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My trip to Peru - lots of pics (56k warning)

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Marlat, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK

    Well, I have just returned from an amazing two and a half weeks in Peru. It was very much an unexpected holiday in the sense that I had not planned on visiting Peru any time soon and I booked it on a whim as it fell neatly within the gap between my old job and my new job. I trust everything has stayed well here without me.

    To get to Peru from London is a small hassle, its a neat 1 hour flight (the wrong way) to Amsterdam and then a 13 hour flight direct from Amsterdam to Lima. After the 5 hour time difference, I arrived around 5pm in Lima and was immediately struck by the heat (about 30 degrees), humidity and the "3rd world" nature of the place. Lima is a very poor town and its built on a desert next to the Pacific Ocean. It is very dusty and has that smell that all large developing cities seem to have. THe first night I just checked out a local resaurant as the tour was starting the next day. The next morning I headed down to the cliffs of Miraflores (a district of Lima) and wandered along them taking photos of people and the ocean. I headed out to the local pre-Inca pyramid of Huaca Pachallna and then back to the hotel where I found out I was 1 hour late for the group meeting which started at noon and not 2pm as it said on my notes. Luckily the others hadnt arrived as their plane was cancelled in Australia and so I only met one of our 7 member team, Louisa, an American lady, and our guide Gustavo Diaz. We headed out for a local seafood lunch and then retired to meet again the next morning with the group.






    The next morning we met the group and it was a great mix with Allen, a radiographer from Blackburn in Vic (whom I shared accomodation the whole trip), Di and Jan, an older couple of friends from Britain and Steve and Lucy, a young couple from Australia on an 8 month trip around the world after teaching English in China for a year. We headed out to the old town of Lima (see photo below) and then got on the plane to Puno (Lake Titicaca).





    Puno is at the ungodly height of 3800metres above sea level and was to be our first taste of altitude that would plauge us for the trip. When you first get off the place you immediately start to get a headache and feel dizzy. The best thing to do is just rest it out and drink lots of water, coca tea (made from the coca leaf which is also what cocaine comes from - however in leaf form their is no narcotic effect) or, the best remedy - diamox - an anti-altitude sickness drug. Its hard to explain how hard it is at altitude, but the best description is like being drunk and hung over at the same time without any of the fun bits. Just going up a small flight of steps will make you gasp for air. After a quick walk around town and a light dinner we were off to bed to try and sleep (or not - its hard to sleep at altitude). The enxt day we headed out on a boat to Lake Titicaca the highest navigable lake in the world. The 3 hour boat ride took us out to Taquille Island where we had a short hike (up to about 4200 metres) and some amazing local villages and scenery (see photos).







    We then headed to the Llachan village community for an overnight stay with local villages. We had a game a soccer in the afternoon with the local lads and a couple of the young boys joined in (see photos) the lads had the advantage of being used to the altitude and we got very tired very quickly, but it was great fun. A couple of times the game was interupted by heards of goats and sheep crossing the pitch. It was a professional game. We got dressed up in traditional attire for dinner and then had a few drinks around the camp fire before going back to our village houses for sleep.




    THe next morning we went back across the lake and stopped and visted the Uros floating islands. The islands are made by putting together floating reeds and then are anchored to the bottom of the lake. In times of dispute, the islands can be cut in half and the two islands can peacefully go on their way.



    After heading back to Puno city we jumped on a tour to Sulanistani a pre-Inca burial sight with some of the most amazing scnerey in Peru. Its on top of a hill overlooking a lake and has these huge vertical funeral towers all over the landscape. Its a really haunting place. (see photos). That night we headed out for some local food and we sampled cuy (guinnea pig) which comes looking a lot like a cooked guinnea pig (head and all). Unsuprisingly there is not a lot of meat and what little there is tastes a lot like a combination of chicken and duck. We also had some Alpacca which is really nice meat with a flavour like a strong pork. Afterwards we had a few (too many) piscos, which is the local spirit drink made out of grapes, which put me in a bad way for the 6 hour local bus ride to Cuzco the next day.





    From Cuzco (3400metres and the centre of the Inca Empire) we headed out to the Sacred Valley of the Incas on a local bus to Pisac and then to a local village to see local crafts being made and farming and then to Ollyantambo, and ancient Inca site and one of the few places the Incas defeated the Spanish. The ruins are set on top of a hill overlooking the sacred valley and are an amazing site (see photos). The next day we met up with the local treking guide, Flavio, to head out for our trek through the Lares Valley. The Inca Trail is closed in Februrary so the Lares Valley is an alternative you can do. The trek is shorter, but in some ways more challenging. For example, the highest point on the Inca trail is 4200 metres, but that is the height of the first campsite on the Lares Trek, the next day you are up to 4850metres for the high pass. The trek is hard to describe, but is best summed up by the word PAIN!






    The first day is entirely uphill for 6 hours and by the fourth hour was pouring with rain and so we were soaking wet and struggling in the lack of oxygen. The campsite that night was so high and cold that were were in sleeping bags wearing all the clothes we had including beaning and gloves to try and keep warm. The next day was another 3 hours of climbing before we reached the high point and then had a 6 hour downhill hike. At 4800 metres (over 15,000 feet) you can only take about 10-20 steps before you are completely out of breath and need to take a break. Its very hard going. However, our guide and porters assured us that they could run the entire hike we did (15 hours plus breaks - ie two days) in about 9 hours, they are incredible to watch. Attached are some photos from the hike.






    The next day we headed to Aguas Callientas for an overnight stay before heading to the amazing Machu Pichu in the next morning. We got there at 6 am and it was fairly quite, but within a few hours it was packed. After the pain of the hike it was hard going up and down more steps, but as I am sure you have already seen, it is an amazing place and the construction and views are breathtaking (as are the hills). It is defintely a plce that everyone should visit in their lifetime if they can, pictures donĀ“t do full justice to the amazing nature of the place.





    After heading back to Cuzco for some R&R we headed by plane to the Amazon basin (and finally back to a normal altitude) for a few nights in the Amazon jungle. We stayed in an Eco lodge about 30 miles down river from the main town. The lodge is an amazing place with no hot water and electricity for only a few hours a day, but from their you can do amazing jungle treks (which we did for 5 hours one monring), trips up the rivers and just generally relazing well away from civilization. Its ot all easy though, the humidity is killer up around 90% and its very hard to more or breathe without working up a sweat. We got to see a proper tarantula in the wild on our trek under the watchful eyes of Elmar, the machette weilding guide. At one point, because of the rains, the path we had to cross was flodded and all 5 foot of Elmar had to carry the four ladies in our trip over the flooded path which went over his gum-boots (knee height). The guys were left to walk it ourselves and needless to say, we spent the last 40 minutes of the hike with boots filled with water. However, in the heat, wet feet and socks was a blessing.










    After the Amazon we were back to Lima to end our tour. I decided to live it up by having lunch at the best restaurant in Lima. Its a fancy fusion place and the menu was amazing - a nine course degustation menu. It opened with the traditional ceviche )raw fish in lemon juice), and then with a cereal coated prawn and potato dish, and a crab and tuna dish. The mains were a prawn ravioli in a prawn reduction (unbelievable), sea bass with egg rice in a ginger and garlic broth and suckling pig with a spicy potato side. The deserts were equally amazing with a sorbet of local berries, a lemongrasss and chocolate fondant style dish and a creamy cinamon and cardamon rice pudding. With three glasses of wine, water and a coffee, the bill was about 45 pounds. Amazingly cheap for such an amazing lunch and a great way to end the trip.

    Well, thats probably long enoungh and sorry about all the photos, but there was just so much to see and do its hard to get it all down in a short space. I would highly recommend Peru as a destination for someone looking for an adventure style holiday. Its not easy, the hiking and altitude mean that its not for teh reint or weak hearted, but its worth the effort. Its a beautiful country adn the people are amazing. I was lucky again in that Intrepid Travel (www.intrepidtravel.com) provide and excellent service and Gustavo the tour guide was a great knowledge guy who was a lot of fun. The group I travelled with were also excellent which makes travelling on your own a lot easier.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos!


  2. Love the pictures of the mountains, hate the one of the spider.

    A few friends of mine have been to Peru and loved it :)

    Sounds like it was an awesome trip!
  3. pigpen02


    Mar 24, 2002
    I've always wondered: after an extended period in an oxygen-shy high altitude, when a person returns or travels to a relatively oxygen-rich low altitude, is there a significantly noticeable effect?
  4. ahkiatt


    Sep 30, 2006
  5. Wow!! Very cool!!!!
  6. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Yeah, for the first day or so you feel a bit like superman insofar as you dont really get tired and you have a lot of extra stamina, but its not long lasting as your body adjusts to the extra oxygen pretty quickly. That's why some athletes do high altitude training to get used to working in low oxygen environments.
  7. Flabby1

    Flabby1 Guest

    Sep 23, 2007
    Peru eh? That's my kinda trip, Freaking sweet pics man. must've been a
    kick ass time.

    u kinda look like trey parker in some of the more distant photos
  8. HollowBassman


    Jun 24, 2007
    Hancock, MD
    Looks like a very beautiful place! It seems like you enjoyed your stay.



  9. Scarlet Fire

    Scarlet Fire

    Mar 31, 2007
    New England
    Did you wind up losing any weight at altitude? I've heard that a lot of climbers who climb Everest come back down from the summit almost emaciated because of the lack of oxygen.
  10. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    No, I lost a bit of weight from the hiking and low fat diet they eat there, but I don't think a lack of oxygen itself would cause you to lose weight. I imagine those who go up to the summit are losing weight because of the massive amount of energy you expend when you have no oxygen - it's hard to take about 20 steps at 4800 metres, Everest is what 6600? that would be impossible to take anything but one or two steps at a time. Also, if you are altitude sick, you dont feel hungry and some people throw up, so that would obviously cause weight loss, but if you are altitude sick, Everest would kill you!
  11. Scarlet Fire

    Scarlet Fire

    Mar 31, 2007
    New England
    Ah, okay. That makes a bit more sense.

    And I think Everest is closer to 8800m, but either way, that's not a whole lot of oxygen at either altitude.
  12. worthy of national geo.
  13. Armueller2001


    Sep 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    Awesome photos man, what kind of camera did you use?
  14. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
  15. that's gorgeous, maybe one day i'll make it down there:)
  16. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO

    Of course you realize that the first pick will be Photoshop fodder for a long time. ;)

    And this picture is very cool:

  17. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Very cool, Mark.

  18. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    Looks like a great trip.

    Awesome photos!
  19. Next time you go, fly to manchester airport first and pick me up, i wanna go :bawl:
  20. IconBasser

    IconBasser Scuba Viking Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Alta Loma, California
    hey Mark, didn't you just get back from skiing in the alps?

    what are ya, some kinda vacation whore?

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