A Travellerspoint blog

Puno

On to Lake Titicaca

I just made the 8:00 am bus to Puno this morning. It was a 6 hr. ride and the bus stopped twice on the way for bathroom breaks.

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I seen some families along the way living in their small mud huts in the middle of some rocky fields. Their huts where only about 3M X 4M. I have no idea where they got there water from, being that they where on the side of a mountain, and I don't think much of anything could grow on the land. I think the people back in the jungle have allot easier life than these people do.

I walked around Puno a bit, but there was not much to see. I booked another massage, being that my legs where so sore from Machu Picchu but it still didn't help very much. I instructed the lady how to do it, so it was a little better than the other ones I had, but still not worth the $20 I paid. This is the first place I seen where they have bikes with 1 wheel on the back and 2 on the front with a place for you to sit. I would have loved to take a ride on this type of taxi, but was unable to find one when I needed it.

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The next day I did a day tour of Lake Titicaca, which is the worlds highest, largest, navigable freshwater lake. We first went and visited some floating islands that the natives make out of reeds. They use these reeds for everything, including eating.

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After this we went to a real island and did a 45 minute walk to a village where we ate our Trout dinner (best soup in Peru). I seen 3 different bands marching around playing their drums and trumpets. Some of the musicians had way too much to drink. It is festival time in Peru, and I seen quite a bit of this all over. Some places they throw water balloons at you and spray you with some kind of foam. Each place has their own dates for festival. After that we walked to our boat which was now on the other side of the island and headed back for a 3 hr. trip to Puno.

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I decided to take the evening bus to Arequipa from here. After a stop at one city along the way the bus proceeded to take a wrong turn in the middle of the city. We where now going down narrow streets that it couldn't turn out of even when it tried. The driver finally gave up and stopped at an intersection and was somehow able to back the bus back in to the other street and get going down a different street which lead us to a proper highway. There where cars backed up, horns honking, people yelling, people in the bus hammering and stomping. It was quite a show.

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Posted by ScottK 22:09 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Machu Picchu

Today I was up at 3:30 am to be first in line at the buses going to Machu Picchu. Only the first 400 people per day are able to get tickets to be able to climb Huayna Picchu. I was feeling a bit on the ill side, so didn't bother getting in line. I finally got on the bus at 6:30 and rode the 1/2 hr. trip up the side of the mountain. The road is all switch-backs and does have a great view. Once on top I checked if there where any tickets left for Huayna Picchu, but they where all sold out.

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I had already booked a 2 hr. tour with a guide and at 7:00 am they showed up and gathered our group together. We started off by first climbing to the highest point of Machu Picchu (except for Huayna Picchu mountain). From there he gave his first talk, and then we started working our way back down as the guide stopped at each interesting spot and told it's story. Machu Picchu is a amazing place to see. It was the only Inca city left untouched by the Spanish.

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After our tour was over we had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. For Dinner I went and bought the most expensive meal of my 5 week trip, which was a hamburger at the gate. Then I spent the next 3 hrs. wandering around the site, seeing all I could see, and taking lots of photos. I came up with some interesting poses that other people started copying right away. Machu Picchu is a must visit when coming to Peru.

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At the top there is a 40 minute walk down a trail that I didn't do, but I did do the 20 minute walk to the bridge. It is a walk that I would recommend to anyone who comes all the way to Peru to see Machu Picchu.

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After I had enough of the site I took the bus back down to the river and walked to the museum for a quick tour, then walked back to Aguas Calientes.

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I ended up wasting $17 on another useless massage, and then caught the 7:30 pm train back to Ollantaytambo. I would have loved to spend another day at both Aguas Calientes and Ollantaytambo, but was running out of time. From there I paid a taxi $27 to take me for a 1 hr. drive back to Cusco, where I ended up staying at the same hostal, being that the taxi driver could not find two other ones that I had on my list.

Posted by ScottK 21:02 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Sacred Valley of the Incas

I did the Sacred Valley of the Incas tour today on my way to see Machu Picchu.

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I ended up with a real bad headache, probably from the altitude, and just about had to give up on my tour. But after sitting down for awhile and massaging the pressure points on my eyebrows the headache finally went away, and I was able to explore the Inca ruins.

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We stopped at Pisac, a small city in the valley below some ruins. There was a large craft market located there, but we never did get enough time to see everything. The crafts in Peru are mostly made up of textiles. Toques, shawls, scarfs, etc. all made of Alpaca or Llama hair. I finally decided to buy one of their colourful toques but found them to be too thin to do any good during the Canadian Winter.

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I ended up at Ollantaytambo which had some interesting ruins.

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As you can see from the next bunch of photos I couldn't get over the intricate stone work. Some of these stones weighed 60 tons and where brought from a mountain that was located 5 km away.

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From Ollantaytambo I caught the 7:30 pm train to Aguas Calientes, where I would embark on my 1 day pilgrimage to Machu Picchu like millions of tourist before me. I really would have liked to have taken the train ride in the day time so I could see all the amazing scenery along the way, but I was pressed for time from spending too much time in the jungle.

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Posted by ScottK 15:15 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

SEXY WOMAN.

I did a city tour of Cuzco today and seen lots of old churches, one which we visited, and different archeological sites of the Inca's. It's a real shame the Spanish came here and the Catholics had everything destroyed. As I stated in a former posting, the Catholics would build their churches upon these sites. The Inca's had some amazing architecture, and what was left, still survives all earthquakes as modern buildings collapse around them.

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One of the most interesting sites on our tour was Sacsayhuamán (Sexy Woman). It was an old water storage site that supplied the city of Cuzco in the time of the Inca's. There where still lots of huge, intricately fitting stone walls standing.

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I ended the day with a meal at the Hatun Wasi Hotel. It was disgusting. The soup tasted like a bowl of salt water with a few vegetables floating in it, and the spaghetti with chicken tasted as equally salty, with very little chicken hidden amongst it. They charged me 5 soles for a bottle of water, when I was used to paying 1. I didn't finish eating the meal, and on my way back to my Hostal I stopped for some fried chicken and fries, which ended up not tasting much better. I can't understand how a country with over 3,000 types of potatoes cannot make good french-fires? I ended up with diarrhea that night.

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Posted by ScottK 13:35 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Cusco

From Lima I hopped on a fancy double-decker Cruz del Sur bus to go to Cuzco. It had real nice seats that lay down close to flat, with lots of leg room. Even though I knew it would be a 20 hr. ride, I wanted to be able to see as much of the country as possible. It was always interesting to see whole families at all the bus depots and air-ports saying their good-byes to their family members. This is something I never see in North America.

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All was well for the first part of this trip. There was lots to see out the windows, good movies playing and food served. I woke up at midnight to sweltering heat. They had shut off the overhead vents and had turned the heat on. It was ungodly hot in there so I staggered to the bathroom and stuck my head by it's open window to cool off. When I came out, everyone else was awake and fiddling with their vents, trying to get them to work, all the while grumbling about the heat. The attendant was at the back of the bus on her chair, covered in a blanket, sound asleep. I shook her awake and with some hand motions made her understand that it was way too hot in there. She understood and turned the heat off, and the vent fans back on. After a half an hour of fresh air they once again turned off the overhead vents. No idea why they would do something like this? The heat stayed off also, so it was partially tolerable. It was dark out, and by the swaying back and forth of the bus, I was guessing that we where going through mountain roads with lots of switch-backs. With nothing to focus my mind on except the stifling heat, strange odors and constant swaying motion, I ended up feeling a bit queezy for the rest of the ride, but did survive.

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Upon arriving in Cuzco my pack-sack got set down on the ground where someone had already set some leaky fish. Luckily most everything in my bag was encased in plastic bags or compression bags. I only had one book, the one with my travel notes, end up smelling like fish. I think next time I travel I will bring along one of those dry-sac bags they use for running rapids with, and use it when I am checking in my pack. The luggage compartments of some of the buses I was on where also quite dirty. Even a heavy-duty plastic garbage bag would work.

When I first arrived I wanted to leave the city as soon as possible. It looked like a very old, dirty, run down place. But, I had made myself a rule, and that was to stay at least a couple of days and see what there was to see. I am glad I did, and Cuzco ended up being my favorite city to stay at.

Cuzco is a very old city, with cobblestone streets. It is not a huge city like Lima, and everything seemed to be within 15 minutes of walking distance from the central plaza area. If your looking for an interesting tee-shirt this is the place to look. If your wanting to ship stuff home by curiour, you should have done it in Lima! DHL charged me $125 for a large envelope with a couple of tee-shirts and some DV cassettes in it. Crooks.

Like all the cities in Peru, there are some real old Catholic churches here. When the Spanish came, the Catholics had them destroy as much Inca architecture as they could, and they would then build their churches upon these sites. A real shame.

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I walked around the city a bit, seeing what I could see. I was sitting in a small cafe having a burger when a guy walking by stopped and looked in at me. I finally recognized him as one of the French guys I met in the jungle. He had been waiting in Cuzco for a week for his buddy to show up, before he went off to see Machu Picchu. I was able to have a short visit with him, but had leave so I didn't miss my bus tour.

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The cobble-stone streets are quite narrow and lots are only 1 lane. They have lots of small Asian cars that they use for taxis. Lots of the makes we don't even see in North America. There are also lots of buses in Cuzco. I am guessing that only 2% of the vehicles on the road are privately owned.

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I ended up staying at the Apu Wasi Hostal. It was ok. The room could have had a table and coat hangers on the wall to make them allot more livable, but otherwise they where clean, and they had breakfast. The wooden doors should be sanded a bit so they close without binding. Tea was also always available, with a bowl of cocoa leaves on the counter so one could make their own fresh cocoa tea. Cocoa leaves are very good at helping with altitude sickness. Cuzco is around 3,400 Meters so most everyone ends up with a few symptoms. Upset stomach, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and the inability to sleep are what high altitudes can do to you.

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As I was wandering the streets around the plaza latter in the afternoon I was offered a massage for $12, which is a 1/3 the price I normally pay, so I went for it. I didn't get much out of it, and would have gladly payed $60 for a good one. After walking around for another half an hour I was asked by someone else if I needed a massage. I told them I just had one, but it wasn't overly good, and I didn't need another one, but when offered to do it for $7 I couldn't resist. This one was also a waste of time. I then walked another 15 minutes and was offered another one, but told them maybe the next night, which I did, and it was also a waste of time!

Posted by ScottK 12:09 Archived in Peru Tagged cuzco cruz_del_sur apu_wasi_hostal Comments (0)

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