Thursday, 31 May 2012

Monday, 21 May 2012

Makes me homesick

I've been warned

Day at the beach

You can't beat a nice day at the beach. Had a bit of a body surf, read my book and an ice cream (I'm on holiday after all). Didn't even get burnt, so a good day. Also treat to half a dozen paragliders landing on the beach. I'm unsure of the collective noun for paragliders. A descent? Squadron? Answers on a postcard.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Stranded motorcyclist

I've been sharing my dorm with an english bloke who has been stranded in Arica for 3 weeks. His motorbike has broken down and he is waiting for a part to be shipped out.
He was a little odd. He hardly left the room, preferring to stay in and watch Blake 7. He seemed to get up in the middle of the night to go and smoke, and he would have beer for breakfast. I suspect that he wasn't showering either. Pretty weird, although I've encountered weirder.


4 and half hours down the coast from Arica is Iquique. Another coastal town surrounded by desert. Bit of a surfers' city and there is a competition in town.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Day of sport

I'm staying Arica for one more day, for the European double header, Heineken Cup final and Champions' League final. I'm a complete neutral for the rugger but will be supporting Chelsea in the footy (mainly in the hope that they will deny Spurs champions' league football).

Friday, 18 May 2012

Back to Chile

I've bid farewell to Peru and have crossed back to Chile. Arica is a coastal town, surround by desert.

I headed to the beach for a dip this morning. The Pacific ocean was a little fresh but the waves were good for body surfing.

It wasn't me

One of my fellow diners tucked into a bit of guinea pig.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Machu Picchu

We got up early doors to catch the bus up to Machu Picchu for sun rise. It is a stunning spot and I have around a 100 photos to prove it. Despite there being lots of people there it didn't feel crowded and I was able to get shots of it looking fairly deserted. It's pretty steep so it must have been fairly treacherous for the Inca toddlers.
It was only inhabited for 90 years, built in 1450 and abandoned in 1540 as the Spanish advanced through Peru.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Salkantay trek - day 4

We hiked up one of the many Inca trails and got a view of Machu Picchu across the valley. We descended into the sacred valley and caught the train to the base of Machu Picchu.

Salkantay trek - day 3

After a good nights sleep it as a fairly long but flat day of walking. More humming birds, butterflies and fauna. Having arrived at our campsite mid afternoon we went some thermal pools for a dip.

Salkantay trek - day 2

A cold star after a cold night but it didn't take long to reach the top of the pass (4,600m). From there it was an easy downhill walk. Initially the landscape was reminiscent of Scotland. We then dropped down into the cloud forest. We were treated to orchids, humming birds and rain.

Salkantay trek - night 1

Having said it was a pretty easy day, it was a hard night. My 3 season bag wasn't really up to the job so I had to challenge Matt's layer wearing record. 4 layers of merino wool of various thickness and my finisterre jacket, long johns and two pairs of trousers. Wearing this inside my bag kept me from freezing.
It turned out the cold was the least of my problems. The herd of cows which we shared the campsite with were running around all night. One ran into my tent, luckily it was only a glancing blow but it made for a somewhat nervous night every time I heard the sound of galloping cows. (The morning light revealed that the hit and run cow had torn a hole in the side of the tent.)
Throw in a few avalanches and it resulted in a fitful night's sleep. The worse thing being the lack of pillow (I couldn't turn my finisterre jacket into a pillow as I was wearing it).

Salkantay trek - day 1

There are only 3 of us on the trek; myself and two American ladies. We trek up the valley to the foot of mount Salkantay and camp at around 4,300m. Bit chilly but noting compared to Pakistan at the same altitude (not camping on a glacier for a start. A pretty easy day really.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Salkantay trek

I'm off the 5 day Salkantay trek tomorrow, culminating in visit to Machu Picchu. National geographic rates it as one of the top 25 treks in the world. In the words of Neil, I'll be the judge of that.

Sacred valley

Not the best day trip. We were herded around like cash cows. Delivered to 3 different markets to be milked. The Inca ruins when did see them were quite impressive but having to say no thank to the umpteenth Inca hat/jumper/blanket takes its toll.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Jesus, how could you?

My last supper would probably be cheese and potato pie, cold ham and turkey, stuffing and pickle. Jesus? He went for guinea pig (well according to the painting in Cusco Cathedral he did). I blame Judas.

Hair cut, hair cut

Had my second hair cut of the trip (God, this blog is exciting). I must be as grey as Big Jim and Carnty now. At least the barber didn't try to give me a mullet like they did in Buenos Aires.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


There was a big parade in Cusco this morning. Lots of locals dressed up in various costumes, dancing (a bit like Morris dancing) and threatening to whip people (like a roman fertility festival - those 3 years studying Classical Civilisation weren't wasted).

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Trimming disaster

I didn't check the grade on my beard trimmer and carved a number one strip under my chin. The whole lot had to come off. Whoops.

Cat fight

Saw a fight between Peruvian women in the street. Pretty brutal; hair pulling, scratching, bit of blood. Not pleasant. they were eventually dragged apart.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Dame Edna farewell tour

Dame Edna is doing her farewell tour in Australia when I'm out there. I'm trying to sort out tickets but she's not in the cities at the same time as me but I think I have a solution. I'm watching the Australia v Wales game with Scotch Al (uni friend of Matt Carver's) and he'll be driving back home to Canberra where Edna is playing that weekend. Happy days.


Former Inca capital, now the traveller capital. Gateway to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Colca Canyon - 2 day trek

Apparently deeper than the Grand Canyon, but not a spectacular. That said it is still impressive. Seeing half a dozen condors soar over head at close quarters was pretty special. Took some cracking shots on the SLR of them.
The hike back up the canyon on the second day (1,200m climb) was a bit testing as I think the llama meat of the previous day hadn't agreed with me.
Some of the rock formations in the canyon are similar to the Giants' Causeway.
The terracing of the fields makes for a picturesque scene.