A Travellerspoint blog

Ollantaytambo to Cusco - Day 27

Over done it...

19 °C

The light flooded the room once again so we up at 7am even though we could have done with a lie in. Andrew was sick this morning - no he's not pregnant! - I think he must have over done it yesterday with all the climbing. That and the altitude.

An uneventful day in Peru really. We headed back to Cusco in another Collectivo with a driver that thought he was Tommi Makinen, which really helped Andrew's stomach. We got back to Pariwana hostel at lunchtime and Andrew went straight to bed while I went to the shops to get supplies for lunch and dinner. After lunch Andrew went back to bed and I finally got chance to upload some more pictures to the blog and post Day 13, which already feels like so long ago.

In the evening, when Andrew felt better, we did some more planning - deciding whether to go back into Argentina to see Salta and Mendoza after Uyuni and then go into Chile from there. There are so many places to go that there would never be enough time!

Posted by staceywaugh 06:29 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Machu Picchu - Day 26

The magnificent Machu Picchu

19 °C

We started early, around 5am, as the train to Machu Picchu left at 6.10am. The hostel organised a packed breakfast for us and we ordered a packed lunch too, so our bags were full to the brim with food for the long day ahead. The train journey was easy going, looking out onto the mist covered mountains, the powerful river and the life around. It was a bit shaky at times though and I did wonder how the train attendant was serving hot drinks without burning himself or other people at times.

Just before 8am we arrived at Aguas Calientes and after a quick toilet stop, we didn't know where to go next. A woman in front of us didn't either and she had been to Machu Picchu 15 years earlier - it had changed that much. We got directions, passing over the same gushing river we saw on the train to get the bus stop, and another £25 later (the price of the return bus journey) we were on our way, winding up the side of a steep mountain. It was a little scary when buses coming down passed us! This is the view of the bus route once we were at the top:

Then we were at Machu Picchu. What can I say? It is stunning, absolutely breathtaking. The location is beautiful and the fact that this city had been carved out and built on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere in the 15th century is mind blowing. And then to think that it was rediscovered as recently as 1911 and we're lucky enough to be able to travel here only 102 years later. It feels really special.

After a short walk around the bottom of the inca city, Andrew had to get ready to climb Huayna Picchu - the mountain in the back of all the picture postcards of Machu Picchu. Here is what he says about it:
"The first part was really easy as it was downhill where you cross from Machu Picchu to Hauyna Picchu. Then it was pretty steep all the way to the top and there bits where you were very close to the edge. Some people, who were on the way down the mountain, were laughing at me because I was really heavy breathing! But I got up there in only 30 minutes, which is probably record time?! The way up wasn't as scary as I had expected, after reading all the blogs. To get to the very top I had to climb through a rock and up a little ladder, then you stand on some large boulders - a bit like Morecambe's stone jetty but a bit higher! I asked someone to take a picture of me right at the top and they didn't even get Machu Picchu in the background?! The view was really good." (Dictated by Andrew Waugh, Scribed by Stacey Waugh*)

And that's as much enthusiasm and embellishment as you will get from Andrew Waugh!! You can see from the photos that it was pretty incredible.

While Andrew climbed I sat on a wall, taking in the view of the mountains, ruins and Llamas, and reading. At one point, a Llama decided it wanted to get involved, walked to the edge of the square, had a poo, walked to the top of the square and had another, then left us.

Once he was back (Andrew, not the Llama), we walked around the rest of the ruins and had lunch sat in the shelter of one of the settlements.

We then took the trail to the sun gate, which is the point that those who take the Inca trail (a four day trek to get to Machu Picchu, which is closed in February) first see the inca city in the distance. It's about an hour and a half round trip, uphill for the first half, but worth every laboured breath.

And finally we took the short trip to the Inca bridge, which has some good views but the bridge really isn't worth seeing. Apparently it's where they used to kick the wooden plank away if they were being invaded.

The best part of that was seeing some Japanese guys stand on the edge of the rock and pretend to lift up Simba on Pride Rock and sing! Andrew joined in:

Just as we were walking to exit the park the rain came - we were so lucky with the weather. It was a long journey back to the hostel in Ollantaytambo, via a hot chocolate in Aguas Calientes and some sort of festival, and we were so tired when we finally arrived.

  • Andrew wanted the 'Dictated' bit in as he thought I wouldn't make him sound like him!

Posted by staceywaugh 16:43 Archived in Peru Tagged landscapes mountains animals buses mist Comments (0)

Ollantaytambo - Day 25

Beautiful views and Burritos

19 °C

Today we explored the ruins in Ollantaytambo. There isn't really much to say that the pictures don't tell you - the view was beautiful from up there. It was a steep walk up to the first part, not helped by the altitude, but after that it was an easy stroll around the ruins and the hills.

People had written their names in a cactus plant, which I suppose is better than on the ruins, and there were a few other beautiful flowers on there - for some reason I didn't expect to see dainty flowers on the side of a hill here.

Andrew hid in here and jumped out at me!

The walk back down the steps was much easier but still steep. At the bottom there was more flora, some fauna and running water throughout the ruins. Andrew was a little tall for the inca settlements!

Across on the opposite side of the town was another mountain and we decided to climb up and see the ruins on there too. It was very steep and much harder to climb with no steps and I only got so far up. Andrew climbed most of the way up and took some great pictures of the town.

The exercise had made us hungry and we'd heard good things about a place in town called Puka Rumi. We had the most amazing burritos (I would call them fajitas though as I had to make myself at the table - anyone?) - delicious, fresh food that I could eat all day every day.

In town, the market had some strange, scary balaclavas - Dad, how about one of these to keep you warm?!

The day was overcast and we'd been silly - we got back to the hostel and found we were sunburnt! Cold cloths, ibuprofen, water and an early night was in order as tomorrow is Macchu Picchu!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:40 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Cusco to Ollantaytambo - Day 24

Collectivo to beautiful Ollantaytambo

19 °C

After delaying for three days due to the floods we were finally on the road to Ollantaytambo, a small village in the Sacred Valley where we would get our train to Macchu Picchu in 3 days time.

We travelled by a Collectivo - a minibus where the driver basically waits until the it's full before setting off, regardless of the time it says it will leave. However this is why it's only 10 soles per person (£2.50) for an hour and a half trip and it didn't take long for it to fill up. There was no space for luggage so our bags were underneath up, on top of us and by the side of us!

The scenery on the journey was lovely, some of the fields looked like a green and yellow patchwork quilt and the mountains were dark and green rising up into the clouds. It made me realise just how high up we were.

People got on and off along the way, and when one Peruvian man, who was sat behind us, asked the driver to stop, his breath carried to our noses and I nearly threw up! I won't swear on here, but it smelt like dog poo and this altitude is making me have a really low vomit threshold. Me and Andrew then couldnt stop giggling about how we used to call dog poo 'dogger' when we were younger...ahhh, at least we have each other!

We got dropped off in the square in Ollantaytambo and it was tiny but perfect. The mountains rising up either side of the small square we're closing in around it, it was amazing. I had never been anywhere quite like it.

After finding directions to our hostel, we walked around the cobbled streets and inca buildings and we arrived at Hostal Iskay. It had everything, including a lamb eating on the terrace and a pen with guinea pigs, who I'm not sure were pets given our current countries taste for them! Our room and the view was incredible -

I immediately felt so much better than I did in Cusco - maybe because of the lower altitude, maybe because I was somewhere so beautiful.

We headed back to the square for some lunch, partaking in some luminous Inca Cola and an amazing vegetable frittata, and sat and watched the town go by.

Ollantaytambo is the best surviving example of an inca town. Away from the square, it's a maze of inca streets and buildings, and on the hills, there are inca ruins all around. We have decided tomorrow we will climb the ruins, almost in preparation for Macchu Picchu!

We headed to the local market to buy tomatoes and garlic, but also came out with socks, which according to the look on the sellers face he'd totally done us on the price. The same happened down the road, where we obviously paid a small fortune for a 2.5 litre bottle of Sprite, which by the way doesn't taste the same in South America.

The sun sets early here and it was completely dark by 6.30pm, so we ate in the hostel surrounded by the two hostel cats. I like cats as much as the next person, but I don't like it when you don't know where they've been and they're jumping on the counter when you're trying to cook food or trying to sit on the table while you're eating!

Posted by staceywaugh 15:12 Archived in Peru Tagged landscapes mountains hostels Comments (2)

Cusco - Days 22 & 23

Taking time to acclimatise

17 °C

We've not done a great deal over the past couple of days except to try and acclimatise. I forgot to mention in the last blog that Andrew went on the hunt for somewhere that does cheap laundry and ended up smacking the top of his head on a metal pole that went between a doorway - ouch! His words were "this place is built for f***ing midgets"! Naturally, I fit well everywhere here and feel quite at home. Unfortunately Andrew now has a really sore neck and can barely look left. He is no longer an ambi-looker*!

Yesterday, we bought our entrance and train tickets to Macchu Picchu - it really isn't a cheap day out! The train tickets alone were $200 US. The cold still hadn't gone away and so it was time to get our 'traveller' on and buy an "alpaca" jumper. Of course, for £7 these jumpers weren't alpaca but it had a jazzy print and it was definitely warm!

We've walked through the town, which is beautiful with its cobbled streets, two storey white wash buildings, flowering square and grand churches.

Cusco also has a large market filled with jumper stalls, flower stalls, food stalls and so on. There is a big fresh meat section too, which included a massive skinned cows head just casually placed on the counter. I have to admit, it freaked me out!

The altitude really takes it out of you and although we werent sick, we felt lethargic, which isn't great when you're trying to enjoy yourself. But we cheered ourselves up with 25p churros!

Today, Valentine's Day, the old romantic that he is, Andrew took me on an hour long walk out of the pretty part of town to find the bus station so we could buy tickets to Puno, for after Macchu Picchu. The walk was dusty and dirty, we got lost and just as we found the bus station, it started to rain. Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Haha.

There were a couple of nice things to see along the way back though...

On the walk back, we grabbed an empanada for lunch then braved a walk on part of the tourist trail that brings you to a look out point of Cusco. We were quite out of breath once we made it up there.

Check out my snazzy jumper! (Just the top...too much fashion isn't good for anybody!)

We even saw someone walking a Llama - bit like being back in North London for those who know the Enfield guy who walks his Llama down the main road!

The square, which we'd walked through and sat on every day now was lovely, green grass, pretty flowers and large ornate buildings, but it also had street sellers - every second step someone was trying to sell you a poncho, a picture or a woollen knitted pen! I understand people need to make money but it was quite annoying after three days and when you're not feeling your best. The children sellers were so persistent too, when you said "no gracias" they said "why not?", "erm, because i don't need a woollen finger puppet right now", "why not" and then they'd just stand there until you moved. Andrew tried to sell one of them his empty 2litre water bottle on the last day and when they looked confused and said no he said, "why not"!

Some more snaps of the square:

And back at the hostel, the cleaners had laid out red flowers on the bed for us, which was really sweet.

Romance came alive for the second time in one day, when Andrew and I went for £3 all you can eat Indian buffet at Maikhani. The owners were Indian, which was a good start, the lady's husband worked in Peru for years before and she had recently come over to join him and start her own business. The food was good, for £3, although the 'off buffet' chapati we requested was a bit dry...I guess chapati flour is hard to come by in Peru though! And no Kingfisher beer either ;)

And the night didn't end there - I was whisked away to the highest Irish owned (note owned, not run!) for a pint.
There was only Guinness in a can so I thought better of it and we just had a Peruvian beer. Drinking at altitude means your much less of lightweight, so after the drinks at the buffet and two in the pub, we were ready for home.

We walked back through the pretty, lit up, square...

Who needs red roses, champagne and chocolates when you're together and somewhere as beautiful this!

  • Zoolander reference for those not in the know

Posted by staceywaugh 03:19 Archived in Peru Comments (2)

(Entries 51 - 55 of 83) « Page .. 6 7 8 9 10 [11] 12 13 14 15 16 .. »