It's now 11pm and we are at the airport in Lima after getting up at 3.30am and getting a flight from La Paz.
Today we had a great look around Lima. It really is a pretty cool city.
- ran into Shjngo and Yugo at the La Paz airport!
- Huaca Puciliana pyramids, which date back to 400AD, but were covered up with mud and clay till around 1980
- Museum Larco, a great museum on the history of Peru. It is also attached to a great restaurant. Beat meal we've had on this trip!
- Went searching for Cusco salt at the supermarket but all we found was cold water
- Got a taxi via the Easy Taxi app to Miraflores, a very pretty residential area by the beach. Saw the sun set over the ocean.
- An awful dinner at TGI Fridays...
Back to CT tomorrow to shovel snow from the driveway!
14 February 2016
Spent the day in La Paz, one of the highest major cities in the world. Airport is at 4,100m and most of the town is at over 3,500m. Luckily, we had all adjusted to the altitude so did not have any problems.
We arranged a private tour of the city from 9am to 5pm and checked out all the major sights
- Moon Valley, very surreal
- KiriKiri (great view of La Paz)
- Witch's Market, where we saw real witch doctors (wearing hats made out of armadillo) and dead llama fetuses..
- a few museums on the history of La Paz
- a cable car ride across the whole city
The only thing we didn't mange to see, which we wanted to, was the Cholita (old lady) wrestling, WWF style.
At the witch's market we also bumped into our new friends from Uyuni, Shingo and Yugo. Would be great to see them, and Natsumi, again someday.
13 February 2016
At the Uyuni airport, on the way to La Paz.
Took a bit of a walk around Uyuni before we left.
Got to the airport and, unlike any other airport we've been to anywhere, there is basically zero security. I even walked out onto the runway to take photos!
Spent the whole day at Salar De Uyuni yesterday. Took so many photos. Will take some time to go through them all once we are back home. Have added ten to this post. Quite incredible!
The other update is that decision to move hotels was a very good one. The Tonito Hotel is just great. Would not rate more than two stars in the developed world, but for Bolivia, which is the poorest country in South America (GDP per capita $4,000) and more so for Uyuni, which only got 24 hour electricity a year ago, it gets the highest rating possible. 6 stars!?
Note, wifi internet only arrived here 3 years ago. The 24hrs/day power only happened to support the Dakar motorcycle race. If Uyuni had not become a stop on the route, it'd still be in the dark ages!
12 February 2016
Will post photos in a separate note but, what a day it was yesterday! Salar De Uyuni was fantastic but the hotel was so far below expectations it was not funny.
- no water, hot or cold
- Hannah got gastro
- extremely dirty rooms
- room was on fourth floor, a rough climb at 3,800m
- manager was very rude
The upside is that we found another hotel. Have checked in and so far it seems one million times better but that's not so hard when your base comparison is so small.
Salar de Uyuni! What an awesome sight!
11 February 2016
Rosie wants to be an unattended child!😜
Uyuni is very beautiful!
At the airport in Cusco, waiting for the Amazonas flight to Uyuni via La Paz.
The altitude sickness feels like it is under control this morning. Just a slight throbbing in the back of my head.
Would have been nice to see some museums in Cusco to check out the Inca artifacts but we just didn't get time. There are many artifacts at Yale, where Professor Bingham worked. We'll have to go check them out instead.
The picture of the police is typical of what we've seen in Peru. Around many official buildings and areas there are a lot of police. Not sure what they are worried about. In fact, overall security in Peru is tight. To buy train, bus or tourist attraction tickets you almost always need to show your passport, both when you buy the ticket and again upon entry. And, when getting on long distance buses your face gets captured on film!
The airport at La Paz is 4,000m high but Uyuni is a slightly lower 3,800. Fingers crossed that I feel OK...
10 February 2016
Great day but altitude sickness sucks!
Ollanta -> inka ruins -> ink salt mine -> concentric circle inka farm -> Cusco
All this, while dealing with altitude sickness. Drinking Coca Tea and taking ibuprofen to try to get over it.
9 February 2016
Dancers and advertisers on the train back to Ollaytanyambo!👫💃🏻👯
Off to Machu Picchu! Rosie was sad she couldn't bring her new friend Marooco on the train...
8 February 2016
What a wonderful sign!😝
Arrived in Ollantaytambo (Ollanta) around 6pm. Quaint little town with cobblestone streets that has been around for a thousand years or so...
The highlight of the evening was dinner. The four photos attached to this post tell it best.
1) I wanted Guinea Pig for dinner but they had just sold out the last one! Will try my luck in Cusco in two nights from now.
2) There was a completely illogical sign that more than half of the global population, thanks to population engineering in China, knows is wrong. The other 49% know it to be wrong but will never admit it. I live with three of them, or four if you count the dog...
3) and 4) Instead, and as somewhat of a revenge to the ladies who took a liking to them earlier in the day, I got llama with quinoa. Both are specialities of the region...
Next up were some ruins that look over Pisac. These were very cool. The only issue was that our tour guide only spoke Spanish. Hannah did an awesome job translating and my guess work was solid too but... a lot got lost in translation. Bill Murray would have been proud.
After a while we just asked him questions, which he might or might not have understood but he gave detailed answers which we videoed. At some point we'll show them to someone who speaks fluent Spanish and get the full run down!
Off to our hotel now, where we'll spend our first two consecutive nights... in Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo is at a lower elevation, about 2,900m, which is enough to take us out of the altitude sickness zone and help acclimatize. Much of today was spent at 3,400-3,700m. Light heads and slight head aches all round....
Machu Picchu! Today was the day we ticked this one off everyone's bucket list!
The day started early with a 7am train ride up to Aguas Calientes, which took about two hours. The train lines were laid on the original Inca Trail. From there, we got a bus that wound it's way up a very steep mountain path. Finally, we were at the gates to Machu Picchu.
Every day they only let 2,500 visitors into Machu Picchu but of that only 400 can climb Wayna Picchu, the mountain that you see as the backdrop in many well known photos of the area.
We did the hike up Wayna Picchu first. Amazingly, just as we were reaching the top the clouds cleared and we had a clear view of Machu Picchu. Was a great view indeed!
On the way down it started to rain, but we were lucky to that point as this time of year it is rainy season in this area.
We took the rain interruption as a chance to grab some lunch. After the rain subsided some we found a tour guide and did a two hour tour.
Great day all round!
Selfie with a llama!
First stop after landing in Cusco was a local lama, alpaca, and vicuña farm. The farm supported 44 families if my recollection is correct.
Most of the items they had there were made out of incredibly soft baby alpaca fur. Llama fur is too tough and is used to make rope and fabrics that need to be durable.
There were some vicuña there too, which are part of the llama family but they are more wild. But, their fur is extremely soft. While it takes one Alpaca to make one sweater it takes five vicuña.
Arrived in Cusco. Heading off for a tour with two brothers, Edgar and Percy, who are Quechuan. Machta is their family name.
Altitude here is 3,200m.
About to leave Lima for Cusco and the Machu Picchu area.
Well, 3-4hrs was all it was but breakfast was the best so far... The hotel even has gluten free options... In contrast, where we had breakfast yesterday the hotel lost power from 7am and a random alpaca spat on Mitsuyo!
Made it to Lima! Better late than never... On the way to the hotel in a taxi but by the time we get there it'll be 2am... Luckily, though, the hotel is 1min from the airport.
If we get to bed by 3am we can still get 4-5 hours sleep to get our plane at 9.30am 👍
7 February 2016
Leaving Nazca on Cruz Del Sur bus for Lima. It's now 4.30pm and we're scheduled to arrive back in Lima at midnight. Biggest worry is the insane bus driver who is driving this bus. We met a Canadian brother and sister who just got off this bus and they were complaining how scared they got. Don't think it matters which bus driver you get, they all seem to want to pass anything that is going a little slower than them... Fingers crossed we make it!
Eating lunch at El Porton... Not much of an idea what the waitress is saying but I think we ordered some steak, seafood rice and a pizza!
Update: awesome lunch! Best meal so far!!
This morning after Mitsuyo made friends with the alpaca we took a flight over Nazca lines. Then we went to Chauchilla cemetery, where we saw some mummies of people who died about 2,000 years ago.
Mitsuyo makes friends with an alpaca!
6 February 2016
Dinner at Norky's. Rotisserie chicken, Peruvian style!
Sandboarding in Huacachina on the way to Nazca!
Time to leave....
Breakfast at Paracas in Peru... Great way to begin Day Two.
5 February 2016
Day One, part three
It took four hours to get to Paracas, passing through a Mars-like sand dune landscape.
Lots of shanty houses and half finished places. Amazing to think that people live in there but I guess they do... GDP per capita in Peru is about $12k. Lots of have-nots and a few haves.
Checked into the hotel for the night. Very nice place by the beach. More of a resort than a hotel, Hilton Double Tree...
Day One, part two.
After hanging out in Historic Lima we have ourselves just under a hour to jump in a taxi and get back to the bus station... Well, we found a cab quick enough but the traffic in Lima is so insanely congested that we only got back at 12.55pm. If it weren't for our incredible taxi driver, it would have taken much longer. He basically drove bumper to bumper at slow and fast speeds the whole way there. We wanted to thank him more but he didn't speak any English and my Spanish is limited to fifty words pronounced badly...
This is how they buried the dead at the Basilica a few hundred years back....
Day One Finished!
Arrived in Lima at 7am. Pretty straight forward getting through customs and immigration. By 8am I had organized us a ride on a shuttle bus to the Cruz Del Sur bus station. What I didn't realize though was that it was not a direct shuttle to the bus station. It ended up going past two out of the way hotels first. As a result it took use about 1.5hours to get to the bus station!
We checked our luggage in for our 1pm trip to Paracas later in the day then decided to get a taxi to go see some of the local sights in Central Lima, a UNESCO listed World Heritage area.