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Cusco, Peru 14.10.15

October 28, 2015

Cusco. 14.10.15
Machu Piccchu is the highlight of any trip to Peru and the interested parties make sure they milk every American dollar they can out of you. Sure it’s a must see as many of the sites around Cusco are but the cost of visiting more than the essential ones puts one off. Train to Agua Caliente and part return for two (3 hrs one way) $299US. Bus to top of the mountain, 30 minutes one way $48 return. Entry to Machu Picchu $80US for two, hamburger & chips at the top, $17. Food at Agua Calientes was on a par with Australian prices. It was an expensive two day experience. We had to go, how could we face anyone who knew we had been to Peru and not visited Mach Picchu! Shame.
But it was a good experience despite the enormous crowds, scorching sun, watchful whistle-blowing attendants and slobbering llamas.
Our room at the hostal we stayed in at A/C overlooked where the buses line up to take visitors up the mountain. Lines began to form at 4.30am although the first bus left at 5.30. From then there is a continuous relay of about 20 buses loading up and heading up the mountain along a torturous hair bend filled road up to the ancient city. The queue would stretch for a good 200 metres by the time we joind at about 5.45.
At the ancient city the cloud was slowly lifting from the peaks, the beautifuly set out city lay below us from the vantage point of the caretakers hut. Machu Picchu itself is very interesting and a guide of some sort is essential to get the most out of it. But it is the setting that takes your breath away. The Incans built the city here to be closer to their god. And all around are these majestic round topped mountains with vertical slopes. Even a mountain goat might have trouble on some of these. They plunge almost a thousand metres to the Rio Urimbamba below.
On the way back on the train we sat with a very nice Chilean couple, Osvaldo and Lulu. Osvaldo owns a small copper mine to the north of Chile, Lulu was enticed to buy a beautiful baby alpaca poncho type wrap that was shown as part of the design show the train staff put on for us. We shared a car from Ollyntambo back to Cusco.

Some 250kms south east of Cusco. By a river. 16th Oct.
Was sad leaving Quinta Lala Camping at Cusco. With a coming and going of overlanders it was a great plac to relax a while, find out and give info and advice on conditions in different parts of the continent. Mainly Germans and French there was also a sprinkling of Dutch, Swiss, Austrian and American. When we left this morning there was some thirteen vans on site. The camaraderie was fantastic.
But it is nice free camping once more. We follow this river right up to a 43000 metre pass, the first of three before we finally get to lower climes.
We were told a while back that there is 40% less oxygen in the air at 3700 metres than at sea level. It’s at night that that fact can have annoying affects. We normally make sure our nasal passages are clear when going to bed, because if one blocks up, it means you aree getting half the amount of oxygen than you would normally. Instead of 40% you are getting 20%. Sleeping people usually breaathe shallowly.When that happpens your brain wakes you up to let you know it’s not getting enough of it. You breathe deeply unil you go back to sleep when the same thing happens. A very broken sleep. Breathing through your mouth is a nono as your mouth dries out so much it feels like you have a coating of sand paper in it.
Nasca, Peru. 560 metres 18.10.15
Yesterday was quite a day. After climbing to 4300 metres the road stayed at that height more or less for over 80kms. The land was gradual hills covered with a tussock fed upon by herds of Alpacas and llamas. Pueblos were few and far between but easily seen by the corrugated iron fooves reflecting the intermittent sunshine. It was a goood road and well maintained. Nearing the western edge of the Andes the road swung around the higher parts of deep valleys. A coward for heights looking down to the valley floor some 1000 metres below was not a good idea. We lost count of the hair pin bends we encountered.
So here we are at Nasca, famous for the Nasca Lines. No more mountains for a while we hope. The heights we have travelled at over the last few weeks should be put into context. Mt Cook, NZ’s highest mountain is 800 metres lower than some of the roads we went on. Mont Blanc is not much higher than 5000 metres. The highest road navigable pass in the world is in Peru at 5200 metres. Only 200 metres higher than some of the ones we went over in the south of Bolivia.
Tomorrow we take a small plane flight to view the Nasca Lines. They are lines cut into the desert landscape some 10kms long in the shapes of different animals, objects and people. Many theories have been put forward why they were formed includiing canals or some religious aspect. Erich von Daniken of ‘Chariot of the Gods” fame reckoned they were made by extra terrrestals. They can only be viewed properly from the air, the land is flat with few high points. Then its north along the coast for a week or so to northern Peru where we hope to arrange leaving the bakkie until later next year.

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