Wednesday, 30 April 2014
So we arrived at the main gate at 7 in the end and started our tour of the site. The first guy to get to Maccupitchu in the 1900's was an American, I forget this name but he wasn't even looking for Maccupitchu, he was trying to find a little town called Olltabochy, this little city is on the train line and I got to see a little of it and its also a great little incan city which had a colonial town built on it. So after finding Maccupitchu he came back some years after and recovered a lot of little artifacts from the site and made some assumptions about the use of the rooms. There are many temples and some rooms which they just don't know what they were for, like the three window temple, its a room that they were making and it had three windows but no idea what it was really for.
Some of the site was reconstructed in the mind 1960's as it was again a site of intense interest. There was a massive earthquake centred on Cusco in 1650 and this is the reason they believe that there is some damage at the site. There are not any sign of human destruction to the building. The site itself is huge and the tour with walking around the site took almost 3 hours no including the sungate or Inca bridge. The scale of the city is massive, running down one side of the city are terraces for agriculture, the constitution of which is awesome, they are built from large stones at the bottom, gravel and then sand and earth on top of that. Water that falls on the top trickles down to the next terrace, in this way the soil does not erode and each terrace gets water. Separating the terraces from the other part of the city as a large stair case with a series of water fountains running down the side. These are no water fountains as we would think of but its a small follow of water that has been directed down a series of rocks with groves in for the water to flow. It goes along one grove and then drops down to the next level under another rock and into another grove. The groves are man made and are uniform in size. We do not know what this is for, could be for drinking, watering the terraces in dry seasons as I was told that the water flows all year round from a natural spring near the top of the mountain.
The other two thirds of the city is temples and building for living in. There is an open area in the centre of the city for grazing alpaca.
The hike up to the sun gate was quite long again about 45 minutes and was quite steep uphill but the path was main of rocks that had been placed down to form huge steps. The view from the sun gate was incredible, can see the mount of mantupichu and hyna pitchufrom there.
Taking the bus down hill took 45 minutes and then back on to the train to arrive back at the family homestead by about midnight. Very exhausted but very little time to get ready as I had an early flight to Panama and then to Orlando to go visit my friend Vig and see cheerleading worlds 2014.
Thursday, 24 April 2014
This was somewhat easier a sort of flat trek mainly along a railway line to aguas callientate, the town under the watchful eye of maccupitu. We got a few glimpses of the city from the ground, my phone did not have a good enough zoom but you can tell the city is there from the ground now that the site has been cleared. We stayed the night in aguas calliente, I put into a very budget hostel, I had hot water, which was scolding only to shower in. No toilet paper, not that the toilet flushed, the room was very cold because the window had a big hole in it and the TV did not work so I couldn't even distract myself. But it didn't matter because we had to be up early as the next day was maccupitchu day..........
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Sunday, 13 April 2014
So I'm now in Cusco and have been living with a local family for the past week and they are really nice and welcoming. Astrid the grandma of the house does not speak any English but she has a good grasp of body language. Astrid is really nice and always offering hot water for hot drinks. Done a week of Spanish classes but more on that another time.
So Tuesday i got up early and tried to see the sun rise from Saqsayhuaman, the Incan ruins just about Cusco but as normal things did not go to plan. I missed the sunrise by looking in the wrong direction, it was really cloudy and the sun rose behind the mountain and trees to my left rather than were I was looking. However got a good opportunity to look around the ruins. The stones are huge, think Stonehenge but bigger stones and they have been altered to fit exactly. And I do mean exactly, its like they played a huge game of Tetris with the stones and ground down ones that didn't quite fit into the wall. How on earth they did this I have no idea or how they even managed to get the stone up to 3400 metres of Cusco. The area of the ruins itself might be half the size of Windsor castle but the size of the stones makes Windsor look like it was made with Lego bricks when compared to the huge stones.
Wednesday me and an American lady Geraldine who is also living with the host family took a bus up to Tambomachy which is 400 metres above Cusco. Our plan was to walk down from there on an old tour trail, however it has since been overgrown and is not used anymore and the local Peruvians warned us off of it. However we saw the ruins of Tambomachy and here the Incas had redirected a local stream through some walls creating fountains of water that come out of the wall. Again how they engineered this is a mystery, and again how its standing after so many years is amazing. There are another two ruins of interest on the way back to Cusco that we saw, firstly Pukapukara which was a fort that the Incas built with a commanding view of the valley in which Cusco is situated. The second site is called Qenqo ( pronounced kenco) this is a single giant rock that had been split into two parts by an earth quake and the Incas had craved ledges into the rock, it is said that young incan warriors would be placed on the ledges and given little food and water until they had a vision about what they had to do in the world.
Thursday we had a school trip to the cemetery, the Peruvians commerate their dead very differently to us. The cemetery contained many small tombs which contained it's that the deceased person might like, a doll for a young child, chocolate or coke for others, some contained pictures of the family so that the dead person would not forgot them. After the cemetery vivist we headed up to Christo blanco ( white Jesus) which is on the hill over looking Cusco, this status was a present from the Israeli people to Cusco. Pictures of both it and my class are below. From left to right, Steins, Olly, Paulo (Teacher), Me.
Next time Spanish lessons......
Monday, 7 April 2014
So many hours later I am in a hostel called the lion in Lima, Peru. Its a nice looking and well looked after hostel in Miraflores, which is the tourist section of Lima. First hour I have met an american guy called Chris who lived in Columbia for a year and Emmanuel from Chile who speaks as much English as I do Spanish but we manage to have a bit of a laugh anyway about how cold the shower is. So I looked for a nice beach to rest on but it turns out the beaches in Lima are not good for anything right now because of pollution unfortunately. So instead me and Chris headed into the night to take a look around the city, saw a few of the more pretty places but my camera is not so good in the dark so you'll just have to trust me.
After the stupidity of my last section of travel to Lima I decided to get ahead of the curve and plan the rest of my flights and travel, the next day. So I spent a day looking at travel options and decided that a bus to Cusco and a flight back to Lima would be the best option. So now I have smashed the credit card hard but I know when I have to be in places to get back all the way to England. I have also changed my plans for the next few weeks again. I'll admit that at time when travelling about I have felt a bit lost as I can only talk to people who speak English, I have perhaps three times used a bit of French to get something or understand directions but I think I have mostly been lucky. So on Monday the 7th I start two weeks of Spanish lessons in Cusco, I'm also living with a Peruvian family who don't speak English so basically I'm dropping myself in at the deep-end and hoping that I can learn to swim really quick.
Back to the bus, now I was dreading the bus that it would be like the buses in Brazil, cold, long and boring. Now in Peru they have got busing down to an art. I mean it felt like I was taking a flight. I arrived changed my voucher for a ticket, checked in my bags and waiting to be called for boarding. Once I got on board I headed up to my seat, I had a seat at the front of the bus on the upper level, right in front of the 25 inch screen that they were going to show movies on. I have a foot rest and the seat reclined to nearly flat. The bus steward came around with proper head phones for the movies. Then at about 7 dinner came round, just like it would on a flight, then breakfast in the morning as well. Needless to say I was very impressed and it made the 20 journey a pleasure not a pain.
Being at the front I got some great views of the road, I'll share a few after this :) so I am now in Cusco, with the family and have had a little tour from the old lady in Spanish about Cusco and have a map. Tomorrow I start my lessons.....
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Right up and away by 730 everything is water proofed except for me and it should all be safe if it rains or the waterfalls are heavy. Today we should be able to hit the base camp for lunch and then the first camp for dinner, I thought this was a big aim considering it was two days to get up. However there has still been no rain since we started trekking so the waterfalls and the rivers should not be heavy or high but Alex our guide says these things can change quickly.
This time I have been preparing and have my camera ready to give you some idea of the climb. Rose and Beatrice, hired a personal porter as they didn't want to have to carry a bag on the decent. I won't say it was easy, but slow and steady made it down in one piece. After a brief lunch we started out for the first camp, hoping again our luck holds and there is no rain. The hardest aspect of the next part was the sun, we started out just after 12, I had covered up as I didn't want to get burnt but this meant I was even hotter and by 2, I was out of water, and my shirt and trousers were almost dripping wet (yes I felt disgusting).
Our luck held and the rivers were even lower meant the second one could be crossed without getting wet. Now I'm at the first camp only a short walk and a car ride tomorrow and I'll be back at the hostel, let's hope they have water this time, as last week they didn't have any in Santa Elena. Grrrr.
So the group left the camp just before 8 in the morning, and my legs were killing me, walking back was hard work after the hard decent the day before but well worth it, the weather held off raining till we were back at the camp. Once back we learnt that the boiliver had strengthened against the dollar as the president said he was going to buy more forgiven currency so last week we got 70 boiliver for a dollar today 45 was the best we could get and only if changing a huge amount of currency. Therefore me and Johannes decided to just run back to Brazil, given that we only had 200 riels between it us it was going to be tight to get back to boa vista. We managed with a little bit of luck and some hard bargaining. That evening trying to get money out of the banks was hard we tried banco Brazil, 2 different Santander branches and finally a little service station let us take out some money. Nice to sleep in a bed for the first time in a week and not be super cold.
Got some dollars the next day and I headed back to Manaus by bus to get a flight to Lima. This turned into a huge mess, I had looked at flight timed on the net and assumed that 3:41 was in the afternoon naively. So now I'm here and I have a second problem, my debit card has been cloned and someone in america has been with drawing money from my account, the money will come back but the card is now useless and I only have 100 riels left, not enough to get a taxi to town and back. All my money is in dollars or Peruvian Pecos, so stuck in the airport for 15 hours with luggage and everything. I had downloaded a little app to learn some Spanish so I have been going over and over it on my phone. But later tonight I head to Lima and maybe a beach day or two before moving on.
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Monday, 31 March 2014
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Well the Amazon trip is over :(.
Now to start the bus trips to Venezuela, now I had heard this bit is a tad confusing but its not that bad. To get to Santa Elena from Manaus, you do the following.
1. Bus to boa vista.
2. Second bus to pacarima.
3. Walk to Brazilian border and through immigration.
4. Walk on to the Venezuelan border and though immigration.
5. Taxi to Santa Elena.
Simple steps, but the bus to boa vista was late meaning I missed the only bus to pacarima, so wait a day for the next one, then the next one is late, queue me panicking because immigration is only open in the morning according to my trusty guide book ( thanks so much Chris). Now I had read horror stories about not walking and there being terrorists, robbers, scoundrels and pirates ( ok not pirates but you know what I mean) in the bit where you are not in either Brazil or Venezuela, but there was just a guy selling juice, fresh orange juice actually. So I am now safely in Venezula, begin the trek up the mountain tomorrow, so not post for a while, as there are no pictures of today as you all know what a bus looks like. So added a few more from the Amazon to keep you entertained.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
Friday, 21 March 2014
The last day in Lencois was a lot of trekking 7km up and 7km down, very little flat ground at all up to see Fumaca, means smokey in Portuguese, and its amazing. It gets its name from the wind creating a smoke effect from the tiny water droplets that form as the water falls. However since its very dry right now in Brazil, it has a slightly bigger effect on the waterfall. The wind whips up the entire waterfall and it actually falls upwards once it reaches half way down the waterfall. Its an amazing feeling when the wind whips the water in the direction of the plateau above the waterfall that you are standing on. At the bottom of the water fall is a pool of water the looks very calm and still, considering it should be fed by a waterfall.
Then another little trip in the car to another natural water slide and a big pool which we could swim in. The water was coloured red because of the tiny bits of rock that were in the water. Was very pretty, however my camera ran out of battery on the way up Fumaca which was disappointing but I will be getting pictures from a German guy called Timo, he has quit his job and is going on a year travelling, he asked if he could read my blog for ideas, not too sure what ideas you going to get from my ramblings mate but good luck.
Getting to Manaus means a 7 hours bus, a taxi to the airport, two flights and a car ride to the office. Very excited about this part of the trip.
After a long trip to Manaus, and then another long trip involving two trips by boat and two taxi rides I am now in the Amazon basin. I arrived at the camp early in the morning, I have lost track of the actual day of the week now completely. Meet two British couples and a guy from Denmark who I am going to be spending the night with in the jungle, so we headed out on the boat after lunch. The setting here is beautiful, there are trees all along the way and the river opens out the huge lake like areas, without a guide you would get lost easily. On the way we saw sloths in the trees and a few terrapins. We got to the camp roughly two hours latter and started setting, there was a long hut with no walls that we would sleep under and it had beams to hang hammocks. Beside it was a small lean too for starting a fire under, which was the first thing that Paulo our guide did. He cooked rice and one and a half chickens on the fire, the food was surprisingly tasty. After dinner Adam the guy from Denmark found a few tarantula, another larger spider and a few leeches crawling through the forest. Then came sleep time, crawling into the hammock without ripping the mosquito net was difficult.
In the morning I learned I had been bitten badly on my legs and back, and in the afternoon it started to itch. I had left my antihistamines back in the office and was regretting this choice now. Once we had had a quick breakfast of pineapple and biscuits we headed back to the jungle lodge. We briefly stopped at a little local house to see a pineapple plantation, this was enlightening as we also got to see a rubber tree and try various other fruits, guava, orange lemon, papaya and a few others I have never heard of. Since myself and Adam are staying longer we are going to have a different guide and head off deeper into the Amazon over the next few days, not sure exactly how this will work but it should be an adventure.
So the guide did not turn up that afternoon, so we were with the main group having no idea what was going on, ended up fishing for piranha using chicken as bait, caught quite a few and they are much bigger than I expected. I was useless however and failed to catch a thing, fishing has never been my thing. Next day headed out early to see the sunrise from a good vantage point, got a few good photos. Mine and Adams guide has arrived and we are going to go out rowing into the swamp land and try to find some of the rare wildlife, then fishing in the afternoon and a caiman hunting in the evening, I really hope it goes well.
We now have a new guide Ralf but pronounced Half in Portuguese. He knows a lot about the local area and the row into the flooded areas of the forest was good, my camera is not good enough to take the distance shots, but we saw howler monkeys along with various birds and an owl. He was explaining that the water level changes by up to 12 metres at some points, and that during the dry season this is a normal forest but during the wet season it floods. The water does not mainly come from rain, but from further up the right river in Peru the mountains get the rain and the water level of all the Amazon rivers gets higher as a result. Once back we went fishing, Adam has brought a casting rod with him and I had a few goes at casting, it's a little more complicated then I thought. Then more piranha fishing, this time I actually caught one and since we were fishing outside the protected area we could eat them. On the way back I lost my balance getting out the boat and ended up in the river, camera luckily came out rather undamaged even if it took a few dodgy photos in the middle which I am super grateful for, but I have some large bruises on my right leg now grrrrr. Caiman fishing turned out a lot better however and we caught and got pictures with it. We tried catching a larger one but it did not want to happen and we lost the one that we hooked, from the boat the head was at least twice as large as the one Ralf caught by hand.
Morning of the 18th we headed to a local school and Ralf's house which is a short trip up river from the jungle lodge. This afternoon myself and Adam will beheading back into the jungle for round 2.………………
Thursday, 13 March 2014
Monday, 10 March 2014
A change of plan, up till now i have been in big towns, and i saw a picture of a waterfall and thought i need to go see that, had a few days so i am just going. 6 hours bus ride out of Salvador is a sleepy little town called Lencois, this town happens to be on Chapada Diamantina national park in Brazil famous for it's blue water lagoons and waterfalls. I got there late yesterday and checked into my hostel but still had enough time to do a 6km hike to a small waterfall over some rocks.
Today I got down to the bigger stuff. Inside a cave is a clear blue water lagoon, called Poco Azul. You have to shower before getting in to make sure you don't have sunscreen or makeup on to keep the water as pure as possible. You also have to wear a life jacket because diving down is not allowed, however this meant taking picture from within the lagoon was possible. Light lunch then off to mosquito waterfall, named because of the size of the diamond s that were found there. The view from the top was awesome but even more so was swimming under the water fall.
On the way back to the hostel we managed to come across a tarantula :)
Hope there is more to come tomorrow......