Peru

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Photo album and movie


Day 111 - Puno

Peru is like Bolivia only they drive even crazier. The roads are like a banger race. It's more expensive but still really cheap. When you get ripped off, the taxi across town costs 50p rather than 40p...

Hostels are £2 a night for a double room. But the cold showers electrocute you.

 

Everyone here wears hats and carrys huge loads on their backs

Lake Titicaca

Day 112 -113:
Reed islands of Lake Titicaca
(the highest big lake in the world at 4000m)

In the olden days when nasty people used to go round slaughtering locals and saying 'we have bigger guns than you so we live here now', a group of peaceful people who didn't fancy the slaughter option built islands out of reeds and lived out on the lake.

Islands made from reeds

Life involves maintaining the island and making trinkets for tourists

The reeds are used to make the island, the houses and the boats. They also eat the reeds. It's to be hoped there isn't a reed famine...

It's got a bit touristy, but at least the money allows them to buy toys for the children - such as sissors!

 

Peruvian childrens toys

Our host for the night dressing Michelle


We stayed the night on Amantani island (made of rock, not reeds) with a family in their house with no electricity or running water. In the evening they dressed us up in their traditional gear for a night of dancing round the campfire...

Most people enjoyed it but it's a good job I had nothing better to do...

They don't wear this, it's purely to make tourists look stupid!

Day 114 - 118:
Inca trail to Machu Picchu

4 days hiking, up and down over the mountains following the Inca trail to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. It's only 39km in distance but it's at altitude (~3000 - 4200m) and the climbs are hard work.

However, if you go slow enough anyone can do it.

The record time is less than 4 hours!

 

Most people were expecting attack by mountain hamsters so carried 2 sticks...

Fat lazy porters running past us

One of the most impressive things about it was the porters who supported us. There were 26 of us and rather embarrassingly we had a team of 34 porters, cooks and guides.

The rucksacks we carried were about 7kg. The porters carried between 25kg and 30kg! We would set off in the morning, they would pack the campsite away, then run past us, set up the lunch campsite before we get there. Then same again in the afternoon.

Carrying a porters bag (for only 10 mins!)

Michelle finding the stone in her bag

Rather amusingly, at the bottom of the hardest climb our guides secretly put rocks in our rucksacks while we were having lunch. Tee bloody hee! At one of the high points (4200m)

Remember in Friends when Joey wore all Chandlers clothes?

The tents at night were cold (9'C inside) because of the altitude. We slept in all the clothes we owned.

Sleeping wasn't great as the campsites were usually on a slope (the side of a mountain!) and I came down with a hideous cold the day before we set off. I spent most of the nights freezing, coughing and dribbling at the bottom edge of the tent.

On the morning of the 4th day we got up at 4am to go and watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. It was completely clouded over! (We found out after it's cloudy 9 times out of 10)

Nice view of clouds at 6am

The classic view of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was built by the Inca empire probably around 1400. It was probably abandoned around 1500 when the Spanish called in South America and slaughtered everyone. The city was then rediscovered, overgrown by jungle in 1911.

It's pretty much the only site that wasn't trashed by the Spanish, when they came round killing people and building caltholic churches with the stones. Tossers. I'm glad England doesn't have a torrid history of such atrocities. (If you ignore Africa, India, Australia etc....)

Day 119 - 122: Cuzco - Motorcycling

4 days to chill out after the Inca trail. No, I've got a better idea, let's hire some off-road motorbikes and ride across the Andes.

£35 each got us 400cc four-stroke bikes for the day and a guide. We also got helmets and jackets but no body armour.... Which would have been handy if anyone crashed...

3 fools off on an adventure...

Soldier down

Fortunately it wasn't me that crashed. Big Aussie Marc was heading into a corner too fast, with a certain-death drop on the outside of the corner. Over-braking caused him to go down, mashing his unprotected knee into the road at around 20mph.

A few somersaults made sure the rest of his body also hit the road giving him a nice all-over-body gravel-rash.

This incident confirmed earlier research by motorcyclists that knees are softer than roads. He lost a piece of knee the size of a 10p down to the bone. When he moved it, you could see the knee cap stationary at the bottom of the hole... urgh...!

Ouch, that's gotta hurt!

Peruvian ambulance and nice bandage

We needed to get him to a hospital. His bike was trashed and he was incapable of riding it anyway. There are no ambulances or telephones here so we had to take him ourselves on the back of a bike to the tiny hospital which was about 20km away along dirt roads.

We bandaged his knee with a plastic bag and a pair of bermuda shorts.

The hospital was great. They dropped everything they were doing, cleaned him up, stitched his knee back together, bandaged everywhere and gave him lots of painkillers and antibiotics. It took a doctor and two nurses about hour. The bill came to £3! Luckily hospital bills are covered on insurance...

Unfortunately the bike repairs cost £140, and I suspect 'off road motorcycling in Peru' is in the 'dangerous sports not covered' section of the insurance...

knee, arm and side all missing lots of skin...

 

Peruvian roads are usually a bit better than this (but not much!)

Day 123: Journey from hell to Ariquipa

Set off at 8am in the truck, arrived 18 hours later at 2am. The dirt roads were more potholed than expected so we had to go slower and there was a section that needed clearing of rocks. When we got to where we were supposed to be staying at 8pm we found there was going to be a roadblock protest which would have trapped us there for 3 days, so we had to get out of town there and then. Missing the condors of Colca Canyon.

 

Day 124 & 125 - Ariquipa

Back to civilisation. This place has a KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut all next to each other. The first we've seen in 6 weeks! So obviously that was lunch sorted. I was ready to go back for dinner too but instead we went to a restaurant which served guinea pig. It looked like roadkill and tasted like chicken - like all wierd things are claimed to do.

 

Poor Mr Fluffy the guinea pig...

Sat on a mountain top for 500 yrs.

The only thing to see here other than roadkill food is the dead body of a 12 year old girl the Incas sacrificed 500 years ago to some volcano god. They bashed her on the head to kill her. Stupid sods. Apparently she was chosen because she was pretty. The years haven't been kind to her... She's was frozen 6000m up the mountain and is the best preserved 500 year old body in the world.

 

10 seconds later four dead bodies were washed ashore...

Day 126 - Puerto Inca

A random beach camp site in the middle of nowhere.

...with big waves and a beach spannerball court.

 

Mrs Pickles from number 23

Day 127 - Inca cemetry

500 years ago the Incas buried lots of people in the desert (I think they were already dead)

Rather than rotting as dead bodies usually do, the desert sands just dessicated the bodies and preserved them.

So now somebody has now opened up the graves for people to peer in and go 'urgh!'

 

Nazca lines

No one knows why they are there. Some lines are dead straight and many miles long, others draw giant pictures of animals on the ground. The lines are about 50cm deep troughs in the rocks and dirt of the desert floor.

You can only see them from the air, and the turbulent ride in the tiny Cessna airplane is actually the best bit.

We hoped Peruvian aircraft maintenance was up to scratch

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The Spider

 

 

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With extra special photo enhancement...!
The Hummingbird


I can't recall ever sleeping outside in my life so it was time to change that. There's something fundamentally attractive about sleeping overnight in a hammock. I'm not sure what the best bit was. The constant fear of falling out? The uncomfy position? The cold at 4am? The mosquitos? The dogs that lurk threateningly with full bladders? The sun that wakes you at 6am?

Now I see why tents were invented.

...and tents are why bedrooms were invented...

Not as good as it looks...

 

Taxi for sandboarders

Day 128 - Dune buggys and sandboarding

Sandboarding is usually rubbish cos you have to walk to the top. But not when you have a dune buggy taxi!

It was going great til I wiped out and broke my board...

err... it was like it when I got here... honest...

 

Day 129 - The Ballestas Islands
Vulture, and four other thingys
Called the poor mans Galapagos. There was just a lot of birds, some sealions and a few penguins.

Day 130 - 133. Lima - death bed

 

Tiny bathrooms have the benefit of covering both ends at once...

Instead of chilling out and exploring a dull capital city, I got food poisoning of the highest degree. I've been sick before - they don't call me Stevie Chunder for nothing - bit this was crazy, with diarrhoea at the same time. From 1am to 7am I sat on the loo with my head in the sink as every muscle in my body contracted, trying to wring my whole intestines out at both ends. By 7am I was beaten. I was weak and pathetic (yeah, I couldn't believe it either!), squeezed dry of all but mucus and very dehydrated. Luckily I began to hold down sips of Fanta and after spending the whole next day in bed nursing the puke muscles in my sides I was OK.

Not sure what caused it, but I'm going to stop eating raw fish that I find washed up on beachs. Just in case.

Two days later Michelle (and many more on the truck!) came down with the same bug. Obviously it had mutated a by then and become much less virulent so they only got it half as bad...

Day 133 - 134: Huaraz - Glacier ice climbing
Back up to 5000m for a spot of impossible ice climbing. When we arrived at the glacier and saw the 30m high vertical ice face we thought "is this all it is?". When the first guy fell off at 10m we mocked him. When the next guy only made 3m we realised how hard it was...

Not even vertical...it was an overhang!

 

 

...and the ice was quite crumbly...

cravass in the glacier, about 10m deep.


At 5000m just putting your boots on tires you out, so after 3 minutes of swinging ice axes and climbing you are shattered.

dead if the harness hadnt caught on his boots...

Obviously, safety was up to our usual substandard. The belay chap wasn't concentrating when one chap fell...
He fell at half speed - which would have been OK, but his harness wasn't properly tight. He turned upside down as he fell and his harness slipped down to round his ankles. Luckily it didnt go over his boots so he didn't fall to his death... Unfortunately I had just stopped videoing...

 

Day 135: Journey to Huanchaco

 

We could have gone down the main road which goes around the mountains, but no, there's a short cut... it took 8 hours instead of 4. Twenty ton trucks and tiny mountain tracks don't mix...

avoid the rock on the right, but don't fall off the cliff on the left...

Go fast and get across before the bridge collapses...

digging the truck out of the beach at 9pm.

The bridges were made of cheese and when we finally got to the coast where we were camping we got stuck in the sand.

 

mud city walls

Day 136: Chan Chan mud city

1000 years ago they didn't have concrete so they made things out of mud. Surprisingly a giant city and some huge pyramids have survived til now, despite erosion and the grave robbers best attempts to destroy everything.

man made mud pyramid

 

Huanchaco reed sea canoes
The fishermen use canoes made of reeds. For £1 they'll take you out in the waves so you can surf back in. For just 50p you can just borrow the canoe and go yourself...

What could be difficult about this?

Going under for the third time It was all Ricky's fault...

It looked easy, so me and Ricky set off alone. Much to the delight of the crowd that had gathered on the promenade, we capsized 3 times before even getting to the big waves. We sheepishly came back in (we were washed ashore is more accurate!) and reluctantly paid the extra 50p to have the fisherman take us out.

 

Day 137-139: Punto Sal - beach chilling
2 days of doing not much other than lounging around and playing a bit of beach volleyball.

The tranquility was broken (severerly!) by horse riding on a rabid wild stallion. It's accelerator was stuck on 'fast' so within seconds, with no helmet or talent, I was charging down the beach. This would have been fine in a straight line but the horse decided to take a sudden right turn, leaving me hanging off the left side hooked on by just my right leg with my arms round its neck. I managed to stay on, which was good, as

crashing to the hard sand and being trampled by the next horse was bound to hurt and get me into trouble with Michelle.

The only good thing about horses is galloping at full pelt (40mph?). It's really smooth and nice (until it starts to slow down!). Walking, trotting and cantering are like riding a motorcycle with broken steering, brakes that don't work, an accerator that sticks and has no suspension. What's the point? Just ride a motorbike... And they don't attract flies...

Day 140: Drive to Ecuador

Into the last country for the last two weeks on the truck. Peru was great. Cheap and friendly, cold in the mountains, hot at the coast. The only downside was all the ill episodes everyone kept having.

 

Next country - Ecuador