CUSCO, FINAL PICS
After 2.5 weeks in Cusco it was time to leave unfortunately. Cusco is an incredible city that i think appeals to most travellers in one way or another. Its not too congested, awesome architecture, great outdoor activities close by, incredible food options and great views around the place.
The only slightly annoying thing is being propositioned by masseuses and restaurant menus every 10m while walking around. But i'll cop that gladly. Anyway a few snaps here:
13 September 2016
WORKAWAY p4, CUSCO
Decided i'd give some insight into the cooking process here. I guess it looks very similar to in a normal kitchen, just takes far longer. And to be honest it's quite fun starting the fire (pyro) and boiling the water etc, and i picked my own carrots from the garden which was sick, and parsley and onions as well. So there was a lot of satisfaction that came out of the experience, and if it weren't for the dogs constantly testing me, and if i had more water close by to use, then i'd find it a genuinely enjoyable process.
Plus it's not like there are any distractions and pressures arund here at night, so you can easily spend 2 hrs cooking a meal without worrying about it.
A nd how was the calibre of the meal you ask? Well, it was a bit meh to be honest. Carrot, onions and tuna in tomato sauce on pasta. Not lighting the world on fire, but the local stores dont have a great veggie selection. I'm gonna fancy it up tonight with some chile sauce, fresh tomatoes and avo!
12 September 2016
WORKAWAY P3, CUSCO
So what am i doing here? Building lavish digs for wesry travellers? A classroom to give english classes to local kids? U wish. Im doing backbreaking labour to build a doggy mansion. A proper toilet just isnt high on the priority list i guess. Haha.
But its still interesting, and after we moved all those piles of rubble on day 1 it was time to start building the walls - that was far more satisfying and not nearly as hard.
I am getting a greater appreciation that i dont have to be a labourer, and have access to warm water, and have condiments and foods and utensils that make kitchen life easy. So they're all big plus's in my book from this experience.
11 September 2016
WORKAWAY P2, CUSCO
While the accommodation isnt 5 star, the location is. Smack bang in the Andes is this little town, and Luis house is on top a little hill at the foot of a couple of huge mountains. It really makes you feel very small looking around the property i have to say. But so relaxing and inspiring this kind of scenery - its incredible. And as i get used to the freezing river baths, and 2hr cooking missions on the wood stove, i'm starting to feel more and more comfortable here.
But don't get me wrong, i'm definitely glad i decided to only stay a week - i dont know if i have more in me 😬 haha and my 'camp meals' have something to be desired.
WORKAWAY P1, CUSCO
I've been talking about it for ages, and finally here i am, at my first workaway. It's in a town called Ttio about 1.5hr outside Cusco. I'm helping a guy named Luis renovate the property he inherited from his grandfather. He has some big plans to turn the place into a hostel / farm in the future. Fair to say he's made some good progress in a yr, but still has a ways to go.
My first impressions of the place were a bit of s shock, even while i was prepared for some simple accommodation. There's not much water, bathroom is a hole in the ground, no shower, and a wood fired stove. Plus four dogs that love to get in the way and steal your meal the second you look away.
Its just me and Luis here, and here's a very quiet type, that doesnt start many convos. So haven't snuck in much spanish study unfortunately. Our first day of work was toughhh, we basically relocated ruble for 7hrs - farrrk my back! But because we're doing 7hr days we get every other day free. Sweetness
10 September 2016
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN P3
Well i thought i'd captured rainbow mountain funness, but forgot about all the photos on Ashlee's phone. So here's an assorted mix of me and Ash from the day. Some awkward jumps, matching shirts, awkward poses - you name it, it happened.
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN, P2
Once we arrived as far as we could go by van we piled out and began our short walk. The views were insane. The first rainbow mountain we saw was pretty good, but the ones later on that we lunched at were phenomenal, especially with a little glacier mountain action in the background as well.
We also came across a pretty ridiculous wall which apparently is a natural geographical formation, although i think our guide was talking about theories of extraterrestrial influence or something like that..i may hav lost concentration for a little while.
Anyway awesome tour, well worth it and glad we did the lazy version (plenty of time to hike in patagonia ay).
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN, P1
We managed to do one activity for the first week in Cusco, which was Rainbow Mountain. There were two options here - a 3am start and 4hr hike up to the mountain, or a 7am start and drive most of the way and walk 45mins up the mountain. No prizes for guessing what we did.
The drive up was awesome - we saw an ancient Inkan bridge, and started to get a glimpse of the widely bariable colored mountains as we got closer and closer to our destination. Mud bricks drying and llamas were also on offer.
6 September 2016
CUSCO CHURCHES AND OTHER
Cusco has its fair share of churches and you get the distinct impression the Spanish invaders were verrry keen to encourage the adoption if their religion. And boy are they impressive. The amount of construction that went into Cusco is incredible - all the streets are paved with stone, walls throughout the city are large, sometimes with huge stones that you can't imagine how they got them up there, and the churches are plentiful and intricate.
Makes for some pretty nice walking around i tells ya.
5 September 2016
well this item deserves its own post. Cusco food options are varied and awesome. Admittedly we haven't sampled that much during a week, as we have had breakfast included at each hostel, and normañly we make our own lunch, but from what we have had its been 10.
The highlights include:
Nonna Trattoria - pizza
Green Point x 3 - vegan food, incl veg lasagna, korma, stir fry, zucchini pasta, and set lunch
Mr Soup x2 - my first goulash, what a ad hungarian hey, but wowee this was good. Plus Udon, and Thai chicken.
Kebab - this was our first breakout meal after our strict diet; we felt worse for wear afterwards, probably into the deep end too soon.
4 September 2016
From Iquitos we took a plane to Lima, spent a night with Dad and Julie's friends Pedro and Ada (super nice and looked after us very well), then boarded a 22hr bus to Cusco.
Ahh Cusco! What a town. It's been 6.5 years since i was hear last and fair to say i remembered very little of it; and i certainly didnt remeber how huge it was - it sprawls rights across the mountains, somewhat similar to La Paz in Bolivia (not as big though).
We also managed to get an awesome deal on an apartment here, normally $90US a night we snapped it up for $30US a night for 3 nights. Talk about ccomfort. And i have to say we didnt do much with our first few days in Cusco - just chilled indoors until the evenings when we'd sample some of the awesome restaurants on offer here. One ofthe biggest concentrations of good food in all Latin America its fair to say.
The other thing on offer is a mountain of stone paved narrow streets. I'm a fan. Could easily kill a month here if we had the time.
28 August 2016
DAS CENTRE, IQUITOS
After some Amazonas we were off to a retreat for 4 nights about an hr out of Iquitos. We had to walk about 30mins along a jungle path to the retreat as it was pretty remote. But the place was beautiful and relaxing and full of nature.
We ate a diet of basically raw or partly steamed veggies, had a huge water tub beside the toilet to flush ourselves, bathed in the creek and just relaxed around the facilities between our plant medicine ceremonies. It was an experience like no other.
We also got to see a bunch of toucans in the wild playing in the trees near us while we bathed in the stream. That was pretty incredible. Loved our time here with Percy and Roberto and neither of us really wanted to go back to the real world. Plus ive never eaten such a strict diet before and i actually noticed a big difference from it - even though i was hungry about 95% of the time.
27 August 2016
LAS AMAZONAS, IQUITOS
We couldn't visit Iquitos without paying a visit to the Amazonas while we were there now could we. So we signed on with Amazon Camp tours as recommended to us by our hostel and ventured out on a day trip. We didn't reslly know what to expect from the tour - i was expecting a little jungle and natural wildlife spotting, but as it turned out we really visited a couple of 'sanctuaries'. On the plus side: we saw all the cool animals and especially got up close and personal with sloths! On the down side: they were pretty depressing 'sanctuaries' and the animals didnt have much space to work with. So that was bit of a downer. But sloths, they're incredible. Apparently their food source is a natural drug to them which contributes to their dopiness. So they're like actually the original stoners you could say. And i do say.
Oh and to finish the day we visited an Amazonian tribe - but that too was fairly depressing as they very much did not want to be there!
26 August 2016
After several low key days in Huaraz after our trek it was time to hit the road again. We took an overnight bus to Lima and then a flight later that day to Iquitos in the nth east corner of Peru. The other option was a cargo boat for 3-5days along the amazon to get there, so flying was an easy choice really, and only US$100 return so not bad.
Iquitos town actually surprised me with how big and busy it was. Its actually an island town, and is completely inundated with mototaxis everywhere which took me right back to Sth East Asia.
We stayed at a great hostal called Posada Allpahuayo run by a lovely couple Yoli and Victor. The town itself had some nice things here and there but a little bit hectic when we thought we were heading into calm tranquil jungle lands. But we had 3 nights to chill here before we went into proper jungle accom.
20 August 2016
SANTA CRUZ DAY 4, PART 2
The last photos from day 4 including the ridiculously large meal we got at the owners dad's house after we got back to huaraz, along with a couple of pisco sours.
A great way to finish off an incredible hike. So much great scenery on every day of it. I would highly recommend the trek and company we did it with to anyone heading that way.
SANTA CRUZ DAY 4, PART 1
Day 4 began like the rest - 6am wake up, coca tea, breakfast, freezing morning, and big moon still in the sky. Oh, and a hopeful visit to the toilet tent to releive some weight for the day.
Day 4 was all about downhill - not super steep at any points really, but consistently getting lower, and for the half day going down about 1km or so (i think).
So there was a more significant climate change, breathing got easier, it got hotter and the scenery became more green, more trees, and more water/rivers which were beautiful.
19 August 2016
SANTA CRUZ DAY 3, PART 4
The scenery continued to boggle our minds in all kinds of good in the final leg of the day.
We went through patches that looked like desert, areas with ponds (with a cow neck deep eating the planty stuff off the top of the water), little streams and rivers and finally areas with heaps of boulders and rubble that had obviously rolled down the mountains.
We reached camp around 4pm, after 8 hrs of walking, and although it was largely flat all day i probably felt the modt wrecked this evening. Three days of walking and altitude was starting to take a toll on the energy levels. Lucky (and unfortanately) there was only a half day left to do.
We were treated to another incredible night of moonlight, lighting up the entire landscape (even though we were all in bed close to when the moon came out). Pretty much didnt need a head lamp for a middle of the night piss 😊
SANTA CRUZ DAY 3, PART 3
Shortly after lunch we were at another incredible laguna with turquoise waters.
Amazing the chnage in water colour from the blue glacial laguna we were at earlier in the day to this one.
It was pretty hot at this point as our trek was gradually taking us lower in altitude and the sun was beaming directly down on us. We had a short break by the laguna and then continued on for the final stretch before reaching camp.
SANTA CRUZ DAY 3, PART 2
After our 3hr side trip to the laguna we were back on the road to our next campsite.
This section took us along an eering feeling track of flat sand between huge cliff faces on either side. We stopped for lunch in some shade and then continued on a little further before getting to another beautiful laguna.
18 August 2016
SANTA CRUZ DAY 3, PART 1
Another early start at 6am for day 3, which isnt bad cos you're sleeping in a tent in the cold so its not like sleeping in is a real chance. But wowee it was freezing waiting until we got started.
Day 3 had the option of visiting another lake which is a 3hr additional trip to the direct path to camp. But it was so worth it. The walk there took us into a valley where the views front and back the whole way were incredible.
Then when we made the short climb to the lake we were blown away by the most pristine bright blue, glacier surrounded lake ive ever seen (not that ive seen many). Such a peaceful place to sit and stare for a while. Although the day ended up being really long it was unforgettable.
SANTA CRUZ DAY2, PART 3
We arrived into camp on day 2 around 3pm, which made it a around 7hrs all up including lunch. And boy were we spent. Although yet again the views kept the spirits at an all time high.
Throughout the walk to camp after Punta Union, everytime we turned our heads back we were greeted with such an amazing view of the mountains we'd just passed through. And most of the camp photos here reflect that. But it really was a 360 degree incredible view here.
Also from this camp site we could see the back of the mountain Paramount Pictures uses in its logo, which from the other side is meant to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Unfortunately we didnt pass by the front on this hike, but it was still impressive.
Deep fried cheese sticks and guac were friggin delicious after the days activity. Camp here was at 4,200m and considerable colder when the sun went down.
SANTA CRUZ DAY 2, PART 2
After hitting the Punta Union pass it was all smooth sailing from there (notwithstanding the difficulty of descents on the knees).
We took our awkward but happy snaps from the top, then went down a bit for a stellar view of a crystal blue lagon below the snow capped mountains. We also had lunch here, which was pretty cold with the arctic breeze blowing up there.
There were no shortage of photos taken here; took me ages to try and cull them down. After lunch we were back on the trail making our way towards camp for the night.
SANTA CRUZ DAY 2, PART 1
Everyone was in bed by 9pm on night one; feeling tired and cold there's only so long you can stay up in the wilderness. Fact. and we were woken at 6am by our guide giving us hot tea and warm water to wash our faces - not the worst way to wake up.
After breakfast we were on the road by 7.45am and prepared for the big day ahead. Day 2 had been built up us the toughie - about 8hrs walking and passing theough the highest point of the trek (punta union, st 4750m altitude).
The photos here capture the views of on the way to the Punta Union pass, with incredible glacier capped mountains staring us in the face the whole way. It was a tough and long ascent but pretty reasonable. The last photo looks like its from an 'awkward family photos' album, especially with my grandpa knit on. But that's a first look at the view to the other side of the pass (more to come 😊)
17 August 2016
SANTA CRUZ TREK DAY 1
Once we arrived to Vaqueria we had lunch while they loaded the donkies with all the gear before setting off around midday.
We had been told several times that day 1 was an easy flat day for only a few hrs. Yeah right. Maybe on average it was flat, but there was enough steep down (real bad on Ash's knees) and up to make us wonder what the next days would be like if this was the easy one. I think the first bit of hiking we done at 3700m (since cotopaxi ecuador anyway) was also taking its toll
We only walked around 3hrs this day before getting to camp. I think everyone turned up more tired than expected after this. But camp was already set up for us so we cleaned up and relaxed into the scenery and yet more snow capped mountains.
Food was great from our cook throughout the trip. After dinner it didnt take long for everyone to head to bed and try getting warm in the tents. We wore most of our clothes in the sleeping bag which made the westher quite bearable.
SANTA CRUZ TREK - TRANSIT
Our focus for Huaraz activity was the 4 day/3 night Santa Cruz trek. After some serious company scoping we landed on Eco Ice Peru, which while twice as expensive as the cheapest company (still only $240US) had nothing but excellent reviews onlines. So we signed up with Orlando and set off at 5.30am Wednesday morning.
Greeted in the van by two girls from Orlando California and a couple from Netherlands - all of who turned out to be great value so had a blast with them.
Took around 3 hrs in the van to get to the starting point of Vaqueria, including a breakfast stop, a brief stop at laguna llanganuco (the ridick blue lake in the photos), and another lookout point as we climbed the mountains showing lakes and ice capped mountains.
We started feeling pretty excited by this point.
16 August 2016
WILKACOCHA, HUARAZ PERU
The attraction of Huaraz, at least for tourists, is the amazing hiking on offer near the town.
We had our sights set on the 4 day / 3 night santa cruz trek, but before we got ahead of ourselves we thought we should nail an acclimatisation hike. We thought this was especially inportant considering how battered we both felt by the altitude just in Huaraz - super lethargic, not great sleeping, and the dtairs to breakfast left us pantong, hard.
So the day before santa cruz we did a half day hike to nearby Laguna Wilkacocha, which took 2hrs up and an hr down, but a lot steeper than i expected. In the end we probably did a bit of a disservice for santa cruz cos we were buggered next day, but the views were deeelightful. So glad we did it. Super hot with the high altitude sun also.
And some angry lady yelled at us at the top, i think she wanted money for something or other, but she saw our confusion and walked off. Win!
12 August 2016
After around 7 weeks in ecuador, including galapagos and a side jaunt to LA/Vegas it was finally time to depart for Peru. So we (Well 'I') got a fix of maccas (first for ecuador so had to try it) and boarded a bus. And a nice bus at that; gone are the cramped minivans of central and now we're in the land of 160 degree reclinable double decker buses.
It was a 22hr journey from guayaquil to the town of Chimbote, incl 2hrs at the rather chaotic peruvian border crossing, and from there we only waited half an hr before getting the next 5hr bus to Huaraz at a pleasant 3.1km above sea level.
Our lunch stop on the way up provides the first glimpse at the quality of views we were in store for. And once checked into our hostal El Jacal we were greeted with a ridonkulous sunset. Every direction you look in this town has great mountain views, but the view from top floor of the hostal is quite incredible of the snow capped mountains. Great place to breakfast each morning.