Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album Trip 2013 – Huaraz to Cusco. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like.
From the highlands of Huaraz we made our way back down to the coast and the capital city of Peru, Lima.
We had one night and day there before joining our next GAdvetures tour group that would take us through southern Peru, ending in Bolivia 21 days late. We spent the day wandering around some of the city before meeting up with our group in the evening.
This is the third tour I have done on this trip and is made up of 16 people of various ages and nationalities. This time there seemed to be a lot more Australians and New Zealanders as apposed to the British horde on the last one.
After spending one night in Lima we headed to our first destination of Pisco where we had an action packed day. First we made a visit to a Pisco maker.
Pisco is the national drink of Peru and is made by fermenting and distilling grapes. We were shown the traditional way they produced it then given a tasting session of the various different sorts of Pisco they produce.
After that we headed off to the desert to do something I have been looking forward to for a while, sand boarding.
Unfortunately they wouldnt let us stand up on the boards so we went down the dunes on our front, a little disappointing but still fun.
To get around the dunes we rode powerful off road buggies which were probably more fun than the actual boarding.
In between the boarding I had some time to do what I do best in the dunes.
We only just reached Nasca in time for the final activity that day, viewing the Nasca lines from the top of a tall tower.
The following day we had chance to get a better look at the Nasca lines from the air. I had always been fascinated with the enigmatic lines so jumped at the opportunity to see them from above.
They are an impressive sight though sad to see how modern man is destroying them by mining and building roads over them. We were told that perhaps in 10-20 years they will no longer be visible so I feel fortunate to have had the chance to see them.
That evening we participated in a traditional Pachamama ceremony. This involves slowly cooking various meats and vegetables under the earth using coals and hot stones.
While we were waiting for that to cook Alex (our tour leader) took us to an adjacent cactus field.
Growing on the cacti was a white fungus
This fungus is apparently very valuable as when its crushed it goes right red and is used in lipsticks and other makeups.
The following day we headed to Arequipa, it was Halloween and one of the group member’s birthdays so we went out and partied.
The following day we had a 2 day excursion to the Colca Canyon region. Along the way we had the opportunity to try the famous coca leaves. You roll 6 or 7 of them into a wad then chew on them.
Its not a particularly pleasant taste and makes your tongue go slightly numb however its supposed to help with the altitude, particularly important as at points we were over 4900m above sea level!
On the way we stopped a few times to take pictures of some of the native wildlife including the famous Peruvian Llamas, Alpacas and Vicuña
We spent the next two nights in a small town called Chivay
The first evening we walked around the town and some of the ancient pre-Inca ruins
We ate dinner in the highest Irish pub in the world
The following day we got up early to make our way to the incredible Colca Canyon
The reason for getting there so early was so we could catch a glimpse of the huge Condors that sometimes visit the area. We were in luck as 3 of the magnificent birds turned up.
They were incredible and huge and at times flew very close over our heads, I feel fortunate to have seen them.
Sadly we had to return to Arequipa the following day. We had a free afternoon before our night bus so spent it at the Arequipa food festival.
After a grueling 10 hour overnight bus from Arequipa we reached the famous and ancient Inca city of Cusco.
Cusco was going to be our base before taking off on the Inca Trail and is the home town of our tour guide Alex, so for the first day he took us on a tour of his beloved city including one of the local markets.
Cusco is a rather beautiful city with a lot of history and was a nice base to relax and gather our strength before we embark on (what is probably) the highlight of my entire South American trip so far, The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu but more of that in my next post!