Jul 19 2009

Alternative Inka Trail to Machu Picchu

Bodhi

The pictures tell the story. That and we have to leave to catch a bus to Lima..

In brief: It was a 4 day journey. 1 day of downhill mountain biking, and 3 of walking, trekking, learning. We stayed in little “pueblos” in hostels along the way. Our group had 4 Brasileros, 4 Colombianos, and 2 Americanos ;) Our guide was pretty cool, and shared a good bit about Inkans with us and also the modern day situations of the people that live in these places and what life is like for them. We hiked on some original Inka Trails (cool!) and also roads and railroad tracks. The day we saw Machu Picchu, we were lucky enough (i.e. smart enough) to get one of the highly sought after 400 daily allotted tickets to allow entrance to hike up Wayna Picchu. This is the crazy spire of a mountain you see in the background of all the famous pics of Machu Picchu. That is one helluva hike! It’s basically straight up. Those crazy Incas really liked building things way high in the sky.

Lining up to get going on the bikes

Lining up to get going on the bikes

So fun..it should look familiar because the experience was a little like the Death Road ride in Bolivia!

So fun..it should look familiar because the experience was a little like the Death Road ride in Bolivia!

The scenery from the ride

The scenery from the ride

Down the valley..I loved seeing this sort of thing every day

Down the valley..I loved seeing this sort of thing every day

The 2 stripes of the seed goo (used as a dye for fabrics by the Incas, among other things) signifies "taken"

The 2 stripes of the seed goo (used as a dye for fabrics by the Incas, among other things) signifies "taken"

¡Camino del Inka!

¡Camino del Inka!

A nice food and rest stop along the way with the family who lives on the steep mountainside

A nice food and rest stop along the way with the family who lives on the steep mountainside

More valley we were trekking through..this is the sacred Wilcamayu river (now "Urubamba")

More valley we were trekking through..this is the sacred Wilcamayu river (now "Urubamba")

The kind of stuff we were hiking on sometimes.  Don't look down!

The kind of stuff we were hiking on sometimes. Don't look down!

Beautiful

Beautiful

End of the day..so tired! We worked hard for this picture, hiking all the way back up to the Guard House to get the view.  Worth it!

End of the day..so tired! We worked hard for this picture, hiking all the way back up to the Guard House to get the view. Worth it!

So many more pics to follow! We have to leave now to catch the bus, and the computer “no funciona” so that’s that. Chau!


Jul 13 2009

Copacabana (Bolivia..not Brazil..that’s in a couple weeks!)

Bodhi

We were in the Copacabana, Bolivia area from about July 7-10.  We had bussed there from La Paz.  Copa, as it’s called, is situated right on the lakefront of Lake Titicaca.  The majority of their business is tourism, both for Bolivians (I presume) and foreigners like ourselves.  It’s very sunny there during the day.  We saw very bright sun every day, with very few clouds.  You NEED a hat there!  And it was warm too, at least during the day.  Some of the warmer temperatures we’ve had yet, being over 20 C during the hottest time.  This is because we’re getting further and further north in our travels, and thus closer to the equator.  So even though Lake Titicaca is at about 3800 m elevation (that’s high) and it’s “winter”, it was still very pleasant.  Nights were cold still, but nothing compared to Uyuni or the high altiplano.

We enjoyed several sunsets and relaxed a bit.  I got to play my little guitarra I bought in La Paz, which was a lot of fun :)  There are a number of artist/hippy types in Copa, presumably because it’s a relaxed environment and warmer and touristy.  Lots of handmade jewelry and such being sold in the street, and a ton of stalls hocking alpaca wool hats and jumpers (chompas) and the like.

Here’s a few pictures that I was able to get up despite the generally grim state of computers we come across (web works fair, but USB connectivity, processor speed, and browser functionality and updatedness is grossly lacking):

Monica shooting at sunset on the shore of Lake Titicaca in Copa
Monica shooting at sunset on the shore of Lake Titicaca in Copa

 I sat and played guitar while Moni took pictures as the sun set behind boats in the bay.  Lovely.

One day, we set out early to do the trek described in the Lonely Planet.  The idea is you walk along the road for 17 km to a tiny town on the peninsula nearest the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and catch a boat from there, then stay on the island.  The scenery was beautiful, as the book described.  It was generally very pastoral, with what looked like dirt farms mostly.  Just kidding..they were growing some sort of grain and had sheep and llamas and things.  It was a long walk.  And hot, dry, and dusty.  Nevertheless, it was something rather off the beaten track that tourists see, which we appreciated.

View on our long (8 mile) trek to the boat we took to Isla del Sol

View on our long (8 mile) trek to the boat we took to Isla del Sol

More pastoral views near Lake Titicaca

More pastoral views near Lake Titicaca

Eventually, we were quite tired from walking for hours, and happened across Hilario Paye.  He is mentioned by name in the Lonely Planet guide as someone who will give you a boat ride to Isla.  We took him up on the offer, and rode in his little motorboat at a slow pace out to the island.

A trip to the peninsula after an 8 mile hike. There´s a great story behind this pic.

Riding in Hilario's boat to Isla del Sol. This is the start, in the shallow reed-filled waters.

Again, we loved this experience because it was so unique!  One could certainly have gotten to the island for cheaper and faster by just taking the big ferries, but this was really fun and quaint, even peaceful.  The waves were rocking the boat a bit, but we didn’t really get splashed and eventually reached a bunch of rocks at the edge of the island.  Hilario drops us off without ceremony and pulls away.  Thanks Hilario!

Cheerful Hilario..he's in the Lonely Planet guide!

Cheerful Hilario..he's in the Lonely Planet guide!

So then it’s a couple more miles (ouch!) along the steep island hills walking along donkey and sheep trails.  We even got to walk with some actual donkeys and sheep!

I think I might have a future in shepherdry

I think I might have a future in shepherdry

Everywhere on Isla del Sol is very high up and you can really see the sun and the lake from there.  It’s beautiful.  We have pictures somewhere but I can’t get them up right now.  We stayed in a tiny little hospedaje, maybe 4 rooms, for the cheapest we’ve seen yet!  $3 each ($6 total).  It wasn’t even that bad, though forget about hot water or breakfast.  It was great to wake up to blasting morning sun, no alarm required.
Though we tried valiantly, we couldn’t fit in a trip to the north part of the island, where the rock that is the birth of the world in the Incan tradition.  This is where the first Incan was born, and essentially where the world started.  That’s heavy.  But the weird little boat mafia didn’t allow for this to happen for our convenience and we didn’t have the extra day, so back to the mainland we went, on the ferry this time.  We made it in time to hike up the giant hill next to town and watch a gorgeous sunset together!
As we watch sunset from the top of the giant hill next to Copa
As we watch sunset from the top of the giant hill next to Copa
The next morning we got on a bus that would eventually bring us to Cusco, where we are now.

Jul 13 2009

I heart Incas

Monica

We arrived in Cuzco, Peru on Saturday night (11th) after a few beautiful and sunny days on Lake Titicaca. Cuzco holds a special place in my heart as I was here last year with great people and to now share it with Bodhi makes it that much more special. We arrived in time for dinner and really I think it was one of my favorite nights of the trip. We found a gem of a hostel in the San Blas area of Cuzco with a view overlooking the entire city. We sat in the window seal for a long time just amazed at how things just fall into place. We are going to spend a few days exploring Cuzco and the Sacred Valley before starting our four day trek/bike to Manchu Pichu on Wed.

I´m bringing leg warmers back.

I´m bringing leg warmers back.

Capturing a sunset over Lake Ticicaca

Capturing a sunset over Lake Ticicaca