A Travellerspoint blog

February 17 & 18

Not Machu Picchu

We were picked up Friday morning at 6:10 a.m. and taken down to the PeruRail bus station. Got on a bus and headed for Ollantaytambo, where you change from the bus to the train. (There are no roads to Machu Picchu.) About half way there, the guide on the bus got a cell phone call and said the trains are not running due to all the rainfall and the high river. So we turned around and went back. Then we had to sit thru waiting to have our tickets changed to the next day. Finally we got home and then went out walking to the city centre. The old town is very picturesque and we did get to see the 12 sided stone in the Inca wall. There are not many streets that could be considered level, it's like the whole city is on a slant! At this altitude (3400 meters), climbing steep stairways can be a challenge. It is necessary to pace yourself!Street is so steep only pedestrians can use it.

Street is so steep only pedestrians can use it.

So after spending the day exploring, the next morning we went down to the bus station again, to be told as soon as we arrived, that the trains were not running. So we sat and got our tickets changed again. We had originally planned to spend one night in Agua Caliente, the town at the base of MP, and come back the next day. But after the second cancellation we couldn't do that without making changes to the rest of our trip. So we changed it to a one day trip on Sunday. We then went home and laid about the rest of the day. We'd been going at it pretty fast and a day to lie about and read was good. In the afternoon, we went for a short walk around the neighbourhood, and found a quite large market happening in the square on the next block. Everything from food to bedding plants to furniture to wine were in the booths there. Very interesting. Woman selling planting soil

Woman selling planting soil

Our internet in our room has been very spotty and frustrating, so that is why these posts are so late.

Posted by katdill 16:49 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

February 16

Sacred Valley Tour

semi-overcast 15 °C

We were picked up early this morning for the Sacred Valley Tour. We had a nice comfortable bus and about 10 or 12 other tourists with our guide. He was a wonderful guide, very knowledgeable, and encouraged everyone to ask questions about anything we wanted to know. The tour took us over the mountain down to the valley, where the weather is warmer and everything grows very well. We made several stops at lookout points so we could see and take photos of the great views. Kids in a market, very happy to have their picture taken

Kids in a market, very happy to have their picture taken

We visited the market at Pisac (and it seems Pisac is mostly market!) and spent some time shopping. Then on down the road until we found our restaurant for lunch. For some reason, (possibly the level of hotel/tour people had) the group was dropped off at 3 different restaurants, spread over probably 10 km of road. Oh well, we had a good lunch at a buffet with many choices. We also got to watch a goatherd and his herd climb the mountain opposite the restaurant. I don't think you can be a goatherd unless you are part goat yourself! After lunch we finally got to Ollantaytambo and had a tour of the Quichuas ruins. Very impressive and of course, lots of steps to climb, but worth it. Ollantaytambo ruins

Ollantaytambo ruins

The whole structure was built to look like a lama from the neighboring mountain. Then back on the bus and coming back to Cusco by a different road, we stopped at Chinchero. They have some pretty impressive ruins there as well, and a women's textile cooperative, where we saw an abbreviated demonstration of their techniques from raw wool to finished woven product. Women in Textile Cooperative

Women in Textile Cooperative

Very interesting as well. Then back home to get ready for our early start to Machu Picchu tomorrow.

Posted by katdill 18:30 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

February 15

More jungle and Cusco

On our jungle trip, we met a couple of Dutch girls who were travelling together. They participated in all our activities with great cheerfulness and lots of fun. They had a mascot, Llama Doendan, that they had picked up in Lima as soon as they arrived. So Albert and Llama Doendan (which is a Dutch expression that means "just do it") had to get acquainted and have some fun together. I have just posted on my Facebook page an album of Albert's adventures to this point.
Hikers at a huge tree

Hikers at a huge tree

Yesterday when we arrived in Cusco, we were brought to the bed and breakfast we were to stay at - but they had a problem because the rain had leaked into the room and we couldn't stay there. So we were taken over to a hotel a few blocks away. That was fine, but the hotel wondered how long we would be there. Nobody had told us, so Don phoned in the morning and was told 3 nights. Then a short time later, we got a call telling us to pack up our luggage and take it down to the lobby for storage. They were coming to pick us up right after lunch! The language barrier makes understanding what is going on pretty difficult. But they did pick us up and we have a nice room, cold tho. The hotel was cold as well. Yesterday it was 10 degrees here and everyone thinks that is very cold for this time of year. I guess our luck with the good weather has run out.
I wasn't feeling very good yesterday or today, some altitude adjustment and some Montezuma's revenge. But I think I'll be able to go on the tour to the Sacred Valley tomorrow. Don went out and visited the Cusco main square and came back with some good pictures.
Woman and child in Cusco

Woman and child in Cusco

Gardens of the Convent of Santa Domingo

Gardens of the Convent of Santa Domingo

Posted by katdill 16:36 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

February 14

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Birthday, Kalindi! Hope you have a good one and all our love is coming your way!
Today we returned to civilization from our second stay in the Amazon jungle or "la selva". We stayed at Explorer's Inn, an hour's drive over a bad road and 11/2 hour boat ride up the Tambopata River. It was a more primitive resort that the first one we stayed at, in fact, it's the first lodge that was built in the area. So we stayed in a cabana with no electricity or hot water. We did have our own indoor bathroom, but it was pretty rustic. The lodge is in a beautiful location and our first night there they took us out on the river (in full darkness) to look for caimans (little alligators). We had a couple of really good looks at some young ones - don't want to meet the older ones at all! The next morning it was up at 4:30 a.m., breakfast and start hiking 6 or 7 km to an oxbow lake to look at the giant otters. When I say hiking, I mean slogging along a very muddy trail, thru mudholes that suck at your rubber boots, and occasionally slipping and sliding along. This is the rainforest and the soil is clay, so when it rains the water sits on the top of the soil until it finds a way to run off! Also this hiking is happening at 25 plus degrees and probably 90% humidity at least! I figure they have us do the hardest, longest trail first, before we know enough to say "I don't want to".Slogging thru the mud

Slogging thru the mud

All complaining aside, it was great to get to the lake, have a snack, and then go out canoeing on the lake to watch the otters. They were very large and very entertaining. We also saw some monkeys and some macaws. Our guide was very knowledgeable and showed us many interesting plants and insects along the way, both going and coming back. When we got back and had lunch about 1:30, it was time for siesta. Even after a nap, I felt tired! Just not in good enough shape for sweating for hours on end! That night we did a short night walk around the outside of the main lodge area so our guide could show us tarantulas, other insects, frogs, etc. which only show up at night. The jungle at night is pretty creepy but I wasn't as freaked out as I thought I might be. But I'd never go in by myself!!!
The next day we got up early again and went (without breakfast!!) to a clay lick. This is a cliff of clay where parrots and macaws come to eat the clay for the salt and minerals it contains. Apparently, they need it to help them digest their food. We sat in a blind where we could see the birds clearly, until a hawk came and scared them away. So back in the boat to the lodge for breakfast and then we hiked back to the blind to see if different birds would come later. Only got to see 1 red and green macaw, he was early or something, and then we had to leave so we could get back in time for lunch. Later in the day we hiked out to the bird tower, a 45 meter structure, to look for toucans or other birds. Did not have a lot of luck there and walked back in the dark with our flashlights looking for more goodies in the dark jungle. Macaws at Clay Lick

Macaws at Clay Lick

So last night it started raining, it rained all night and was still raining when we left in the canoe this morning. So we timed it just right, had good weather, lots of sunshine, and I really wouldn't want to be on those trails after days of steady rain!
So we have arrived safely in Cusco, were met by our tour company, and settled into our hotel. We're feeling some effects of the altitude and need to take it slow for a day or so.

Posted by katdill 16:30 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

February 10

One day in Lima

We got to Lima in the morning and got a cab to our hotel. We have some difficulty finding it, but eventually the lost was found and the people were expecting us. This place is run by a young couple with children. She has her dentist practice in the house, and he rents out rooms and runs a travel agency. They were lovely people and so friendly and helpful. When we left the next morning, they both gave us hugs goodbye.
After getting settled in, we went out to find lunch and walk to a nearby museum. Lunch for both of us cost us the equivalent of $5.00 US and was more than I could eat.
The Larco Museum is an archeological museum started by a 25 year old man back in the 1920's. He had collected many artifacts from the native tribes of the coast of Peru. When he discovered that the current archeological knowledge could not categorize his artifacts, he became an archeologist and did years of research, filling in gaps in the knowledge and discovering a great deal about pre-Inca, pre-Hispanic Peru. Very interesting place with 1000 year old textiles, 2000 year old pottery, and gold and silver items 3000 years old. Amazing stuff!
Gold Funerary Outfit

Gold Funerary Outfit

I was sitting in our room trying to post this and listening to the horn conversation in the street outside. Both Ecuadorans and Peruvians use their horns a lot and seeing as there was a uncontrolled intersection near by, they were continually saying, "watch out I'm coming thru" or some such! Unbelievable for people brought up to think using your horn was somewhat rude!
So I couldn't post this, the network couldn't handle it, so here it is days late!

Posted by katdill 16:09 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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