Amazon jungle!! Cusco!! Inca trail!! Machu Picchu!! And LAKE TITICACAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!
So, after a quick pick up trip to the airport, we’re now travelling as an awesome foursome with the additions of Julie and her work colleague Genine, or Grenine as the Peruvian tour leaders would have her named, OR sister Gezza as Steve would call her for the whole trip…and its time for the greatly anticipated 15 day Intrepid Trip. But first we have a little bite to eat, and a little to drink, to celebrate Steve’s (31st!) and Julie’s (62nd!!!!!!!!!) birthdays…..
Intrepid is an Australian travel company that provides responsible and sustainable travel tours across the world. Todays special - The Sacred Valley of the Incas!! Prior to meeting up with the group and our fearless leader Ollie for an induction we cruised Lima Centro for an afternoon checking out the Plaza Da Armas and the Larco Museum which contains a great array of Inca exotic pottery. And I mean EXOTIC! Go on see for yourself!! (Dad please close grandma’s eyes for this sextion….)
OK, ON TOUR YO! First stop is Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle. FACT: Peru’s Amazonas take up approximately 50% of the nations land area. We kicked off with a 3hr motorised canoe ride upstream to our eco friendly jungle lodge 'Refugio Amazonas'. On the way we spotted Capybaras (the worlds largest rodent - looks like a guinea pig on steroids crossed with a wombat) and Caimans (mini white crocs).
We arrive at the lodge and are pleasantly surprised. We were all expecting something pretty basic but we're greeted with the opposite. The main building was a huge open construction of raw wood, the interior was decorated with wooden and jungle nut chandeliers, a fully stocked bar with jungle fruit cocktails (that mum and Genine got wasted on every night!), it had a fabulous all you can eat buffet restaurant (Steve continuously returned for 3rds and 4ths), and the BEST coffee on tap (which little miss Jrae got ridiculously hypo on!).
Our 2 day visit in the jungle consisted of river canoe cruising, forest canopy viewing, rainforest walking and a visit to a local farm. We experienced everything from piranhas, black and white caimans, 3 diff monkey sp, many birds and butterflies, Brasil (Peru!) nut trees, a 1000yr OLD TREE, AND A HOLLOW TREE, TASTED DRAGONS BLOOD AND GOT SPASTIC ON SUGER CANE STICKS!! WOOOOOOWWW
With enough jungle time clocked up we take a short flight to Cuzco (or Cusco??), the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and was home to the Incas for over 2 centuries before the Spanish stormed in and built their first capital here. Massive Inca built walls line steep narrow cobblestone streets which are filled with more tourists than you can poke a stick at.
On our way to Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley we visit the markets at Pisac for some light goods (anything we buy will need to be lugged 42km along the Inca Trail!).
Ollantaytambo is one of the most popular towns in the Sacred Valley and one of the few places the Incas defeated the Spanish. While the group visited an entry fee Inca site, we climbed the opposite mountain which overshadows the town for free entry Inca site viewing, minus the tourists…..
OK, the long awaited INCA TRAIL!! So excited! HERE IT IS!!
Starting point : Village of Chilca. Km82 where you can buy walking sticks and bags of Coca leaves.
Tour guides: Wilber and Rolando - if you do the inca trail with intrepid you got to get these 2 very funny characters. THANKS AGAIN GUYS!!….ESPECIES!!!!!!!!! hahahahaha
Hike Distance: 42km
Duration: 4 days.
Highest Point: 4200m “Dead Women’s Pass“.
Finish: Machu Picchu.
Highest moment: chewing coca leaves on top of dead womans pass
Lowest moment: Jess assisting a very sick (AND broken toed) Julie in her hr of need….no need to include any more detail.
The most famous trek in South America laid by the Incas winds its way up, down and around the mountains snaking over three high passes on the way. The views of snowy peaked andes and cloud forest are stupendous, and walking from one cliff hugging ruin to the next was an unforgettable experience. The trail is part of a series of Inca highways that linked the Incas from Quito in Ecuador to Santiago in Chile.
Machu Picchu was thought to be built around 1440AD for Inca nobility but there is evidence that it has been a sacred Inca site for much longer. Day 4, we arrive at the Sun Gate and watch the sunrise over the majestic ruins…..
After some “relaxation” in Cusco we make an unplanned flight to Puno due to protests blocking the roads. Puno is the hopping off point to explore Lake Titicaca, the largest, highest, navigable lake in the world sitting at 3820m above sea level stretching 230km long and 97km wide. From the shoreline the water stretches out as far as the eye can see. We visit the indigenous populated island, Taquile, via SLOW boat for a lake caught fish (trout) lunch and a demonstration of local culture through dance and music.
After lunch its back on the boat for top deck sunset lounging while we travel to the Uros (Floating Islands). These floating islands are made up of many layers of Totora reeds, originally built to isolate the indigenous population from rival tribes. The inhabitants eat fish and reeds, the same Totora reeds which are used to built their beds, houses and boats.
WOW what a day, we hit Puno on dark and sharpen up for a cracking dinner session complete with Peruvian music and traditional dancers.
Next day we cross the border into Bolivia, hitting La Paz after dark due to waiting for another protest to clear from the road. In our 'irritated' eyes, La Paz is stinky from pollution and not all that exciting. Constantly peak hour traffic 24/7, the highest capital in the world (3660m) is impossible to get around quickly. On a clear day the snowy Mt Illimani (6402m) stands proud in the background. We had a last hooraah with the intrepid group and Ollie at a couple of smashing restaurants and bars, which included a gruelling pool comp, and said our goodbyes.
The intrepid tour ‘Sacred Land of the Incas’ comes highly recommended. Walking where the Inca people once walked, faught and farmed.....
More about Bolivia next blog, yes Yes YES we go leyland brothers style across the Atacama desert and visit the ALTIPLANO SALT FLATS!