Peru
Ollantaytambo

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  • Day46

    Ollantaytambo

    February 29 in Peru ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    Mountain biking at 3000 metres is hard! Our guides, Ronald and Oscar, took us on an awesome trail around the Andes mountains. At 3600 metres, thats 2000 meters higher than Ben Nevis, which is the highest peak in the UK. At that altitude, breathing was a great difficulty and I forgot how to breathe at one point! Going down the hill was really hard as we had to be super technical with our bike handling, it was narrow and very rocky and I had to concentrate very hard to get down safely and not fall of the side of a cliff. When we got to the bottom of the trail, there was a major landslide so we had to carry our bikes over the mound!

    Next, we went for lunch in the middle of a field! There were 2 dogs and one looked like a racoon, and one was very naughty and kept biting the other dog when we gave him attention, and 3 donkeys! There were 2 foals (baby donkeys) and a mum donkey! (Move over baby sea lions because the baby donkeys have taken the #1 spot in the cuteness contest). The foals were so adorable and fluffy we just wanted to squish their faces! There were also sheep.

    After lunch we went to visit a place called Moray and it is a big hole in the ground with lots of terraces and the Incas (ancient indigenous people) used it to grow various plants from the Andes, including Coca leaves. It was a high altitude but the centre ring is the same temperature as where the plants can grow, and the next layer is a bit colder and so on, so they would test and modify the plant seeds so they could stand lower temperatures.
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  • Day48

    Pisac

    March 2 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    The Incas really loved their steps! The Pisac ruins in Peru were super cool, but really hard work to get to! It was built on top of a really high, steep mountain with LOADS of steps.

    They built lots of terraces into the side of the mountain for growing food, but these ones were for food production, not for experiments. They also hadn’t invented the wheel yet, so they had to use humans and animals to transport everything up to the settlement. The highest point in the settlement was for religious ceremonies because they felt closer to the sky and the gods.

    After Pisac, we went for lunch at Kantu Wasi in Amru. The house was owned by a lovely lady called Angela and she and her neighbours made lunch for us including Trout fish and Guinea Pig!Angela and her neighbours dressed us up in traditional Inca clothes! They are so warm!

    After we finished our lunch, Angela and her neighbours showed us how their textiles were made, all the way from the sheep to the finished product! This is how string is made:

    1. They cut some wool from the sheep
    2. They shampoo the sheep wool with a natural plant shampoo
    3. Once it is dried they spin it into a string
    4. They repeat again and now they have 2 sticks of string
    5. Now they spin the two sticks of string into a ball
    6. They then wrap it around their arms in a criss-cross
    7. Then they put the string in the natural dye
    8. They leave the string to soak in the dye for a few hours
    9. It is ready to be made into textiles!

    It takes 3 months for them to make enough string to make 1 poncho!

    After lunch at Angela’s house, we went to a huge market! There was a girl from the mountain making money from tourists by having us take photos with her ADORABLE animals! There was a super fluffy baby Alpaca and a cute goat with small horns!
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  • Day49

    Machu Picchu

    March 3 in Peru ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    *this blog post is 2 days combined*

    We went to visit Machu Picchu and it was INCREDIBLE! Machu Picchu is an old Inca city that was lost (outside Peru) for 500 years!
    The story of rediscovery:
    There was an American guy called Bingham and he went to Peru to try and see the terraces amongst a forest. So he went to a Peruvian man’s house and he didn’t want to take him so he got his son, Pablito to take him to see the terraces, and then Bingham saw the old ruins amongst the trees and raided all the gold and silver. When he arrived, he found a family living in Machu Picchu but when he wrote his book, he said he was the first man to Machu Picchu, but really there were millions of people from the Inca times and even the family he found.

    The next day (today) we climbed Machu Picchu mountain, which is right next to Machu Picchu and it is 3000 metres high! It was so tiring, and I’m not so sure it was worth it when we got to the top as there were clouds covering everything! The most of Machu Picchu we saw is in the pictures.

    After visiting the mountain, we went to see around Machu Picchu again and we went to see the temple of the condor, which was closed yesterday. The temple of the condor is a room of worship with a huge statue of a condor. There was also a secret tunnel room . . . treasure?
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  • Day115

    Cusco - Das heilige Tal

    March 3, 2019 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Nachdem wir vorgestern/gestern eine 24-Stunden Busfahrt mit 283639028393 Kurven und 3-4000 Höhenmetern hinter uns haben, nutzen wir den gestrigen Tag, um uns zu akklimatisieren und auszuruhen. Es wurde uns davon abgeraten, von Lima nach Cusco direkt zu fliegen, aufgrund des großen Höhenunterschieds, der für uns Europäer nicht so leicht zu verkraften sei (Höhenkrankheit). Um uns „langsam“ an die Höhe zu gewöhnen, sind wir also mit dem Bus gefahren. Die Fahrt mitten durch die Anden ist trotzdem nicht zu unterschätzen und so machten Kopfschmerzen und leichte Übelkeit sich trotzdem etwas bemerkbar 😓

    Heute ist von den Nebenwirkungen nichts mehr zu merken und so machen wir eine spontane Rundfahrt in das Valle Sagrado de los Incas. Das „Heilige Tal der Inkas“ ist eine riesige Schatzkammer voll mit faszinierender Inka Ruinen. Zu den Highlights gehören Chinchero, Maras, Moray, Ollantaytambo & Pisac.

    Vor dem ersten Highlight machen wir einen kurzen Stopp an einem kleinen Markt, wo uns erklärt wird, wie die Alpaka-Wolle zu feinem Garn verarbeitet wird. Zur Färbung der Wolle für die Kleidung und Accessoires werden ausschließlich Naturfarben verwendet. Die Farben werden aus Pflanzen, Blättern, Baumrinden, aber auch aus Obst, Gemüse und sogar aus Insekten gewonnen. Auf dem Markt kriegen wir einen guten Eindruck davon, was alles aus Alpaka-Wolle gemacht werden kann und ich überlege kurz, mir einen Poncho zu kaufen 😂

    Unser nächster Stopp sind die Chinchero Ruinen. Gelegen auf 3.760 Metern waren die grünen Felder die Sommerresidenz des damaligen Inka-Herrschers. Heute sind jedoch nur noch die Grundmauern und die dazugehörigen Terrassen zu sehen, zwischen denen die Peruaner ab und zu große Feste feiern. Vor der Residenz ist eine Kirche mit einem großen Platz, auf dem Frauen Alpakamützen, -ponchos, -schals usw. verkaufen. Auch in den Straßen ist überall die bunte Mode und Kunsthandwerk zu bekommen.

    Weiter geht’s zwischen bunten Feldern und dunkelgrünen Bergen zu den Salineras de Maras - der höchstgelenen Salzfarm der Welt. Auf steilen Gebirgsterrassen befinden sich tausende Salzbecken. Was früher das weiße Gold der Inkas war, stellt heute noch eine kleine Einnahmequelle für die hart arbeitenden Anden-Salzbauern Perus dar. Bereits von der steilen Schotterstraße, die in Serpentinen hinunterführt zu den Salzpfannen, eröffnet sich uns ein gigantische Ausblick auf die weiß-braune Salzterrassen-Landschaft. Vom Parkplatz geht es, auf einem sich nach unten windenden Weg hinunter zu den tausenden von Salzbecken, die in allen Schattierungen – von trübem Weiß bis dunklem Braun – schimmern. Im Sommer sollen die Salzbecken dann in hellem Braun und reinem Weiß leuchten und funkeln. Die Salzgewinnung heute erfolgt immer noch wie zu Zeiten der Inkas. Dann arbeiten die Peruaner hier 7 Tage die Woche. Die Saison geht allerdings erst im April nach der Regenzeit los, deswegen sehen wir nur zwei Arbeiter, die ein paar Felder für den Saisonbeginn reinigen.

    Nur wenige Kilometer von den Salinen von Maras entfernt, befindet sich Moray. Es handelt sich dabei um ein amphitheater-ähnliches Bauwerk aus kreisförmigen Terrassen, die sich nach oben trichterförmig öffnen. Der Höhenunterschied der Terrassen beträgt über 100 Meter und beim Treppen steigen merken wir immer wieder die dünne Luft hier oben und schnaufen ganz schön 🙈 die Terrassen wurden früher für unterschiedliche Pflanzenanbauten genutzt (z.B. tropische Pflanzen unten und Kartoffeln oben).

    Von Moray fahren wir hinunter in Valle Sagrado del los Incas. Hinein in das tiefe Grün dieser fruchtbaren Landschaft und zur Inka Festung Ollantaytambo. Sie ist eine der best-erhaltenen Inka Komplexe, die wegen der außerordentlich starken Mauern zu einer Festung wurden. Fast unendlich viele Treppenstufen führen vom Ort hinauf zu dem Tempel, der nie ganz fertiggestellt wurde. Von oben kann man auf die gegenüberliegene Talseite und den Ort sehen. Wir entdecken in einem Berg gegenüber ein Grumpy Face in den Felsen 😁 unten an der Festung grasen ein paar Alpacas 🦙😍

    Da hier auch gerade Karneval ist, brauchen wir länger als geplant für den Verkehr und schaffen es nicht mehr ganz nach Pisac 🤷🏼‍♀️ wir schauen uns nur noch die Terrassen vor dem Eingang an, doch dieser ist leider schon geschlossen.
    Der Karneval in Peru ist übrigens eine nasse Angelegenheit! Hier kann einen schon mal ein ganzer Eimer Wasser oder eine Ladung Wasserbomben treffen. Denn das ist hier Tradition an Karneval. In den Dörfern wird wild mit Wasser geworfen oder mit Schaum aus Spraydosen rumgesprüht und fröhlich gefeiert. Unser Fahrer ermahnt uns in jedem Dorf dazu, unsere Fenster nicht offen zu lassen. Wir kommen in ein kleines Dorf und ich sehe einen Jungen schon mit einem großen Eimer auf uns zulaufen... aber zu spät, dass das Beifahrerfenster noch auf ist... und PLATSCH! Da sind wir und der gesamte Innenraum auch schon nass 😱 unser Fahrer macht nur einmal große Augen und lacht über sich selbst, da er vergessen hat, das Fenster zu schließen 😁

    Wir fahren im Sonnenuntergang zurück nach Cusco. Als wir von oben darauf zufahren, haben wir einen wunderschönen Blick auf die beleuchtete Christusstatue und die Lichter der Stadt ☺️
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  • Day15

    14. Tag Peru/ Ollantaytambo

    September 21, 2019 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Nach einer wundervollen Nacht und einem ausgiebigen Frühstück in unserem Luxus-Tempel haben wir uns auf dem Weg nach Ollantaytambo gemacht. Dort haben wir die nächste Inka Stätte besichtigt und mussten hierzu ca. 350 Stufen erklimmen. Diese haben wir mit Leichtigkeit getan. 😂😂 Der Ausblick von diesen Terassen war gigantisch und man konnte auf die ganze Stadt gucken. Ollantaytambo ist sehr touristisch, da es quasi die letzte Station vor dem Machu Picchu ist und hier der Zug oder der Trail dorthin starten. Die Terassen waren auf 2800m Höhe und gingen steil hinab. Dann liefen wir über einen schmalen Weg den Berghang entlang um an die Lagerhäuser zu kommen. Diese haben die Völker benutzt um Ihre Ernte dort zu konservieren, da diese durch den Wind gekühlt und somit länger haltbar war. Die Stätte hatte auch einen Sonnentempel, der jedes Jahr am 21.06 (Sommersonnenwende) im Fokus steht sobald die Sonne aufgeht. Die Stätte war sehr interessant, da man hier auch gut das "Kastensystem" der Bevölkerung sehen konnte. Den restlichen Tag haben wir Ollantaytambo erkundet und uns für den morgigen Trail ausgeruht. Morgen erwartet uns der Regenwald, dort können uns Schlangen, SPINNEN und andere Tier begegnen. 😳😳 Es erwarten uns 12 Kilometer davon 6km bergauf, 4km eben und 2km bergrunter. Ziel ist dann das Sonnentor des Machu Picchu und dort werden wir ihn das erstmal zu Gesicht bekommen. Wir können uns es noch gar nicht vorstellen eins der Weltwunder zu sehen. 😊
    PS: Wir haben gestern einen wunderschönen Sternenhimmel gesehen aber leider kann ich dies bildlich nicht ganz wieder geben. Aber das Kreuz des Südens und einen leichten Schweif einer Milchstraße waren zu erkennen 😊😊😊
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  • Day18

    17. Tag Peru/ Cusco

    September 24, 2019 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Heute Vormittag sind wir mit dem Machu-Picchu Train wieder Richtung Ollantaytambo gefahren. Die Strecke ist wunderschön und der Zug hatte auch Dachfenster, sodass man fast 360° Grad sehen konnte. Es ging auch an einigen Gletschern vorbei, wo man gut erkennen konnte was Eis und was Schnee ist. In Ollantaytambo angekommen sollte uns eigentlich ein bereits gebuchtes Taxi abholen.. Ja, leider war es nicht der Fall. Auch nicht weiter schlimm.. Wir nahmen uns ein Taxi für 100 Soles (27 Euro) und fuhren zwei Stunden nach Cusco. 😂 In Deutschland niemals möglich. Die Strecke mit den Bergen war wieder mal sehr beeindruckend und man könnte nach jeder Kurve wieder ein Bild machen. Endlich in Cusco angekommen ging es zu unserer neuen Privat-Unterkunft. Wir wohnen nun die restliche Zeit bei Rebecca. Sie lebt mit Ihrer Mutter und Ihrem zuckersüßen Hund "Romeo" in einem niedlichem Haus. Heute Abend kocht sie für uns Hähnchen mit Gemüse und Kartoffeln. Die Kommunikation funktioniert mit einer Mischung aus Spanisch, Englisch, Hand und Fuß. 😂 Aber bisher klappt es sehr gut! Morgen früh um 6 Uhr geht es für Christian und mich zu dem Paccoyo Mountains. Dies ist die untouristische Alternative zu den Regenbogenberg. Wir werden dort 3 direkt sehen und bewegen uns dazu nur 1,5 Stunden auf 4900m. Ebenfalls soll es da viele Alpakas geben 😊😊😊 Da wir einen privaten Fahrer haben können wir uns dort viel Zeit lassen und alles genießen. 😁 Wir sind schon sehr gespannt und die Rucksäcke sind bereits mit Futter, Getränke und Koka gepackt. Morgen wird der Bericht wieder spektakulärer. Versprochen! 😘😘

    PS: Gestern hab ich zum ersten Mal das national Getränk "Pisco Sour" probiert. Das ist süßer Wein mit Eischnee obendrauf. Lecker! 😋
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  • Day6

    Ollantaytambo, Pérou

    December 10, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Quel bon moment passé au milieu de la vallée sacrée des Incas. Une fois avoir gravie les plusieurs centaines de marches de cette imposante forteresse qui surplombe le village, le paysage est juste à coupé le souffle !Read more

  • Day20

    The Day of Reckoning

    May 17, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    Today has been our most challenging day so far. It started with the wake up alarm at 5.00 am, followed by breakfast at 6.00, then packing the bags and preparing for a long day on the bikes.This time we headed north out of Cusco, in the direction of Ollantaytambo (the stepping off point for any trip to Machu Picchu).

    After an preliminary visit to a alpaca textile factory we met up with the cycling support team. Although there are only 13 of us, there are almost as many support staff. As well as Jaeko, who is our main guide, we also have Diego and Jimmy as our two cycling guides. Then we have three drivers for the vehicles, a cook and assistant for the meals. There is also another guy who has been following us with a drone to make a movie, although we hated the drone and discussed various ways to knock it out of the sky. I think he got the message and there has been no sign of him today.

    Straight after getting on the bikes we were out in the rural highlands, surrounded by towering, rugged and often snow capped peaks. The skies have continued to be clear and the weather mild. Today we had an early cool breeze to make the cycling conditions absolutely perfect. Now that we had gained some experience on these bikes, we felt ready to tackle some of the much more technical riding we had today.

    After three days at this altitude we found ourselves still struggling for air as our ride took us up to near 3900 metres, but it is amazing how the human body adapts and our recovery periods are getting progressively shorter and shorter. There is absolutely no way that we could have even attempted this a couple of days earlier.

    We stopped for a late lunch by the circular terraces at Moray. This place was built by the Incas to grow and experiment with different types of crops. It consists of an enormous natural depression in the ground which has been developed into a descending succession of circular terraces. Each progressively lower terrace has a warmer climate and can be used for a different crop. The construction is a staggering example of the technical brilliance of the Incas.

    After lunch we had our first taste of exciting downhill riding as we descended 100's of metres down to the sacred valley. Our final stop was the breathtaking ancient salt mines of Marais.

    We finally rolled into Ollantaytambo well after dark,exhausted but all very happy that we had experienced one of the best cycling days in our lives.
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  • Day24

    Closer to the Lost City

    May 21, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    After another early start (but not quite as early as the previous day) we proceeded to follow the Rio Urubamba through the Sacred Valley. On our right hand side towered the huge Mount Veronica. At 5900 metres in height, it's ice capped summit dominates the surrounding peaks. This mountain was to be our companion for the rest of the trek.

    The trek itself was undulating. The path never seemed to be horizontal and by noon the heat of the sun was quite overwhelming. Each time we reached a patch of shade we rejoiced at the temporary respite. Looking down we saw the turbulent waters of the Urubamba, seeming to show the way to Machu Picchu.

    After another challenging day's walk we were very glad when we arrived at the permanent campsite at Apu Veronica. I had stayed there before on my previous trek in 2010, so the place had a familiar feel to it.

    To protect from the howling winds at this point, the tents are covered by straw shelters. I am sure that the cooking staff were also glad to have something resembling a real kitchen to prepare our food in. There was even a sauna for those brave enough to face the searing heat inside. I certainly wasn't.

    By this time in our trek we were all excited that the goal of reaching the Lost City of the Incas was due to be achieved the following afternoon, however in South America plans are apt to change at the last moment. And they did.

    We had originally planned to travel a short distance in the train and then resume our trek a little further on. Without reason the train company decided that it would no longer stop at Apu Veronica and, unless we were willing to jump on a moving train, this plan was no longer possible.

    The only alternative was to hire a bus to take us all the way back to Ollantaytambo and catch the train there. This meant a 4.00 am start to the final day ! Oh well, some things were never meant to be easy.
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  • Day20

    The Ghostriders Conquer the Urubamba

    May 17, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    The Urubamba River is the river that made the sacred valley of the Incas. Over millions of years it has carved this amazing valley which has become one of the cradles of civilisation. It not only flows past the famous site of Machu Picchu, but it later joins the mighty Amazon and eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Today's ride plan was simple - to follow the river along a rough side track for about 3 hours. It sounded quite easy. Actually it wasn't.

    The hardships for two of our group actually began the previous evening. After dinner Steve and Gil decided that they needed to augment their dwindling cash and visited one of the only two ATMs in Ollantaytambo. They inserted their card and waited. And waited. Nothing happened and the machine decided that they had no right to get their card back. Considering their misfortunes of the previous day, one could be forgiven for thinking that these poor folk were destined to have bad luck throughout the trip.

    Apparently they then spent more time on the Internet cancelling the card and making other arrangements to survive for the next few weeks. It was certainly an inauspicious start to their trip. However more trails were to lie ahead for our group.

    We began the day by driving upstream along the Urubamba River for about 60 km from Ollantaytambo. The plan was then to ride along a rough track along the far side of the river, downstream for several hours. It sounded simple.

    We began in glorious conditions under another clear sky and were soon bouncing along over rocks and huge culverts in the path. The bikes did a sensational job in coping with these conditions. It is little wonder that they cost an eye watering $2800 USD each. They certainly are very well adapted for this type of riding, although it was a pity that my body was not equally as well adapted as the bike I was riding.

    I had not ridden very far before I started to feel like my nether regions were being scraped with sand paper. This is every riders worst nightmare. I wriggled in the seat. I lifted my backside off the seat. I moved forward and backward. Still sore. I was not looking forward to another 3 or more hours of this posterior torture, but there was nothing I could do but grin and bear it. Why oh why hadn't I used some of that magic cream that was hiding somewhere in my suitcase ? Good question.

    The path itself undulated up and down and the rough surface certainly challenged most of our riders who were not experienced mountain bikers. David suffered the first puncture of the ride when a tack lodged in his rear tyre. A short time later it was my turn when my front tyre went down. I ended up swapping bikes with Jimmy (one of our cycling guides). This was most kind of him. The only problem is that Jimmy is about a foot shorter than me and his bike was about the size of a midget BMX. I was therefore quite relieved when we reached the lunch spot at a rather late 2 pm and was told that the riding was over for the day.

    We then transferred to a restaurant for lunch. A pan pipe player was playing El Condor Pasa. Actually someone has been playing this same song almost everywhere we have been since we arrived in Cusco 4 days ago. I think we will hear it a lot more before this trip is over.

    We finally arrived back in Ollantaytambo about 4 pm . After showering and changing we were able to spend some time exploring this fascinating and very much frontier town. Then it was time for a coffee and snack. We found a lovely cafe that had been started by a young American girl who had been working for an NGO organisation before settling in Ollantaytambo. She loved the place and decided to start a business here. I really admire such people who have the courage and imagination to live a remarkable life. I hope her business succeeds. She deserves it.

    It was also soon after arriving back in Ollantaytambo that a remarkable coincidence took place. I knew that Liz and Priscilla Kwok were travelling in South America on another World Expeditions trip at about the same time as us, but we were not prepared to see them actually book into our hotel ! What were the chances of what ? We felt a little like that famous meeting between Stanley and Livingstone as we welcomed and embraced out two Australian friends who were so far away from home.
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