Archives for category: Peru

On Easter Monday we starting the Inca Jungle Trek, it was an early start on the first day which was a downhill biking about sixty three km looping around a mountain from a starting height of 4600 metres to finishing at around the 1500m mark. The ride was slightly mental to say the least starting off at the top in a cold cloudy fog (that was freezing), ascending on to jungle temperatures at the bottom where it was hot and sticky. The road twisted and turned as we descended, passing through tight turns and a couple of river crossings too. Towards the end the road got pretty tough going and was full of loose rock, potholes and some tight drops to the river below. Our first lodgings were in the middle of a valley at a lovely village called Santa Marta. Surprisingly they had a five-a-side football pitch with flood lights where the guys of the group played against the locals. On the next morning we had a hard trek up one side of the valley, to get to the first part of the old Inca trail, which was endless little steps that looped around hugging the edge of the mountains with spectacular views.

We stayed at a hostel in Santa Teresa that night and started early the next morning from the village. Our guide explained to us that the old village was washed away (literally) over 10 years ago when the two rivers that the town sat on, both burst their banks. This was following heavy rain that caused landslides further upstream that made the rivers in mini reservoirs which then burst open releasing all the water at once upon the unsuspecting town. That morning we trekked down into the river bed where we took a rather nifty means of transport across the racing rapids of the river. The walk continued alongside the river passing amazing waterfalls along the way. After lunch we followed the train tracks through the jungle where we got our first glimpse of Machu Picchu.

Arriving at Aguas Calinetes early that evening, it’s a busy little place full of tourists that sits at the base of Machu Picchu.  Next morning was another early riser to get in early into Machu Picchu we queued for the bus from 3am to 5.30, got up the top at 6am. As we waited for our tour to begin we watched the sun rise over Machu Picchu from the Agricultural sector of the village. At 6.30 the group gathered for a guided tour from Antonio from our tour company called Conde Peru travel. Antonio’s tour was both interesting and passionate given that he himself is from the scared valley of the Incas he spoke about their history and brought us through city showing us remarkable temples to scared areas and agricultural sectors.


The Meeting Point, Cuzco and then on to the Machu Picchu 

We arrived in Cuzco on Friday morning super early from the night bus from Arequipa. We were too early for check in so we decided to throw our bags in storage and check out Cuzco. It was easter and there was a real buzz around the city there were open markets with a lot of sweet pastries, and local farmers selling their produce. We visited a couple of churches there was an amazing amount of work and preparation for the easter celebrations from the interiors of the churches being adorned with beautiful flowers and offerings given in the means of fresh fruits and vegetables hung around the church. The statues were a doll like porcelain and very life like depicting scenes from the bible. Later that night Patti and Dec arrived from Bolivia we all spent the weekend catching up swapping travel stories.

We were collected from the hostel at 3.30am at night to start the six hour journey to the starting point called the condors pass. This was quite a spectacular sight to see about six or seven enormous condors swooping over and back on the hot thermals of air through this tight pass. Colca Canyon is a massive canyon even larger and deeper than the grand canyon, surprisingly very green. The trek consisted of two days and one night, one day to travel down into the canyon and across a couple of villages to an oasis where we would stay for the night. Starting at four am on the second day we began a hard vertical zig zag trek. It was a testing couple of days but there was a certain sense of satisfaction to make it to the top on the second day. After that we were brought to some hot springs were we steeped our sore muscles in hot water that had volcanic minerals with some healing properties. That night we headed for Cuzco on a night bus…..

Arequipa is a pretty colonial city in Peru close to the Chilean and Bolivian border.  The main reason for coming here was to climb the Colca Canyon which is near by (near being about six hour drive!) We stayed at a lovely hostel in the suburbs called Arequipa Backpackers ran by a lovely young couple, the hostel itself was fantastic offering an array of facilities like a pool, cinema room and fully equipped kitchen. We stayed there a couple of nights before heading off on the trek to acclimatize to the altitude, took it easy.

Just outside of a town called Ica, and surrounded by the largest sand dunes that we’ve ever seen, Huacachina sits as an authentic oasis in the desert. We came here with one thing on our minds and that was sand boarding and a bit of desert buggying. Bring on the adrenaline rush. The little village itself was very pretty and had four streets you could walk around it in about ten minutes. We stayed at a place called El Huacachinero, the place itself was clean and modern with a pool, the staff were super friendly and will do anything to help !

We heard some really bad reports about Lima, but to our surprise we were met with the most amazing city. Full of culture and amazing open spaces. In hindsight our 24hrs in Lima was too short but maybe we will make it back another day.

To top off an excellent touristy day we headed out for sushi that evening. For 49soles (about €12.50) between us – we got enough Sushi to feed a family of 4. We got over 35 pieces – Yum Yum!

Only thing missing here is a bar of toblerone and then it would definitely be Switzerland!  We arrived into Huarez on an overnight bus to be awakened to the most amazing scenery yet, snow capped mountains all around. The Cordillera Blanco mountains surrounded us, some stretching to over 20,000ft. While Ireland was bathed in a mini heat wave, we hit the heights and felt the cold.

After acclimatizing, we decieded to do a hike to ‘Lake 69’ set at over 4,700m. The lake itself if know for its photoshop blue colouring and looks almost fake. We set out early and were doing quite well until the altitude hit us badly, Lisa suffered from an ever worsening head ache that got worse with every step. We had to retreat and head back down to lower ground but on our way back we got a special treat – the site of 2 massive condors only about 15ft away from us as we passed through a high mountain pass. We weren’t too sure if they were checking us out as dinner or just curious about 2 whities passing them by.

Election time in Peru and no one told us about it. For elections in Peru the place literally shuts down, everyone has to go home to their home town to vote and for the 2 proceeding days they stop selling drink! Eeeek! On top of this with all the locals traveling up and down the country, the price of bus tickets doubles and that’s if you are lucky enough to get one. So, because of all this we got stuck here for an extra day and we couldn’t get out quick enough in the end.

Interesting article on the political elections likening the candidate choices as have to choose between Aids and Cancer

Whilst trapped in Huanchaco, we took the time to visit some historical sites around Trujuillo & Huanchaco. Although they were all very interesting, by the end of the day we were well and truely bored of Adobe brick buildings and imaging what it could have been like back in the day. It probably didn’t help the fact that we travelled overnight (in our most uncomfortable bus yet) and decieded to go straight out to visit the sites. Ah well, lessson learned Get some more sleep before visiting these sites!

Chan Chan also goes by the names of the City of the Moon (Ciudad de la Luna) and the City of the Long Walls (Ciudad de las Largas Murallas). Chan Chan is under constant threat of being wiped away with any sort of heavy rains. The sites are under constant repair using the ancient techniques to preserve what is left of them. The last El Ninò destroyed large part of the site and even a small rainfall causes walls to crumple.

So, we didn’t have enough surf, sand or sun in Montanita, so we headed to Mancora in Northern Peru for a bit more fun. Mancora is little more than a one/two street town with an amazing surf beach. The surf here was HUGE…. and a little big for us. The waves on a small day kick in at 6 foot+ – It’s a long way from the smaller waves in Bundoran.

We got a great little hostel with amazing facilities, free breakfast with amazing shakes, great rooms, break out areas and a cool little pool with a bar. Not bad for €7.50 each a night.