Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
157Trip End Ongoing
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7th August 2004 In Search of Paddington Bear in Peru................
Crossing the land border from Ecuador to Peru couldn't have been easier. We drove over the border at Maccra and continued on until we arrived at Piura some 9 hours later!!!!
The scenery change from Ecuador to Peru was quite drastic. Gone where the Andean Mountains which we were so used to seeing over the last 6 weeks and now we were faced with desert/sand areas as far as the eye could see. On the outskirts of city's, we endured sights of old discarded plastic bags wrapped round tree branches and bushes. Most of the rivers we crossed had tonnes of rubbish thrown over it's banks. The locals thinking that the water will carry it away. The real truth is the water doesn't flow anyway near high enough. Thus leaving an awful sight of plastic rubbish.
Over the next week or so we continued to hop through the coastal towns from Puira to Chicalayo where we went and explored our first Inca pyramids at Tucume. Not like the kind you find in Egypt but well worn sand dune looking things. We climbed up one of them to a view point overlooking the vast Inca Ruin area. The whole area is still being excavated by archaelogists. How they piece together very dwelling, storage area is beyond us. To the untrained eye it looked like an old sand castle competition that had finished weeks ago!!!
From Chicalayo we went south to Trujillo where we had our first glimpse of ocean since the Galapagos. This area was famous for it's fisherman who use boats made from reeds to fish from. This area was also popular for surfing and thus attracts loads of backpacker surfers too. The sea was freezing and with our wet suits stored in Quito we took to just watching thank you!
Two days on and another 9 hour (knees up round our ears!) bus journey to Peru's capital Lima. We opted for the safer, posher area of the city in Mira Flores where no one lurked on street corners trying to relieve you of your possessions, if you catch our drift? This area was very pretty and made up of huge avenues lined with trees and interspersed with green parks and gardens. We enjoyed it here and stayed for 3/4 days just shopping, eating (yes they had Burger King and Mc Donald's) and people watching especially the para gliders who like to trust their lives in their parachutes and whizz as close to the high rise buildings/hotels as possible. Great fun to watch but not sure I would like to be the person we saw in tandem with another mad glider!!
We chickened out of the 30 hour bus ride to Cusco and bought flights instead. Now there's a story.......... we get to the airport only to be told our flight was delayed by 1 hour........that's fine we thought, more time to down more Dunkin' Dounuts. Then we wobbled to our departure gate looking like Mr Creosote (Monty Python?)..........very busy with about 300 people.....in hindsight, alarm bells should have tinkled if not started ringing as everyone seemed to be waiting for the same plane!!! That plane could only take 160. We weren't to know that. The trolley dollies took their places on the bus to the plane so did the first queue of people. We backpackers were in no hurry.....chat chat.....alarm bells still not ringing..... then comes the bombshell announcement..........."the flight has been cancelled"...........mass uproar ensured like one of those "Sleazy Jet" moments opps sorry "Easy Jet" moments like you see on TV.............but a plane left?............"flight cancelled, no more today".......more uproar.....we left the spanish speakers to it.........
So eventually we get directed back to check-in where our tickets were changed for the next mornings flight and then they hand us a voucher for a free night at a hotel. On closer inspection it turns out to be the one and only 5 * Sheraton Lima Hotel. We were well chuffed!! The limousine err 'clapped out bus' was waiting outside to take us to our luxury hotel. The beautifully dressed doormen could here us coming a mile away (another bus exhaust blown and dragging along the ground). The funny part was his hands never came out of his pockets to help us bus load of travellers with our backpacks.......ohhh no thank you!!!!
Our hotel room was on the 20th floor overlooking fantastic views of the center of Lima. We all met up for our free evening meal that night having all had the best 'power shower' since leaving home. The fluffy white bathrobes were to die for!! Needless to say anything that wasn't nailed down made it's way into someone's backpack. No room in ours....but for the usual shampoo,conditioner, shower gel, shoe shine cloth (well you never know)! and shower cap, at Martin's insistance of course!!
So after our luxury breakfast we took the clapped out bus back to the airport and as luck would have it got our flight to Cusco. Guess who was at the front of the queue this time??
Cusco is some 3000 meters above sea level. If anyone is going to suffer some kind of altitude sickness it's here as they have usually flown in from sea level. Doh!
We on the other hand were used to being in Quito (Ecuador) and had travelled down through all the other high up Andean towns. We had done the headache thing in Quito and got off very lightly having compared notes and symptoms with other people.
So there was no dizzy spells etc for us just the usual breathless-ness at the slightest exertion e.g climbing stairs.
Needless to say we did the honorable thing of copping out at the '4 day Inca trail endurance nightmare' to Matchu Pitchu and opted instead for the train to take us up as far as Aguas Calientes (the nearest town to M.P) where we stayed for 2 nights. Here we got up at 3.30am and walked the last 8 kms up the mountain trail/road to Matchu Pitchu. It was well worth the near heart attacks suffered to get photos of this incredible Inca city with no one else in them.
Then by 7am thousands of other people who lazily or wisely took the bus up, flooded through the gates to admire M.P or the 'Money Pit' as we renamed it!!
We stayed one more night in Aguas Calientes then 'let the train take the strain' back down to Cusco again.
We came to the conclusion that it was time to have a break for the high altitude and aimed for the Amazon basin.
Where I stayed