40 Days in South America – Peru

What did you guys do for Thanksgiving? I was here!

It’s Cochamo Valley in Chile!  But this was the end of our trip ;). I’ll start at the beginning…

On October 23rd I took off for Peru, Chile, and Argentina!  This is what the road trip ultimately looked like.

Over 4,000 miles! We flew into Lima to start our journey and all we knew for sure was that I needed to be in Santiago, Chile by November 30th to fly home.

The start in Peru: our main goal was Macchu Pichu. We figured if you’re in South America, Macchu Pichu has to be a part of it.  Lima is the most affordable place to fly into, so we spent a few days there to get our bearings. If you go to Lima you must have ceviche!  Right on the coast, the seafood here is super fresh!

On the way to Cuzco we stopped in Arequipa.

We met a couple of locals and got to go to a nearby climbing area.

The taxi dropped us off, but since it was out of the way, we had to hoof it back to the nearest town to get a taxi back to the hostel…

In Arequipa, we tried to book our train ride up to the Machu Picchu ruins so that we’d be ready to go when we got there.  The girl at the hostel was nice enough to make a call to someone for us. We thought we were good to go, but as we were about to find out, Machu Picchu was not going to go according to plan…

Señor Gregorio was to meet us at the bus station in Cuzco, so that he could get us to the train station in time for our ride up to Aguas Calientes at the base of the ruins. Señor Gregorio had a different plan.

He had booked us on a much more complicated trip that involved quite a few more tours (more $ in his pocket conveniently).  In the end, we ended up sticking around Cuzco for an extra day to sort out a new plan.

While we were stuck in Cuzco, we checked out a market.   Here’s picture of the potato isle!  Peru has one of the largest varieties of potatos in the world :P.

Anyways…at this point our only affordable option to Machu Picchu was a crazy 6 hour van trip up the winding roads of the Andes that dropped us off a 2 hour hike short of Aguas Calientes!

So we hiked the last 2 hours along the train tracks arriving in the town at dark.

Once in town, we realized that only one person in our group knew where we were supposed to meet the tour crew at this end of the train tracks.  This person, of course, was nowhere to be found!!  After 20 minutes of nervous chatter about how on earth we could reconcile this disaster of a “tour”, the girl who knew the name of the meeting spot showed up!  

At this point the trip’s disorganization and randomness was laughable.  Fortunately, most of us still had a sense of humor and we all got a hot meal and a bed at a hostel so that we could get ready to go see the ruins the next day!

Laughing off/venting about the events of the previous few days, we set out for the 1 hour hike straight up! You could ride a shuttle bus for a fee here, but we decided that money would be better spent on a meal later on.

We started before the sun came up so that we could beat some of the tourist madness at the top, and it paid off!  These pictures at the beginning of the day hardly have any tourists running around in the background, unlike the pictures taken later on in the day!

Fun fact: domesticated llamas inhabit the ruins ;).

Señor Darcy was our tour guide and he was quite a treat compared to the tourist runaround we had encountered so far!

He had loads of great information and made it all very entertaining and engaging!  Our favorite anecdote from the day came from our llama education. “They are great pack animals, but if you put more that 15 kilos on a llama, you may as well pick up the llama and carry him too!”  Thank you Señor Darcy!

At the end of this day, we met back up with our ragtag tour group and set back off for Cuzco. This time we got to ride a train back to the point that the van had dropped us off at the day before.

The van ride was total torture on the way down for me.  Let me just say that this trip is not recommended for anyone who is susceptible to motion sickness!

We had actually booked an overnight train to Puno in order to escape the clutches of the certifiably insane Señor Gregorio ASAP, alas we missed that bus and spent one more evening in Cuzco and hopped on the bus in the morning…

….a colorful view from the bus window.

The next morning we took off for our last stop in Peru: Lake Titicaca!

Puno is the hub on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca.  The main attraction here is the Uros Islands, which are floating islands that the natives have inhabited for centuries.  They build the islands with reeds and anchor them to the nearest part of shore.  They originallystarted building these islands in order to avoid the invading spanish.  Now it’s more touristy than ever, but it was still an interesting boat ride!

After our stop in Puno, we took off for Argentina!  I’ll continue this post at a later date though, or this could take you hours to get through!

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