Saturday, 14 May 2011

Jungle Chix Now..Tues 10 May to Thurs 13

We have now traveled by plane to Puerto Maldonado a town in the South of the Amazon Basin right next to Brazil border.  From here we traveled by van for an hour then by a motorized canoe for 1 hour til we get to our Explorers Inn, a natural reserve where researchers from all over the world come and complete their projects.  A very real Amazon experience... buray type accommodation, thatched roofs, bamboo walls etc.  No electricity, so candle light dinners and early to bed.  This was not a problem as it was a very active trip.  Out in the evening viewing the Camines' crocodiles family.... white or black... living in the river and visible at night time.  This was followed the next day by a 5km walk into the jungle to a lake to view the giant otters.... interesting attire...gumboots not only for the mud but also for our protection from snakes etc.

I think walking in the mud for 2 hours there was harder than the Inca.... plus the fact that it was over 30 degrees and 95% humidity... but the sightings of the turtle, fire ants, termites, monkeys, numerous birds etc along the way kept us all enthralled!

Back at the ranch we also had a visit from a family of monkeys, boa snake, and the resident ´´ Tarantula´´´.  All made for wonderful photography...

Our guides Marco and Paul were well versed at the information on the Amazon and kept us well informed.

Back from the jungle to Lima now, and after some last day shopping we are now waiting for our taxi to the airport.  Problems with Blogspot yesterday so couldn't get this posted and upload photos... try again soon.

Will be traveling Sat/Sun now forward to Monday 8am our ETA so wont be in touch.  See you all when we get back... BFN Rob and Cathy

Monday, 9 May 2011

Inca Trail...Monday 9 May 2011

Well we did it!!  Treked the 48km of the Inca Trail, climbed to 4,200m high at the Dead womens pass.... named due to the shape of the outline of the pass not due to women dying lol.,  Descended on 10000s of steps.  What a trek!  No altitude sickness but we did get breathless especially when we were exerting our selves... mostly a matter pacing ourselves.

The Intrepid package was amazing with 17 porters included a chef and assistance.  We would arrived at camp with our tents already errected and a bowl of warm water and beautiful hand made soap awaiting us.  We were fed amazing breakfasts, dinners and teas... we think they could make a recipe book out of the meals and raise money for the Intrepid charities.

Our first day was a warm up day in more ways than one... it was supposed to warm up our muscles but the sun was so hot it warmed me up in particular... I was not expecting this type of heat. and it took me all night to get back to normal!!  By the time we got to the start of the Inca trail by bus, we started trekking at 10am and arrived at our camp at 4ish.

Day 2 was our biggest with two passes to climb and our longest... but as I have indicated pacing ourselves we soon got there...apparently we were one of the fastest group Intrepid had had.
Stunning scenery, and many opportunities for photos were taken up to the full... I fulled up a 4gb sd card!!  We were now getting into the higher altitude and the mountainous green glacial views were stunning.  Along with this height came the many steps mostly downwards.  The porter ran down the steps which we managed to complete with our trekking poles for support.  Some steps were big but not the metre size our guide had suggested. 

Day 3 - We now started to get into various Inca Ruins which we visit off the track.  A great time to learn the history of the area and Incas by our Guide Guido and Ludwig and a time to rest.  We also start to see orchids and beautiful flowers, hummingbirds and butterflies. 

Day 4:  Up at 3.30am to pack up and let the porters get down to there train pickup and for us to get through the check points ready to trek to the Sun Gate about 1.5 hours with the last 10 mins vertical climb but our goal was very close.

Absolutely stunning views to Machu Picchu, photo session galore, unbelievably location and size. 
We are just in awe of there construction and scale of what was created in that era.

Can't talk long for now... at Internet cafe and no uploading.... out for dinner.
Tomorrow off to the Amazon for a couple of nights... will update if we can. 

BFN Cathy and Robyn

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Cusco Wednesday 4th May

We have been in this gorgeous city for a day, after a 6hr bus ride from Puno yesterday. The ride across was brilliant, as I (Cathy) had not been looking forward to being on a bus for the best part of the day (left the hotal at 7.15am for the bus station and arvd in Cusco around 2.30pm), stunning scenery of landscapes, the alto plano (tablelands), Andes, the Sacred Valley and a change of the farming - no longer stoned walls plots, vast fields of corn, and we even spotted a tractor or two, followed a gorgeous river into Cusco (sure to be trout in it!), of course the usual bizarre happening in the towns that we travelled through - Rob & I are quite convinced that there is no such thing as a building inspector in this country!

Cusco is easy to get around, and we have expored on foot the usual targets....musesums, churches, plazas, monuments up on the hills - good puff puff training!!!, and of course finally found great places for coffees....oh and more souvenir shopping! Great meal out last night, you will have to wait and see how hilarious we looked, as this was not your typical sort of restaurant, when photos posted (next week).

Bags packed tonight for our 4.45am hit the floor arise, and we leave the hotel at start on our next adventure......trekking the Inca Trail.....we are very excited and get this.......for the 12 of us there are 15 porters, 2 guides, a cook and the cook´s assistant....yip so with 19 people as our support crew we feel pretty special......hope I cope with tramping in NZ when I return :)

So out of range for the next 5 days and catch up next week. Adios!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Lake Titicaca 2 May

Or Lake Titikaakaa as we have been taught today. There are so many different local languages here... every homestay we have been at we have had to learn a new one.  Sure is extending the brain somewhat. I have taken to writing the basic ones on my palm so I can quickly remember what to say!!

Today we took a tuktuk...not sure how to spell it...basically a tricycle with covered passenger area.  Picture is below.  Certainly an interesting ride considering the road rules here...was sure glad to get through the intersections but a great way to see the town.  

This got us down to the port where we took a passenger boat out to the Uros Islands where they live on the reeds.  They were very friendly, bright in personality and colourful fashion with lovely white smiles due to them eating the heart of the reed which is rich in fluride no fillings!!

They certainly gave us a wonderful overall picture of how the island was built, maintained and their lifestyle including boats made with the reeds shaped like a viking ship which we rode on at the end of our visit.  As you will see with the pictures, Cathy was just chomping at the bit to have a go but road around in circles due to the differing strengths of both rowers!!

After the Uros Island we headed to the peninsula of Llachan where approx 200 people live fishing, farming and embroidery and knitting.... mostly self sufficient and vegetarian except for xmas, birthdays, or weddings and then a sheep or beef is killed for the whole community and mostly cooked up in soups.   Carbs, carbs and more carbs.  Our lunch was macaroni, rice and potatoe dish!!  Breakfast... a fried bread mix with jam, and tea was a lovely vege soup.  We all got dressed up in their fashion and this village is known for there exquisite embroidery.  They were very friendly and had a great sense of humor.  Cathy soon made a bond with the two children of the family.  We were soon put to work digging up potatoes or papas as they are called.  Then it was off to the challenged volleyball game between intrepid visitors against the LLachanérs.  Intrepid have never won...  Jess was so happy when we won... first time ever!!!  A good fitness test for us in this altitude... a long time since I have played volleyball but somehow remembered the technique. Great fun!

The next morning 2 May, we were picked up by boat and off to Taquile Island where the men do the knitting and the women...the weaving.  First we had to climb approx 200m up to the local square and then onto the local Inca ruin site with stunning views of the surroundings.  Trout for lunch..pic below and again rice, chips and trout...they do love their carbs lol.  And to get to our boat again...down 500 steps and all good training for our Inca trail. Beautiful island, lovely and peaceful, colourful and a wonderful culture.  Basically three rules... do not be lazy, no lieing, and no stealing.  One Mayor rules the island and some officials who make sure the many restaurants all share the tourism demand. Only half of the restaurants are open one day and the other half the next day so they all take turns.  The takings are split and shared amongst them.
The clothing is very colourful and again a tradition of certain hats for single women, married, single men, married men and children.  An interesting custom of the island is when choosing your lifetime partner in divorce here... they live together for a year to try..apparently no sex!!..and then after that year they can choose to marry or not.!  Certainly appear to be happy pèople and a structured community.

Home now to Puno after a 3 hour journey back in our boat...Cathy just loved the top view as you can see in the picture below!  We both had a snooze on top deck in the lovely breeze and fantastic views! Spectacular!  As I am writing this blog (Robyn) I think I get to chose the picture lol.

Off to Cusco tomorrow.. 8am with a 6 hour bus ride what fun!  A chance for us to catch up on some zzzzzz!  It has been a busy few days and those homestay beds while warm with alpaca blankets were not as soft as our hotel ones LOL.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sunday 1 May at Lake Titicaca

Alot has happened since my last post.... we travelled from Ariquepa to Chivay in the Colca Canyon area.  Hot springs lovely... and visited the Canyon with the flight of the Condors the biggest flying bird but want to check on our albatross for sizing.  Absolutely stunning and we had heaps of them flying.  See the pics below.
Then onto our village for a homestay  what a change of lifestyle but bizarre at the same time.  They live in stone heating accept for the oven in the kitchen with the dirt floor, setout like a court yard with one small building for kitchen, one for our bedroom, one building for the main bedroom and another for the children.  Marina was our ¨mama¨for the night, she would have been in her thirties with children 16, 13 and 7.  We went fishing with a line wrapped around a tin and a hook, scratched for bait in the dirt, something like a huhu grub and Cathy was so excited to be trout fishing in Peru - but no fish ate her bait! We saw a couple of guys fishing with a net that they throw out into the river and lands in a circular motion, has led weights on the edge and then each throw picks up these small trout that are only about 10cm in length. We got to have 2 baby trout each for breakfast, along with a good helping of rice and fried chips!! This is the land of carb loading - potatoes, rice, bread seem to be the staple diet for these people. Bit of a play in the village square in the evening, dinner of soup, potatoes, cheese and bread. Sleep bit ho hum as in the night there were dogs barking, donkeys braying and trucks rumbñing through as there is a copper mine in the hills behind the village. Early start as brekkie at 6am and on the bus 6.30pmish, a bit of a drive and them we trekked along a river canyon for 2 and a half hours, an ancient trail used by the Inca and pre Inca people. Absolutely stunning scenery, this is a very beautiful country when you are in the natural areas, amazing rock formations, river and  the gorge very pretty, plant life diverse. terracing that was once used and in some parts of this trail still in use for farming, sky is blue every day - we gasped a bit on the uphill part of the walk. This is the 3rd walk for us over 3 days, so good intro to the altitude we are at - around 12,000ft or 3,800m.

Then an 6 hour bus trip to Puno at Lake Titicaca ...beautioful hotel...fantastic showers and lovely soft bed and how you appreciate a good pillow!!!!   In the evening we completed our orientation walk around the city a small area around the square with some very nice shops and lovely restaurants. 

Off to our homestay tonight at Llachon on Lake Titicaca and our boat ride there.... so watch this space.

Our Siboya ....homestay village
Our 3 hour tramp.....