On the first day of 2017, we enthusiastically set off on our Journey to South America. The first stage was three weeks in Peru to visit with Bron’s sister and brother-in-law, Yasha and Juergen, who are overlanders travelling in the beautiful Berta through South America. You may like to follow their journey here. You will also find an interesting read about our visit to them here.
Yasha and Bron had not spent time together for almost 4 years (except for fairly regular skype chats) and having lost both their parents in 2016 felt that time together was just what their hearts and souls needed. A bit of a pity that their bodies also seemed to need some healing as, during the short time available, much of it was spent either battling the impact of the high altitude or the nasty virus that attacked them both. But just being together was a great tonic and we still got to see pretty much everything we set out to.
Yasha met us on arrival at Cusco airport and after catching up with Juergen and Berta at their campsite, we set off for the slightly lower altitude of Pisac for a few days to acclimatise and recover. They had found lovely accommodations for us attached to the Dona Clorinda restaurant, which set the standard for breakfasts for the rest of the trip! We also dined there 2 of the 3 nights because the food was fabulous. And Berta was parked nearby so that fresh tea could be delivered to our room by Yasha each morning!!
Whilst in Pisac we took some time visiting the nearby Inca ruins, bought supplies in the local market and started to buy our souvenirs from the expansive artisan market. The colours in Peru are a sight to behold as are the incredible range of products created from alpaca fleece.
Our next stop was Ollantaytambo which was the starting point for a train journey and bus trip to the breathtaking Machu Picchu. We went on our own as Yasha and Juergen had been before so they stayed to soak up a festival occurring in Ollantaytambo at the time. The train journey through the valley to Aguas Calientes availed us of amazing views of the Andes – albeit from a different perspective than our flights above them. After settling into our hotel and checking out the town we retired early to make a prompt start for the bus trip the following day. However, despite the early start, about 250 people beat us so we were on about the 8th bus up the switchback mountain road – in the morning mist. At first we set off for the Sun Gate where most of the trekkers enter the Machu Picchu ruins. We met some of them along the way who suggested that due to the fog and mist we would not benefit from making the last 10 minute climb to see nothing. So we turned and made our way back to see the ruins. These appeared just as we came to the first viewing area and the fog made a timely departure. No words or even photos will adequately describe the pure awesomeness of these ruins. The day fulfilled a life goal and, despite sharing it with many others, the experience will stay with us always. Well worth one visit in your lifetime if you can possibly prioritise it. There are some photos in the gallery but be warned that they can not do it justice!!
We returned to Ollantaytambo that afternoon and awoke the following morning anticipating the steep climb up the ruins that overlook the town. We still did it despite Yasha and Bron experiencing the same viral symptoms. The severe shortness of breath, painful chest and not infrequent coughing could take nothing from the views or the wonder at the detailed stonework that is a significant mark of Incan construction.
Upon descent, we made our way to Urubamba and eventually found lodgings at Wayqey Lodge. Absolutely perfect. Fully self-contained two bedroom unit where Yasha and Bron took to the beds, Bob provided all nursing, cooking and supply gathering duties and Juergen endeavoured to not succumb to the virus (unsuccessfully as it happens). Thank goodness for minor miracles, local pharmacies and some limited Spanish skills. After 5 days of bed rest and nurturing we arose to continue the journey taking in the nearby agricultural site of Moray and Maras salt pans. Pretty amazing!!
We then returned to Cusco and the lovely Ninos Hotel (which actively supports the welfare of children in Cusco). Yasha and Juergen returned to their campsite above the Saksaywaman historical Incan site (which we unfortunately missed out on exploring) and joined us during the day to explore the sites of the city. Our time here was shortened but we still had a chance to get a taste of the square, cathedrals, and shops.
With only one week left of our time in Peru we left Cusco and headed toward Puno and Lake Titicata, enjoying the unique experience of crossing the Altiplano, with a stop off to break the journey at Sicuani. We had a strange experience of being given Room 101 here and at 3 other hotels in Peru. Room 101 is a BBC TV show in which guest celebrities vie to have their pet hates banished to Room 101 – a room inspired by George Orwell’s novel, 1984, where the worst things in the world are placed. We were a bit worried that this was a message for us!! We also visited the famous Raqcui ruins where the four of us accidentally became stars for an advertising campaign for a luxury coach tour company!!
And then onto Puno and the beautiful Lake Titicata with its floating islands made of reeds. Whilst this was very tourist oriented the islanders are very happy to share their lifestyle and offer their handmade memorabilia for purchase. These items are very beautiful and the hospitality of the locals second to none. This was a brief but very happy visit to one of the world’s iconic spots.
Our last journey took us across the mountains and finally to a lower altitude to the beautiful city of Arequipa – its white sillar stone buildings making it one of Peru’s most beautiful places. We spent our last few days together there, and despite having our camera and all our Peru photos stolen, we enjoyed the museums, convents, beautiful homes, cathedrals and of course Peruvian food, cakes and ice cream. Not to mention the shopping!!! Or the stunning Hostal Las Mercedes.
All too soon we slipped off in the early hours of the morning, having said our farewells the previous evening, to catch our flight to Quito, Ecuador and the next leg of our amazing South American adventure.
We wish to acknowledge the photography of Yasha and Juergen for many of the photos in our gallery for this section of their journey. We do so hope that the kind gentleman who procured our camera enjoyed the photos of the earlier parts of our visit to Peru!!!!!