A Travellerspoint blog

CHINCHERO – MORAY – MARAS

DAY 18

sunny 20 °C
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After a pretty good sleep right next to the street we realized that we marked in front of a rafting place, but luckily it is not very popular and so we could enjoy our breakfast, fresh’n up in the river & get acquainted with the dogs from across the street, who appreciated me sharing my sandwich with them.

Chinchero: Our first stop was rather half-exciting… I guess we’ve seen too many ruins already, so these ones were not that impressive.
But in Chinchero there is a nice market – luckily we were not there on the main touristy day so the market was pretty quiet and calm. Also we decided to take a break after our exhausting 10 minutes ruin-tour and stopped in a small café right across from a craftsman carving pumpkins - dried pumpkins, it had nothing to do with Halloween :) It was amazing and he told us the different stories he shows on the pumpkins, how long it takes him to make one, about his customers who sometimes order specific motives, etc. We usually don’t buy souvenirs, but as it was such a nice talk we wanted a memory and bought a little carved pumpkin that can be used as a bowl.

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Moray: The next stop for the day was Moray – an amazing site in the Sacred Valley. And after we thought in Chinchero that we have seen enough ruins, this was definitely a proof that one can still be amazed! Already the way to get there was mind-blowing! The road we drove on was rather flat, around us orange-brown fields, beautiful green cacti on each side of the road and in the distance the beautiful landscape of the snow capped mountaintops of the Andes! We had to stop several times as we could not believe how beautiful it was.
And as we arrived to Moray we realized that not only the way to get there is worth the way but Moray itself is an amazingly beautiful place. Here the Inka built terraces in concentric circles for agricultural research. Every step would have been worth a picture stop, but we pushed ourselves to continue – from the top to the bottom, and back up including several amazing pictures-series!

In the village of Moray we decided to finally take a lunch break. But the streets were more narrow and steep than we thought, plus we got lost and needed to turn around… Perfect moment to discover that the Dodge doesn’t have the same problems with steep roads in the altitude if we use the reverse as if we use the 2nd gear!
Finally we ended at a dead-end road, where a lady was selling a lunch menu out of a wheelbarrow. So we simply stopped in the middle of the road and enjoyed a delicious 3 Soles Lomo Saltado.

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Maras: After a not too long drive over a dirt road we made our way to the Salineras of Maras – the entrance fee was 7 Soles (to our surprise, as not only guidebooks, but also other people said that the entrance is almost free). After paying entrance it was still a few kilometers further and towards the end it got really steep, which made me already think about how we should ever be able to get back up there (as explained earlier, the Dodge really doesn’t like steep roads, especially not in high altitude…). But OK that's something to worry about at the time it will happen!
Finally we arrived at the bottom – at the Salineras. We parked the Dodge in a way that seemed to be good for the night and went to explore the salt-terraces. Of course right at the beginning we got tricked to buy 100gr of Salt for 1 Sole and later found out that one can simply take salt from the terraces for free – but OK. The terraces are simply amazing! One can walk directly on the salt, climb over the terraces, enjoy the breathtaking view and as I said: pick salt! :) Luckily we also bumped into a woman working there – she organized the channels so that the water would no run into the terraces, which were about to dry. The channeling is organized in a pretty interesting and semi-professional way: plastic bags that keep the water in the respective channels, but OK if it works – after all these salineras have been there for more than 300 years, I guess they have experience! But what was even interesting to Chris and me is the fact that now one knows where the saltwater actually comes from – well from the mountain, was the answer :)
Anyways, the conversation with the lady was really interesting and informative! Shortly before dusk we decided to head back to the car and prepare it for the night –after all we didn’t want everyone to see that we are about to spend the night there. Still we asked the restaurant owners if it was fine and they gave us their blessing to stay. That night we used our newly acquired gas cooker for the first time to prepare some tea and for the first time realized that boiling water in the height takes a little longer than usually…

Posted by ccontheroad 06:38 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

TIPÓN – ANDAHUAYLILLAS – PIKILLACTA – PISAC

DAY 17

sunny 25 °C
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Early in the morning we hit the road together with our Couchsurfing host, who decided to accompany us for this day trip. On our way to Tipón we came through a village which is known for its huge flat bread – so of course we stopped to take some with us (the price is about half compared to the market in Cusco, so worth a stop).

Tipón: It is located rather high up and as already described (several times) earlier, the Dodge doesn’t like it steep! Everything was fine until we hit a construction site, where we could have passed without any problems, but the workers stopped us only to tell us that we are fine to continue … we were not! It took several attempts, stones underneath the wheels and a few pushes until we could continue. Seriously, was that necessary?
Anyways, arriving at Tipón we figured it was totally worth the hassle! So far Tipón was one of the greatest places we have visited. It is beautifully located and maintained and almost no tourists come up here as it is considered far away/out of the way, not of high importance, etc … but if you ask me that is bulls*** it is totally worth a visit!!

Andahuaylillas: This is totally off the beaten track and luckily our hosts knew about this place. It is a tiny village and a little bit out of the way, but he took us anyways. The reason to go there is a beautiful church (entrance 10 Soles for adults and 5 Soles for students – it is not included in the Boleto Turistico) that was built by the Spanish in order to convert the Inka. Currently the church is under construction – which personally for Chris and me was more interesting than the actual church, plus we managed to sneak upstairs to have a look at the super-old organs and a close look at the ceiling, which is being repainted :) Anyways, it is called the Sixtine Chapel of South America, which by our means is a little exaggerative, but it is worth a visit!

Pikillacta: Our next stop was the pre-Inka ruin of Pikillacta – a giant area with tons of ruins and probably interesting if one knows what he’s looking at, but to be honest after Tipón and the church it was rather.. ääähhmm boring.

Pisac: On our way to Pisac I fell into a pretty deep sleep, but I think the landscape should be nice to see :) Anyways, I woke up perfectly to enjoy lunch at the market in the city of Pisac – to the ruins it was still a drive, about 20 minutes up the hill. But on the way we discovered a sign to Amaru – a community which was described in one of our guidebooks and which we definitely wanted to visit (but more on that later!).
The ruins of Pisac are amazing! First of all I think Pisac has the most terraces build into the mountain of all ruins in the area, second everything is directly build on/into the mountain and it is quite a hike to see the entire area – sadly tourist groups mostly just visit the first part and a lot of people miss out on the outstanding view that offers to have a look at the ruins of the Inka-city Pisac and at the new city of Pisac at the same time. But on the other hand it is nice for individual travelers, as one gets to see the second part rather in peace of the masses :)

Chris and Ysmael in Tipón

Chris and Ysmael in Tipón

Ysmael and Conny in Pisac

Ysmael and Conny in Pisac

The endless terraces of Pisac

The endless terraces of Pisac

Back to our personal adventures: Our Couchsurfing host left us in Pisac as he had to catch the bus back to Cusco. We continued in a positive mood to soon find a place to settle down for the night – but unfortunately it turned out the other way. Quite soon it got dark, and looking for a quiet road while it is dark is not an easy thing… as we reached the bottom of our patience we even started looking for Hospedajes, but in the Sacred Valley rooms are quite expensive. So after the 3rd one that told us the night is 60 Soles (usually we pay about 20 Soles) we went back to searching a place for the night. Finally we parked the car in front of a Rafting place – which we later found out was almost in Urubamba!! But well, we slept well and once our seats are put down to a bed, the curtains are closed, and the PJs are put on everything seems to be fine again :)

Posted by ccontheroad 06:32 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

SAQSAYHUAMAN

DAY 16

sunny 20 °C
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This shall be the day we really start using the Boleto Turistico! The alarm was set for about 6am, a quick breakfast to go prepared and off we went to the Combi stop to go all the way up to Tambomachay – about 20 minutes, steep curves, and 1.20 Soles later we arrived.

Tambomachay: First thing to do was of course eating our breakfast – on a meadow next to some lamas, a donkey, some pigs and baby lambs. And then off we went to explore the ruins. To be honest, Tambomachy is not necessarily the most exciting ruin in the Sacred Valley, but one can climb up a little hill, which is quite nice especially because most of the tourist groups don’t have time to do so and so one can not only watch them from atop, but also see their desperate faces – the place one is not allowed to go is always the most interesting ;)
Furthermore, one can climb up a little hill behind the ruins where local farmers bring their lamas, sheep, cows, etc up to the meadow. This way it happened to us that first some lamas looked curiously around a corner and later we ended up in a flock of sheep. Also, this way leads through a the little village over to the next ruins – Puka Pukara and is a much nicer way than simply going back through the main entrance.
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Puka Pukara – Q’enqo: In our guidebook it was described as an easy way from one to the next, but in fact it was not that easy after all – take a right after the little creek, past the soccer field… blablabla which creek? There are about 3 of them and which soccer field?
OK, so for other travelers my suggestion is: first of all look up the way on a map before you start – this way you get a since of direction, second read your guide book, and last don’t be shy to ask anyone along the road! Even if you probably don’t understand them, their finger will point into a certain direction :)
It is a beautiful walk, a little exhausting, but totally worth it! You go over some meadows, bump into several flocks of sheep, lamas, etc, the views are just amazing and you will pass by several other ruins that are barely visited by anyone.

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Q’enqo – Saqsayhuaman: The walk is rather short and in-between there are several places to stop for lunch. Most of the places are super touristy and so are their prices. But as we already know that there always must be another option, we went across the street onto a little dirt road and of course we found a small restaurant – it was full of tour guides who ate there while there groups paid about 4 times as much for their lunch across the street :)
Also on the way one can make a little de-tour to visit Christo Blanco. But it is a little bit out of the way and we were already super tired at that point – before we even came to the largest of the ruins of that day…

Saqsayhuaman: For the day it was the largest ruins and also not only beautiful, but also fun to discover. We got lost in labyrinths in the rocks, slid down the Throne of the Inka, enjoyed wonderful views over Cusco.

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But we were also more than ready to return to our Couchsurfing host and get a little rest. The way down into the city is easy to find, but as it is all steps it is a little tiring going down.
In the evening we only managed to buy our tickets for Machu Picchu at INC (Instituto Nacional de Cultura) in Avenida Cultura – this is one of the ways to get the tickets without an agency and without using internet. The lines can be a little long, but they have a few seats, where I fell asleep while Chris gentleman-like waited in line for us :)

Posted by ccontheroad 06:19 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Cusco

Days 012 - 015

semi-overcast 20 °C
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Our first days in Cusco were quite relaxed, so I’m gonna sum them up in a few sentences. We spent a lot of time on the computers, catching up with editing photos, skyping and writing e-mails. Also, our host Ysmael knows a lot about what to do in the surroundings of Cusco and helped us planning our travel around the Sacred Valley and to Machu Picchu. He is a fabulous host and we really enjoyed the time hanging out with him and his brother! Highlight of these days was definitely the visit to the Saturday-market in ??? (I don't remember the name, I'll update when I found out), a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas, around the corner of San Pedro market – highly recommendable to anyone who’s in Cusco on Saturdays – it’s a typical market where you can get everything from pirate DVDs to spare parts for cars to furniture to electronics to used kitchen equipment to … at quite reasonable prices, and still negotiable. For example, Conny found the exactly same hairband she bought the day before at a souvenir stall for S/.10 for the price of S/.3! The market quite reminded me of the Sunday-market in El Alto (La Paz, Bolivia).
After the fourth day in Cusco we finally got our butts up from the couch and started the touristy/sightseeing trip with a visit to the Museo de Sitio de Qoricancha (not very spectacular, but that’s were we managed to get the Boleto Turistico half price with our expired studentIDs ;) you need the Boleto Turistico to visit most of the ruins in and around Cusco – it’s quite expensive (S/.140 full price), but we used it to the maximum so we got good value for our money. If you don't have the official International StudentID they ask for at the office in Av. El Sol, you can try to use an old one at the first attraction you visit - worked for us!). Afterwards we visited the Centro de Arte Nativo Cosquo, where they have a show of traditional dances from the area (also included in the Boleto).

Posted by ccontheroad 12:25 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Abancay - Cusco

Days 008 - 011

sunny 25 °C
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So we arrived in Abancay next morning after a night at the river and nice breakfast and Conny was already feeling quite bad, apparently the rice with French fries and 2 greasy fried eggs were not the best decision for lunch the day before while your stomach is still adapting to the altitude. Abancay is just a town on the intersection of two important roads, so there’s nothing really to do or see there. Also the region around of Abancay is one of the poorest in Peru, notable in the stunning deal of S/.3 (= 1€) for a complete lunch menu. We ended up staying two nights in hostals for Conny to recover before we headed on towards Cusco. The first 30 kms climbing up from Abancay (2.378m) to the first mountain pass (3.900m) were no problem since we already knew how to drive the Dodge in high altitude (just NEVER stop while you’re ascending – once the car is running keep going until it’s flat again) and we made a stop on the way to visit the “famous” stone of Saywite, a rock of 4 meters in diameter which has the plan of a Inca city engraved. The stone is not so spectacular after all, but it was free entry and we enjoyed the walk in the sun of high noon along houses of farmers, chickens, pigs, cows etc. After lunch we offered a ride to one of the farmers who was walking along the street back to his house about 5 kilometers downhill, supported by two crutches because he had hurt his leg a few days before. Still he went up in the morning to work in the fields and appeared decisive to walk back to his home all the way on his crutches!! But he was quite grateful for taking him with us; he thanked us about 20 times and sainted both Conny (“Que díos le bendiga, Mamacita”) and me (“Papi”) over and over again. Slowly we continued our way through the beautiful valley of Corahuasi and soon found a nice place to stay overnight on a small diversion of the main road. Unfortunately, on a walk close to the car before dark we discovered that we were not the only ones around and stumbled across a palm-sized spider sitting on the ground. We left it there in peace and just hoped it would return the favour during the night in the car.
Next day was quite uneventful and we were surprised that we arrived in Cusco already shortly after noon – it was not so far after all. We called our Couchsurfing-host Ysmael and luckily enough he was so flexible to accommodate us although we had planned our arrival for a few days later. He lives next to the historic city center of Cusco and generously offered us his bedroom, while he shared a mattress in the living room with his brother! We went together to the neighbourhood market to get copies of the keys and slept early, happy about having our own room and a big comfortable bed to spend the night.

Posted by ccontheroad 12:19 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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