Archive for the ‘Peru’ Category

From Peru to Chile   4 comments

Saturday 4th October 2014

Arequipa’s house volcano Misti wears a snow cap this morning.

We enjoy another of the most delicious breakfasts of our journey

Then we leave our lovely hostal and head to the tour agency on the Plaza de Armas where our journey to Chile will hopefully start.

Iglesia y Convento San Francisco

The police mainly use motos to enforce law and order

Our lift to the bus terminal

Bye bye, beautiful Arequipa…

Not sure if we will miss the Peruvian traffic chaos though…

We’ve heard a lot of stories about Arequipean travel agencies and not all of them were raving reviews. So I’m a bit concerned if our all-inclusive tour package will actually materialize…

Stage 1, the transfer from the city centre to the terminal, has worked and stage 2, the coach trip from Arequipa to Tacna, doesn’t look too bad either.

Well, the bus leaves half an hour later than confirmed, the first six kilometres take over an hour and the driver stops three times during the journey to check potentially broken bits on the underside – but hey-ho, we arrive in one piece and with a delay of 90 minutes only at our destination…

A few snaps from the road –

Sophisticated air-con

This looks a bit menacing…

Fortunately it’s only fog and clouds

Amazing how many shapes and shades of sand there are…

Double solid lines? Recommendations…

When we arrive in Tacna, we can’t see anyone holding a sign with our names, as we were assured by the agent in Arequipa. I make enquiries with the bus company that brought us here and Johannes walks the length of the terminal hoping he will find someone looking for us. Ok, we’re one and a half hours late but that’s not our fault and most probably the normal estimated time of arrival on a distance of 379 kilometres. The search is not helped by the fact that there are two terminals; one for national and the other for international connections.

While we are already thinking about plan B, a young señor approaches me – Pablo, our middleman, who’s just been for a coffee after his long wait for us. He’s not cross at all, very friendly and extremely helpful.

Pablo passes us into the hands of another previous Formula 1 driver…

While overtaking one car after the other, our chofer forewarns us that Chile is not only two hours ahead of Peru but the waiting time at the Peruvian-Chilean border can be another two hours on a Saturday. However, with his help and that of a Chilean family sharing our taxi, the formalities are surprisingly quickly dealt with and we arrive in Arica effectively only one hour later than anticipated.

We find accommodation in the Hostal Colonial where I’ve stayed before (the owners even remember the German motorcyclist on the English bike!) and still have time to go out for dinner.

What a long and eventful day… But never mind, we are now in Chile!

Posted 6 October 2014 by Pumpy in Chile, Peru, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

Arequipa – Peru’s White City   Leave a comment

Friday 3rd October 2014

After Sucre in Bolivia, we explore another Ciudad Blanca (White City) – this time in Peru: Arequipa with its stunning colonial buildings made of pearly sillar stone, a white volcanic material.

At the top of the list of things to see in Arequipa is the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a convent founded in 1579 and closed off from the outer world for almost four centuries until it was opened to the public in 1970. It’s like a city within the city.

We are well impressed. After the monastery we head for the Plaza de Armas again and play ‘spot our restaurant from last night’. Can you?

Arequipa’s mercado central –

There are over 400 varieties of potatoes in Peru

This is one of them

Did I mention that I miss my Possu?

Have a guess what this is. We couldn’t figure it out until we asked the friendly stall owner…

This lovely lady pampered us with freshly pressed papaya and lucuma juice

 

If you ever visit Peru, don’t miss Arequipa – we absolutely love it! If you need any further persuasion you will find more photos here.

 

Posted 4 October 2014 by Pumpy in Peru, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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Nasca to Arequipa – A Patchwork Journey   Leave a comment

Wednesday 1st October 2014

All coaches from Nasca to Arequipa leave late in the day and drive through the night. That’s pretty inconsiderate to the tourists who want to see the beauty of Peru. So we decide to travel by colectivo and try to get as far as possible in daylight.

Leaving Nasca

Our first minivan to Chala

 

Driving in South America is often chaotic; we get the impression that signals, speed limits and solid lines are regarded as mere recommendations…

The Panamericana is straight…

… and the landscape rather arid

Woo hoo – the Pacific Ocean!

Risk of sand drifts – which can lead to road closures

After 170 kilometres we’re arriving at our first milestone Chala

 

Our second means of transport is a taxi to Atico, 90 kilometres further south.

To make his journey worthwhile, the driver crams four passengers into the back…

Sometimes it goes horribly wrong

It doesn’t get any greener…

The highway follows the shoreline

Safe in Atico!

Here we have to wait an hour for the next connection

We don’t get bored though – there is plenty to see

 

Our next shuttle is a 16-seater minibus, however, the ‘chofer’ manages to get 20 people in – sitting on stools and their own luggage…

After another 133 kilometres we reach Camaná, where we stay the night

 

Thursday 2nd October 2014

We have a nice room and a good breakfast in the Hotel San Diego

.. right on the main square of Camaná

Peruvian Police Patrol

Our last colectivo that should bring us to Arequipa, 176 kilometres further on

Johannes is impressed by the landscape – I think he didn’t believe me when I said that there would be nothing but sand for the next few weeks…

Ok, I may have exaggerated a bit

Here they grow vines for the famous Pisco

Arequipa’s house volcano Misti, 5,822 metres / 19,101 feet high

We’ve made it – 579 kilometres with four vehicles and all during daylight hours!

A taxi brings us to the Plaza de Armas

 

Then we walk to the Hostal ‘La Casa de Melgar’, a beautiful colonial building, which was recommended by friends and where we are given a fantastic room on the first floor.

With view of the Misti!

We explore the sights of the city centre

… and learn the differences between the South American camelids (zoom in if you want to know them as well)

The traffic baffles us every day anew

Each to their own…

 

The icing on the cake of a wonderful day is having dinner in a little restaurant above the rooftops of Arequipa.

Ponchos are provided against the chill

Lovely food…

… and great views

 

Buenas noches – we’ll stay another day in this amazing city to appreciate what it has to offer.

Posted 4 October 2014 by Pumpy in Peru, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

Nasca and The Lines   Leave a comment

Tuesday 30 September 2014

The Hotel Paredones Inn has a beautiful roof terrace where an excellent breakfast is served.

Great views included – Plaza Mayor

Cerro Blanco – the White Mountain, the highest sand dune in the world

Protesters making their point

 

At ten o’clock Julio, our official tour guide, picks us up from the hotel and we’re heading north on the Pan American Highway.

Strange to see a dead-straight road for a change…

We stop at the Mirador that was erected for the education of the public and sponsored by the scientist Dr Maria Reiche, who spent over 40 years of her life studying the Nasca Lines, discovering over 50 figures and around 1,000 lines in this period.

You probably know about the Nazca Lines but in case you need to refresh your memory, the Wikipedia article is a good start.

Julio explains the origins of the lines, tells us about the Nasca people and points out the figures you can see from the view tower

Las Manos – The Hands

El Arbol – The Tree

The Lagartija (Lizard) is cut through by the Panamericana Sur

Our tour bus…

We continue north to the museum into which Maria Reiche’s modest cottage has been converted.

This is where and how the scientist lived for more than 25 years – without electricity and running water

Dr Maria Reiche’s main tools and instruments – oh, and she used a step-ladder as well. Amazing.

Original photographs

Feel free to use the zoom button if you want to know more

On the way back to Nasca we stop at a natural viewpoint.

… from where you can spot more lines

360 degree view – you better click on the photo to see anything at all

The rest of the day we spend catching up with the blog – you may have noticed…

… although between posts Johannes allows me the occasional treat –

Another stroll through downtown Nasca

A visit to the Heladeria

And finally, one of the highlights of our stay in Nasca…

Brochetas Mixtas y Ensalada de mi Tierra at the restaurant Estación ‘Plaza Mayor’

For dessert we watch another of the daily campaigns

I bet most Peruvians will be glad when the elections are over…

At least we will be out of the country by the 5th of October if everything goes to plan.

Tomorrow we will try to get as far as possible towards Arequipa – by colectivo…

Posted 2 October 2014 by Pumpy in Peru, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

The journey is the reward – Cusco to Nasca   Leave a comment

Sunday 28 September 2014

For most people the main reason for visiting Nasca is to see the famous lines. For me, there are two others:

1) The road from Cusco to Nasca – pure motorcycling heaven – one bend after the other through spectacular scenery, covering a total of 639 kilometres / 398 miles and going from 3,400 metres /11,150 feet above sea level in Cusco down to 1,800 metres / 5,900 feet, climbing up to 4,580 metres / 15,026 feet again and then settling at 615 metres / 2,017 feet in Nasca.

2) The mixed beef tenderloin/chicken kebab served in the restaurant Estación Plaza on Nasca’s Plaza de Armas – food I’ve dreamed about since I first had the pleasure in 2010.

I was hoping that these reasons, together with the Lineas de Nasca, of course, would be sufficient to convince my dad of including Nasca in our route (as you know, we have to cut a few corners in order to finish our South American loop in three months).

Fortunately I succeed and so, after our last breakfast at the Hostal Hatun Wasi, we take a taxi to the Terminal Terreste.

Down the Cuesta San Blas…

Arriving at the terminal

Our transport for today

Adiós, Cusco!

Not all sights are pretty…

Let the fun begin!

A bit of dirt road thrown in for good measure

The bus even stops for a short break so that we can stretch our legs

… and marvel at the vegetation

… and the engine

Río Chalhuanca

A small town of the same name is our destination for today. We prefer to see the beauty of Peru in daylight and have broken up the journey into sizeable chunks. Accommodation is quickly found.

As everywhere in the country, election campaigns are in full flow.

As all the coaches passing through Chalhuanca can’t pick us up until 15.30 hrs, we book two seats in a minivan that leaves for Nasca at 11.00 hrs the next morning. We explore the town by walking the main street up and down and then settle for dinner in a local Polleria – a restaurant specialising in chicken dishes.

Monday 29 September 2014

After a good night’s sleep we find a little café where we enjoy an excellent breakfast: freshly pressed papaya juice, café con leche, cheese sandwich and cake – all for the stately sum of £2.70.

We still have over one and a half hours until departure and are just about to set out on another exploration of Chalhuanca, when the young man from the minivan company approaches us in the street: if we would mind starting immediately, as the rain is closing in and the driver would like to avoid severe weather on the journey over the mountains . God, no, the earlier we arrive in Nasca the better. We grab our luggage and board the van.

Sitting in the front row we have a vista panorámica

The weather worsens the higher we climb

At some point it even starts to snow…

Not all drivers are as excellent as ours…

The highest point of our trip so far

You don’t really get a sense of the altitude on the Altiplano – but every little hill is in fact over 5,000 metres high

Puquio on the horizon

Tinkle stop on top of the world – above the tree and bushes line, obviously…

As we approach Nasca the scenery changes completely

Cerro Blanco – the highest sand dune on earth (2,100 metres / 6,900 feet a.s.l.)

This amazing road is kept in excellent condition

We head straight to the Paredones Inn, where we get a nice room at a very competitive rate

We explore the town, book a tour to the Nasca Lines for the following day and have dinner at the Rico Pollo, devouring some mores delicious chicken variations: gizzards and kebab this time.

It’s not a bad life we live… 🙂

 

Posted 1 October 2014 by Pumpy in Peru, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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Salineras de Maras – A field day   Leave a comment

Saturday 27 September 2014

After all the excitement in Machu Picchu we’d like to grant ourselves a rest day in Cusco – maybe go on a little excursion to the salt ponds near the town of Maras in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, come back early, write some posts and postcards, explore more of Cusco and so on.

All the organised tours leave at 8.30 or 9.00 hrs, which is a bit too early for us on our day off, so we decide to get to the site ourselves – it shouldn’t take long, as there are plenty of colectivos going from Cusco to Urubamba and they can drop us off at the junction to Maras. And that’s what we do.

A few pictures from the road –

Avenida del Ejército in Cusco

Towards Miraflores on the outskirts of the city

It will be a long ride to Nasca, our next destination

Oops – we should have checked the weather forecast…

Our Taxi Colectivo (because we shared it with two other passengers) – otherwise it would have been a taxi privado for double the price

The road to Maras

Oh, oh…

Two kilometres in, a dirt road branches off to the salt ponds –

Important strategic information has been removed from the sign…

I think that we can avoid following the road and getting dusted by the passing tour buses and construction trucks by finding our own way through the beautiful valley.

Initially it doesn’t look too difficult

We enjoy the scenery

But then the path turns into a water channel…

… and peters out in a field above the inaccessible gorge – we have to turn round and climb up to the plateau again.

At least there are plenty of animals about and their shepherds confirm that there is indeed a camino to the Salineras.

We just hope the weather holds…

At some point we are at least able to see our destination –

… unfortunately there is still a barranco between us

We meet another herd and the boys assure us that we are on the right path

… and sure enough, we’re getting nearer

Still, every attempt to get closer ends at a steep edge above the valley. In the end we have to return to the dirt road and follow it the long way down.

With hindsight we should have walked a bit further on the road at the beginning and taken the left-hand side of the valley. So if you happen to be in the area and fancy a gentle stroll, take our advice and opt for the Maras side of the glen…

At least we get fantastic views of the site

The Salineras have been worked since pre-Inca times by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream

Although the walk has taken us many hours more than intended we both feel that it was worth the effort.

Our plan is to continue to the bottom of the Sacred Valley and the Río Urubamba on foot

The path is narrower than it looked from above

View up the valley

Then we take the track to Urubamba

Peruvian Trail Rider

There he goes… I’m not envious, not a bit…

Brick production line

Río Urubamba

While we walk towards the main road, a local taxi comes along

Not that we are knackered – but we wouldn’t want to miss this special experience…

We get out at the bus terminal in Urubamba and immediately find a colectivo which is about to leave to Cusco. The sun goes down and shows the impressive landscape in the most beautiful light.

It’s already pitch-black when we arrive in Cusco; we still have to organise our onward journey to Nasca the following day and find something to eat. Strangely enough, we feel rather invigorated by our epic ramble, even walk the two kilometres to the Terminal Terreste, get a good deal, book our seats and catch a city bus into the historic centre, where we have a pleasant and well-deserved feast.

Ok, maybe not your typical rest day – but another great adventure to remember.

Posted 30 September 2014 by Pumpy in Peru, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

Machu Picchu   4 comments

Friday 26 September 2014

We get up before 5.00 am, have a quick breakfast and head for the bus stop. Although we thought we’d avoid the first rush – the shuttle bus service from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu starts at 5.30 am – we still have to queue and wait for another four buses to fill up.

We didn’t miss the sunrise though – there are too many clouds around this morning

The hills surrounding Machu Picchu are covered with Cloud Forest

At first we can’t see a lot of the site

But then the clouds clear…

 

Yes, Machu Picchu is a huge tourist attraction, it’s very expensive and complicated to get to and in (visitor numbers are restricted to 2,500 per day), but it is a magical place and absolutely worth the effort.

Much has been written about the world heritage site and millions of photos have been taken which you can find all over the internet; so here are just a few personal images.

 

Río Urubamba

Huayna Picchu

Johannes taking in the scenery while I enjoy the guided tour

Sophisticated roof fastenings

Vizcacha

Inka Bridge

Johannes! You don’t need to be able to read Spanish to understand the sign…

Not for the ones who suffer from acrophobia…

After clouds, fog and rain we can finally enjoy the views in the sun

Near the top of Huayna Picchu

Full of wonderful impressions we take the bus down into the valley again.

In Aguas Calientes we notice an important bit of information

Then we board the dedicated train back to Ollantaytambo – this time not just with a snack but with entertainment as well –

I get to dance with a local spirit (sorry, I didn’t catch the name – any enlightenment would be gratefully received)

At the train station we’re picked up by a tourist colectivo – courtesy of the tour package.

Tired but happy we return to Cusco around 21.00 hrs – what a marvellous experience, certainly one of the highlights of our trip!
All photos here.

Posted 30 September 2014 by Pumpy in Peru, The 2014 Rucksack Trip