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.
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!
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.