After two and a half weeks in Bolivia we were amazed by what we were greeted with in Peru... Mcdonald's, Starbucks, Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut side by side along the main street! To say that the hospitable White City felt European was an understatement, the main square could easily have been somewhere in picturesque Italy and the abundance of coffee and gelato shops gave it a very Mediterranean feel.
We found out the hard way that we aren't smarter than a 5th grader (anyone know how old a 5th grader is?!). After going to the chocolate cafe for just a quiet drink with fellow travellers (who gave us their hi-tech walking sticks) we ended up being embroiled in an English speaking, albeit very American orientated, quiz entitled 'are you smarter than a 5th grader'. Well, it turns out we aren't but we are pretty content not knowing the names of Pokémon characters and their stages of transformation.
Peruvian specialities include Alpaca, Llama and Guinea Pig! That's to eat by the way, not just that they are deemed special. We couldn't bring ourselves to try the latter one though, not only because they were served whole and looked flattened on the plate, but also because they were very expensive, as £3 can get someone a soup starter, a beef main and a light pudding- we knew which one we preferred! Alpaca on the other hand was deeeelicious. We also found out that Peruvians have a competition where they dress up guinea pigs in fancy dress and the prettiest one gets... to be EATEN first. Oh yeah!
Quite nice, kind and gentle, they're not a fan of Chilians
State of WCs:
Not so clean scout toilets on the Inca trail and you have to have your own toilet paper 3/10, otherwise OK 5/10
15*c - 26*c
Jam + bread, soup and bugers
No. Of bites:
Maryam 0 v 8 Andy
Inka-cola (don't have it if you value your teeth), Inca ruins with agricultural terraces, souvenirs shops
If in doubt about your sickness have a Cipro tablet! Remember that llamas spit
Condors, llamas, alpacas, horses, mules, various birds
More expensive than Bolivia especially in tourist areas but a good meal can still be bought for about £5
Three words: (new entry)
Inca terraces, Sexy llama, Pisco sour
Squawk squawk! Watch out for the condors, they are MASSIVE! Maryam was definitely in danger of being carried away. The colca canyon has been one of the highlights of south America, the scenery was breathtaking and to see condors so close was amazing! The climb also took our breath away... along with all our energy and our will to live!
We set off on our climb on the second day at 4:30am and were told we wouldn't get any breakfast until we reached the top. Sounds ridiculous already doesn't it? Well, the climb was almost 1000m and was near vertical the whole way up! Luckily for our guide Roy, we were given eggs for breakfast on top of the now staple bread and jam otherwise we think the poor guy might have been thrown back into the canyon! The condors would have loved that...
"Kuscooo that's his name... Kuscooo he's the king of the world..." If you haven't seen Emperors New Groove, its about time you did. Then everything about the Inca trail becomes clear.
Our arrival date in Cusco was always known as we had to book the Inca Trail all the way back in June to ensure we got a place. What seemed like an age away was now all of a sudden upon us and we needed to put our feet up for a couple of days after our excursions at the colca canyon before our trek to Macchu Picchu! Unfortunately, we weren't so lucky as disaster struck and Andy got the runs! Half a day spent in the clinic and some antibiotics later and we were 'ready' to go... Then Maryam was struck down with the runs as well! Doh!
The Inca Trail
Luckily, the issue of the 'runs' was short lived and we had a blast! Sexy llamas and meeting our long lost Irish family members Alyshia and Deirdre aka Guinness power! Our tour group (Llama path) were exceptional, 4 course meals 3 times a day, 'happy hour' before dinner consisting of popcorn and hot chocolates and an incredible team of ninjas! 22 of them to be precise plus a head chef. These guys made up the team of porters who carried the tents, food, pots and pans on their backs (25kg backpacks!) and still covered the route faster than us.
As if it wasn't bad enough that these guys beat us with these huge bags, we found out the quickest time that the 45km route has been completed in (remember we took over 3 days) is... 3 hours and 40 minutes!!! #holyshite
In order to overcome the hard treks we would play games and sing songs (the Irish love a good singsong). Hiking up to Dead Woman's Pass which is 4200m above sea level, we sang epic tunes such as 'reach for the stars', 'stronger' and 'never gonna give you up' to keep the momentum going. We climbed 900m in high altitude in 2 hours. Not bad right!!
Puna + Floating Islands
A flying visit on our way from Lake Titicaca to Arequipa which involved a trip to the floating islands (still in Lake Titicaca but the Peruvian part) and a few hours sheltering from the rain in the bus station! The floating islands were mad, it is hard to believe that people would live in such a location. The way the islands are created is a feat of engineering using mainly natural resources found on the lake, and the little communities that live on top survive with basic means. It is a beautiful lakescape.
On our return from the Inca trail we spent two further days relaxing in the glorious Cusco city, spending time taking chocolate making classes, indulging ourselves in trendy food joints, and being lured by ladies selling one hour massages for 25soles - £5. We then spent a further day on the Inca 'sacred valley' tour where we experienced a further three Inca settlements. We felt so relaxed and calm in this colonial city that if ever we want a tranquil SA city break this place would be it.
Absolutely love love loved Cusco!!
Team Europe writing out INCA.
The sexy llama team and the mega ninga porters.
Glamping tents, our dining and kitchen tent... and the amazing food served.
The inca sites and the tradition of sacrificing the most beautiful young female!
The breathtaking scenery (pics by the lovely Johannna S.H.)
... And we made it to Machu Picchu.