A Travellerspoint blog

Day 31: Wednesday 5th August, Cusco, Peru

Best city so far!!!!! We could definately stay here

sunny 22 °C
View South America Extravaganza on Maraka Saunders's travel map.

We arrived in Cusco early in the morning, too early in fact that our rooms weren't ready yet. I however still wasn't feeling right so Marco managed to get my room for me early. I ran upstairs to have a quick shower and make myself feel a little more alive, while everyone went to breakfast. I didn't take to long to get ready, then Callum Jack and I went and joined them at Jack's Cafe (the best food in South America!!). They had the biggest breakfast menu I couldn't decide. I ended up having a breakfast tortilla which consisted of 2 tortillas, with a huge pile of beans, two fried eggs on top and a whole sliced avocado. Callum had French Toast which came with bacon and maple syrup but oversized. Was exactly what everyone was wanting after a long night bus.
After breakfast we went for an orientation walk around the city (as we do in every new place), so we know where is safe to get money from, where is clean and good to get food from, which are the good drinking bars, and where the supermarkets are to get snacks etc. Also the most important part of being in Cusco, was it was our last chance to equipt ourselves fully for the Inca Trail. Cusco had heaps of our door shops, Northface etc.
Cusco also had some very big market complexs. Marco directed us to the biggest one San Francisco Market, so bunch of us went there to have a look around. Callum and I needed a Cusco keyring, a bag flag, and I needed another bracelet. I also ended up buying a little notebook to learn Spanish in.
After spending lots of money in the thousands of markets in Cusco, we went back to the hotel to relax for a bit and for Callum to shower. Around 1pm we meet up with Izzy, Jo, Tessa and Julia from our first tour, who had also just made it to Cusco, and were on their way to the Inca Trail.
So we went out for lunch, Harrolds suggestion, but it was disastrous. They forgot some meals and some drinks and then took an hour and a half to finally get them, then they tried charging us for everything they didn't give us. Spanglish got us through.
At 6pm we had to meet at the G Adventures office in Cusco for our Machu Picchu briefing. Basically they just went over what to bring, what not to bring etc. We were only allowed 6kg per person but that included your sleeping bag and sleeping mat. The sleeping bag weighed 2kg and the sleeping mat weighed 1.5kg, so you only had 2.5kg for all your warm clothes and essentials. Lucky we had our own sleeping bag which weighed around 1kg so gave us another 1.5kg extra. The reason behind the 6kg is because our porters are only allowed to carry 25kg each. So that 3 duffle bags and there own stuff.
They also went over the change in altitude each day, what the fitness expectations were. Was all very scary. Basically the 2 main things were - 'It's not a race , it's a hike' and PMA, PMA!! Positive Mental Attitude.
After I'd been freaked out we wet out for dinner, then half of us (including Callum) went to the Irish Paddys and the other half went to Mythology (including me), where they had Salsa lessons from 9-11pm. I had the best night ever!! After the lesson it was just like a normal social salsa night in Wellington. I had a Bachata dance with the teacher, then the other teacher saw and asked me for a dance, then I just didn't sit down after that. The main cool thing was that I was wearing my Zouk LA t-shirt and one of the teachers/DJ had done a year of soul so asked me to dance. I realised half through that no one else knew Zouk and I was doing a spotlight in front an entire room of strangers.
After being at Paddys , Callum and the others came and joined us, then we all went to Mama Africa
Mama Africa is a club that goes the latest and all of the tourists go to. It was such an awesome night, except my dancing partner Izzy wasn't there because she was sick. :-(
We had lost Pisco Sours, lots of Rum and Cokes and lots of dancing. It was cool to see Everyone let loose. Was of the Aussie guys (Cal) got sooooo drunk he poured water all over his head in the middle of the dance floor.
About half hour later Jack, Callum and I decided to go home to bed.
We got to the hotel when I realised there was someone lying down on the pavement about 100m from the front door. Then I realised it was Cal. So we went and picked him up off the ground. He said 'Oh wow are you taking me to bed, thanks sooo much I really need to go to bed.'. Jack and Callum carried him up the stairs, he was saying 'you guys are machines, thanks, thanks!'. When we got him into his room his mate Josh was there asleep but in the sitting position, as if he was trying to wait up for him, but feel asleep. We took his shoes and his shirt of for him. Then Jack said Maraka you take his pants off , Cal said 'NO! She's already got a lovely boyfriend!'. We tucked him in, then he insisted a hug from all of us. It was very funny.

Posted by Maraka Saunders 17:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Day 30: Tuesday 4th August, Chivay to Arequipa to Cusco

Day in Arequipa followed by yet another night bus

sunny 28 °C
View South America Extravaganza on Maraka Saunders's travel map.

We got up early again to catch our bus back to Arequipa. This bus ride was only 4 hours as weren't stopping on the way to look at anything; just toilet stops. When we got to Arequipa there was no hotel to check into as we we left the same day on an overnight bus to Cusco. However, we went back to our hotel we stayed in last time, put our bags in their storage room, hung out in their lobby and used there WiFi till 9pm.
We arrived there around lunchtime again, feeling pretty hungry as the breakfast at the hotel in Chivay wasn't overly amazing; not much to eat. The usual 5 of us went out for lunch, Steph, Clare, Ben, Callum and me, Jack wanted to ring Veronika as he hadn't had good internet for a few days. We found this nice restaurant with a great view of some of the 80 volcanoes in Arequipa.
Side Note: Out their 80 volcanoes, 2 are active. One is called the Misty Volcano. It is the most dangerous as Arequipa City is located at the bottom of it. Apparently they have about 2 to evacuate the entire city, according to the experts. Also Arequipa has earthquakes everyday, except they can't feel them as they are only between 2-2.5, they need to be a magnitude 4 and over to be felt here.
After lunch we went for a bit of a walk around the Plaza de Armas, where lots of festival things were happening, because as I mentioned, August is Arequipa's anniversary month.
Down one side of the Plaza was a crafting competition. There were lots of men with either a piece of white stone that they were carving, or they had fire welding tools and steel. Everyone was creating some amazing sculptures.
After we'd been fed and walked we head back to the hotel to talk to loved ones on Skype etc for an hour or so. I tried to also do a bit more on my blog and put up some more photos but I started feeling ill again. So I lay down for a sleep while Callum and the others went out for a Starbucks drink and gets snacks etc for our overnight bus ride.
They got back an hour or so before the bus left (with a caramel frappachino for me 😊😊😊😊), so played cards for a while before getting on our bus.

Posted by Maraka Saunders 17:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Day 28: Sunday 2nd August, Chivay and Colca Canyon, Peru

Amazing views and big birds

sunny 21 °C

This morning I struggled to get out of bed as I had very bad altitude sickness. Chivay sits a 3600m above, highest place we have slept at so far. I had a horrible sleep. Kept waking up with a massive headache and very dissy, wanting to be sick but never did. Quite a few people got bleeding noses aswell from the altitude. Mine just kept going jn the shower, from the heat I suspect. But anyway, I wasnt going to miss out on Colca Canyon, so I got up and got ready as fast as possible without making myself ill.
We caught our bus from outside the market area, then we went for out 6 hour round trip to the Colca Canyon. We stopped at 3 veiw points along the way and a little town called Maca (my nickname). I wanted to get a picture but there was no town sign. The main place we stopped was in the highest point of the Canyon where you find the Condors flying. These birds were massive, they can weigh up to 10kg and live up to 65-70 years old. Baby condors fly with their father until they are 3 years old. What an incredible experience to see a gigantic bird, elegantly gliding through the air between 5 and 30 metres away from you. Callum got some amazing photos.
The best part of this trip to the Caynon was that, with all the people around we noticed that standing right in front of us were 4 people from our first group. They had spent a few extra days in Lima and then gone it alone. They actually got a little bit of help from Harrold for the first part, as he was still on holiday.
It was so nice seeing them again but we were both on separate tours that were to go on walks, so we had to say our goodbyes.
I thought I had already seen some incredible veiws but every 100 metres we walked there were more grest veiws.
We stopped at another veiw point worth a mention that are in the facebook photos alot, which was an area where there were alot of Inca Terraces. Inca Terraces were made for producing different types of crops, veges, plants, etc. They created because different crops grew at different attitudes, due weather, water etc. For example around 4000 metres above sea level can't produce agriculture becuase the land is too dry as there is no water; 200 below is better.

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Posted by Maraka Saunders 17:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Day 27: Saturday 1st August - Arequipa to Colca Canyon, Peru

Short time in the town of Chivay while visiting the Colca Canyon

sunny 21 °C
View South America Extravaganza on Maraka Saunders's travel map.

This morning we got up early around 6am to catch our private to the Chivay in the Colca Valley. For this trip we also got a special tour guide for the Colca Valley instead Marco, as there are some places in Peru that it is illegal for him to be the guide.
This bus ride was about 6 hours, but that was including stops on the way. We just stopped at a couple of different stops, one to see some Llamas, Alpacas and Vecunas, another was the highest point (around 500 metres above sea level) and the others were amazing view points or toilet stops.
We saw alots Llamas etc at the first stop, they all had funny decorations in their ears. The Alpaca can live between 10-15years, they are mostly raised for their meat and their wool. They have a flat face and short ears. The Llama is used more for its wool, but it also found alot in restaurant, not as tasty as Alpaca apparently, but their wool is very warm and expensive. You have to check before buying as some scarves with be a Alpaca, Llama mix and isn't as warm or authentic. The Llama has a long face and tall ears. The Vecuna, is a little version of the Alpaca. Its wool os worth up to $1,000 and can only be found in certain factories.
When arrived to Chivay it was around lunchtime, so we went straight to the restaurant for a buffet lunch. There was lots of food, especially lots of vegetarian food, mmmmm ;-). Callum and I were both starving had a couple of platts full each.
After we jumped back in the bus and then went to our hotel to check in. The hotel is really a nice hotel in a such a tiny town, we all decided it is the nicest hotel we have been to since Quito. The beds were also incredibly comfy.
Once we were all settled we went for a bit of an orientation walk to see you can find the markets, shops, restaurants, street food, and bars etc. It is a very small place so quite a quick tour. Then a few of us went for a bit of a hike up a hill they had some great views and also some Inca Trails. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable so she told lots of stories/facts about the area. Also on our walk we came across an old bull fighting arena. It wasn't actually that long ago that it was in use. We finished our walk passing through a residential area where there were little kids playing in the street. One of the little blew Jack a kiss, he blew one back, silly! She followed all the way to the end of her neighborhood blowing kisses. Was very cute though.
After the walk we went back and chilled out at the hotel for a bit until a few of us decided to go out for drinks. We found cool little Irish pub. They had run out of Guiness, so Ben was a little disappointed. This bar had writing over every wall, all over the pool table from every tourist that had ever been in there. Lots of G Adventures travellers.
After a few drinks, Jack, Callum and I went out for pizza, everyone else was still full from lunch. The Pizza very very average. I only ate a couple of peices.

Posted by Maraka Saunders 17:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Day 26: Friday 31st July - Nazca to Arequipa, Peru

Nazca Lines Flight, massive lunch, and another overnight bus

sunny 28 °C

The next morning we got up early, as we had to be ready to be picked up by 9am to do the Nazca Lines flight. So we quickly got up had our showers, a quick breakfast, (which was just supermarket fruit and rolls), then jumped on the bus.
We drove back towards town then our to the airport. The road to our hotel wasn't as creepy as I remember it being the night before.
Not everyone decided to go on the Nazca Lines flight, as it was 300 Soles ($150) and they were either saving money or afraid of small planes or get motion sick. I get the last two but didn't want to come all this way and not do it. So we were on 2 planes, a 10 seater and a 5 seater. Me and Callum were on the 10 seater. We had a bit of a briefing about what we would see, then we all jumped on the plane, buckled up and took off.
For each drawing the pilot turned the plane right and circled around it, and then left around it. There were 10 drawings. An astronaut, a monkey, a hummingbird, a spider, a hand, a whale, etc. I took photos of the first 5 then started needing to see a horizone line, was getting a little sick. Got my plastic bag ready on my lap just incase. I was just getting really dissy in this head, as was Callum, his motion sickness is a little worse than mine. But we were coming to the end of flight, where there were some incredible views, I took a few photos then started feeling really bad and Jack had just been sick behind me. When the plane landed I ran out and got fresh air and solid ground, then I was fine. Callum laughed at me. :-P.
After the flight we went back to the creepy hotel which had an awesome swimming pool, and sunbathed for a little bit, and got to know our new group a little more. Then Marco pulled out a bottle of Pisco he brought from the winery and some limes and lemonade, and taught us all how to make Pisco Sours. They were so refreshing. We took drinks down to a lunch ceremony that had been prepared for us called Pachamanca (Basically like a Hungi). Pachamanca is a sacred ceremony where a big hole has been dug in the ground and fire has been lit and left to get down to hot coals. Then food is placed on a tray on the coals. Each type of food is wrapped in big banana leaves, the potatoes and kumara are wrapped individually. The more banana leaves cover all the food, then it is covered in dirt and left for 2.5 hours to cook.
They see this ceremony as giving to their gods, mainly Pachamama or Mother Earth. Peruvians three main gods and symbols are The Father/Sun/Eagle, who looks over them, Pachamama/Mother Earth/ the Puma, who helps them survive feeds them etc, and the underworld/the Snake, where they go to live on.
It was now time for the unvieling ceremony. The mother and father of the tribe have to draw a cross on the top of the pile (Reisha and Desmond did the honors) then they had to do three digs each, one at a time. Then our host dug up the rest for us and slowly revealed each bowl of food. It was soooo delicious!! There was even fried queso yum! (cheese).
After we were all very full and had cultural fix for the day, we jumped in the pool. It was a little freezing. Oh actually I didn't jump in the pool I got thrown in by Jack. COLD! Decided to not stay in long, so I sun bathed and played cards instead. The boys all stayed in for a while and played catch with the ball Jack brought.
Then rest of the day was free time until 7.30pm, when we had to get a bus into the centre to have dinner and catch our night but to Arequipa. So we just sat by the pool drinking frozen homemade lemonades and teaching the new people shithead.
I went upstairs to have a shower and pack and found Callum passed out. He looked like he'd started packing, but was too tired so fell asleep. After we'd showered and packed we went down stairs and caught the bus into Nazca centre. When we got there we went straight to dinner. Brasa Chicken again. Yummy! That's the place where you get a whole roast chicken and chips and salad. I was sooo hungry I ate 4 peoples salad. Callum decided to have fried chicken instead. After dinner we jumped on our night bus to Arequipa. This one is 10 hours.

Posted by Maraka Saunders 17:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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