Peru - Tierra Incaica trip - SNP - September 2002

Below you will find a long list of pictures (approximately 100), taken on the Tierra Incaica trip organized by SNP from September 12 2002 to October 3 2002.
The most interesting images have a red bullet in front of them. In a hurry? Just want to see the pictures? Check out the slide show.
The days we were walking we kept track of how much time we spent walking. This is excluding the time for breaks.

September 12: (Flight to) Lima

After a pleasant flight, we arrived in Lima late in the evening and went to our hotel and after quick introductions from everybody, (during which we had our first Pisco Sour (this year) - a gift of the house) straight to bed.

September 13: Lima to Pisco

We spent the morning in Lima. We took a taxi from our hotel to the Plaza de Armas: 2 neardeath experiences... We visited the Cathedral (like we did last year). In the afternoon we took the coach to Pisco. When we arrived there it was already dark. Before diner we had our second Pisco Sour (again for free).

September 14: Paracas and Islas Ballestas

We got up early so we could leave for Paracas at 7.30. On our way we saw Pelcans, Flamengos and birds that looked like white Ibisses. When we took the boat, we first passed 'Candelabra', a Nasca line like shape in the hills, the origin of which is supposedly unknown. In my opinion it's a nice guesture to the tourists.
Next we arrived at Islas Ballestas where we could have a very close look at Penguins, Sea Lions (1500 plus !), Gannets, Sea Spiders and other animals.
Back on the mainland we went to the peninsula where we had lunch and a walk afterwards. There's a thick layer (sometimes 6 inches) of salt. Then we went back to Pisco.
Before dinner we had our third Pisco Sour (yet again for free, the Peruvians are very generous with this).

September 15: Ica and Nasca

Again an early start. We drove by mini van to Huacachina where some of the group went sandboarding (something like snowboarding, but on sand in stead of snow). One of them lost his glasses... Next we went to the Museo Regional in Ica. Lost of ceramics and mummies from the Nasca, Quechua, Wari and other cultures. Very interesting! After that we took the Panamerican Highway to Nasca where arrived when it was already dark (again).

September 16: Around Nasca

A whole day of excursions. First we went to the Cantallo aquaducts. Built 400-600 A.C. by the Nasca people. Next we went to a small town where we were shown how ceramics 'Nasca style' are made (the same way as the originals). Then we went to a small 'shop' where they showed us how they used to extract gold from the rocks. After that we visited the Chauchilla cemetery. Here many well preserved mummies have been discovered, buried in the sand. Then we went to the airport where we were shown a video on the Nasca lines. Then we were split up in small groups so we could take the Cessnas to fly above the Nasca lines. A truly amazing sight! Difficult not to become nauseous though. The flight took approximately 35 minutes and leads you by most of the figures. At 63 USD it's not cheap, but worth every penny. Our pilot was Manuel, said to be one of the most experienced pilots (he did an excelent job in my opinion). Afterwards we went to the Plaza de Armas of Nasca, did some groceries and waited until it was time to take the night coach to Arequipa.

September 17: Around Arequipa

Although it was a very luxurious coach, we still didn't get very much sleep. We arrived in Arequipa at 6.40am. We went to the hotel where we had breakfast. Then we put our stuff in our rooms and went for a walk to the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral (which was badly damaged in many earthquakes, one which was last year - they are still restoring it). From the Plaza you have a nice view of the Cathedral with the volcano 'El Misti' in the background. Arjen wasn't feeling well so he went back to the hotel to get some rest. Patricia and Annekatrien went to visit the Santa Catalina cloister: a huge cloister with its own streets on the compound. Entrance was very expensive at 25 Nuevo Sol. Then they went to see the Market. It's got everything: live stock, cheese, vegetables, etc. It doen't smell too good, but it's great to see. In the afternoon, the three of us went to an internet cafe to send a mail to absent friends. After diner we went straight to bed.

September 18: Arequipa to Chivay

Around eight we took a private coach to Chivay. The road was very bad. Halfway to Chivay we passed the highest point of our trip (which we will pass again in 4 days) - a pass at 16,300 ft. We did not stop since the big increase in altitude might cause some problems (Arequipa was at 7,600 ft.). On the way we saw a couple of Vicuñas and many Alpacas and Lamas. We arived in Chivay around 2pm. We had a delicious lunch and then most of the group went to the hot spring. During dinner a band played songs like 'Guantanamera' and 'El condor pasa' and some other songs. We were not very enthousiatic, not because they played bad (actually they didn't), but because they played almost the exact same set we had heard from others in Pisco, Nasca and Arequipa. Chivay is the starting point from where we will explore the Colca Canyon.

September 19: Coporaque to Maca

We were brought to Coporaque from where we walked to the Colcas: natural refrigirators in the canyon of the river. The valley is very furtile. There are many terrasses (some a couple of thousand years old) where they grow corn, wheat and potatoes. Near Maca we had to cross the river. For most of us that wasn't a problem, the water wasn't even as cold as we had expected. Only Rob fell in the water on his bottom and got his pants wet... Around 4 we arrived at the bus which drove us back to the hotel. Early in the evening there was a power outage in Chivay. We hardly noticed since we had a wonderful view of the setting sun from our room and didn't turn on the light (afraid it would attract bugs).
This day we walked approximately 4h10m.

September 20: Cruz del Condor to Cabanaconda

A very early start: we got up at five so we could arrive at Cruz del Condor by bus around 8.15. When the sun starts to shine in the canyon, the condors will leave their nests to use the thermal currents to get high into the air. We were very lucky. It took the condors a while before the wanted to show themselves, but around nine there were sometimes 5 at the same time right in front of us. A beautiful sight! Around 9.30 we started walking. During the day we had great views of the canyon. Some parts of the path lead through burned hillsides (fire that was started on purpose to burn away old grass to give younger and to the animals more interesting fresh grass a chance to grow, but later had gotten out of hand). When we arrived in Cabanaconda, our Peruvian guide challenged us to play volleyball against one of the towns teams. We accepted and lost. Badly. Some of the Peruvian women didn't even want to play against us after a few rallies because we were too bad. We told our guide we wanted a revenge match the next day.
This day we walked approximately 3h15m.

September 21: Pampa Lejepampa

A 50 minute drive from Cabanaconda to Pampa Lejepampa where we will walk at 14,000ft. Most of the ground it covered with Itcha grass, but there are many blooming cactusses too. Lovely views of the 'Red Volcano' and many snow covered mountains. Back in Cabanaconda it turned out that the volleyball court was closed (normal for a Saturday). So we created something of a court ourselves in the street in front of the hotel using a cord. first we played in 2 teams by ourselves, but after that 6 of us played a team of Peruvians. The first set we lost by a lot, but the second came very close: 24-26 we lost in the end (although I must admit we had some help of a Peruvian woman who was the referee). But that didn't matter: we had lots of fun.
This day we walked approximately 2h40m.

September 22: Cabanaconda to Arequipa

At 7.30 we took the private coach back to Arequipa. As was promised, this time we did stop at the pass to take some pictures. We did not stay long (freezing cold), but did enjoy the view of many snow covered mountains and volcanoes.
In Arequipa we wanted to pay a visit to the museum where the mummy of Juanity can be seen, but unfortunately that was closed (always on Sundays). The market was open, but there we less people than on a working day. We went to an internet cafe to report the homefront on our journey to the Colca Canyon and then went back to the hotel. Patrica got an email from her sister telling her she's getting married! For dinner we went to 'Ary Quepay', the same restaurant we went the first time (pleased with the quality of the food and the service).

September 23: Cusco

An early flight to Cusco. We received a Cusco visitor access card which gives access to many of Cuscos' sites, museums and churches at a small price compared to separate tickets for each site. First we went to Tambo Machay, which was probably used for bathing. Then we went to Puca Pucara. Next to Q'engo and then to the most beautiful of the four sites above the city: Sacsayhuaman or as the locals told us to pronounce it in English: 'sexy woman'... Huge stone walls which together formed a fortress. Pizarro was killed when the Spaniards tried to concor it (eventually they succeeded). On the way back to the hotel we came by the famous 12 cornered stone.
The hotel is home of the HoPe (Holland Peru) foundation which provides education (teachers, schools, ...) to poor children. Please visit the HoPe Foundation website and give them a donation so they can provide education to more poor children.
In the evening we went to a restaurant for dinner. 2 of us had the local specialty: cuy or in English: Guinea Pig. One of them liked it, the other didn't. It's a strange sight: the entire animal is served, from head to toe...

September 24: Cusco

We started the day at an internet cafe to get some news from back home. Then we went to the Plaza de Armas where we were right on time to see a parade of young boys, girls, local administrators, nuns and the police. After them there were a few soldiers carying around what we thought was a madonna statue, but turned out to be the patron of the prisoners. Next we went to Coricancha, an Quechua site destroyed by the Spanish which now has a church on the foundations built by the Quechuas. We visited a small museum which shows some of the artifacts that were found at this location. Next we went to the Cathedral and 2 small churches that lay next to it. Very impressive paintings can be seen there. We had diner in an Italian restaurant at the corner of the Plaza de Armas. They had home made pasta which tasted very good. After dinner we had to pack our bags for the Inca Trail. The duffelbags that were provided were too small for even the little bit we wanted to take, but fortunately Rob decided to carry his own backpack so we could use the extra room in Antons duffelbag.

September 25: Pisac & Urubamba

By bus we went to Pisac where there is a Quechua site in very good shape. Next we headed for lunch in Urubamba. After that we had planned to visit the salt mines of Maras, but due to a rock slide the week before, they could not be reached by bus. Instead we visited Moray where terrasses can be seen that were used to transform high altitude crops into crops that could be grown at lower altitudes too, and vice versa (at least, that is the most likely theory). Then we wwent back to the hotel. We had a dinner of bread in our own room while some of the others went out for a second hot meal.

September 26: Ollantaytambo & start of the Inca Trail to LLactapata

By bus we went to Ollantaytambo - a site which is a combination of pre-Quechua and Quecha buildings. After visiting the site we had lunch - the first lunch by the crew that will join us for the Inca Trail. Then we headed for kilometr 82 on the railroad by bus: the starting point of our 4 day trek to Machu Picchu. From kilometer 82 we wlked to our first camp site. In the evening we had a great view of the sky with all the stars and the Milky Way.
This day we walked approximately 1h50m.

September 27: Llactapata to Llulluchupampa

A day of climbing - from 9,000ft. to 12,600 ft. Luckily the sky was very clouded, so it wasn't too hot to walk. The only disadvantage ofcourse was dat we could not see the mountain tops around us. The forest we walked through in the afternoon could be straight out of Lord of the Rings. After we arrived at the campsite we read a bit before dinner. After dinner we went to bed early.
This day we walked approximately 3h45m.

September 28: Llulluchupampa to Phuyupatamarca

The hardest day of the Inca trail. In total we had to climd and descend 3,000ft. The day staarted with a very steep climb to Huarmiwañusca, the 'dead woman's pass', at 14,000ft. the highest point of the Inca Trail. Then the trail went down and up again to the second pass: Runcuracay. We had lunch (again the food was delicious) near the site of Sayacmarca (we did not have time to visit it). This side of the pass we saw a real cloud forest. We arrived at Phuyupatamarca late in the afternoon. Because there's no river or brook close to the campsite, there's a lot of used toilet paper around. The toilets are no longer in use and when you are looking for a place taht you can use as a toilet, you have to be careful where you put your feet on the ground... The reason this place is used as a campsite is the great view of the mountains at sunrise (when the weather is good).
This day we walked approximately 6h05m.

September 29: Phuyupatamarca to Machu Picchu & Aguas Calientes

An early rise to see the sunrise. The whole night it had been raining, but when we got up, at least it was dry. There were some bright spot so there was a bit of a sunrise on the mountains, but not as nice as we had hoped. This day we had to descent some 4,300ft. We saw many butterflies and orchids on the way down to Machu Picchu. Around 1pm we arrived at Intipunku, the 'gates of the sun' from where we had our first looks at Machu Picchu - breathtaking. We went down to the site, but did not visit it this day, that we saved for tomorrow. We took the bus to Aguas Calientes. We dropped our stuff at the hotel and headed for the hot spring (Aguas Calientes means hot waters). After that we wanted to take a hot shower in the hotel, but the water was cold... Dinner was quite expensive (a lot of tourists visit the town so they've increased prices since people will have to eat anyway), but it tasted good. In the evening there were some celebrations to lead in festivities because the next day the town existed 60 years. A lot of music and dance and a lot of noise. Fortunately this day it ended early. The next day when we were gone, it was planned to last a lot longer.
This day we walked approximately 2h45m.
This makes for a total of 25h5m for this holiday!

September 30: Machu Picchu & train to Cusco

We started the day early again to have Machu Picchu to ourselves before the trainloads of tourists would arrive from Cusco. Our guide lead us around the highlights of the site in just under 3 hours. The site has been well restored and is really impressive. After the guided tour we could wander around the site by ourselves. Some of us decided to walk up Huayna Picchu. Patricia and Leo (a friend of our tourleader) made it to the top. Because today it was very cloudy, the view from there on Machu Picchu was not very clear.
In the afternoon we took the train back to Cusco where we arrived around 9pm. From the train we had a very good view of Cusco by Night.

October 1: Cusco

The trip is nearing its end. This day we bought some souvenirs and visited the Inca-museum (very worthwhile, especially if one of the students wants to practice his/her English by giving you a guided tour; otherwise you miss a lot). Each went his own way. Arjen went to get some rest and Patricia and Annekatrien went to visit the San Blas church. Arjen and Patricia bought apainting in one of the many local art galeries. After that we all had to pack our bags.

October 2: Lima

We had an early flight to Lima. We thought it would be a straight flight so we were very surprised when the plane was descending in what was clearly not a costal area. It looked asif it landed in the middle of the jungle. The name of the airport was Peurto Maldonado. A closer look at the map revealed that we were indeed in the middle of the Peruvian jungle and close to the Bolivian border, seen from Cusco we had headed in the opposite direction of Lima. After a few minutes we again were airborne and this time we did head for Lima. In Lima, part of the group stayed with the luggage at the airport while some went to visit the San Francisco cloister with its tombs filled with human bones. Around 3.30pm they arrived back at the airport. We checked in around 5pm. Around 7 we said goodbye to Joep and Karin who went to the Galapagos Islands. Quarter to nine we left Peruvian soil and headed for Aruba.

October 3: Flight to Aruba and Amsterdam

The landing in Aruba wasn't very smooth, we actually bounced off the runway back into the air before we landed. The rest of the flight was ok. The landing in Amsterdam wasn't very smooth either (different pilot though). This time we were not straight on the runway and had to swirl a bit to stay on it.
Waiting for our luggage we said goodbye to the rest of the group.