I pack all of my stuff and we are heading into the sacred valley. The Calca Province. The landscapes at the top are breath taking and we stop in a small area to try beer made from the corn farmed in the area – not my cup of tea at all – also known as Chica de Jora.
We then head out north to an area called Ollantaytambo to check out some pretty old ruins. I decide to stay at the bottom as the trek up to the top was pretty high but got some shots of the entire group. Surprisingly no railing of any kind – you fall – you fall! It’s simply hundreds of uneven steps in varying heights and getting down is not any easier. At this point our altitude is roughly 2800 meters.
Afterwards we head back to the hotel as many people in our group needed to rest up to be ready for the 8 hour Inca Trail Trek. I opted out of it and instead decided to go horseback riding. I was a little concerned because a few of the group members were thrown off the horses just a couple days ago and it was the same ranch company just a new location.
A lot of us settled in at the hotel. The view outside my bedroom was pretty relaxing – a very loud yet soothing rapids. There were also many wandering cats in the hotel and that evening we had some pretty funny moments where it seemed like a cats paw came out of nowhere in between two couch cushions coming after us. Hilarious! The next day was pretty jam packed for everyone and we got to sleep pretty early since the trekkers had to be up around 5-6 am.
I met with a couple people from the group and we checked out a couple of shops for random things to buy and tried out one of the pubs and restaurants. It was a pretty relaxing day and meanwhile we explored the city. There was also a story that a few of the people that went horseback riding were thrown off down a small hill but they were just bruised and everyone was ok. A few of the Aussies were nice enough to share some altitude pills and the day was pretty relaxing. There was not much else to do besides explore the area – try some Peruvian food and finally relax.
That evening we decided to check out a few of the local bars and everyone had a great time dancing and drinking. The roads at night were pretty desolate as I walked back home to the hotel – roughly a little over 15-20 min away.
Today we pack up and are ready to head to Cusco. We first stop at one of the oldest Inca sites and famous for being the home to the only remaining two story Inca walls – Raqchi. We wander through the historical site in a cold and rainy gloomy day. The guide explains the historical significance of the area and we finally settle into Cusco.
As we arrive at our hotel the guide gives us a few options. We can explore the city; go horseback riding or white water rafting. I opt out of all of them and just settle on exploring the city and relax a little. I get a great room granted for some reason it has three beds but who am I to complain. A couple of us buy some liquor that afternoon and have a small party in my room with drinks and food. The town was still at roughly 3500 meters and I was still getting used to the altitude.
We are woken up fairly early and I have no idea what the temperature is anymore since we seem to be flying from one climate to another every day. I throw on a pair of shorts, sneakers and a t-shirt and head out. I get some breakfast with everyone and notice the Aussies eating vegemite – I was confused – why would someone bring that with and was it really that good? We were then quickly called to come outside and check out our new and exciting transportation!
It was guys on bicycles with a little cab in front for you to sit – so if he crashes into something – you’re the one going headfirst – no seat belts needed ha-ha. Everyone got in pairs and I decided to get in alone and told my guy to speed like no tomorrow! The journey began and even though it was not a race my guy was doing fairly well as we flew by all the others. One couple had their bottle on the seat and that came flying off and so we were in the lead! I felt bad for my driver but it was fun – only tough part was that it was roughly 40 degrees outside and I was in shorts and a t-shirt with no sun in sight. I quickly bought a scarf at our final destination, which was the roughest material I have ever felt, but hey it beat being cold.
We boarded a small boat and we were on Lake Titicaca heading for Taquile Island while stopping by a few floating islands made entirely of plants! Even though I saw straw made buildings on sitting on top of these Uros islands, I was very hesitant to get off. Was definitely a strange experience. Apparently the people that live on these islands have to remake them every 6 months or so and there kids typically go to public school on the main land but they live out in the water. They don’t have to pay any taxes at all because they are not on land. Right across the lake is Bolivia. Two ladies and myself decide to try out the boat that is made of the same material. We get in and get to the upper deck of the boat as we are driven to the next island. Meanwhile a boy no older than 6 sings to us – was very cute and at the end was asking for tips. Was pretty funny and a fun experience. We check out the next island and learn that their primary source of income is tourists that buy toys from them and other souvenirs. I bought a little boat and then we got back on our regular boat and headed to Taquile Island. After a couple hours on the boat we arrive.
We disembark the boat and the view of the lake with the road going into the water, was pretty amazing. I snapped the shot and followed the rest of the group as we slowly hiked up the island. The island was not enormous – it was layered as you kept going up with different sections of property. Electricity was pretty bleak here and the guide explained that there was nothing here – yet I did see on satellite dish in the corner. We were here to have some dinner and also play a fun game of soccer with the locals. But playing soccer at roughly 3800 meters is not as easy as it may seem. I was the goalie and we played for about 40 min or so and every few minutes. The game ended with a tie and we had a blast and so did the locals. I was surprised though – every time the ball went out of the soccer area it would drop 100 feet down and a local kid would literally jump from one elevation to the other – get it and run back up. We also learned that the people on this island are some of the best weavers in the world.
They apparently competed a couple years ago and had won. They were selling scarves bracelets and other fabric goods. We also did some dancing with the locals and then headed in to eat some food. The altitude was still trying to kick my butt and playing soccer was not helping. I opted out of eating and began my decent down the mountain with the guide as the rest of the group forged ahead towards the beach and the blistering cold water. The views on this island were amazing and right across the lake we could see Bolivia.
The guide explained to use that this lake had constantly been in negotiations as to who actually owns it – Peru or Bolivia. As we finally got back on our boat we headed back to our hotel.
I wake up fairly early with again a pretty short amount of sleep but ready for the next adventure. I packed all my stuff and gear and headed into the lodge area that had glass panels floor to ceiling with one of the best views I have ever seen besides Switzerland. It was majestic. There was a llama tied to a rope in the front of the building but as you looked out there was just so much to see – everything so beautiful and blossoming. It was amazing.
Today our trip was to Puno. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the view – I did my best to remember every piece of it but today was a new adventure and it was sadly time to go. We got on the bus and began our long ride to Puno.
We arrived pretty late and were all going to head out for dinner and then head to bed. A couple people stayed back because the altitude was really getting to them, as the altitude in Puno was over 3700 meters. I myself chose to grab some food and head back to the room and eat there and finally try to sleep one normal night. I just wanted some rest and this night the hotel was pretty nice and a few times throughout the night I stopped again at the lobby to get some oxygen. The elevation was starting to get to me but I was going my best to stay ahead of it.