes. We are both incredibly happy and looking forward to sharing the news and plans with family and friends in person when we return to Scotland in June.

We have seen many beautiful sights and experienced some amazing things and places on our travels, but I think the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu might just be the best thing ever. It is a truly magical, mystical and memorable place, the scenery is stunning and the fact that it is so remote and up a mountain is just mindblowing. How and why the Incas built Machu Picchu and the other citadels on the way will never be known. The only thing I have seen to compare to it is the Great Wall Of China. The craftmanship, attention to detail and locations are just crazy. It really is quite insane to think of the Incas building cities on mountains centuries ago.

So this is what happened.........

Thursday March 27th
We did the city tour of Cusco and the surrounding Inca Ruins. At night we went to a pizza place near our hostel where the profits go to help kids in Cusco followed by a couple of beers at a great bar in the San Blas area of Cusco called Hierabuena.

Friday March 28th
We were woken at 5.30am, put our big bags in storage and jumped in our mini bus to the start of the Inca Trail. We met our guide Zac and fellow hiker Chris, from London. We drove 40 minutes out of Cusco to the town of Ollantaytambo and had a lovely breakfast in a great cafe called Hearts, run by a retired English woman. The cafes profits go towards the children of the valley and education and it is run in conjunction with the company we booked our trek through, www.ecotrekperu.com www.heartscafe.org

We started the Inca Trail 82km from Cusco, taking soem photos to mark the occasion. I will upload loads tomorrow when I find a decent internet cafe.

We walked to the Llaqtapata ruins and then on to our lunch spot at Tarayocquiy. The sun was shining and spirits were high. We sang songs, recited the script of Star Wars and marched on, keeping up a good pace that pleased our excellent guide Zac.

The afternoon was uphll all the way and the pace slowed and we were glad to arrive at our campsite at Aya Pata at 5pm. I had been a long and thoroughly enjoyable day. The site was 3300 metres above sea level. We celebrated our arrival with a Cusquena beer, looking out at some amazing scenery across the valley. Snow capped mountains, clouds nestling in the hills and paths leading onwards and upwards to Dead Womens Pass, where we would be hiking tomorrow.

Saturday March 29th
Everyone that we had met in South America that had already hiked the Inca Trail said that the second day was the toughest, they were not wrong. We were woken at 5am by two porters coming to our tent with some Coco tea and we had a nice breakfast of porridge and french toast. The team supporting us on our hike were fantastic. 10 in all - the chef Felix, the head porter, the rocket man (toilet man), and the support crew that carried tents, food and equipment, as well as our excellent guide Zac.

We left the campsite at 6.30am and walked through the twisted forest, winding upwards towards another campsite where we rested for 15 minutes, chatting to a group of Aussies before heading on. We climbed steeply out of the campsite to ´Dead Womans Pass´. The pass is a set of stairs that seems to go on forever. The stairs lead to the highest point on the Inca Trail, 4200 metres above sea level. The altitude along with the steepness insured that we were a little short of breath and we were elated when we reached the top. The view over the other side was cloudy, as we were hiking down to the cloud forest section. Still, when the clouds broke we were awarded with some memorable views and we stayed at the top for a while, taking it all in. You have to do that sometimes, the scenery is just too spectacular for words.

As we climbed down through the clouds it started to rain and by the time we reached camp it was raining heavily. We stocked up on soup and pasta and by the time we finished the rain was off and the sun started to break through the clouds. We climbed back out of the valley we had just climbed into, up our second pass of the day. We stopped at Runkauraqay Inca ruins, 3800 metres above sea level and headed on up to the top and then down the other side.

After a while we reached Sayamarca ruins (inaccessible point in English). The ruins were aptly named and the most impressive we had visited yet, set high on a hill overlooking scenery that appeared to be computer generated. We climbed up the steepest set of steps yet to reach the ruins and wandered around them for a good 30 minutes before heading on down to our camp for the night. The sun was shining and the views from the campsite across the valley at Quonchamarca were among the best. The clouds were pure white and it was hard to tell where they ended and the snow capped mountains in the distance began. We had dinner and admired the millions of stars shining brightly in the clear night sky as we wandered to our tents for a well earned rest.

Sunday March 30th
A day Lynn and I will remember for a long time, we saw Machu Picchu for the first time. At dinner the night before Zac had given us two options for the days hike. Option A - As we were hiking at a good pace we could make it to Machu Picchu in the afternoon, a day ahead of schedule. This would mean we could spend time there when it was quietest and then stay at a cool campsite down the hill from it, next to a river. Then get up and have a full day at Machu Picchu the next day as well. Option B - Do the usual hike to the busiest campsite on route and arrive at Machu Picchu the following morning with hundreds of other hikers.

We opted for Option A and it was one of the best decisions we ever made, giving ourselves extra time at the truly amazing Machu Picchu. We were awoken at 5.30am by Coco tea and had a breakfast of pancakes and honey before leaving camp at 6.30am. We climbed up Puyupatamarca hill to watch the sunrise over the valley, casting new shadows on the mountains in the distance. We saw Machu Picchu hill and knew we were getting close to the famous ruins. We carried on downhill to Winawayna ruins, a very impressive set of ruins, where we had lunch and then pressed on towards the Sun Gate, 6km away. This is the spot we should have stopped at for the night.

The path was narrow and the steps were steep but we reached the Sun Gate (Intipunku) in an hour and saw Machu Picchu down the hill. The site is set high up a mountain, surrounded by other hills, valleys and utterly breathtaking scenery. Craig had brought binoculars and we took turns at looking through them, making us all the more eager to get closer for a better view with our own eyes.

We wound down the hill to the terracing and marvelled at the ruins of what must have been the most spectacular city on earth at it´s time. The Spanish raided Peru, but they never found Machu Picchu or the other cities on the Inca Trail.

We also caught our first glimpse of Wayna Picchu, ruins perched high on an incredibly steep mountain next to Machu Picchu and vowed to climb up to them tomorrow. We went a little snap happy with ur camera and the results are ther on www.flickr.com/photos/murrayandlynn but the truth is that photos can´t do this place justice. Still we have taken some good ones so check them out!

After sitting on the terracing and taking it all in we walked 15 minutes round the back to see an old Inca bridge. Again, you just had to wonder how they did it. After that we had a quick walk around the site and then down the hill to our camp for the night, tired and elated. We reached camp at 5pm and were awarded with a nice cold Cusquena beer and a basin of hot water for our aching feet.

It was our last night with our porters, so we bought all of them a beer and the four of us made sure they were well tipped for their hard work and care. After dinner we walked in the dark to the nearest town for a beer in a pub where Zac knew the owner and retired to bed around 11pm.

Monday 31st March
Our alarm call was at 6.30am but we were already awake as it was pouring with rain, thankfully it would clear in a couple of hours but at the time we were very glad we had got to see Machu Picchu in the sunshine the day before. We said goodbye to the porters and caught the bus up the winding road that measures 8km to Machu Picchu. We arrived just after 8am and the sun was starting to shine through the clouds and the rain stopped. Zac gave us a tour round the site. He was very informative, but funny, not boring and an all round great guy. We were very lucky to have him as our guide. He told us about the agricultural sections, the temples, the baths, the fountains, the temple of the condor and the ceremonial rock, before leading us to the gate to Wayna Picchu and asking us if we were sure we wanted to climb it. Check our flickr site to see how steep it is!

Of course we did! We waved Zac goodbye as he was getting the 2.30pm train to Cusco and then we set off. The sun was now out in force and the steps were the steepest yet, with ropes to help you up some sections and ensure your safety. It took us an hour to reach the top and we were awarded with absolutely jaw dropping views across Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains and valleys.

After 30 minutes taking in the view, Reddy and Chris decided to walk down the other way to the Great Cave, while Lynn and I tackled the steep descent back to Machu Picchu.

THE PROPOSAL
We lay on a terrace, sunning ourselves and recovering from the climb up and down Wayna Pichu, before climbing back up to the top of the terraces for one last look over Machu Picchu.

Lynn and I have been going out for almost 7 years and we have discussed marriage on many occassions. In the last month or so I have given it a lot of serious thought and I had decided I would ask Lynn to marry me at the end of our trip in Buenos Aires. However, the day before I realised that Machu Picchu is an incredibly special place and a proposal there would be more memorable than in a bar, restaurant or football stadium in Buenos Aires.

I had a speech in mind, but how do you start such a thing? I thought about it 3 times, stopping Lynn each time to cuddle her but not quite having the courage or knowledge of how to ask. Then as we started walking back down I stopped her, hugged her, looked into her eyes and simply asked ´Lynn, will you marry me?´ My speech went out the window, but thankfully Lynn said yes and we hugged and told each other how much we were in love and we wouldn´t know what to do without each other. I couldn´t believe how happy I felt and I wondered why I hadn´t asked before. I guess I wasn´t quite ready!

We went to the entrance and broke the news to Chris and Reddy. Then headed into town for the train to Cusco. We played cards and drank beer on the train and chatted to a nice couple from New Zealand who were on honeymoon. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, checked back into our hostel and enjoyed a good nights sleep.

Tuesday April 1st
We don´t normally go to English or British pubs, but we went to The Real McCoy for a slap up breakfast after a nice long lie. In the afternoon Craig and I went to an Irish bar to watch United win 2-0 away to Roma in the first leg of the CL quarter final. United looked fantastic, with Ronaldo and Rooney scoring. When it comes to Ronaldo, I don´t think I have seen a player in such a rich vein of form since Cantona took United to the double in 96. His header was fantastic and if he stays fit he might just win United the European Cup this year. We wil see!

We were shattered at night and had an early one after I started on this blog, finally finishing it this morning. I hope you enjoy it and I will write again soon.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn
xxx

Posted by murray2701 13:17 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Reddy arrives in Peru, travel to Cusco

sunny 25 °C

Hey blog fans

We are in Cusco, a beautiful old city that has more of a town feeling to it. The streets are cobbled, the buildings are old and grand and tomorrow we start a 4 day hike along the ancient Inca Trail to the ruins of Machu Picchu.

Our good friend Craig (Reddy) has arrived and it has been great to catch up with him and all his patter. We have already had a good number of laughs. I thought I had better update the blog today as I´ll know doubt have a lotto write after the Inca Trail.

Sunday March 22nd
The day started well as I got up early to watch Manchester United stuff Liverpool 3-0. United looked comfortable and should have scored more. It was a day of football as after lunch we got a taxi out to Estadio Monumental to watch Universitario de Deportes beat Athletico Minero 2-1. The stadium was pretty impressive, although it looked like office buildings from the outside. The first half was non eventful until Minero scored before half time. 10 minutes into the 2nd half the floodlights and electricity got cut off. This sparked aparty among the home fans with flares and fireworks being fired and a huge sing song. Deportes hit back and should have scored at least 5. At night we went to a cracking Italian restaurant called Mama Lola´s and for once we didn´t have pizza!

Monday March 24th
After breakfast we took a big pile of washing around the corner to a local laundrette and then went for a walk around Miraflores. We confirmed our flights for Wednesday to Cusco and wandered around some markets before lunch. In the afternoon I went to a Western Union office to pay for Boca Juniors v River Plate tickets for when we are in Buenos Aires. At $200 each it is alot of money, but this will be a once in a lifetime experience. Football games don´t get much bigger or more passionate than this one.

At night we found a cracking Sushi restaurant called Magma in Miraflores. It was lovely inside, very cool and the food was just as good.

Tuesday March 25th
We had a lazy day ahead of our friend Craig arriving early evening. We went back to the old town and enjoyed a beer in El Cordano before heading back to Miraflores for a siesta. At night we travelled to the airport and met Reddy. It was great to see him, he is one of our best and funniest friends. We went back to Miraflores and caught upover a few beers and pizza.

Wednesday March 26th
We got up early - 3.15am as our flight from Lima to Cusco was at 5.40am. The flight was a little over an hour and after checking into our hostel. We wandered around the old town for an hour before heading back to the hostel for a 2 hour siesta.

We woke and headed round to the Eco Trek Peru office and met our guide and were briefed on our trek. After that we went to a cracking cafe/bar called Jacks for a slap up brunch. After a walk round town and some shops we went toan Irish bar called Paddy Flaherty´s for a few beers and we watched France beat England 1-0 in a very dull game.

At night we all bought Inca Cola tshirts and some cool hats to keep us warm on the Inca Trail before dinner and a relatively early night at 10.30pm after a long day.

Thursday March 27th
We woke early and had breakfast and a walk round the beautiful old town. We booked bus tickets to Puno for a couple of days after we return to Cusco. We´re booked on a city tour around Cusco and some surrounding sites at 2pm, so we are just about to go for lunch.

Speak to you after the Inca Trail!

Love
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 08:25 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Nazca Lines, Beach Buggies and Sand Boarding

sunny 25 °C

´Of all the stars I´ve ever seen, you´re the sun´ Hang On by Teenage Fanclub

Hey blog fans

It has only been a couple of days since I last wrote but we have travelled quite a distance since then and had great fun, so I thought I would update the blog while everything is still fresh in my memory.

We are back in Lima after an overnight bus to the famous and mysterious Nazca Lines, then another bus to Ica where we had great fun zooming up, down and over sand dunes and sand boarding down them.

Friday March 21st
After a meal at a nice sushi restaurant in the stunning city of Arequipa we boarded a night bus to Nazca at 9.30pm. We were travelling with the bus company Cruz del Sur, the pinacle in bus transport. The bus was luxurious, our seats fully reclined and as we opted for premium class we even got to go into an exclusive lounge at Arequipa bus station!

The bus arrived in Nazca at 6am promptly and we were greeted off the us by our tour company waving a sign with our names. Oh to feel important. Andrew from Sydney was also on our tour and we were whisked off to Nazca´s tiny airport in double quick time.

For those of you that haven´t heard of the Nazca Lines, and I hadn´t before we started researching Peru, the following description is taken from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazca_Lines

The Nazca Lines are a series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles or more than 80 kilometers between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana in Peru. They were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and AD 700. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fishes, sharks, llamas and lizards.

The Nazca lines cannot be recognized as coherent figures except from the air. Since it is presumed the Nazca people could never have seen their work from this vantage point, there has been much speculation on the builders' abilities and motivations.

At 6.30am we were on board our tiny 4 seater plane with Andrew in the front beside the pilot. The plane was even smaller than the one we got in New Zealand to visit Milford Sounds.

We got a 35 minute flight over the lines and we were both glad that we hadn´t had any breakfast as the plane banked left and right to allow us the best views. There is no denying that the lines/drawings are beautifully drawn and as they were created before air travel, you can only wonder how and why they were created. They are not all side by side and some are larger than others, there are spiders, monkeys and all kinds of stuff.

We decided not to hang about Nazca afterwards as it didn´t look like a happening place, so we got dropped back off at the bus station and caught the 7.40am bus to Ica. Nothing like travelling fast!

Within a few hours we were in Ica where we said goodbye to Andrew and checked into Hostal El Dorado. The prices had been doubled as it is Easter, but it was still only 15 quid a night. We booked in for a night, jumped under the shower and then walked round to the main square for some food. We booked on a tour to the sand dunes at the nearby desert oasis of Huacachina, booked a bus ticket for Lima for the following day and then went for a well earned nap.

We went back to the tour office at 5pm and were driven 4km out of Ica, through the desert to the small Oasis that is Huacachina. Bars, restaurants and tour companies are set up around the water in the desert and offer sand buggy and sand boarding tours. We got in our sand buggy with 4 others plus the driver and we were lucky enough to get a seat next to the driver.

We sped off into the desert and immediately started climbing a huge sand dune, skidding about in the sand as we did, the wind blowing through our hair and sand blowing into our faces. We got to the top of the dune and lurched down the other side, screaming and smiling at the same time.

The driver was first class and took us up, down and around sand dunes, stopping every 10 minutes so we could take photos. After the first stop we sped down a huge dune and up another one that was so steep that it must have been close to vertical. We got to the top and our prime seats allowed us a glimpse over the other side....it also looked vertical, a straight drop down. I managed ot let out a ´Holy S#@t´ before we went over the top and flew down the other side then up another dune to stop for breath. We all laughed and smiled, this was fantastic fun.

After another 10 minute session we stopped at the top of the largest sand dune and the driver took some snow boards (now sand boards) out the back. He showed us how to lie down on them, face first and motioned to a Columbian guy to go first. He lay down and the driver pushed him through his legs and he was off speeding down the hill, yelling as he went. I went third and it was a fantastic experience. Lynn went second last and received a cheer from our group and another group for going the fastest and getting the furthest.

After another 10 minute session and some photos of the sun going down we went back to Huacachina. We decided to go for a drink at a bar and get a taxi back rather than go straight back with the bus. We also had some lovely food before heading back for a good nights sleep.

Saturday March 22nd
WOW we got up to quite a lot yesterday! Today we got a bus at 11am to Lima, arriving just after 3.30pm and checking back into the Lion Backbackers Hostel in Miraflores.

We´ve just been for a bite to eat at a restaurant with views over a park and had a wander. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday so we´re not sure if anything will be open. There may be some processions and festivities so we´ll have a wander around.

On Tuesday our good friend Craig comes out to meet us and then on Wednesday we fly to Cusco to do the Inca Trail. It´s all go, but with only a little over 2 months left we want to pack a lot in before we reach Buenos Aires, where we intend to stay for a few weeks and watch football, eat steak and drink wine!

I´ll write again before we head off on the Inca Trail.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn
xxx

Posted by murray2701 15:14 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Hello Peru - Lima, Arequipa and the Colca Canyon

sunny 25 °C

´She´s the puzzle piece behind the couch that makes the sky complete´ Alison´s Starting To Happen by The Lemonheads

Hola

Hola from Peru

We are in the lovely city of Arequipa and yesterday we returned from a 3 day/2 night trek up and down the beautiful Colca Canyon. The scenery was stunning, the skies were blue and we really enjoyed trekking into the worlds deepest canyon.....and back out again!

Friday March 14th
A day of travel. We arrived in Piura in Peru at 7am after our border crossing in the middle of the night. The first half of the journey in Ecuador was bumpy and windy and we didn´t get any sleep. After crossing the corder at 4am the roads were smoother and we dozed until arriving in Piura. We jumped a cab and asked the driver to take us to an ATM and then a hostel. Our flight to Lima wasn´t until 8.40pm so we wanted to get some rest. We booked into the Hostal California and slept until mid-day and then wandered up to the main square for a bite to eat. We went to a nice hotel restaurant and started to feel human again after a nice lunch.

We had a lazy afternoon wandering around town, checking the latest news online and reading in our room before heading to the airport. The flight left on time and we arrived in Lima just before 10.30pm. We jumoed a cab into town and checked into the Lion Backoackers Hostel in the Miraflores area. After a day or two of travelling and hanging around we slept soundly!

Saturday March 15th
We started the day by finding a laundry near our hostel and outting just about everything we own in for a wash. We then caught a bus into the centre of Lima, only we got off a little early and had to walk a few blocks to the main square. The square was beautiful with the presidential palace dominating one side, a huge old church on the other and beautiful colonial buildings with arches the other two.

After a walk around the square and the surrounding blocks we stumbled across a magic old pub, that we latyer discovered to be the oldest in Lima. It was a block off the square down the side of the Presidential Palace and it is called Bar Cordano. It was still before mid-day but we ordered a beer each and ended up getting some great sandwiches and something called Cerviche (6 mussells with lemon sauce, pepper and spices), yummy. The bar staff seemed to be as old as the bar!

After a snooze we wandered around Miraflores,checking out some jewellery stalls and some paintings in the oark before stumbling across a street we had read was known as ´pizza street´. We had pizza and a couple of beers and then headed for an early night.

Sunday March 16th
We had breakfast, packed and checked out at 11am. We headed to the airport for our flight to Arequipa, which took a little over an hour. Arequipa is in South Peru and is known as one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the country. We quickly realised that this is true, the city is surrounded by 3 huge volcanoes and the buildings in the old town have been beautifully preserved.

We checked into the Colonial House Hostel and then went to their affiliated tour companies office to enquire about hiking tours into the nearby Colca Canyon, the deepest in the world. We booked on a 3 day/2 night trek leaving the next morning for only $53 each and also booked an overnight bus for March 20th to Nazca and then a 45 minute flight over the famous Nazca Lines.

At night we had dinner on a rooftop restaurant down a cobbled lane just off the main square. There had been a procession in the mian square earlier to mark the start of Holy Week. The square is dominated by a huge church and it may be the nicest square we have seen. We went back to the hosteland packed our small packs for the next 3 days, leaving our big packs in storage.

Monday March 17th
The tour bus picked us up at 7.30am and we headed out of Arequipa and up the hills towards the canyon. We would not actually reach the canyon until the next day, so this day was spent stopping at little markets, villages, viewpoints to Volcano Misti and taking a pee in the worlds highest toilet! This is a lovely part of the country, little towns that have hardly changed in centuries, apart from the odd tourist shop and hostel!

The altitude kicked in so we had some coca tea and chewed on coca leaves to ease our breathing. The highest point we got to was over 5000 metres. We had a late lunch in a town called Chivay and then had a 1 hour trek up a hill to marvel at the surrounding countryside.

At night we went to some hot spings in Chivay and then had dinner before collapsing into bed at 10.30pm, eager to get some sleep ahead of a 5.30am wake up call and a day of trekking!

Tuesday March 18th
We got our wake up call from our tour guide, if only she had given the kitchen staff a wake up call! The hostel staff were eventually roused and we had a light brekfast before heading off to the canyon, stopping off at a small village where the children danced around the square at 6.30am. Apparently it was traditional but I couldn´t help think that it was for tourists.

At around 8am we arrived at Cruz del Condor, a point in the canyon where there are several condor nests. The view into and along the canyon was spectacular and we didn´t have to wait long until condors were swooping down over our heads. Their wingspan was massive and they were an impressive sight.

At 9am we left our group of around 30 into a smaller group of 4, the only ones brave enough to hike 1,400 metres down into the canyon and back out again. We were joined by Andrew from Sydney and Vish from London, both good guys. Our guide was Ali (like the boxer) and we all piled in a small bus and drove half an hour to the point where we would begin our descent.

The sun was splitting the sky, one of the nicest days of our travels. We set off down a path that zig zagged down the hill, stopping every now and again for a rest, to marvel the views and to let donkeys pass! In the middle of the canyon there are small villages, with no road access, so everything is transported in and out of the canyon by donkey - apart from us.

It took us almost 4 hours to climb down to the foot of the canyon and we crossed an old foot bridge to the other side. We then climbed up to a tiny village and stopped off for lunch. Suitably refuelled we pressed on up the canyon and then wound down to the base again, crossing another bidge to our home for the night - a hostel called Oasis. It was more of a converted farm than a hostel and I think the room we had could have been a pig sty! It was a tiny building made fom mud bricks with a thatched roof. The bed was comfy though and we had some nice wam blankets.

Oasis did have a pool though, and after a day walking in the sunshine we all went in for a 30 minute swim. Dinner was served outside and we sat and chatted as the sun went down at around 6.30pm.

Our wake up call was due for 3.30am the next day so we headed to bed at 7pm. At around 9pm a water well sprang open and ran right past the side of our hut. Realising we would get no sleep we gathered our belongings and moved to another hut.

Wednesday March 19th
We woke to the sound of our alarm at 3.30am and met a very sleepy Andrew and Vish. We all put on our head torches and Ali led the way slowly out of the canyon in the darkness. We walked at a steady pace and topped to watch the sky gradually becoming lighter, the shadows changing on the hillsides around us. The sun was up at 5.30m and the sunshine seemed to wake us up a little bit. We pressed on up the canyon and enjoyed tremendous views. I doubt that our pictures will do the canyon justice but check www.flickr.com/photos/murrayandlynn

We reached the top of the canyon at 8am, 4 hours after starting off. We walked for another 20 minutes to a small village where we wolfed down 2 scrambled egg rolls and a mug of coco tea. At 9am we jumped on a bus back to Chivay. We got there at 11.15am and we booked on to the 12.30pm bus back to Arequipa. With an hour to kill we all jumped in a cab to the hot springs to eases our aching muscles.

We all slept on the bus back to Arequipa and then agreed to meet up for pizza and beer at night. We went back to the hostel for a well needed shower and nap!

At night we went to a funky little pizza place near the square and enjoyed some well deserved ice cold beers. The Colca Canyon tour was excellent, the views are absolutely stunning and we enjoyed some exercise - training for the Inca Trail, which we start on March 28th.

Thursday March 20th
We slept very well after some broken sleep the previous few nights and some ealy starts. We´ve had a relaxing day wandering around the beautiful city of Arequipa and visited the Monasterio D Santa Caralina. A beautifully preserved nunery from the 15th century. Tonight we get an overnight bus ot Nazca and then tomorrow morning we fly over the famous Nazca lines. After that we head back to Lima to meet our friend Craig and then it is off to do the Inca Trail!

I´ll try and update the blog again before that.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn
xxx

Posted by murray2701 08:32 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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