Ollantaytambo, Peru – 21 May 2009


Hola Amigos!

Due to a transport strike we are stuck in Ollantaytambo Peru…but we can think of worse places to be stuck.  The scenery here is stunning and there are Inca Ruins.  And we are in a comfortable hotel with good food!  Not an empanada in sight though, sadly.

We made a mad dash via various forms of public transport (2 local buses, a collectivo – a 12 seater van with 21 people and one chicken in it – then a motorcycle taxi) to Ollantaytambo a few nights ago so that we are here when the strike ends.  We have booked tickets on the train to Machu Picchu on Thursday morning from here.

Going back to our last bulk email I think we were in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.  Since then we did an overnight bus to coastal Arica, got a good night´s sleep, then crossed the border into Peru.  Caught a bus up to Arequipa, a beautiful city in the foothills of the Andes at about 2400 meters.  There are multiple volcanoes surrounding the town.  We did an overnight trip into the Colca Canyon, second deepest in the world and deeper than the Grand Canyon.  Saw majectic Condors gliding over the canyon scavenging for food.

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On way from Arequipa to Colca Canyon – eating cactus fruit on the side of the road
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Colca Canyon, Peru
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Flight of the condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
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Road sign

After 5 days in that area we moved on to Lake Titicaca where we went out to the Uros Islands (islas flotantes – floating islands) which are build upon staggered layers of totara reeds and large clumps of totara root masses. We also went out to Tacile Island which is UNESCO heritage listed.  The way of life appears not to have changed for a very long time…

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On Lake Titicaca

Made our way to Cusco, a grand city with winding, narrow cobbled streets where the views get better the higher you climb. Happened upon a University Graduation Parade in Plaza de Armas which involved a great display of national costumes and dancing in the streets!

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Dancing in the streets
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Streets of Cusco -literally breathtaking

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Cusco is pretty high up, over 3000 meters but we are well acclimatised to the altitude now and ready for some more hiking at Machu Picchu once we finally get there tomorrow!  On our way from Cusco to Ollantaytambo we stopped in Pisac, where we had planned to spend the night, we visited our first Inca ruins…the engineering know how has really blown us away and everyone says Macchu Picchu is even more incredible.  Can´t wait!

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Pisac terraces
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Pisac terraces – see town below

As for empanadas, we did have some wood fired oven ones in Pisac.  We were looking forward to a second round but had to dash to Ollantaytambo ahead of the strike!

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Some of the best empanadas we ate were in Pisac, Sacred Valley of Peru

We will be on our way home in a week but still have some more days in Cusco then BA to go.

Cheers for now.

Lou & Roo

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