Loading...
Start a new Travel Blog! Blogabond Home Maps People Photos My Stuff

Peru 2010

a travel blog by bhkann


Sandwiched in between my summer research job and the start of year two at Sinai, I take off for a few weeks to trek around Peru with Joe and Martin.
view all 21 photos for this trip


Show Oldest First
Show Newest First

¡HOLA!

Cuzco, Peru


Hello there,

This is the first entry of the trip, though it has been a few days since we arrived here in South America. Joe and I landed in Lima, Peru late on Thursday night, pretty beat. We had taken SpiritAir, which left something to be desired. Let´s just say I had to basically sit cross-legged in order to not be constantly kicking the person´s seat in front of me. Guess that´s the price you pay for such cheap international tickets. Can´t really complain all in all. We took a taxi through some very shady parts of town to our hostel in Miraflores, one of the "upscale" neighborhoods in Lima. We checked into our hostel and got some food at a local eatery. Decided to play it safe tonight and got a grilled cheese sandwich and some corn'bread.

The next morning we woke up early and got a taxi back to the airport to fly to Cuzco. It´s kind of a bummer we didnt get to spend any real time in Lima. It seems like a bustling city with a bunch of things to do. But we´re on a tight time frame and Peru just has to much to offer to stick around.

We decided to fly into Cuzco (a nice 1hr flight as opposed to the 20+ hr bus ride!!), and arrived late morning. I was struck with how dry, clean, a crisp the air was, until we actually started walking around the city...where buses constantly spew unfiltered smog onto the sidewalks. Overall, Cuzco is really a pretty city.

Lots of interesting colonial architecture and some great Inca ruins, which we will check out today. Yesterday, we checked into our hostel, which is great, took a quick nap, and started exploring. The elevation here is HIGH, over 3,000m, so it definitely gives you a bit of a light headed feeling when you´re walking around. I think Joe is having an easier time adjusting than I am, but hopefully after a couple days things will stabilize before our trek.

The high elevation and thin air here makes for some extreme climate changes during the day. The sun is very strong, and when in it, it feels like the temp is mid-70s to 80s. But when you step out into the shday the temp drops a good 15 degrees. At night, we´re talking Northeast winter temps that hover in 30s. Good thing I brought a winter hat (also bought some 2 dollar gloves at a market). We explored the Plaza de Armas, the center of town that has some old cathedrals and monuments (pics to be posted later).

Today we´re going to check out some big ruins on the outskirts of town and then go to an orientation for our trek tomorrow.

We are taking a 5 day/4 night trek up the mountain, Salcantay. It is supposed to be an amazing and challenging hike. The hike then leads us to Macchu Pichu. I will be sure to post more about that later. Anyways, time to head out into town, hope all is well with everyone, and I´ll try to post some pics before we head off for our trek tonight!

Adios!

Side note: Sitting in this internet cafe I´ve confirm my suspicions that people just about all over the world people are completely obsessed with Michael Jackson, moreso than in the US. Right now I´m listening to a spanish'dubbed version of "You are not Alone," and last night at dinner, the entire time they were playing jazzed-up versions of MJ. Pretty funny. I actually haven´t heard any music hear yet that isn´t American, although after having traveled to other places around the world I´m really not that surprised. No matter what happens to the U.S. economy at least we´ll always have Lady Gaga and Jonas Brothers.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 7, 2010 from Cuzco, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
Send a Compliment

Trekking in the Andes - Salkantay: Day 1

Mollepata, Peru


Day 1:
5am - I've been up for about an hour, having had a little more than 3hrs of sleep. We take a taxi and wait to board the bus to our trek's starting point. It's eerily silent outside except for stray drunken tourists and the faint sound of a disco still going strong. We board the bus and take off. Driving up and down winding mountain roads with cliffs on either side. We pass by a few small satelite towns and I notice a soccer match going on well before dawn. It is still very dark, though from beyond the mountains you can begin to see a rim of blue light that is slowly rising. It is cold. Glad that I bought those 2 dollar mittens from the market yesterday.

There's some delay going on with the bus and the guides are arguing about a taxi or something. The sun is now starting to rise, but unfortunately our view is obstructed by the gas station we are stuck at.

We jolt forward. That's better. The scenery looks gorgeous now with a little sunlight. There are towering snow-capped mountains appearing off in the distance. Maybe that's where we're going.

10pm: Sitting in our tent now after a long day of hiking. Around 8 hours of it. We started off with a nice breakfast in a mountain town called Mollepata and then continued by truck to the start of our trail. The truck ride was crazy - we were loaded on the back of the pickup and it rocked up and down a cliff side dirt road for about 30 min. Once we almost hit a pack of donkeys, and about 10 minutes later almost hit another truck full of donkeys barreling down the same single track road. Yikes. Then we started the hike. Today was mostly a flat hike day, and we are told tomorrow is by far the toughest - basically all uphill for 9 hours! The scenery was gorgeous, we hiked alongside a mountain that overlooked a giant valley/canyon with a stream running underneath it. Off in the distance we began to see the snowcaps. It was warm and very sunny throughout the day. We stopped for lunch and had a great 3 course meal prepared by our tour's cook. Then we continued on and finally turned a corner and saw the might Salkantay in the distance.

Salkantay means "Savage Mountain" in the indigenous language because on the opposite side it leads down into the jungle. The Salkantay route has been used for hundreds of years as a way to transport goods from mountain town to town. It stretches about 60km (around 40miles) from end to end, the highlight of which is the ascent to Salkantay pass at around 15,000ft, which passes right by the peak of the mountain.

Happy to report that I feel completely acclimatized at this point. We finally reached basecamp #1 as the sun began to shy away and the temps dropped. We have a tent that was set up by our porters, which is pretty nice if a bit snug. We've got a happy hour in a few minutes with tea and popcorn, and then dinner a bit later. Tomorrow we start at 5am for the long ascent up to Salcantay pass.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 8, 2010 from Mollepata, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
Send a Compliment

Salkantay - Day 2: The Ascent

Mollepata, Peru


Last night was interesting. It became frigidly cold, even with sleeping and a full set of clothing on. To catch any more than an hour or two of consecutive sleep without waking up shivering or uncofortable was an accomplishment. I think I ended up taking a series of 5 power naps throughout the night, which would have to be sufficient.

5am wake up - to coca tea served at our tent. Very nice. We braved the cold and wind and made our way to the breakfast tent. After a nice breakfast of eggs and toast we set off for the most difficult part of our trek - the ascent to Salkantay pass. For the next 3-4hrs the hike was basically all uphill, but the scenery was still gorgeous.

Our group consists of 8 people - a group of 4 Brits and a couple from Canada - everyone in their 20s. Our guide taught us how to chew Coca leaves to help with altitude sickness and give us energy. We were hiking through a rocky valley, and on our way up we passed a lake. Finally we reached Salkantay pass - at 4700m (over 15,000ft). This is as far up as we'd go. Our guide said noone had ever reached the summit of Salkantay - one Japanese man had tried years ago and died. The views were breathtaking and we took some group photos. Then we continued on - the next part of the treak would be all flat or downhill. We started descending through a rocky canyon between large mountains, and after a lunch, we continued down into the tropical cloud forest. The change in climate, from snowcap mountains, to rocky grassland, to lush tropical forest was amazing - and the transition occurred within only an hour or two.
We continued on until reaching our campsite for the night. We are at lower altitudes now here in the forest - so thankfully the temperatures are much milder. This should hopefully make for a better night of sleep. Also I've never seen such an amazing look at the stars in the night sky - literally thousands crystal clear. That's all for now. Goodnight.

Note about pictures: I´m still trying to find a fast internet connection that will let me upload pictures to the blog without taking forrrrrever. Hopefully I´ll find one by tomorrow. Until then, I´ll just be posting text...


permalink written by  bhkann on August 9, 2010 from Mollepata, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
Send a Compliment

Salkantay - Day 3: Jungle walking

Aguas Calientes, Peru


We woke up sore, cold, and filthy on the third day of our trek. Today would be a relatively easy day with 6 hours of hiking through up and down terrain on a horsepath. We were now firmly in the tropical forest, which means the conditions become hot, muggy, and mosquito infested. It is fascinating to experience the drastic changes in climate in only a few days, and I feel like Peru is one of the few places that can offer such and quick transition.

Today's trek followed a path alongside the base of mountains and a river. We crossed many bridges and even a few waterfalls. We got a chance to see some interesting wildlife too - different kinds of birds and insects, plus a Lizard and some ferret-like thing. We passed by a passionfruit grove and the fruit-pickers dropped us fresh passionfruits from the trees above. Very tasty. We finally reached our destination in the village of Lucacamba. Since the Salkantay route has increased in popularity (over the last 5-10 yrs) villagers along the route have set up kiosks catering to trekkers needs like water, Gatorade, and candy. At our campsite at Lucacamba, they also had a bathroom with shower! I've never appreciated soap and water! Another nice thing about this campsite was that there was an actual toilet. For the past two nights our toilets consisted of holes dug in the ground with a small privacy tent surrounding them. Let's just say late night trips to the great dung hole in 20 degree weather were not so fun! After taking the best cold water shower I've ever taken, we capped off the night with a great meal prepared by the tour's cook and a few beers.

For the first time it was a pleasant night out weather-wise, due to being at a relatively low altitude and I finally got a decent night of sleep.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 10, 2010 from Aguas Calientes, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
Send a Compliment

Machu Picchu!

Aguas Calientes, Peru


The 4th day of our trek had us traveling by bus to a hot Spring in Santa Teresa and swimming there for a few hours, we then made our way to the town of Aguas Calientes which serves basically as a tourist gateway to Machu Picchu. There really wasn't much trekking on that day, but that was fine by us. Our knees and calves were still sore from the days before, and we could use a break before the granddaddy of all ancient Inca sites.

Machu Picchu is really breathtaking. One of those places that lives up to all the hype. It is easy to see why it is packed with tourists every day. There is such demand to see it, that the Peruvian government sets a limit of 2000 visitors each day - slots that are pretty much sold out throughout the year.

We woke up at 4am again, yay, and caught a bus that took us up to the Mountain on which MP sits. We walked up the rest of the way by dirt path and finally reached the top. The site itself is massive, but it is really its surroundings that make it so awe-inspiring and memorable. Cue the pictures...
Another nice thing about MP is that there is are relatively few guard rails or roped-off sections. You can kind of explore freely and there is no set path. We spent a little over 5 hours there and then headed back to Aguas Calientes to catch our train to Cuzco, and then night bus to Arequipa.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 12, 2010 from Aguas Calientes, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
tagged Peru and MachuPicchu

Send a Compliment

Arequipa

Arequipa, Peru


The night bus to Arequipa was surprisingly comfortable and I got decent sleep (only woke up a few times when the bus took particularly sharp turns along the [[United-States/Mountainside]] roads). Martin had joined us in Cuzco and was pretty beat in Arequipa after multiple flights from BA plus the overnight bus. We arrived around 6am and found out that we couldn't check into our hostel until noon. We groggily stumbled around the city for a few hours, got some breakfast and went to a museum where "Juanita" the famous "ice mummy" was housed. The incas occasionally sacrificed children to the Mountain gods, and explorers had uncovered some of the bodies that had been preserved in thick ice up in the Mountains for hundreds of years. Pretty interesting exhibit aside from us being very tired.

We then walked around the main plaza and stopped for a drink by a cafe. We were sitting there enjoying ourselves when a few locals began hassling the waiter for a table, a few minutes passed and next thing we knew Martin's backpack was gone. Stolen right in front of us! I had read about this type of distraction theft but didn't think it would happen at noon in broad daylight. Luckily, Martin had all his important documents and wallet in his pockets so only lost some clothing and a few other things. Some crazy welcome for him to Peru though...

We checked into our hostel and then went out to explore the city again - this time extra careful with our belongings. We visited some markets, got lunch, and planned our excursion to Colca Canyon for the next day. Arequipa celebrates the day it was founded on August 15th every year - perfect timing for us. We hope to catch some of the festivities when we return to the city on the 15th - but we will tomorrow day and night in the canyon.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 14, 2010 from Arequipa, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
tagged Peru and Arequipa

Send a Compliment

Arequipa

Arequipa, Peru


The night bus to Arequipa was surprisingly comfortable and I got decent sleep (only woke up a few times when the bus took particularly sharp turns along the [[United-States/Mountainside]] roads). Martin had joined us in Cuzco and was pretty beat in Arequipa after multiple flights from BA plus the overnight bus. We arrived around 6am and found out that we couldn't check into our hostel until noon. We groggily stumbled around the city for a few hours, got some breakfast and went to a museum where "Juanita" the famous "ice mummy" was housed. The incas occasionally sacrificed children to the Mountain gods, and explorers had uncovered some of the bodies that had been preserved in thick ice up in the Mountains for hundreds of years. Pretty interesting exhibit aside from us being very tired.

We then walked around the main plaza and stopped for a drink by a cafe. We were sitting there enjoying ourselves when a few locals began hassling the waiter for a table, a few minutes passed and next thing we knew Martin's backpack was gone. Stolen right in front of us! I had read about this type of distraction theft but didn't think it would happen at noon in broad daylight. Luckily, Martin had all his important documents and wallet in his pockets so only lost some clothing and a few other things. Some crazy welcome for him to Peru though...

We checked into our hostel and then went out to explore the city again - this time extra careful with our belongings. We visited some markets, got lunch, and planned our excursion to Colca Canyon for the next day. Arequipa celebrates the day it was founded on August 15th every year - perfect timing for us. We hope to catch some of the festivities when we return to the city on the 15th - but we will tomorrow day and night in the canyon.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 14, 2010 from Arequipa, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
Send a Compliment

Colca Canyon

Chivay, Peru


It's big. The deepest canyon in the world (arguably it's neighbor a few Miles away is bigger). Due to our limited time, we decided to take a bus tour of the canyon instead of a trek on foot. This proved to be a mistake, but there was little we could do about it. We spent the majority of our time on a bus - but when we did get out to see the canyon, it was awesome! The canyon is also known for the giant condors that live there. We stopped at the peak of the canyon to see them. They are very rarely spotted outside of the canyon (although we saw two on our Salkantay trek) and they are really impressive to see. The swoop around with 10ft wingspans at the very top of the canyon. Cool. We then got back in the bus, and are now headed back to Arequipa for one last night before Joe heads back to Boston. Martin and I have booked for tomorrow a trip to Lake Titicaca, which is the highest navigable lake in the world, and the largest in South America. Largest this, deepest that...its starting to feel like a trip of superlatives and extremes - kind of like Peru in general.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 15, 2010 from Chivay, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
tagged Colca, Canyon, Condors and Peru

Send a Compliment

PICTURES

Arequipa, Peru


NOTE ABOUT PICTURES:

I haven't had enough time to upload pictures here, so instead have been putting them all in a Picasa album here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/BHKann/BKPeruSummer2010#

AND here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/BHKann/BK2010#

permalink written by  bhkann on August 16, 2010 from Arequipa, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
Send a Compliment

Puno and Lake Titicaca

Puno, Peru


We had a great meal last night in Arequipa and a few Pisco Sours, and woke up early this morning to catch a bus to Puno - which is a city by lake Titicaca. Joe left Martin and me for the U.S., and we arrived at the crazy bus terminal around 7:30am. The bus ride was interesting and included locals getting on and off to sell food along with a Jehovah's Witness who preached to us for 20 minutes or so and then tried to get us to buy wafer cookies. Awkward. We arrived to Puno in the afternoon, and walked around a bit. It is a nice, bustling town with a good number of tourists. It's also the highest city we've stayed at - over 3800meters - so we're feeling a little short of breath again. We got some food, visited a local market, and then went back to our hotel. Exhausted from the early mornings and traveling, we passed out before 7 and slept for almost 12hrs!

This morning we hopped a taxi to the docks for our tour of the islands of Titicaca. As I mentioned before Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and largest in South America. It sits on the Peruvian/Bolivian border, though we will only be visiting the Peruvian side. It is also believed to be the sport where the Incas originated - specifcally on one island on the Bolivian side of the lake.

Our first stop was at these amazing man-made floating islands made solely out of reeds. The about 2,000 Uros people have lived on these islands for thousands of years and literally make everything out of reeds by hand - huts, boats, furniture, and like I said, even the islands themselves! It was a really crazy feeling walking around the squishy, forgiving reed - ground - it was kind of like a giant haystack. We walked around the islands and took a reed-boat to another. Martin opted for a half day tour to get on a nicer bus back to Arequipa.

On my own now, I'm continuing on to the island of Taquile which is another 2.5 hrs from the floating islands. There are two main indigenous cultures that inhabit this area of Peru - the Aymara and Quechua - each with different languages. These are pre-Inca cultures that have retained their traditions for thousands of years. Taquile is primarily a Quechua island, and about 6,000 people live there. They have their own sets of laws, and are isolated from the rest of Peru. The town square is situated at the top of the island as requires about a 25minute hike up, which is no fun at this altitude. The top of the island has fantastic views of the surrounding lake and mountain ranges in Bolivia. I decided to skip lunch (well I had no money) and ate a tangerine, banana, and Snickers I had brought along the way. I'm perched up on top of a cliff overlooking the lake now, and the view is spectacular. The lake is very peaceful and quiet. After this stop, we get back on the boat and head back to Puno.

Tomorrow morning I head back to Lima for one more day, and then it's back to the U.S.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 17, 2010 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
Send a Compliment

Viewing 1 - 10 of 11 Entries
first | previous | next | last

View as Map View as Satellite Imagery View as Map with Satellite Imagery Show/Hide Info Labels Zoom Out Zoom In Zoom Out Zoom In
find city:
trip feed
author feed
trip kml
author kml

   

Blogabond v2.40.58.80 © 2018 Expat Software Consulting Services about : press : rss : privacy