South America 3 Cusco

Viva Le Peru

Viva Le Peru

Day 10-14 Cusco
We arrived in Cusco at around 8 am after a 20 hour bus journey. The bus was the relatively luxurious cruz del sur inside, but outside was the most rugged, imposing terrain yet. It was the Andes, and it involved hairpin turn after hairpin turn to ascend the 3500m to Cusco, sleep was hard to come by. Saying that, the views once the sun had come up were amazing. It looked a bit like the highlands of Scotland except the mountains go on for a lot longer and more Llamas. Cusco is of course where Machu Pichu is, the ancient capital of an Incan prince who seemingly, liked to impress. We got a cab to our hostel, hostel Loki pretty grotty rooms but a nice old colonial buildings, with the misleading Breakfast included. Rolls, jam (if you´re lucky) and coffee was breakfast, and we left the hostel looking for Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sexy woman) a ruin on top of the hill overlooking Cusco.

Altitude is a strange affliction and affects people a lot of different ways, we´d heard horror stories about fainting downstairs and Nuclear hangovers, but thought we´d tough it out. Tough it out we didn´t, walking up is incredibly hard and as Sacsayhuaman was right at the top of the hill overlooking the town, we got a bout 300m up the considerable staircase that lead to our hostel and gave up, saying we´d do it another day. We went back to the hostel after walking for about 15-20 mins and collapsed in a deep breathing, heart pounding heap and caught up on sleep lost to the mountains.

The next 2 or 3 days we walked around Cusco during the day, a really lovely city with big cathedrals and uniformly beiche (nicer than it sounds), quant looking buildings, and looked around the Inca museum. The museum was amazing with arterfacts going back to 4000 BC and had exhibits on the importance of Llamas, potatoes,peruvians are very proud of there potatoes 3000 varities apparently! colonialism and gold, as well as Coca leaf. The incas were really very inventive, well organised people with Irrigation and an ordered society, they however didn´t have much time for war and weaponry and this ended up with one of the more striking images of a spanish conquistador holding the Kings head. Cusco alwasys remained and was the largest City in this region, Peru, Bolivia, and northern Chile until the late 17th century, it also has a KFC, which was tough to avoid but we did. The walk up to our hostel never got easy and everytime we needed an hour to recover from it, I´d had a dodgy tummy for 2 or 3 days now and this continued thorughout Cusco. At night we stayed in the hostel , A LOT of Isrealis stayed there probably %70, the guys are arrogant and superficial and the girls are only interested in those type of men unfortunately. We got on with it and met some aussie, swedish, German and English people and drank with them for most of the 3 days leading up to Machu Pichu. An english guy had quit his job the previous afternoon and come up to meet up with his mates that were already out here, he was excited to be there and got heavily drunk and got in a fight with some Israeli guys, other than that everything was good fun and good natured.
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The hangovers are brutal and the last night was a pirate themed event with lots of free rum, Jonny had machu Pichu the next morning at 4 am, I felt sick to begin with but went the free Rum fuelled me towards being really sick for 3 or 4 hours overnight and Jonny got 2 hours sleep before heading to Machu Pichu, I didn´t envy him at the time. My job that day was to transfer both big bags and my stuff to the Millhouse, down the hill, cheaper, with nicer rooms and a bit more laid back. This was easy and I got to the millhouse and checked in around 130 with a whole day to kill. I went to the Market and bought a bag of Coca leaves to try, as well as attempting to walk up to Sacsayhuaman. The coca leaves you chew and stick in the side of your mouth for hours like chewing tobacco, A lot of the indigenous people you see have there teeth worn down by this and while it did give you a nice kick, coffee like, the taste was nothing to write home about (although I am now, confusing) but helped with the hangover and motivation to climb the hill.

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I set off and got about an hour and a half in before giving up as I was essentially in a shanty town and there back gardens, still got some really good views and went back to the hostel for soup, my daily meal, along with the amazing free “breakfast.” We´d booked our ticket to La Paz for that evening at 10 so I made conversation with an Aussie couple and some Americans in the baar until Johnny came back around 7ish. He looked sunburnt and excited, the pictures he had were amazing and he said it wa really worth the $150 or so it cost to go up there, I did envy him now but knew that money would have to be better spent in Boliva where we´d heard everything was much cheaper. We sat chatting to the people I was sat with and left around 10 for La Paz.
Daily Budget
$30
buses $35

South America 2013 2 Paracas, Huachachina and onto Cusco

The road to Paracas

Ica-Paracas Day 5-9
I had done some research on Paracas and knew it was a nature reserve, I hadnt realised it was in the middle of a huge desert. This meant the landscapes were amazing on the coach down to Paracas (about 4-5 Hours) full of massive dunes and unbelievably shanty town like buildings dotted along the coast, nearer the coast were where Lima tourists go to get to the beach. The coach was amazing, like a plane with reclining chairs and AC, the driver however was a different story and as the road wasnt that busy and only 2 lanes he was constantly trying to overtake despite oncoming lorries etc, as we were at the front of the bus it was a bit unsettling. We got to Ica in one piece however, we hadnt really wanted to stay in Ica but unfortunately as it was the end of easter week all the hostels in Paracas, another beach resort, meant we had to stay in Ica, a grimy, notoriously dangerous city. Jonny was also sick so we just got to our hostel with massive gates and security watched Tv and waited it out until we got to Paracas the next day. Paracas is beautiful and our hostel is basic and pretty good value. The sea is freezing and the beach a bit grotty but the views are amazing, miles of desert and dunes and clear blue water, big old pelicans also.

First night in Paracas sunset on the beach

First night in Paracas sunset on the beach

We booked our ticket on board the ballestas islnd tour, the main attraction along with the desert reserve for 8am on our 6th morning and is the first real planned tourist thing we have done. The tour is good value at 40 soles, 4 soles to a pound, and really is fantastic. We see a huge ancient monolith on a hillside and then onto islands that are protected and are in habited by thousands of sea lions and hundreds of penguins, both of which are in mating season so are really entertaining, big male sea lions fithing and honking at each other.

Disregard the physical disfigurement of the animal in the bottom right.....he was born that way

Disregard the physical disfigurement of the animal in the bottom right…..he was born that way

Penguins

A cold current from the bottom of the ocean means the water is freeezing despite the air temp being 30 and up, the penguins look uncomfortable. However money is really getting tight at this point and as we are only a week in, is pretty disheartening and causes a bit of friction between me and Jonny. We have budgeted really hard but South america, and peru it seems specifically is much more expensive than we had thought, say compared to thailand. I have spent about $250 in a week and that amount really isn{t sustainable for me to be able to get anywhere near the 3 month total. I decide that drinking has used up %30 of funds so far and opt to not drink more than a beer a night until we get to cusco (tough in a desrt beach), I am fine with this but it does kind of end up dragging Jonny down to whatever I can afford. I am a bit guilty but he had said before we came out here that he would lend me money, this hasn{t really materialised other than paying for the hostel in Lima and a few other bits and pieces, but I hate begging for money and so swallow my pride and try and keep things as interesting as possible as cheaply as possible. We start cooking in the kitchen of the hostel which is fun, and an italian guy kills 5 crabs he bought down near the beach for 5 soles, I dont like seafood but it looks amazing. We lounge around in the sun for the next few days and try and trek to the paracas national park, about 3 km through the desert away. We get there but realise it is simply endless dunes so walk back along the beach which has really swish new houses and hotels and is like any great beach in the carribean or thailand, except for the thousands of dead Jellyfish.
Daily budget $15
Buses $60

Day 9-10 Paracas, Huachachina and onto Cusco
The bus from Paracas to cusco is a total of 23 hours and costs 185 soles, more than we had hoped around $60 but again was incredibly comfortable with touch screen displays and wifi. We have a layover in ica again and do what we should have done before which is go to huacachina, a desert oasis surrounded by bars with huge walls of sand dunes around. We regretably cannot stay here as we have booked our ticket to Cusco but have 6 hours to kill so wander around with a lawyer from London we{d met called Mike. Jonny and him went sandboarding, essentially throwing yourself down a massive sand dune on a surfboard as well as dune buggying, I sit out as I dont have the cash and happily wander around and have a look around a tiny library trying to learn Spanish. We run into a girl and a guy from Liverppol we{d drank with in Lima, a recurring theme as we have run into quite a few people along the same trail, nice to get advise if theyve been ahead etc. We talk with them for an hour or so and head back to ica to get our 20 hours bus to Cusco, relatively unsunbruned considering the hear.
Daily budget $20
Buses $80

Souh America 2013 1 Lima/intro

South America diary
I’m writing this diary as a way to remember my time out here as well as a nice way to reflect while actually on the trip too, it also means I need to fill it it’s something other than drinking and watching sunsets(which is great too.) The planned length of the trip is 3 months starting in Lima, Peru and ending in rio de jainero, Brazil. During which we’ll travel through big cities, desolate desert, humid jungle and the second highest mountain range in the world. Saying that the majority will be in transition on buses and from hostel to slightly grottier hostel, both of which are worth suffering (relative term) through to get to the places worth visiting. A lot of these places as yet we don’t have planned to a tee, but hope to stumble on during the way, there’s a vague idea of doing the “gringo trail.” Gringo is the south American name for a foreigner and the fact they have a name for that, means I’m definitely not the first to want to wander around a strangle, exotic place looking for cheap (always) thrills. Anyway enough of guessing what may happen and start describing what did.

Day 1-5 Lima, Peru
We landed at 6am after a 12 hour flight from Madrid. Slept on and off for most of it and seemed quicker than flights I’d been on before. Was hoping to see some of the amazon but from above but it was pitch black. Anyway landed at the airport, in the passport queue met a journalist going to puerto moldanaldo in the Peruvian amazon. He basically goes round the world (Madagascar, Cambodia) giving Ecocamps publicity, he has one of the best jobs in the world, I’m jealous and kind of hope he gets malaria. In the baggage claim, run into an older English lady who had helped us with the transfer from London to Madrid. We get chatting while waiting jet lagged, and she offers us a cab she’s booked to miraflores, the main tourist area and where our hostel is. Her husband is a teacher in a school here and she’s really helpful with advice etc. Lima near the airport ain’t pretty, pastel colored half finished houses with rebar coming out the walls, and what can only be described as a 20 lane free for all, honking, Spanish shouting and general chaos follow until we get onto a motorway that runs along the coast. The road runs continuously from Alaska to chile and has some pretty amazing views, lima is basically built on a worrying looking cliff by the pacific. It (Lima) is also massive 9 million people and reminds me of America, roadside cheesy ads, American brands and cars, and generally looking really new or pretty rundown. We get to the hostel pariwana at like 8 and shower, we’ve got a few hours to kill before we checkin at 1 so leave the bags and wander out into city centre Lima.

Outside our hostel window in Lima, Miraflores

Outside our hostel window in Lima, Miraflores

A huge mcdonalds across the road as well as KFC and burger king, mean we’re not too much out of our comfort zone and that lima is really modern. We walk to the sea where there’s a 5 star Marriott and a posh looking mall. The view is amazing other than these buildings, we decide to go to Barranco where the bars and uni is and get horrifically lost and end up walking next to a dusty motorway for an hour. After 5 hours of nice suburbs and run down garages etc we got to barranco which was nice as you could see the sea, and a long strip of bars, but wasn’t really worth the huge journey. Still we got to get an idea of the city. We returned to the hostel and rested before heading to the bar, as well as wandering around lima’s equivalent of covent garden which was mentally busy.

Lima Good Friday

After getting horrifically lost getting to Barranco, we decided to stay closer to home for the next few days in Miraflores and the hostel. We went to the central square one day, Plaza de Armas, and had a look round at all the colonial buildings and large town square. It was also good Friday so the streets were PACKED and we hardly saw another Gringo, which was quite nice as miraflores and the rest of Lima was quite western. Wandered down to the seafront every evening to check out the sunset and then just stayed in the hostel drinking with Events managers (these guys essentially get paid to make sure people staying have a good time and buy plentry of drinks for free room and board, we have a good time.) As well as other travellers, which was good but taxing. We went out to a club called Help the last night in Lima which a german girl who had studied in Lima took us too, it was probably 1,000 people all mostly peruvians and was awesome. However after 3 days Jonny was looking worst for wear and we were leaving for Paracas national park the next day, a 5 hour coach trip away.
Daily budget $40 or over
Buses $20

Lima Flavellas