CHACHAPOYAS AND KUELAP THE PRE-INCA RUINS

Since Chachapoyas and Kuelap discovered the ruins of a pre-Inca civilization in a beautiful nature …

I leave Francois to his shamanic experiences in Lagunas. We will meet in a few days in Ecuador. I take the boat for Yurimaguas. This time, I’m almost the only European on the boat. Many Peruvians come to talk to me. They like to discuss politics here: “Let tal Sarkozy, muy malo no?” On arrival, I meet a Chilean and a Frenchman who, like me, go to Tarapoto. The Frenchman takes a bus. With the Chilean, we take a collective taxi, faster, to chained directly to Chachapoyas. With the rain, there was a lot of bumps on the road. At the turn of a curve, we find ourselves face to face with a huge block of stone plant in the middle of the road that we have to circumvent. To top it off, we are entitled to a CD of Dr. Alban thoroughly on the road.

Arrive Tarapoto, we just have time to eat a piece and we leave directly by bus. Christian, the Chilean tells me that he finishes a tour of the Amazon by boat, in two weeks! I go down to Pedro Ruiz in the middle of the night, impossible to go further today. I find myself a small hotel here and leave next morning by taxi collective for Chachapoyas. The road is under construction because the rain has damaged it. We have to wait an hour before we can continue our journey.

Finally I am in Chachapoyas. The city is pretty. The Plaza de Armas is nice and the surrounding streets have kept the Spanish colonial style. The next day, I leave with a group for the pre-Inca citadel of Kuelap. I find the French boat that arrived here a little later than me. We spend several hours visiting the huge ruins of this peaceful civilization that was conquered by the Incas. Unlike Macchu Pichu, the site is still covered with plants and trees on which wild orchids grow. It makes the athmosphere more “Indiana Jones”, especially since the citadel is far from being invaded by tourists and the landscape around is beautiful.

In the evening, with the other members of the group, the French, a Preuvienne and two Chiliennes, we go to drink a few glasses in a dancing bar. I am entitled to a special lesson from Merenge. I’m not trying to Cumbia, it’s beyond my means! The next day, I leave with Tania and Andrea, the two cousins ​​Chilienes, because they also go to Ecuador. We chained two shared taxis that we share with a super friendly Peruvian lawyer. When we tell him that we have not yet tasted Ceviche in Peru, he insists to invite us to the restaurant to make us taste the specialty of his country before we go. The waitress brings us a huge dish of raw fish cooking in lemon juice with vegetables and another of seafood sauce, all sprinkled with a bottle of Inca Cola.

With Tania and Andrea, we continue our journey towards the Ecuadorian border. We spend a night in the small town of San Ignacio, a few kilometers from the border, before taking another collective taxi the next morning. Finally we are there! The border post is tiny … and empty! We ask a lady who is holding the shop next to the station. She advises us to knock on the door of her house: “It’s the one with a red roof. “I think we had to wake him up. He arrives a quarter of an hour later and stamps the passports. We cross the bridge that separates the two countries. We are in Ecuador.

Well where is the Macchu pitchu?

Finally, we enter the site, and our first vision is splendid: white! There is so much fog that you can not see anything! “But he is or Macchu Pichu? Ben, I think we’re in there actually …” We were taking refuge with a group of tourists in a small house while waiting for the clouds to dissipate and for the rain to fall. stopped. Finally it is, in fact it was really right in front of us. It’s worth it, even if it has been seen dozens of times in photo, the site is impressive. The city is surrounded by moist mountains plunged in the mist. The atmosphere is magical.

Tensions with American tourists

We join groups of tourists to listen to their guide, until Francois is released by an American. Apparently, you have to pay for the guide and as we have not paid, forbidden to listen to his. We are not among the communists here! We spend a little more time here before going back down. Coming downstairs, it’s still raining and we do not really want to redo the two hours of walking along the railway in the rain.

DIFFICULT RETURN TO CUSCO

And shit a landslide!

So we catch the train that takes us to the hydro-electric station. From there, we take a direct minibus to Cuzco. Unfortunately, a path that comes in the opposite direction announces that there has been a crash on the road because of the rain and that the passage will not clear before the next morning. So we make a U-turn and the driver drops us in a small village.

Palm of the world’s craziest hotel?

We have a hotel that is in a good position to win the competition of the dirtiest of our trip.

The room is entirely made of tin, there are 2 beds with foul sheets stained everywhere, stinking and with some kind of crusts on it and some dead insects. I clean as best I can and I cover with my own sheet to feel clean. The bed is horribly soft, I sink inside the bed as the guy from the movie “trainspotting” in his carpet.

I approach what serves as bathroom in the hope of taking a shower and I recoil, I would do without. Sylvain disregards everything, takes a shower and sleeps like a baby in his disgusting bed as if nothing.

After a good night in the company of roaches, we take the bus. An hour of waiting to watch the bulldozers clear the road, and we can finally move on.

BACK TO CUSCO

Back in Cuzco, we have the good surprise to see Nancy and Romain arrive in our hotel. After Santiago and Salta, this is the third time we meet by chance at several months apart! We go out to eat pizza with them. On the way back, we come across an unconscious Peruvian in the street. After a while, we begin to worry, it does not show signs of life. Roman approaches and the man finally regains consciousness.

In the evening, we spend a good evening in the reggae bar and then in a box with an Australian meeting at the hotel and a group of Chilean women on vacation here. Another day here and we take the bus to Lima.

CUZCO AND MACHU PICCHU OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Cuzco is the most touristic city in Peru, the ancient Inca capital. it is also the starting point for the Macchu Pitchu, one of the new wonders of the world according to the official classification. On the program, sublime scenery but also abandoned track, rock fall, the dirtiest hotel in the world, visit of the hospital of Cuzco etc …

CUZCO THE CAPITAL OF THE INCAS

I meet Francois in Cuzco. He found a beautiful hotel with a large terrace which has a direct view of the Plaza de Armas of the city with its two cathedrals. We walk in the city. Despite the hordes of tourists, we feel good here. Cuzco is really well preserved. It is the ancient capital of the Incas. The Spaniards have almost all shaven on their arrival here, but in some streets, we still see the walls in huge smooth stone stones that date back to that time. The colonial buildings are in perfect condition. At the hotel, we meet two young Parisians. There is one that is really funny. He speaks two hundred an hour with lots of weird words in verlan. Besides, the Spanish is super easy to understand. We go out with them at night in a small reggae bar.

THE INCREDIBLE PATH TO THE MACCHU PITCHU

No question of paying an organized tour

The next day, we leave towards Machu Picchu. We would have liked to do the Inca Trail, a four-day trek on an ancient Inca trail that leads to the famous sacred city. But it’s very expensive and it really feels the tourist trap. In addition my knee still hurts and even if I saw a doctor who gave me anti-inflammatory, I do not prefer to embark on a long hike.

3 hours of walking in the night along the abandoned track

The other option, the tourist train to Aguas Clientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu, is also off budget. We therefore opt for the cheap option, a local bus and a collective taxi to a hydroelectric station along the railway line, and from here we walk for two hours along the rails to Aguas Calientes. We arrive at night in the rain and find a hotel.

The next day we leave at four in the morning for Macchu Pichu. There is a good climb to get there and we must leave early if we want to see the sunrise on the site. We are not alone, far from it. Dozens of people are passing us on the road. Because of my knee, I can not take the stairs that climb in a straight line at the top and must walk for almost two hours on the winding road, always in the rain. Coming to the top, it’s already been a long time and I’m pleasantly surprised to see that the buses that have doubled me in the climb have already devastated their stream of tourists who line up to enter the site.

THE AMAZING CITY OF AREQUIPA AND THE COLCA CANYON

ON THE WAY TO AREQUIPA

Night at the edge in Puno at Lake Titicaca

We arrive in Peru. We spend the first night in Puno. We do not stay here long. We stay in a hotel right next to the bus station. The city is not very pretty outside a pedestrian street in the center. Then we take the bus to Arequipa, the largest city in southern Peru.

Passage in front of Juliaca

We go through the suburbs of Juliaca that seem really poor. These are almost shantytowns in the midst of a desert landscape, and in the rain, one does not have the impression that Juliaca will enter the palmares of cities where life is good. On the bus, we hear the speeches of potions sellers of medicinal herbs and books of general culture, worthy of Fidel Castro. They speak during lead time. And it works, the seller of miraculous plants is a nice jackpot.

AREQUIPA THE BEAUTIFUL WHITE CITY

We finally arrive in Arequipa. The weather is still not good, but we are more than 2000 meters high and it is still hotter than in Bolivia. The city is really pretty. The colonial buildings of the center are all covered with a kind of white lime that comes from the volcano overlooking the city and the Plaza de Armas, with its palm trees, its cathedral and wooden balconies has a lot of charm. While strolling in the streets, we discover beautiful small inner courtyards.

In the evening, while trying to eat, we come across the creperie of the Alliance Francaise. We go to take a look at the menu and find a group of French and Belgians that Francois knows of Cordoba. We sit with them and order patties, a treat!

CHIVAY AND THE COLCA CANYON

In the pretty little town of Chivay

The next day we take a bus to Chivay, the first village at the beginning of Colca Canyon. The map that we collected at the tourist office indicates that there is a walk to do very close. We take the path that seems to be indicated but ultimately it is not good. In addition my knee always hurts and I can not walk long. We therefore fall back on the natural hot springs at half an hour’s walk from Chivay. In fact from sources we find real swimming pools. The water is hot, it’s nice.

The road of the condors

The next day we take a bus to Cruz del Condor, the best view of the canyon. We are piling into an old bus. We follow the canyon and the view of the precipice at the edge of the road is not very reassuring. It’s one of the deepest in the world, 3400 meters! In Cruz del Condor we have a great view. We see the condors that are floating in the currents of hot air. It really makes you want to trek three days to the bottom of the canyon, but unfortunately, with my knee, impossible. Grrr!

AMAZON, REACH THE BORDER OF THE AMAZON

Until Tarapoto

After Lima we go to the Amazon. Direction Yurimaguas then Tarapoto and finally Lagunas. The bus route is long, even very long. After a bus night we arrive at Tarapoto. Right out of the bus our goal is to go very quickly to Yurimaguas, and there it gets complicated.

We are in a city but in the jungle. It is very hot, very wet the sun burns and I sweat to death. There is no bus. After complicated discussions we finally understand that we have the choice between the collective taxi or find a pickup and to tighten with the guys in the back corner. Fresh! After hours waiting for our taxi to be full we leave on a road that meanders through the mountains. The equatorial landscape looks really wild with its dense vegetation.

Yurimaguas the border of the Amazon

After a few hours we arrive at Yurimaguas. We find a cheap hotel and we make a little walk to visit and find how to go to Lagunas. This time it is a much smaller city with its white central square and Spanish colonial style church. Not far, by sinking in an alley we arrive by chance facing the river. It’s a real Amazon river! It is broad and brown, mud color. It’s nice, a real adventure movie atmosphere.

In the evening we meet a couple of French in the hotel who leave for Lagunas them too. Lagunas is a village at 14 hours from the only accessible by boat. We decide to go take the boat the next day with them.

In the morning we still have time to go for a walk in the market and buy what we need for the trip. It’s the last city before really sinking into the jungle so we enjoy it. We risk staying there for at least 1 week. The market is hyper concentrated, it pawns and we jostle. There are really funny green fruits like big beans, others round and covered with scales like a snakeskin. There is a turtle for sale. And we come across astonished a woman with a little crocodile on her head. Rather exotic all that.

A very special boat on the Amazon

Accompanied by the French, we arrive last to the boat. Here the boats are not like the others, all in wood, 2 bridges, and especially covered with hammocks. Here no berths. Each one brings back his hammock and installs it between the posts provided for this purpose. There are days of crossings for those who want to reach the city of Iquitos, it is better to be comfortable.

We arrived last on the boat and we have more free space to install our hammocks but Sylvain is doing well and I sit at the top of the stairs. In case of a fall I will break my back but I will not fall happily.