I knew that for the traditional Inca Trail you need a few months pre-booking so my options were 2 alternative routes: Salkantay or Lares. The latter is one day shorter (✔), you get the chance to pass through local villages(✔), it’s less beaten(✔ ) and apparently easier (✔ ✔)! So,
We got a bus at 5,30 am and in about 2 hours we were in Pumahuanca (2950m). We had breakfast and we started the ascent. I had a bag full of coca leaves which helped me throughout the trek. The first stop for lunch was at Callorumiyoc(3600m) then on the path again till Puyoc(4100m) where we stopped for the night. I was obviously cursing the day I started smoking and wondering why my gear seemed to get heavier at every step.
This was going to be the hardest day. We started walking towards the Sacsayllame pass(4600m). I thought I was going to die and when I got to the top and saw first the clouds and then Jesus I thought I was already dead. But then we started the long awaited descent to Yanacocha(4200m) and after lunch I could smile again. The scenery helped a lot though, it was definitely worth the effort. Guides, porters and cooks were doing a great job. They were traveling ahead of us and they always managed to put up tents and prepare food and hot drinks for our arrival at the camps. Meals were mouthwatering and abundant. We even had bananas flambe’ and cakes! The night we stopped at Cunkani(3800m) were we had a “private market” right in front of our tents and finally a bonfire and a glass of wine.
We set off to Lares hot springs (3200m) in the morning and that was a bonus for the muscles and the spirit. Then, even better, a bus. We stopped at Ollantaytambo(2800m) for dinner and then got the train to Aguas Calientes(2040m) to spend the night in a hotel room. Luxury! Finally a shower and a ceramic toilet!
The long awaited day had arrived. We got up at 4,30am for breakfast and then caught the first bus to Machu Picchu. I’m sure you get a greater satisfaction when you arrive walking there the last day of the original Inca Trail but still it was a stunning view. All excited we decided to climb the Wayna Picchu, the peak right above the ruins. So, here we go again: the hardest part of the trekking right at the end! 360 meters of steps and stones. Quite scary too but, again, well worth the effort. I’ll upload the pics in the next post. traduci >>
First of all a BIG THANK YOU to Mr Blonde and Mr Pink of Driving Horse for adding my blog to theirs. Cheers guys!!
And now back to Peru…
When I arrived to Cuzco (3400m) I felt the altitude straight away. The hostel I was planning to stay at was full and carrying my bags up and down the steep street searching for a room had never been so hard. After bumping into people and things while “climbing” to the next hostel I finally managed to reach my destination and found a room. I spent the following 2 days acclimatizing, easily taking pictures around town (including a march pro Cuba) and looking for a trek for Machu Picchu.
I also visited the local cemetery during the Day of the Dead (this actually took place on the 2nd November after coming from Machu Picchu). I was impressed how people offer to their loved ones, amongst other things, live music and miniatures of beer or coke. traduci >>
This is going to be a quick update from the airport in Lima as I wait for my flight to Cuzco.
I got a bit stuck in Iquitos cause of some pain in the neck and didn’t manage to see all I wanted to see. It was really hot though and to those who actually believed me when I said I wished to be in cold Europe well, not a chance, i was joking!
Incredible how the city ends, just like this:
Here are some shots I took in some places – including Belén – around town. traduci >>
The long awaited BOAT TRIP to Iquitos!!! Remember? I had decided not to enter Iquitos from Coca, Ecuador and try instead from Yurimaguas as there are more boats available. It’s cheaper and faster (about 3 nights as opposed to 10 to 14 days).
I was a bit afraid for my stuff as sleeping on the deck of a river boat together with another 100 people wasn’t really an advise I would get from my insurer. But my camera and I managed without problems. Even the food wasn’t so bad. At my 5th almuerzo though (pictured), I must admit, I think I could have killed for some parmeasan cheese. Instead I had brought some ketchup – as advised in some other blogs – but it was making everything worse: bin.
I loved swinging on the hammock though, watching the mighty Rio Maranhon, the nearby villages, the palm trees onshore and the Milky Way at night. Among the multitude of people I met, the gold medals go to both Armando, a lefty catholic journalist turned politician and Volcan, a German guy lost in Iquitos’ “magic” who was traveling with some expensive orchids. traduci >>
The journey to here was even harder than getting to Chachapoyas. 4 shared taxis, lots of queueing, one dog squashed at 100 km/h and all this trapped in some weird position in a car with 6-7 people, coffee bags and sometimes chickens. I couldn’t reach the camera to document, sorry. Here are some shots taken in the local market. Again, I know… traduci >>
I couldn’t carry on traveling without, unfortunately, stopping one night at Jaen, my first sojourn in Peru’. Ectic and dusty. I was just a few hours there but that’s the impression I got. I can’t describe it otherwise.
From there, after visiting 5 different bus terminals and realize that nobody had a clue where this phantom bus was, I got a shared taxi to Bagua Grande and then another one to my “final destination”: Chachapoyas.
This is a little market town. It’s cold at night and it looks like it rains every day here.
The area is politically “hot” as both the government and the local (indigenous and non) communities claim control over the land and the water. The first for economical reasons: oil and other minerals are abundant in the area. The latter for obvious reasons: heavy pollution of air, land, water and people; deforestation, poverty…
Pictures-wise, unfortunately, this is all I have: traduci >>