Peru · 31 Days · 26 Moments · August 2016

Ashlee Arnold

Ashlee's voyage in Peru

13 September 2016

Montaña Machu Picchu After my guided tour I found my way to the entrance of the Montaña Machu Picchu hike & after signing in, I was off. Stairs, stairs & more stairs! Not long into the climb a lovely girl who was almost down gave me her bamboo walking stick. This will be the savior of my knees for the walk down. As I climbed the ruins became smaller & smaller until they were seriously almost a blur in the valley below. It was amazing though at how many more mountain peaks come into view including a number of snow capped mountains. You could also see Hidroelectrica, the bridge & the river that I had hiked alongside yesterday. After snapping heaps of selfies, eating my snacks & sitting to take it all in, I made my way down.
Stalking Llamas at Machu Picchu Before & after my hike I was trying to get some shots of the llamas. Me & every other tourist! They are such weird creatures! I managed to get a pretty sweet selfie & some funny footage.
Machu Picchu Pt 2 The tour was nothing special. Maybe if I had have stayed with the English guide I may have learnt more. The construction was interesting & the history of course, but the 360 degree mountain views blew me away. Nature is amazing, but it just made me wonder even more- what were they thinking!? Why build here? Hod did they even find the place!? I got lost after leaving the tour, making my way out of the maze, trying to backtrack. Apparently it's not allowed! There's only one way out! I finally found my way onto the path to the sungate & the mountain. Up, up & away!
Machu Picchu Pt 1 4:15am - wake up, dress, clean teeth 4:45am - meet others in the plaza & head to the bus 4:50-5:40am - stand in a very long line 5:40am - bus up to MP 6:10am - find the guide & line up to get inside 6:25am - no fruit allowed 6:40am - watch the sunrise 7-8:50am - look at big stones on the guided tour Seeing it all in the flesh for the 1st time as the sun was rising over the mountains was magical!

12 September 2016

The hostel from HELL Aguas Calientes
Aguas Calientes
Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu Pt 2 I had no choice, I was headed to Hidroelectrica in this bus & that was that! We left Cusco just before 3am. It took me a while to realise that Dante was no longer with us. The guy who I thought was our guide had stayed in Cusco. WTF! The driver told me that I would find my guide at Hidroelectrica. I tried to relax. Not long after the sulfur burps began & I needed to go to the toilet. It was a horrendous 3hrs before we stopped. I jumped out while the driver made a prayer in a tiny church. It was 5:30am, freezing & we were at out highest point in the journey. I found a creepy spot behind the church & was amazed to see a snow capped mountain right in front of me. Little did I know that we had made it through the strike checkpoint with no problem. The rest of the drive was a little better simply because my bladder was empty.

11 September 2016

Machu Picchu Pt 1 I booked my budget tour 3 days before heading off on my solo adventure. Tim would be spending a week at a Workaway instead. I was due to be picked up at 7am on Monday. On Sunday night after arriving back to my hostel after dinner I was told that the agency had called & changed the pick up to 3am. There was no explanation, no email, I just had to trust the hostel. At 2:30am I woke up & seconds later the hostel buzzer rang. It was the tour guide. This set the tone for the next 24hrs. I scrambled to get ready in 5 minutes, put my bags in storage & followed Dante to the bus. I wasn't the only one there so my slight fear of getting kidnapped subsided. We picked up the last couple (we were 6 in total) Dante explained something very quickly in Spanish. The Spanish couple translated for me. Apparently all tours to Machu Picchu had been canceled due to a strike in Urubamba & we were the only 6 willing to take the risk. It was all news to me!

10 September 2016

Rainbow Mountain Pt 3
Rainbow Mountain - Twinning
Rainbow Mountain Pt 2
Rainbow Mountain Pt 1

5 September 2016

Cusco Food

27 August 2016

Amazon River Tour Pt 3 Back on the boat & an agonising loud trip further into the Amazon we arrived at our lunch destination. We had a traditional Peruvian lunch and then about 40mins of much needed hammock chill time. Our final destination was close by. After a 20min walk into the jungle & after sounding their doorbell, we came across the Bora Tribe. As part of this tour they show us a little bit of their culture through song & dance & then we're supposed to buy their artisanal products. It was obvious that we were their last group of the day. The women & a teenage boy were especially over it. We joined in on their last dance, then looked at their wares. We brought a bracelet & necklace & were on our way so that they could get back to their lives. All a bit awkward really. On the way back to Iquitos we were awarded with a stunning sunset, the perfect end to a long & exhausting but incredible day. Pic 3 - Ayahuasca vine Pic 4 - Paper tree that sloths eat & drug themselves with
Amazon River Tour Pt 2 Then it was off to an animal rescue farm (or so they say). The entry was crawling with different types of monkeys. We were warned to put our sunnies away as they monkeys would run away with anything not tied down. Here we saw a couple of big cats in pretty small cages. They looked so bored! …understandably. Then this giant prehistoric turtle, so hideous! Then the cool stuff – sloths & toucans. We were able to hold 1 of the toucans for pics but the other toucan was a bit naughty, not fit for human interaction. He spent the whole time trying to get into my backpack. The sloths were by far the best. They are a mixture of creepy & cute & they totally made my day! We chose not to hold the giant anaconda here, who knows when that guy is planning his kill & escape! As we were leaving the rescue centre the smallest monkey decided that it wasn’t time for me to leave. He jumped on me and started biting my arm. Then jumped on me again after being removed by our guide.
Amazon River Tour Pt 1 We arrived at Amazon Camp Agency at 9am & after waiting, taking a short mini van ride & waiting some more we finally got into our lancha & took off at 11am. Most of the others there were doing multi-day tours staying in cabanas deep in the Amazon, but for us 1 day was enough. The boat took us first to a zoo of sorts where we saw & fed all sorts of animals. Carnivorous piranhas, caymans, anacondas, giant paiches (other carnivorous fish) and turtles. The piranhas and the paiches were incredible to watch. The paiches would hover just below the surface and then basically vacuum up the food that you drop down in their giant mouths. They also had various macaws and parrots and lakes with those amazing giant lilypads, not to mention an anaconda in a cage with a small cayman that would be next on the dinner menu. Poor guy! The water level in the wet season is at Tim's head in the 2nd pic!

18 August 2016

Santa Cruz Pt 7 - Camp Taullipampa (4250m) We were again greeted with bowls of warm washing water & tents ready made. For tea time we had homemade melted cheese scrolls with guacamole. So delicious! Our camp was surrounded by cows, bulls & donkeys. The bulls loved hanging out near the toilet tent making any after dark toilet trips a little interesting. We are next to a river again; it's to fall asleep to the sound of natural running water. Dinner was creamy quinoa soup, pasta with a rich tomato salsa & jello for dessert. Being at a much higher altitude & surrounded by snow capped mountains, it was a lot colder at this camp. I scored an extra down blanket for the night & did my hot water bottle trick again. We went to be early, only got up once during the night. 6am & our morning mate de coca came too quickly. I wanted to keep snoozing... Day 3, here we go!
Santa Cruz Pt 6 - Punta Union (3750m) to camp Taullipampa (4250m) Day 2 continues... It's all downhill from here & the views just get better. We also saw Artesonraju, the mountain that the Paramount Pictures logo is based on & also (at some point in time) was known as the most beautiful mountain in the world. Unfortunately we saw only one side of it & not the beautiful, important side. You can see it top left of pics 4 & 6. All up, today was 9km but with the hike over the pass, it took just over 7 hours from camp to camp.
Santa Cruz Pt 5 - Punta Union (4750m) The highest most point on the Santa Cruz trek. You can see Laguna Jatuncocha in the valley in the distance that we'll walk past after lunch on day 3. The lake in pics 2, 6 & 7 is Lago Taullicocha, visible from the western side of Punta Union.

17 August 2016

Santa Cruz Pt 3 - Camp Paria (3870m) The camp was built near a running river, not far from another group. 3 tents for the 6 of us travelers, 1 for our guide and 2 larger tents for cooking & dining. The toilet tent, set away from the others, was built over a hole dug in the ground. After washing away the days dirt, drinking our tea & making up our beds, it was time for dinner. We had a creamy pasta & potato soup, fresh trout with veggies & fruit & yoghurt for dessert. So much food! The temperature dropped considerably after sunset. I decided to take some hot water from the thermos in my water bottle to warm up my feet. I wouldn't have slept otherwise. We went to bed at 10pm & slept most of the night, getting up only once to go to the toilet. We woke just before 6am. I brought all of my frozen clothes into my sleeping bag to warm up before getting dressed. We were greeted first thing with a warm cup of mate de coca & warm water to wash our face. Welcome to day 2!
Santa Cruz Pt 1 - Lagunas Llanganuco & Cordillera Blanca views It's day one of the Santa Cruz trek. 5:30am pick up & a breakfast stop along the way. It was all alfresco dining & it was freezing. It was also BYO toilet paper of course! After breakfast we stopped at the Llanganuco Lagoons on the way to Vaqueria. Crystal clear sparkling blue water. So amazing! We also stopped at a mirador to check out the Cordillera Blanca. The air was sharp, but the views were unbelievable. A taste of what was to come...

16 August 2016

Wilcacocha Hike 3700m The day before our 4 day Santa Cruz trek we did a short acclimatisation hike to Laguna Wilcacocha. Jimmy 'pole dance' picked us up at 7:30am & dropped us to the starting point, about 10mins south of Huaraz. The climb was steeper than expected, but it took us less than 2hrs to the top. The lagoon wasn't anything special, but a short walk up past an old broken house gave us uninterrupted views of the Cordillera Blanca. Incredible! We went early to beat the clouds that usually form on the mountain peaks & it was definitely worth the early start. On the way up we passed many locals washing, building, planting etc. One farmer wanted to trade us 5 Mexican pesos for 5 Peruvian pesos. We gave him 3p & his 5 back. On the way down there was a young boy, about 5, holding a rope across the path asking for payment in galletas (biscuits) or otherwise to allow passage. It took 1hr to walk down & we were back in Huaraz by noon ready for lunch & a nap.

14 August 2016

Huaraz, Peru - 3100m Just some bits & pieces of Huaraz... The surrounding landscape just can't be captured in a picture; Huaraz is such a stunning place! Our hostel has a great hangout/breakfast rooftop terrace that is bathed in sun all day with glorious views of the Cordillera Blanca. You can buy boiled quail eggs from street venders as well as papas rellenas (stuffed potato). The potatoes are a cheap & delicious snack but we are yet to try the eggs. The centre of the town is filled with local artisan clothing & souvenirs. We both bought really nice beanies & jumpers before the Santa Cruz hike. Also there is a brand of tuna here called fanny, which we thought was funny...

13 August 2016

Welcome sunset in Huaraz - 3100m Our first night in Peru started with this incredible sunset. We haven't seen one like it since! El Jacal Guest House has a rooftop terrace which was the perfect spot to watch it. The second pic is also our little private room for the first few nights. After coming directly from sea level straight up to 3000m, we were definitely feeling the effects of altitude & the cold thin air. Dinner was delicious pizza and salad from Mi Comedia Pizzeria. Yum! After a few days of non stop travel, we were happy to fall into bed knowing there were no plans for tomorrow other than breakfast before 10am. Phew!
Chimbote to Huaraz - Peru! The landscape in Peru is like nothing I've ever seen. It's mostly brown, dry, rocks & sand, with the occasional cactus. Mountains & mountains of it. Every now and then there's a section of green with sugar cane, banana trees or some other crop. It looks so out of place though! Despite the long delay at the border, we arrived in Chimbote with half an hour to spare before the 12pm bus direct to Huaraz. We stopped for lunch & I ordered patita con mani - little duck with peanuts from a local restaurant. But it was like duck ceviche! The meat looked & had the texture of raw meat. I only had to have one mouthful... We arrived in Huaraz just after 5:30pm, in record time, compared to the 7hrs that we were expecting. Winning!