We made it out of Cusco alive and onto a town called Puno on Lake Titicaca where we visited the Islas de los Uros (floating reed islands). While a bit of a tourist trap, the islands are a pretty cool sight to see. They’re made of two meters of floating mud, covered in about a meter of dried reeds and anchored at four points so that they don’t float any which way in Lake Titicaca. The families live in reed huts and don’t do much but fish, maintain the islands and entertain tourists like us. The highlight was catching one of the big traditional boats from one island to the other (actually being pushed by a tinny with a motor behind us) and having some little kids sing some songs from different countries – they had a French guy in stitches singing “Allouette”.
The next day we headed across the border into Bolivia to a town called Copacabana on the other side of Lake Titicaca. From there we jumped on a boat to the beautiful (but freezing) islands of Isla Del Sol in the middle of the lake. We went for a walk for about 40 minutes up to the western point of the island, checking out the little bays and views of snow capped peaks in the background. We were planning to stay there today to spend the day walking from one end of the island to the other, but didn’t take enough cash with us (a regular occurrence), so had to bail this morning.
We’re now in La Paz where we’ll be spending a few days, waiting for friends catch up with us from Cusco and other parts of Bolivia. Lots of stuff to do here – bike riding on Death Road (don’t ask if you don’t want to know, Mum), a trip into the Amazon jungle to catch piranhas and swim with pink dolphins, souvenir and gift shopping in the Witches Markets and quite a bit of partying.
- 6am start
- Doug, our Zimbabwean/Australian friend – lots of fun and a wicked sense of humour – still drunk.
- Start mountain biking downhill (thank God) from 4,000 meters next to snow capped peak. Beautiful and cold. My middle finger literally turned blue.
- 3 hours of biking. All downhill. Lots of fun.
- Lunch and relax – no more exercise for today.
- Tour guide – “Ok, now we do two hours of walking uphill”….. say what now?
- Walking not actually too hard. Try local fruits, get our face painted and dress up in local clothes. Look like fools (no change there, really).
- Stay in home stay with local Peruvian family. Dinner and bonfire with the father playing local mandolin type guitar.
- Great day. Awesome group of people and guides.
- Easy walking for around 6 hours, next to no uphill which everyone is happy about (mainly me).
- Learn about the history of Peruvian tribes and Incas. Guide was awesome. Learned a lot. Have forgotten most of it already.
- Worlds dodgiest cable car 50 meters above the river, being pulled by a local kid. Didn’t die. Major high fives.
- Beautiful hot springs for sunset.
- Awesome idea! Lets drink 5 bottles of rum and party at the local disco until 2am.
- Terrible idea! Drinking 5 bottles of rum the night before and partying at the local disco until 2am. Liam was dancing so hard at one point he actually managed to kick a girls drink out of her hand. The physics of this still baffles me.
- Zip lining. Probably would have been a lot more fun had we not been hungover.
- Powerade, por favor.
- 6km of walking along a train track to Aguas Caliente.
- Hot shower. Highlight of my day.
- Alarm goes off at 3.50am. Why? WHYYYYYYY?!
- Walk up 2,000 stairs to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Have picked up a stomach bug that wreaks havoc on my body after eating and leaves me feeling like this after any form of physical activity:
- First group into Machu Picchu at 6am and watch the sun rise over the mountain and onto the ruins. One of the more amazing things I’ve seen in my life.
- Machu Picchu is amazing. Better than any photo you’ll see and in the most amazing setting, surrounded by beautiful mountains and snow capped peaks in the distance.
- Tour of the ruins with our guide – really interesting.
- Liam climbed Wayna Picchu, the massive mountain that you can see in the background of the pictures of Machu Picchu. The guide says it takes about 40 minutes to climb but Nem nails it in 20 minutes. Legend. I lay on the grass holding my cramping stomach. Less legendary.
- Walk up to the Sun Gate (other side of Machu Picchu) at a snails pace, being over taken by Japanese grandmothers and young children. Major achievement.
- Funny story about the call of nature on the way to the sun gate – ask me if you like. Has resulted in the joke Q: “Have you seen Machu Picchu? It’s amazing” A: “Yes, but have you met Shailei? She sh*ts all over Machu Picchu”.
- 9.30 train from Aguas Caliente and arrive in Cusco at 1.30am. Exhausted is an understatement.
- All in all an amazing day /trip. A definite highlight of the adventures to date.
Off to Lack Titicaca on the border of Peru and Bolivia tonight and crossing over to Copacabana in Bolivia tomorrow.
We made it to Cusco a few days back after a relatively painless bus ride from Huacachina. This city is absolutely beautiful – surrounded by mountains, bright blue skies and filled with old cobblestone streets and gothic-esque churches. We spent our first day here wandering around the markets buying jackets, jumpers, beanies, booking ourselves in for our trip to Machu Pichu and struggling to breathe after walking up a set of stairs because of the altitude change. The weather has been beautiful and sunny in the day, getting chilly but still bearable at night.
That night after catching up with a bunch of friends we’d met in Central America, somebody decided it was a good idea to head out on the town. What was a brilliant night out turned out to be a nightmare of a morning /whole day after, thanks again to the high altitude and low red-blood cell count (nope, definitely nothing to do with the alcohol. No way, Jose).
Today we headed about an hour or so out of town to a town called Pisac where they have markets each Sunday. The drive there was beautiful, heading up and out over the hills from Cusco and past snow-capped peaks into the valley of Pisec. The markets, unfortunately, were a bit of a tourist trap – the prices were about 4 times of that in Cusco and nothing too exciting there, though it was nice to get out of the city and see it in any case.
Tomorrow morning Nem and I head off on a 3 night, 4 day trip to Machu Pichu. We’re not doing the actual Inca Trail as you need to book about 6 months in advance and pay about $600 (plus do a LOT of walking), so instead we’re doing a fun trip that includes bike riding, zip lining, hot springs and a bearable amount of walking. We’ve had some friends do the same trip so should be amazing. Don’t miss us too much while we’re gone…
The other day we sped through the dunes surrounding Huancachina in a little blue dune buggy (actually, it was red) and then boarded down them. It was awesome. Here’s some photos…
We hung around Chicama for around 6 days – Nem got a few good days surfing and I even managed to catch a decent (albeit small) wave. We started to suspect that Pete has broken or fractured a rib from when he snapped his board in Huanchaco, so he took off for a few days in the mountains as he couldn’t surf.
We caught up again in Lima and decided to take advantage of being back in civilisation – good food, shops and bars. Unfortunately that night the Jager and tequila took advantage of us – after a few hours of drinking and making crazy local friends, Nem and I somehow made it back to the hostel but Pete ended up losing his way home and taking a nap in a park instead. Needless to say we were all feeling more than a little sorry for ourselves yesterday morning – speaking of which I’d like to give a big shout out to MacDonalds for serving cheeseburgers at breakfast time and single-handedly lifting me out of my hungover vortex (though the lack of hashbrowns was a little disappointing).
We’re now in Huacachina for a day – a little oasis in the desert surrounded by massive sand dunes that we’re going to be sand boarding down this afternoon. After sunset on the dunes it’s off to Cusco on an 18 hour bus ride – not so much looking forward to that, though we are going first class with bed seats and dinner service. That’s how we roll.
We caught a night bus out of Lobitos a few days back and made our way about 9 hours down the coast to a town called Chicama, apparently home to the longest left wave in the world. We spent a night in there and the boys went for a surf, but it turns out Chicama’s not the best place to be if there’s no decent swell so we kicked it out of there and headed to another town called Huanchaco.
Huanchaco is a bigger town with more going on – yesterday it was heaving with local people out with their families for a Sunday Funday at the beach. We’ve found a great little hostel called Sud America right opposite the beach in the middle of everything with lovely people staying here, an awesome owner and very chilled staff (plus amazing showers). The beach is lined with traditional little canoe-type boats made of straw/ bamboo/something reedy that are shaped like massive pixie shoes. We’ve been out surfing a few times – Pete even managed to snap a board yesterday and I made friends with a 12 year old local kid called Carlos who gave me all the hot tips on where to sit and yelled encouragement as I paddled for a wave.
Tomorrow we’re back to Chicama as Nem’s dream 5 meter swell is coming. There’s not much internet access there, so it’s over and out for a week or so while I go and get barreled (bahahahaha!!).
We escaped Mancora and made it down to Lobitos – about two hours drive but a world away. This place is an old mining town now filled with little surf hostels. We’re staying at a little place called Nacho’s which is really simple but cheap, nice enough and a view of the surf from our room. It also seems to be filled with only Australians again, which we haven’t really had since Central America.
It’s really arid here – the desert extends all the way down to the beach and there’s not much. There’s also not much more to do but surf so we’ve been doing that a few times a day despite there not being much swell (thankfully for me). Thinking we might head out of here tomorrow further down the coast to another surf spot for a week or so and then closer to Lima before we head for the hills.