A Travellerspoint blog

Pictures Salkantay Trek and Machu Picchu

After a long commercial break we finally have real wifi.

semi-overcast

Sorry for the break everyone. The story will now resume as we have strong wifi in our new location.
Where is that? Back in Ecuador in a beautiful town called Banos. We will be volunteering here for a month or so.
This week I will try my best to submit the Bolivia trip blog entries. Hope you are not confused, pictures of Peru,
stories of Bolivia but as of December 10th back in Ecuador!!!!

Also, there are a few pictures of Cuzco and some of the ruins there in the line up.

the group day 2

the group day 2

shoulder of Salkantay

shoulder of Salkantay

scenery on Salkantay (4)

scenery on Salkantay (4)

scenery (5)

scenery (5)

in the morning

in the morning

horses

horses

good view of tired bridge

good view of tired bridge

dining tent

dining tent

beautiful Salkantay

beautiful Salkantay

campsite

campsite

Salkantay Mt

Salkantay Mt

Jordan at signpost

Jordan at signpost

Ariel and Salkantay

Ariel and Salkantay

Ariel and I with Salkantay mt

Ariel and I with Salkantay mt

Stef Saqsaywaman

Stef Saqsaywaman

Plaza des Armes Cuzco

Plaza des Armes Cuzco

Pisaq ruins (3)

Pisaq ruins (3)

Pisaq (2)

Pisaq (2)


they bring us tea

they bring us tea

tired me in front of Machu

tired me in front of Machu

steep wall next to Machu

steep wall next to Machu

last dinner (3)

last dinner (3)

kids at the gates of Machu

kids at the gates of Machu

group with Machu

group with Machu

good shot Machu

good shot Machu

from above

from above

clouds lifting (2)

clouds lifting (2)

slip slide

slip slide

Wanna Pichu

Wanna Pichu

Machu in the morning

Machu in the morning

Machu and Wanna

Machu and Wanna

Machu Picchu (4)

Machu Picchu (4)

Machu (4)

Machu (4)

Inca Trail

Inca Trail

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DSC04751

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DSC04745

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DSC04740

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DSC04737

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DSC04736

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DSC04720

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DSC04715

Ariel with Machu

Ariel with Machu


tired_at_Machu.jpgtired_at_6.._behind.jpgthe group at 4600

the group at 4600

more Machu

more Machu

me and Machu

me and Machu

Salkantay mountain

Salkantay mountain

Salkantay Mt

Salkantay Mt

Machu

Machu

Inca trail

Inca trail

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DSC07053

Chris and scenery

Chris and scenery

Chris and Jordan

Chris and Jordan

Chris (3)

Chris (3)

Ariel and waterfall

Ariel and waterfall

Anna and Alex

Anna and Alex

Chris and I (2)

Chris and I (2)

Posted by sostrander 04:26 Archived in Peru Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Cuzco and Machu Picchu

The magical Sacred Valley: tourism is alive and thumping in Peru

sunny 16 °C

Well, it's been a while since I wrote a blog entry and you'll realize why by the end of this chapter.
We picked up Chris in Lima and I was so excited to see him. I had really been missing him in the last few months and the anticipation for his arrival long. We headed straight to amazing Cuzco on a hour flight.
It was nice to avoid a 22 hour hellish bus ride and Cuzco was not as cold as I had expected. We spent 4 days at a homestay getting to know Cuzco, acclimatizing, preparing for our monumental trek and of course seeing the sights. Cuzco is the tourist capital and rightly so, although it's pretty, the vendors are relentless and everywhere. The Sacred Valley near Cuzco was amazing with Incan ruins that cascaded down hillsides such as Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

Preparing for the Salkantay hike seemed unending as we had already shopped in Lima and were now still buying odds and ends. I would later find out that it was not nearly as cold as we had imagined although you have to be prepared for the most unexpected weather.

Five thirty am on the day of our trek and we are loaded into a bus for the first leg of the trip. Although it was suppose to be one of the hardest days of trekking we had some extra time on the bus due to pack horse issues. Our first day would be fun but not arduous. The group of 14 where from NZ, England,Netherlands, States, Austria and Canada. They were all lots of fun and easy to get along with. Our guides Edwin and Agosto were also really awesome and I was glad to have signed up with a reputable company. The kids were doing fantastic considering the long days and altitude. The pack horses carried most of our gear except for day packs with change of season clothes, water and any items needed during the day. Unfortunately I had to carry all of the kids gear as well which left me with a rather heavy pack.
Chris was unusually self involved and had no room to help me as he lugged his new expensive lightweight gear.
The views on the trek were incredible and we all enjoyed the company of fellow trekkers and the staff that cooked, cleaned, and set up camp. I want to go back to Canada and camp this way. Just hike and be served!
At the end of day three we spent a couple of hours in a beautiful hot pool in the mountains. It was just what our tired feet needed. And Ariel and Jordan appreciated being let loose to play rather than focus on hiking and staying calm in the adult environment of the trek.
Day four was grueling but ended early as we had lunch and waited for a train to the tourist town of Aguas Calientes. There we would all have our last super, sleep in a hotel, then wake up exceptionally early to be the first in line at Machu Picchu. We had a couple of drinks at the restaurant and did not get in bed until 10pm. Big mistake when you have to be up at 3:30am for breakfast and a rainy hike to the top.
We watched the clouds dissipate over Machu Picchu and it was extraordinary, breathtaking really. It was a peak into a mysterious past. Ariel said this was the highlight of her trip so far. I wished we hadn't been so tired or I would have investigated each building a little more closely. Our train for Cuzco didn't leave until late and was also rerouted, what tired weiry souls we were.

Although it was nice to be back in Cuzco we had major laundry and reorganizing to do for our next trip to Arequipa where El Misti, a very high massive extinct volcano waited for Chris. He was increasingly moody and when pressed decided this was a good time to break up with me. He also disclosed that he had help from someone in Canada with this decision. Apparently, he was sick and tired of Little Miss Independence and her travels and prefers another who doesn't have money for travels, the responsibility of children, house or career.
Unfortunately for me, I was truly crushed having finally decided I would make some sort of commitment upon returning home. Then again it's better to find out who you are dealing with before selling or buying a house. Adios Dude. Funny I always seem to manage well without men.
I was quite melancholy for a while and it was difficult to write this blog. I kept hoping for an email saying "I temporarily lost my mind, please forgive me".
But of course that won't happen and I would not forgive anyway.

I picked up the kids and headed to fascinating Bolivia with it's very traditional people especially woman. I have included pictures with this segment because of a weak internet connection. I will try to post the wonderful pictures of Peru in the next week.

Posted by sostrander 09:43 Archived in Peru Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Isla Ballestas, Huacachina and Lima

Animal sightings, unbelievable sand dunes and the friendly people of Lima

sunny 20 °C

We boarded a fabulous night bus that rivaled first class on a plane with lazy boy reclining chairs, headphones, movies, music, snack and coffee service on the bus and in the departure lounge. Even upon arriving at the station there were porters to take our bags and check them in, I was rather paranoid as no other station had this service, I followed them closely reading there name tags.
The trip was very comfortable and if I had to ride a bus for 20 hours it would only be with this company. While aboard we met a lovely lady who invited us to her home after our trip to the poor man's Galapagos Islands, it is called Isla Ballestas. I think we will take Chame up on that invite as she has three kids of similar age to Ariel and Jordan.
Once we got off the bus we needed to change bus company and in doing so we met another couple of delightful Lima citizens who made sure we were on the right bus, that we understood the dangers of traveling through Peru and I think one of these abuelas (grandmothers) even interrogated the bus driver to make sure he knew where to drop us off and to protect our luggage. As it turned out Gloria was a lawyer and I suspect she struck fear into the bus driver and his assistant. I hope we see her in Lima as she made us promise to call and let her know we were OK in our travels.
Our destination was Pizco, a city which had been flattened by earthquake numerous times. But the most recent and possibly most devastating was three years ago. No road was paved, no street without construction, no building undamaged above one story.
Although unattractive from a tourist stand point it was a good educational experience. I am realizing that the food is not cheap in Peru and this concerns me. Hopefully it’s only in this region with it's fresh and delectable seafood.
The boat tour to Islas Ballestas was really interesting featuring many types of birds only found in this region I believe one of them is the white footed booby. We also watched Humbolt Penguins, seals, sea lions, many pelicans, cormorants, etc. This island is also an important economic producer of guano, bird poop, used as fertilizer.
Afterwards we took a bus tour to Paracas National Park on the coast. Beautiful sandstone cliffs rise up from the Pacific and become the desert landscape of this region.
We later board a bus with a nice young man from India who is also backpacking in the same direction.
We arrive in the oasis town of Huacachina near Ica. It is, literally, an oasis with a tropical lagoon lined with palms and water vegetation, chirping resident birds and surrounded by mountains of grand sand dunes. If I didn’t know it I would have imagined myself in North Africa with this scenery. The town is a, clean, quaint tourism outpost with hostels, restaurants and gift shops and ohhh what fun it is to run up the dunes. During our short stay we sand boarded and rode dune buggies through the dessert.

Back to Lima and as promised we call all our new friends. During the next few days I am suppose to be shopping for supplies as we have a monstrous 5 day trek in the cool Andes. Every type of weather is expected and I don't want to disappoint Chris by being unprepared for one of the seasons.

Meeting with Peruvian friends is not a short encounter it's an all day event. Whenever you think they are heading home it turns into another hour of two.
But we really enjoy our time with all these nice ladies and their families. At the eleventh hour I manage, with the help of the ladies, to gear up and as they bargained on our behalf and we don't spend too much money.

In Peru, the price is not always the price, there is a constant cash grab from tourists and it's really irritating. Hostels promise free rides to airports but there is always the fine print. Included meals are really small snacks, added charges pop up as you pay your bill, negotiated prices are higher than you bargained.

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Posted by sostrander 13:27 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Northern Peru: a dessert landscapes with pre-Colombian ruins

Mancora, and Huanchaco Trujillo

overcast 15 °C

I am happy to say that our bus trip across the Peruvian border was uneventful but by doing it late at night and avoiding the money changers I did not have a dime in Peruvian soles. I did have US$ funds but as I found out at the bus station at 6am it was another reason for a taxi driver to take you for a ride – another ride!
We changed buses for the coast as we were all dying for some sun and beach time before becoming landlocked in altitude.
Mancora would be the last place where the sun could warm you as opposed to the chilly coastal air of the rest of the Peruvian coastline. I was warned that it was not a pleasant beach town. The words butt ugly, filthy, unattractive as well as loads of fun, a blast, great times were used to describe this contemporary fishing village. I soon understood the oxymoron of this town and it had more to do with a generation gap then what the eye can see. But a half hour by taxi lay a gorgeous long wide strip of empty beach dotted with low lying expensive bungalows and hotels.

Mancora was indeed awful to the eye, probably fun if you’re 20, but not what we were interested in.
We followed the coast to the beach area of Vishayto where accommodations were more expensive for one night but allowing 2 full days to enjoy this beach. Strangely the beach was also littered with large dead headless seals, sea birds, and large fish. We can only imagine this as a result of sharks but they don’t live in cold waters, and the dead fish were a result of fish nets? I guess?

After our soak in the sun we took a night bus to Trujillo to stay in the coastal suburb of Huanchaco. It’s a tame surfing town and an enjoyable place to catch up on the blog writing, walking the beach front and eating awesome ceviche. Ceviche is lime juice marinated raw fish – you got it. Raw fish, the Latin version of Sushi and I love it, and strangely it did not affect my fish allergy. We found a wonderful affordable hostel in Huanchaco which made our stay very pleasant. The strange looking kayak next to Ariel in the picture is a traditional Caballito boat and it's material and design date back to the ancient civilizations of the area, and they are still made and used the exact same way.
Also in Peru you can find the attractive Peruvian hairless dog, completely naked and sometimes with small mohawk and/or pig nose. Due to their lack of hair they are warmer then other dogs and are used to warm peoples hands and feet so they are quite friendly despite their odd appearance. I did not feel compelled to snuggle up to these creatures at all.

This town was also a great base for exploring the many ruins of the Chan Chan and Moche civilizations which date back to the Inca years and before. These sites were impressive in the grand desert surroundings.
The kids and I debated whether to join Karin and Russ in Huarez, an amazing mountain town in the Peruvian Cordillera. The toss up was Huarez or the poor man’s Peruvian Galapagos called Isla Ballestas 4 hours south of Lima. Since we probably wouldn’t be seeing the Galapagos on this trip I caved and decided on Isla Ballestas near Pizco.

The kids are still fabulous travelers, whining and boredom have not set in although they are still attached to their electronics. I worry about the school situation as a new year has started and we done much work.

Although I am getting ahead of myself I thought I would mention that I was elated by Chris' arrival later last night in Lima. It was so wonderful to see him finally. As I continue the next segment of this blog it won't appear that he is in the picture yet. That come after Lima.
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Posted by sostrander 03:58 Archived in Peru Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Cuenca and Vilcambamba Southern Ecuador

It's the memorable people on the road!

overcast

Surprise kids, you’re not going to believe this but we have a long bus ride ahead of us. Yes, I know you’re jumping for joy at the prospect of spending all day bouncing around and listening to traditional Ecuadorian music at an oddly loud volume. And don’t forget how fun it is to jump up and spy on the baggage compartment every time we stop so that no one walks away with our bright red western backpacks while a crowd cheerfully looks away including the bus driver. Sorry for the sarcasm.

This bus ride also includes the view of some incredibly high glacier covered mountains, maybe on a return trip we will investigate this area.
No, we didn’t get our gear stolen but we are diligently on the job and therefore long rides must be done in the day and not sleepily at night. During our ride we meet two lovely girls from Paris, Audrey and Justine, whom we would hang with in this city. Some big cities are a drag but Cuenca is really attractive with cobblestone roads, many bridges along the river and of course, big glamorous churches.
Wifi is scarce in hostel and we decide to get a budget hotel room. With the jungle trek and Chris’ weekend mountain trips we have been missing each other. The kids are starving for computer and tv time so I set off on my own to explore the architecture and design of Cuenca.

Two days only here and another fabulous bus ride to the southern town of Vilcambamba and a near the Izhcayluma hostel which is really a hotel. I should have searched a regular hostel in town rather than this costly resort with spectacular views.
It’s a lovely place for hiking and enjoying the view. This hospdeja as they call it here has a pool, ping pong and pool table, games, and hammocks everywhere. "Relax kids because we will be back on a bus in three days and the next one is to Peru". There are several characters that seem to have gotten stuck here and it's quite hilarious to listen to their accounts of the world.

I decide we will take a longer bus ride to Peru in order to avoid a reputably horrific border crossing. You all know how paranoid I have become on the subject of borders. I would later find out that my instinct was correct by avoiding the closer border which turned out to be a mess of swarming cab drivers, counterfeit money changers and all round desperate and dishonest fellows rapping travelers wallets.

We are leaving Ecuador but it's a country that certainly deserved more time from us. I hope we make it back here for some of the great hikes, heights, beaches, and quaint villages that we've missed. I highly recommend this country to traveling family, it's small enough to take shorter bus rides but there is lots of diverse things to do everywhere and children would love it. Other than the sticky fingers, my only other complaint is the shameless urination in public that men feel is their right. Not around the corner, deep in a field, in a bathroom with the door closed but right out in public. Against a car tire, a wall facing the street, a doorless urinal in a crowded area, they pee anywhere, like dogs. And the smell of urine therefore is sometimes everywhere!

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Posted by sostrander 09:28 Archived in Ecuador Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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