A Travellerspoint blog

Doing the Chan Chan

and laying low in Chiclayo

sunny

Once in Trujillo we took a bus to Huanchaco, a village by the sea which we presumed was going to be quiet and basically untouched. However this wasn't the case and we quickly realised that it is a popular spot with surfers from around the world which disappointed us a little bit. Nevertheless we found a hostel with ease, and a deserted beach wasn't our only reason for coming. We also wanted to visit Chan Chan., a vast compound containing the unusually decorated crumbling ruins of the imperial city of the Chimu people who surrendered to the Incas in 1471. Chan Chan is the largest adobe city in the world.
DSC00124

DSC00124

So after some lunch we took a taxi to Chan Chan and were quite surprised by what we found. It is situated down an unsealed track which apparently you shouldn't walk along as there is a high chance of getting mugged. Arriving at the entrance unscathed we saw the 9m high walls which surround the compound and were already intrigued.
DSC00121

DSC00121


The whole place was buzzing with busy, busy people, most of whom were restoring the ruins to their former glory. For this reason it was quite hard to establish what was original and what reconstructed.
DSC00120

DSC00120


Which actually made a nice change as it allowed us to see how things would really have been rather than having to mentally fill in the gaps from the ruins alone.

We followed the little wooden fish markers and firstly came to a massive courtyard where religious festivals would have been held, including sacrifices to the gods. Everything was this warm sandy, yellow which with the heat made you feel like you were in the middle of the desert but this was nicely balanced by sense of the sea being so close by. We enjoyed looking at all the intricate details which were used to decorate walls such as fish, birds and fishing nets.
DSC00119

DSC00119


I think almost all of these must have been reproduced because they were in such good condition. It took almost an hour for us to walk round the imperial city as I tried to translate the Spanish guide we'd been given, I think we got a good sense of how the Chimu people lived.
DSC00122

DSC00122

DSC00123

DSC00123

Back at the entrance there were a few taxi drivers waiting to take people back to Trujillo or Huanchaco. Due to the remote location they decided they could ask for ridiculous fares which we didn't appreciate. Knowing that at the end of the unsealed road we would be able to catch a bus was even more annoying. Thankfully just at that moment two security guards started walking in that direction and after a little convincing from Adam we tagged along behind them. Our own personal armed escort, sort of. No one was going to be robbing us! Back in Huanchaco we relaxed at the hostel for a while before heading out for some dinner. We both had a massive piece of meat off the bbq and felt pretty stuffed by the end, although we still had enough room for an ice cream. A tasty treat before bedtime.

The following morning we decided to move on, conscious now that time was ticking by. Neither of us could face a really long bus trip though so we just moved a little further up the coast to a town called Chiclayo which in hindsight would prove to be a bad decision. We needed to get ourselves to to the town of Tumbes and from there we would cross in to Ecuador. When we arrived in Chiclayo we first found a hotel and then had the lovely job of going to several different bus companies around town to find out if they went to Tumbes. Only one did and we explained to them we wanted to go the following evening. They then said there was no night bus that day, so we booked to go the day after. As it stood we would have two days in Chiclayo.

On the first day we did very little except move hotels to one which gave us better value for money. It was actually really nice, we had a great room and we both enjoyed just lolling about. Chiclayo itself has quite a nice feel about it, the main plaza is pretty but there is not an awful lot to see or do. The next day we were due to leave in the evening which I managed to explain to the hotel staff and they said we could pay half the room rate to keep it for the day. Our bus was due to depart at 9pm so we left the hotel at 8:30pm and walked the short distance to the bus company's offices. As we got close we realised the lights were off, the doors shut and basically it didn't look very open. Just as we got to the building a bus was leaving and it turned out to be the last bus for the next 24 hours. Through a couple of sources we came to understand that there was to be a one or two day strike. We were told to return the following day at midday to find out if our bus would be leaving in the evening. Annoyed at the hold up we returned to the hotel and were given a different, better room. A small silver lining.

The following day was very frustrating as we went along at midday but the office was closed and there seemed to be some kind of meeting going on inside. There was a rabble of taxi drivers outside all trying to offer us rides but it was too expensive and we had paid for our bus ticket and had no way to get our money back. We went back to the hotel and although we were fairly resigned to another night in Chiclayo we still went back later in the day to see if anything had changed, it hadn't. The next morning we went along to the office early and thankfully everything was up and running. We confirmed our seats on the bus for that evening and were pleased that we would finally be on the move again.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 14:54 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Could this be cupboard love..

atleast it's cheaper!

sunny

The next morning we were off to the capital, Lima. A taxi took us back to the panamericana where almost immediately a bus pulled in and we were on our way. We were dropped off at the bus companies terminal which was an annoying thing that continued to happen. The last few places we visited in Peru did not have a main terminal but different company offices dotted about town, this made finding out about times for onward journeys both complicated and expensive. On arriving in Lima we took a taxi to Miraflores which a slightly nicer, safer suburb to the South of the city. For these reason it is more expensive but it is where the majority of hostels are located. After checking a number of places we could not afford we were finally offered single room with no bathroom. It was ridiculously small, like a storage cupboard but the single bed was just about big enough and money wise we didn't really have a choice.

On our first afternoon/evening we had munched down a pizza at an Italian restaurant with good food offers, then headed over to the cinema we'd spotted earlier and ended up watching Sherlock Holmes. Which surprisingly was very enjoyable, even Jude Law put in a decent performance. It was then back to our titchy room for a cosey nights sleep which actually wasn't as bad as we'd anticipated.

The next day we got up and left the room mid morning. We wandered down towards the sea front where it was really nicely developed with a kind of open air shopping centre/restaurant complex.
DSC00115

DSC00115


The food was a bit pricey for us though so we began to walk to another area called Barranco which took us along the Malecon (the road along the sea) and some very posh houses and apartments. This area of Lima was so different from other parts of the country and even the city, the poor/rich divide was more apparent here than anywhere else. In the end Barranco seemed a long way off and our tummies were rumbling so we headed back to the centre of Miraflores through the back streets and found a nice restaurant with a good almuerzo. Once back in the centre we visited a department store not unlike Rackhams or Selfridges and I bought a pair of shorts on sale. We then headed back to the hostel before having to jump into a taxi to a bus companies office to book our ticket to Trujillo a town on the northern coast of Peru, for the next evening. They only had seats available on the bus leaving at 11pm, an executive and therefore expensive bus. We were both annoyed when we left about the amount of money we'd had to part with. Dinner was a trip to the supermarket which in the end wasn't as cheap as we'd hoped it to be. All in all an costly day.

The next day, as we had a lot of hours to kill we didn't leave the hostel until the last minute. Having deposited our bags in the storage cupboard we got a cab in to the centre.
DSC00116

DSC00116


There we had a bit of a walk around and quickly came across a cinema which was playing a comedy we both kind of wanted to see, I asked if it was in English and the girl told me yes. We sat down while the adverts were playing, then the screen suddenly went black and stayed that way for quite some time. Finally after about 20 minutes the film began and it was in Spanish. We managed to get our money back but we were both annoyed, then again at least we'd wasted some time. By now it was lunch time, and we gobbled down another round of chicken chips before doing a spot of shopping. Adam ended up buying two pairs of shorts which were much needed as we were hoping to spend as much time as possible by the coast between now and home.

After our time in the centre we caught a taxi to Barranco where we were hoping to while a way a couple of hours. It was meant to be an area where a number of artists had their workshops and we were hoping to look at some interesting artwork but this didn't happen. The area around the plaza with the library is sweet but the surrounding streets didn't seem like anything special to us. In the end we walked down hill towards the sea and over the main road. Here we watched a number of surfers and kids enjoying the waves. After some time we caught a taxi back to Miraflores where we made a beeline for the cinema. Again there was the comedy we wanted to see and again I asked if it was in English and again I was told yes. Just as we were about to enter screen number 4 there was a power cut and after sitting there for about half an hour we were all told to come back later. We went to get some dinner at the Italian restaurant and returned for the later showing. For the third time that day we sat down in our cinema seats and waited for the movie to start and as it did, it was of course, in Spanish. After our final failed cinema attempt we went to another department store and Adam ended up buying a pair of really cool shoes. Finally it was a reasonable time to go to the bus terminal where we were allowed to sit in the VIP lounge as we were on the posh bus. Which really was posh with massively, comfortable seats which reclined almost to a lying down position. We had a good nights sleep on the way to Trujillo.
DSC00117

DSC00117

DSC00118

DSC00118

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 14:44 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday at Sea!

sunny

We had to get off the bus on the side of the Panamerican higthway about half an hour south of Pisco as the buses won't actually go into the town itself. In 2007 it was devastated by an earthquake and since then unemployment and poverty has risen significantly making it generally unsafe. This worked in our favour anyway because we were looking to stay in Paracas, a town south of Pisco which sits inside the coastal reserve of the same name. Our main objective was to take a boat to visit the Ballestas Islands (also part of the reserve) which were meant to be very beautiful and known by some as the poor man's Galapagos. We wanted to go on the trip the following day, as a treat for my 25th birthday.

After a spot of playing one taxi driver off against the other we got a reasonable price for ride to Paracas. Unfortunately the driver we picked was a bit annoying and tried to herd us to a hostel of his choice which we resisted and went to the one we'd intended on all along. There we found a friendly old guy who didn't try to sell us the boat trip straight away, a definite plus in our books. We got a nice room and the town itself, although perhaps a little rough around the edges had charm and we were finally by the sea again after not seeing it for quite some time.

When we went down for lunch we decided to go ahead and book the trip with the old chap and then asked him where we could go for a cheap almuerzo. He directed us to some little shacks and here we both ate our first Ceviche. We have certainly eaten our fair share since then and we both really enjoy them. It can be made with any kind of seafood, which is cooked with a healthy dose of lemon juice and then tomatoes, red onion, herbs and spices are added. It is incredibly simple and the quality does vary but when done right it is delicious. In Peru it tends to be served with a side of sweet potato whereas in Ecuador you are given junks of fried Platano which is basically a savoury banana, which I love. After lunch we walked along the small sea front but it was pretty busy being a Sunday and it wasn't exactly the prettiest of beaches. We went back to the room to relax after another night on the bus. Then in the evening we just went back to the shacks once more for a cheap dinner.

We had a bit of midnight hunt after Adam was awoken by mosquitoes biting him to death. The next hour was therefore spent trying to kill the little blighters which is always a frustrating task. Although I was now officially 25 we left the happy birthday's etc till the morning when I had to begin another hunt as Adam had hidden my pressies around the room. He'd bought me two pendants and a couple of little silver llama ornaments, which was very sweet of him. We then had to quickly get dressed and head down to reception where we joined up with a small group heading down to the dock. As we approached we saw a really big group gathered and we wandered how busy the boats were going to be, we had read that they could get overcrowded. As it turned out we were one of the first boats to set off and it was really plush speedboat. It was in no way overcrowded and there was also an English speaking guide so it was shaping up to be a good trip.

As we sped off into the ocean the guide explained that we would be slowing down in a few minutes to see a large colony of Pelicans which are indigenous to Peru and remain all year round.
DSC00100

DSC00100


Having never seen a Pelican in real life it was really quite special and they are truly massive birds yet very graceful in flight. We then continued on to look at a symbol created on the mountain side in the shape of a candelabra.
DSC00101

DSC00101


No one knows the origin of it but there are several different explanations, one of which is Simon Bolivar dug out the image when he arrived in Peru to end Spanish rule. After these two little detours we picked up speed and headed straight to the islands, of which there are three.
DSC00102

DSC00102


As we neared them they almost looked like they were moving but as we drew closer it became apparent that this was because of the immense number of birds.
DSC00108

DSC00108


Neither of us have ever seen so many birds in once place, it was truly unbelievable. These craggy rocks rising out of the ocean, which have been there for over three millon years, were absolutely teeming with life. We were witnessing a bird city with several different species living side by side. There were Pelicans, Boobies, Vultures and even little Penguins.
DSC00105

DSC00105

DSC00111

DSC00111


The captain pulled the boat up close so we could see the birds clinging on to the rock and we were all hit with a very powerful smell. The guide then explained that this was generated by a whole lot of guano or bird poop.
DSC00104

DSC00104


In fact every six years a few hundred men are sent to the island to gather up all of the guano which has accumulated, it is then sold as fertilizer. When this first began happening in the mid 1800's it was Peru's largest source of income.

After looking at some of the birds we turned our attention to the sea lions which everyone was happy about. Most of them were lazing about on the pebbles or had found perches on the rock which it didn't really seem big enough for all that blubber.
DSC00103

DSC00103

DSC00110

DSC00110


The ones we got up close to looked at us with massive black eyes, a kind of forlorn expression that just made me want to hug them. Which given the chance I may not have done because they smelled pretty bad. We were navigated round to one of the other islands and the guide told us at this time of year there should be seal pups. We therefore all had our eyes peeled for the little black blobs he'd described and there were quite a lot of them.
DSC00107

DSC00107


There was also a big bull in the water but despite his great bulk he easily cut through the choppy waves. At this point we began to veer over to a wooden structure which is used in the extraction of the guano.
DSC00106

DSC00106


A small ladder was dangling down and a man at the back of the boat, a worker on the island, after a couple of attempts at lining the boat correctly reached out and began to climb up on to it. We all waved him off and I thought that I really didn't envy him having to work in such a smelly place with all of those flapping birds even if it was an amazing nature hotspot.
DSC00109

DSC00109

We spent a little longer circling the islands, seeing more birds and sea lions before it was time to head back to shore. On route back we noticed that boats had slowed down and we quickly realised there was a large pod of dolphins in the water.

DSC00112

DSC00112

With this to top it off it had definitely been a worthwhile trip and a lovely excursion for my birthday. I have never seen such an abundance of wildlife in one place, a very memorable experience. Once we were back on shore we headed back to the hotel, stopping in for a bite to eat at the shacks on the way. The rest of the day we just mooched about, generally just relaxing in the room because we had a tv and it was nice to take it easy. In the evening we went to a more expensive restaurant closer to the water. The local drink is a Pisco sour which is kind of tastes like a strong alchopop.
DSC00113

DSC00113


Adam didn't like them that much but I thought they were ok and a nice accompaniment to the whole fish and platter full of clams we were served. All very tasty and I had definitely enjoyed a memorable birthday.
DSC00114

DSC00114

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 18:19 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

As fit as an Inca...

almost

rain

As soon as you arrive in Cusco you have jumped on to the Machu Picchu conveyor belt everyone is there for the same purpose and it is a lot of people. We arrived in the early morning so it was quite quiet and after a little search we found a really nice room. It was massive, had four other beds in it and a bathroom, it wasn't exactly cheap but still within budget and there were nice views.
DSC00082

DSC00082


We relaxed for a little while and used the free wifi to try and decide how we were going to get to Aguas Calientes the town closest to Machu Picchu. The main and most popular option is to take the train operated by Peru Rail which takes anywhere between 2 and 3 hours. There are three different types; the luxurious Hiram Bingham - $588 return, then there is the very comfortable Vistadome - $142 return and finally the no frills Backpacker - $96 return. Even the cheapest option seemed expensive to us and when you add in the £26 entry fee to Machu and the hyped up room prices in Aguas Calientes it becomes a costly little outing. As we scoured the internet we came across blogs and articles written by people who had done things differently to save a few dollars here and there but generally they involved getting on buses late at night, off them in the small hours, waiting a couple of hours for pick ups and then walking a few miles. Maybe at the start of our trip but by now we were lacking the enthusiasm. The other option was a combination of bus to Ollaytaytambo where you can catch the train the rest of the way for about $30. Undecided we headed in to town for some lunch.

By now the tourists were out in force, filing down the narrow roads which in most places are only wide enough for one car. As it was once the ancient Inca capital, said to have been founded in around AD 1100 the city is full of ruins many of which are wonderful examples of how talented the Incas were when it came to building. There is one wall in particular that has become famous because the stones fit together so perfectly, the carving is mind boggling. One of them has twelve sides and you can pose next to it with a man dressed in “traditional” Inca garb if you so wish.
DSC00081

DSC00081


We took a picture without the man and continued on to the plaza where there were even more tourists, tour agencies and souvenir shops.
DSC00080

DSC00080


By walking a little further on we found a quieter area where we had another almuerzo. Then we did a little bit of shopping and bought our magnets before back to the hostel. A little more um-ing and ah-ing and we booked our train ticket online for the following morning to Aguas Calientes. We would spend one night there and then head back the next afternoon after visiting Machu Picchu in the morning. Unfortunately all the tickets back to Cuzco were gone so we booked to go as far as Ollaytaytambo where we probably spend the night.
DSC00083

DSC00083

In the morning we had to take a taxi to Poroy about 20 minutes from Cuzco. We thought the train left from the city, this is what the guide book claimed but apparently this is not the case, at least not at the moment. The train station was small but quite modern and it slowly filled up with the complete spectrum of tourist, although not the really rich, the cushy trains left later. After a quick check of the passport and tickets we boarded the train which was pretty basic with fairly cramped seats. The service was good though, with smiley hosts/hostesses offering us snacks which we couldn't justify buying. The scenery was lovely with steep, lush hills on either side which got more tropical as we got closer to Aguas Calientes and the clear water brooks were replaced by a heavy, toffee coloured, jungle rivers.
DSC00084

DSC00084


At one point we saw some people setting off on the Inca Trail a 3 or 4 day trek you can do to Machu Picchu, it is part of the walk the Incas would have to do to get from Cusco to Machu We had considered it a while back but it is expensive, very popular and in the end it just didn't appeal.

Once we arrived in Aguas Calientes we set about finding a room. It is a purpose built town, there for simply one reason and can only be reached by train. For this reason the whole place is purely hotels, restaurants and markets selling souvenirs. We climbed to the top of the town near the thermal baths and after checking a few rooms, all of which were expensive settled on one which had a nice view out over the river. It was quite noisy when we were there, a continuous torrent but having seen it on the tv in recent days it is hard to believe. The whole scene is unrecognisable. The rest of the day was fairly laid back, we bought our entry tickets which you have to do in the town then had lunch. In the evening we went out for a quick dinner and then went to bed as we had a very early start.

There are two ways that you can reach Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, the first is to catch one of the buses which are continually running up and down the hill, it takes about 20 minutes and cost $7 each way. The site opens at 6am and the first bus leaves Aguas Calientes at 5:30am but once you arrive you will probably be behind a whole host of people who took the second option which is to climb the Inca steps. They begin just out of town, over the river and take you up 400m to the entrance to Machu Picchu. As the idea is to be one of the first into the site so you can hopefully snap that much coveted classic picture without a whole host of visitors milling about, you have to start early. We were up at 3:30am, stowed our packed bags under the stairs in the hostel and headed out into the dark morning. There were a few other people heading in the same direction, and a slight sense of tension, I don't think many of us were looking forward to what we were about to do. The fact that it was starting to rain made it worse. We had head torches and there were definitely needed as we began the climb on the now slippery, worn down steps. It was immensely tough, the only relief came when one set came to an end and we got to walk on the flat road for a minute before the next set began. I had to stop numerous times because my lungs felt like they were going to explode, Adam found it hard work too but he enjoys pushing himself whereas I, generally, don't. Still we got there in the end, only taking just over the hour it is meant to take and there was definitely a sense of achievement. The downside was we were completely drenched, our rain coats had done little to prevent that and it was still raining. At this point we were pretty unsure about what exactly we were going to be able to see when we got in as the cloud coverage was so dense.

As we slowly began to file in we were asked if we would like to climb Wayna Picchu the mountain which stands behind Machu Picchu. Only 400 people are allowed to climb it a day, in two lots of 200 and although at that moment I couldn't think of anything I would like to do less we said yes and our tickets were stamped for a 7am start. We were then into the site and although most of our surroundings were hidden the main ruins were visible. We climbed up to the top of the site, near the Watchman's Tower and surveyed our surroundings, which were undeniably impressive but it was more the sense of being there that I found hard to get my mind round.
DSC00085

DSC00085


DSC00086

DSC00086


Machu Picchu is one of those places, a “new wonder of the world” and somewhere in all honesty I never thought I'd visit but here we were.
DSC00087

DSC00087


Although it was hard to get the full impact due to the cloud, the positioning of the city is breathtaking, hidden on the edge of a precipice.
DSC00089

DSC00089


For this reason its mere construction is unbelievable and there are many unanswered questions surrounding why such an immense feat was undertaken in the first place. Some believe it was to the hide from the Spanish conquerors and others believe it was a kind of convent where chosen women were trained to serve the Inca leader as most of the remains found were female. Whatever the reason, it is a pleasure to take a glimpse into a distant past as you walk amongst the ruins.

This is what we did for the first hour, looking at the different stone work and architectural ingenuity when it came to things such as water provision.
DSC00088

DSC00088


It was still raining, we were both beginning to feel the cold, and as we walked towards where the trek up Wayna Picchu would begin I was unsure about what to do. On the one hand I wasn't sure it was a good idea knee wise but on the other I wanted to do it and I would freeze waiting for Adam to go up and down. In the end I decided to go for it and so we began yet another climb.

It was slower than the steps as there were more people going at different speeds. Which in turn meant there was less pressure and this made things easier. It was still hard work and the muddy, wet conditions didn't help but at points I think I almost enjoyed myself. It also stopped raining, the sun came out, the clouds cleared and there were visual distractions from the pain.
DSC00091

DSC00091


When we reached the top there were more ruins, and we sat amongst them for quite some time gazing down at Machu Picchu below waiting for the best time to take the perfect picture. There was even a rainbow. Despite all the people around us it was peaceful being perched up there.
DSC00093

DSC00093


DSC00092

DSC00092


DSC00094

DSC00094

DSC00095

DSC00095

The walk back down was quite treacherous in places and I was thankful for the hand ropes they had installed.
DSC00096

DSC00096

DSC00097

DSC00097


Once we reached the bottom there was another little high from the sense of achievement and by now we were dry and we began looking around the rest of the site.
DSC00098

DSC00098


Within another hour or so we had covered all areas and headed for the exit.
DSC00099

DSC00099


We could have taken the bus down but not wanting to waste $14 we walked down the steps, it was odd seeing them in daylight. By the time we were back in town I was absolutely, physically exhausted. Conscious that we had a train to catch, we had lunch, then a quick shower at the hostel before making our way to the station.

The trip to Ollaytaytambo took about and hour and a half, longer than either of us had remembered. As we got off the train and trudged up to the main plaza I was about ready to keel over. It took us a little while but in the end we found a reasonably priced room and after a chicken dinner it was a very, very welcome nights sleep. In the morning we realised that getting back to Cusco might be a bit tricky as there were no direct buses. We therefore had two options; one, get a pick up but we would have to wait for enough people to fill the vehicle, and at that point there was only us. Our second was to take a taxi which in the end is what we decided to do. Once back in Cusco we wanted to take a bus as quickly as possible to Pisco and we knew one left in the early afternoon. For the two hour journey is cost us £10 so it wasn't too bad.

We were dropped off at the bus station which was packed full of people and it quickly became apparent that there were hardly any sits left on buses going to Pisco as it continued on to Lima which is obviously a popular destination. Due to an error on our part we ended up missing out on the last couple of seats on the 2pm bus and had to book on to one leaving at 8:30pm. For this reason we now had over 6 hours to kill in Cuzco. As usual when we had time to waste we went with the cinema option but unfortunately there didn't appear to be one so we ended up wandering around for hours. We had some lunch, spoke to a local guy in the square who wanted to practice his English, then headed to the market and did a spot of shopping. Finally with relief we made our way back to the terminal and as we settled on to the bus it was just nice to be somewhere warm and comfortable.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 18:09 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Canyon do it?

no Laura can't!

rain

We caught a taxi to the bus station where we bought two sets of bus tickets. One for our immediate trip to Chivay and secondly for two days time to Cusco on an overnight bus as we would have to return to Arequipa to get there. In Chivay we had to catch another bus as we wanted to stay in a place called Cabanaconde the last village in the Colca Canyon. The canyon itself is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and on some of its sides there are extensive pre-Colombian terraced fields which are still in use.

By the time we arrived in Cabanaconde it was dark and even darker than usual because there was a power cut. We were met off the bus by a smiley fellow called Juan who spoke good English with a slightly bizarre accent that reminded me of Lloyd Groseman and although we usually wouldn't allow ourselves to be guided he won us over and we followed him up to the hostel he worked at. It ended up being a good choice, we got a nice room for good price, the people were very friendly, there was a pizza oven and to top it off, three cats! We settled in, had a lovely pizza for dinner and then wandered around the small square in the dark before calling it a night.

The following morning we were up reasonably early although we weren't sure what to do. From the village we could walk down in to the canyon and over breakfast we had a bit of chat with Juan and then another guy about our options. He showed us on the map that we could walk down to an oasis which sits at the bottom of the canyon, where there is also accommodation although we wouldn't be staying. In the end we decided we would give it ago, I of course was conscious of my knees and knew if it was really steep I wasn't going to be silly about it and would turn back. We walked down through the village and lots of people said hello, all the little children did, it was certainly one of the friendliest places we've been. In one shop where we were buying some provisions an old couple directed us to a mirador (viewing point) where we decided to head first.
DSC00074

DSC00074

The canyon is quite different from the Grand Canyon, it isn't like a massive hole that just drops away in front of you. Instead there are mountains on either side and the canyon itself is long and thin, the views really are very pretty though but it perhaps wasn't quite what I was expecting.
DSC00075

DSC00075


As we stood there we wondered whether heading down would actually provide any better views then we were getting from this point but we set off nonetheless. First off we walked through some of the pre-Colombian terracing which got quite confusing at points and it would have been easy to get lost. Finally the path down became apparent and we slowly began to descend. It really was very steep and there was bumpy, loose rocks underfoot. After a while I came to the conclusion that it really wasn't worth it, my knees were beginning to hurt and I didn't want to do any damage so we headed back.

At the hostel, not wanting to waste the day, we enquired about hiring a couple of bikes. While we ate some lunch a couple of guys got them out of storage and pumped up the flat tyres. They were in fact really good bikes with 31 gears, one of them had a problem with the brakes but they managed to realign them and soon enough with helmets on we were ready to go. Almost immediately it was tough going as we had to cycle up hill over sand, then the ground became very rocky.
DSC00077

DSC00077


My fitness levels were called into question and after about forty five minutes it began to rain heavily. It seemed silly to continue on any further as we were getting drenched so we headed back.
DSC00078

DSC00078


The rest of the afternoon we hid out from the rain and when it stopped we went into the village for some dinner.

In the morning we caught a direct bus back to Arequipa, it was really busy to begin with and for quite a while we had a little girl standing in front of us as we had the first seats. She was so sweet and Adam gave her his packet of sugar puffs which are a popular snack in Peru. I wanted to ask her mum if she'd like to sit on my lap because I felt bad she was standing up but I didn't know how. When we got to Chivay I gave her a shiny Australian 5 Cent coin which has an Echidna (looks like a hedgehog to me) on it. I know it wasn't worth anything to her money wise but I thought she might appreciate it. Once in Arequipa we left our bags at the bus station and caught a taxi into town. We intended to go to the cinema but there wasn't one where the guidebook said there would be so we decided to see if we could find another one. As we were walking along Adam spotted Yuri on the other side of the road and he'd already clocked us. We walked over and stood chatting for a while, catching up on what each other had been up to. Both Adam and I were hungry so we went off to get some lunch but met up with Yuri at the cathedral at 5pm. He'd only arrived in Arequipa the day before and was planning to head to Cabanaconde the next day so we passed on our advice. Then we all went to the supermarket before once again saying goodbye still thinking we'd see each other again but thus far it hasn't happened. We still had a couple of hours before we needed to head back to the bus station so we indulged at an icecream parlour, sat in one of Arequipa's many churches for a little while and then hailed a taxi.

It was a very professional operation when it came to boarding the bus. Firstly we had to check in our bags, then we went through a vigorous security check. They looked at our passports and hand luggage, videotaped us and finally they look our finger print. The bus itself was very nice and because we'd booked early we had got the front seats so it was a comfortable 10 hour journey to Cusco.

More Soon,
Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 18:05 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 104) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »