Llama Treking (the easy way) and visiting Pisac Ruins

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Peru

 

Do You Llama?


Llama Trek with Llama Pack in Urabumba

So after several months of travellig we finally were able to complete one of Cindy’s wishes for the trip – Llama walking/treking.  We were introduced to an organization called Llama Pack in Urabamba.  This organization is focused on re-introducing the llama as a pack animal in Peru.  Many llamas have cross bred with Alpaca’s, and are not as strong and good for packing as they used to be.  The llama is “eco friendly” since they do not rip the roots of plants out they cut with their teeth.  They also have padded feet that keeps a light touch on the ground and doesn’t cause as much damage as a hoof.

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Machu Picchu:  Trains, Busses and Llamas

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Peru

 

Machu Picchu from the backside in the morning.

Well we did it, made our way through the sacred valley to Aguas Calientes and then up to Machu Picchu.  This is an amaing place that was built over a period of 60 years by the Inca.  800 of the most influential people lived here, and it was abandoned in 1534 when the Spanish conquered Cusco (the capital).  When leaving the city the Inca destroyed the only two paths into M.P. and as such left the city to be consumed by the jungle again.  The city was “hidden” for over 300 years until its rediscovery in 1900.  An American, Hiram Bingham, came in 1911 and explored the area and found Machu Picchu as well.  He was sponsored in National Geographic’s first exploration the following year and returned.  He then proceeded to remove about 6,000 collectable items, which are now at Yale University.  Why Yale continues to hold on to these Peruvian artifacts I have no idea.  It would seem that they would be better served in Peru.

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Cuzco, finally.

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Peru

 

mmmmm, tasty

Well, after 5 weeks of driving, we made it from BA, to Cusco, where we have been wanting to go ever since we started this trip. The drive from Puno, to Cusco took 5 long, but very beautiful hours. driving by snowcapped peaks and old Inca ruins, I would say it was worth the one hour delay in Juliaca, due to traffic. My dad calls Juliaca “The town of the devil.” We didn’t get caught in them, but we did see some more protesting when driving into Cusco. People were burining a truck across the rails to stop the train, which most tourists take. No tourists, no money, right?

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Lake Titicaca, Travelling Puno to Cusco

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Uncategorized

 

At the summit, crossing from Puno to Cusco. Amazing Views.

So we spent the last couple of days in Puno near the Peru/Bolivia Border and Lake Titicaca – one of the largest lakes in the world – at 13,000 feet.  Yesterday we took a boat expedition to a floating people that live on islands that they make of reeds, as well as an island where we had lunch and bought some local wares.  Today we drove from Puno to Cusco (7 hours) and we are now in the Inca Capital.

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Colca Canyon: Yanque, Chivay, Andean Condors and being a tourist again

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Uncategorized

 

Andean Condor in flight.

 

So we made the trek from Arequipa to the Colca Canyon (Yanque) without much trouble.  The car sure doesn’t like passes at 15,000 feet – but we pushed through.  The Colca Canyon is a huge place where Inca used to farm, and locals still do on terraces all the way down.  On different terraces they grow different things due to the weather changes at different levels.  We spent the day driving the canyon, as well as seeing Andean Condors in the morning.  We stopped at several of the tourist spots to play tourists as well.  The Alpaca are everwhere here.  What’s amazing is while you are driving you’ll come across Alpaca, Burro’s, and sheep crossing the road, or grazing in the open spaces that you are driving through.  I haven’t seen an actual fence in days – the animals can roam free. Read More

Iquehue, Arica, Arequipa Peru (made it, but protests here)

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Peru


This will be a shorter blog post as we spent nearly 12 hours in the car today getting to Arequipa, where we were met with burning tires, boulders strewn in the roads, and people blocking all traffic.  Overall we are fine, although I don’t think I’ve ever been in the center or near this type of activity before.  Our hotel is safe as well as the car- so we might bunker here until Sunday then head up/out to lake Titicaca.   Read More

San Pedro de Atacama, Crossing at 15,700, Salt Flats, Valley de la Luna

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Chile

 

Walking in Valley De La Luna – San Pedro de Atacama

So we’ve spent about four days in San Pedro de Atacama at 8,000 feet doing some pretty amazing things in the great outdoor desert.  The Atacama desert is one of the driest places on earth and has 10% humidity, making it great of star gazing, as well as having nearly nothing grow.  I was sort of shocked a bit when we arrived into the town as it was bustling with tourists, tour operators, travel vans, etc.  We have been off the tourist path for awhile, staying in very small towns with hardly any of the tourism features that you find here.  It was a good place to experience some new things and we had a pretty good time.  On the down side, our hotel (if you can call it that) basically had open windows in our room – no big deal expect that it gets really cold at night and our room would be an ice box in the morning when we woke up.  I guess you take the bad with the good.

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Tilcara and Pumamarca. Life at 8500 feet

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Argentina

  

Mr Llama “nothing to see here, move along…”

Well, our last town in Argentina. It is sort of sad, but we still have a bunch of more exciting places to go. Tilcara is one of the many towns along RN9 to Bolivia, with lots of old Inca ruins nearby. The drive from Cachi to Tilcara started off with driving up to 11,060 feet, then driving down into lush green land at 4500 feet, then back to 8500 feet. For most of the drive, we were above the clouds. In Cachi, it was sunny and cloudless, but in Salta/Jujuy, it was cloudy, and gray.    Read More

High Altitude Driving, Crazy Roads:  Salta, Cafayate, Cachi RN40 Argentina

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Argentina

 

a great door in Cafayate, had to go retro

 
Well its been a busy week or so, mostly without internet access.  We have been around the Salta region checking out the less travelled tourist path – mostly which turned out really nice.  We stayed for a couple of days in Cafayate in a very small Hostal that Cindy found.  Basically I think we were staying in the back of these peoples house.  We always evaluate a place by the bathroom, this one combined the shower with toilet and sink – so I guess you could take a shower, bush your teeth and goto the can all at the same time.  Add little to no warm/hot water to the mix and you get the picture.  But for $50/night for all four of us it was a deal.  Cafayate is a very small place, kids playing soccer in the street, people riding bikes and horses into town.  It’s also the start of Argentine wineries so there were lots of bodega’s along the road and various wine shops available.  They even had wine flavored ice creams.   Read More

Zipping Across Northern Argentina- Iguazu to Salta – RT16

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Argentina / Travelling

 

Hanging out in Salta.

 
Well we were in Iguazu Falls at the northern “shoe” portion of Argentina and our plan had always been to get across to Salta – before heading over into Chile and up into Peru.  Salta is an amazing place – we took the boys today to go see children mummies that were sacrificed by the Inca 500 years ago and planted on the peaks of the mountains – 22,000 ft.  It wasn’t a “sacrifice” as you would think of the ugly movie ones.  The Children were given a drink / potion that basically knocked them out – how out no idea.  But then they were planted in the ground atop these mountains at 22,000 ft.  The bodies basically are frozen in time which is amazing to see – it’s not the traditional “mummy wrappinigs” that you think about – it’s basically a child in children’s clothing that has been buried sitting upright in the ground – in a sitting position.  You can see their face, lips, eyes, teeth, etc.  All is there.  Read More