A Travellerspoint blog

Lima and Nazca

semi-overcast 18 °C
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Onwards south to Lima, Peru's capital city.

Things you see around Lima

Colonial buildings


The offices of the national coca company


People juggling at traffic lights for tips


A distinctly Peruvian approach to watering plants


Traffic marshalling sponsored by Inka Kola (the drink is yellow and tastes nothing like coca cola... more like liquidised parma violets)


A news stall: 'gentlemens magazines' on the left, printouts of various legislation on the right, and the supreme court in the background


The semi-mythical Bembodog, available exclusively at Bembo's, Peru's answer to McDonald's. But for various reasons Laura and I never managed to obtain one, despite our numerous attempts


The archbishop's house, where Laura played knock-and-run (or doorbell ditching, as she calls it)




A statue of the virgin mary crowned with a llama (this is what happens when your language has the same word for 'llama' and 'flame')


And the happy trio leaving Lima


Flight over the Nazca lines

Further south from Peru, and more than half way down the country towards Chile, lies the town of Nazca and its neighbouring desert. Most of Peru between the Pacific coast and the Andes is desert, with a consistent climate across the days and years (i.e. very hot and dry). Surprisingly, rivers flowing down from the Andes and through the desert sustain some of Peru's largest cities. Nazca is one such dusty town, famous for the nearby geoglyphs etched into the desert surface: giant geometric shapes and depictions of animals, drawn by removing the red desert pebbles to expose the white rock underneath. The lines are perhaps 2000 years old, and of mysterious origin. They can only be appreciated from the air.


So the thing to do is hop into a 6-seater plane and fly over the desert


Our English-speaking pilot was proud of his plane's 'Air conditioning'. Yes he actually taxied around with the window open.


Laura ready for takeoff:


Here we are climbing up over the town:


Once we were over the lines, the pilot began pointing out the lines with the aircraft's wingtips. It's hard to convey the feeling of wheeling around nearly perpendicular to the ground, but here's what the view ahead looked like:


There are around 70 figures of animals, and hundreds of geometric shapes. Here's some pictures of the lines themselves. You might have to look closely. I've just figured out how to make the pictures really big. Shame it took me 6 months to figure this out...

The astronaut


The monkey


The bird and tree


The parrot



The further towards Bolivia I went, the worse the buses. I leave you with a typical scene waiting for our onwards bus to Arequipa.


Posted by hughw 14:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Trekking around Huaraz

sunny 20 °C
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I went on a day trip from Huaraz into the mountains.

Bumping up the winding stone and dust road in our trusty micro, we stopped to refuel in a 'rustic' gas station


Ensuring that our cargo of humans and guinea pigs would reach its destination. The Peruvians call the furry critters cuy ('kwee') after the noise they make -- a better name than the English one in my opinion. These unfortunate specimens were headed for the dinner table (a common Andean treat for special occasions).


Destination: a lake in the lower slopes of the cordillera blanca.


Laura arrived in Huaraz, and we found an excellent place for lunch, serving the best food of the trip so far. It was so good, I feel the need to share a photo:


The Santa Cruz trek

A popular trek from Huaraz is the so-called Santa Cruz route, a 62km hike over five days starting from the village of Cashapampa at 2900m, ascending to the Punta Unión pass at 4750m, and ending with a descent to the hamlet of Llanganuco. Tramping round Huaraz hiring equipment for the trek, Laura and I were repeatedly warned that the trek was extremely difficult, and that we were foolish to contemplate doing it without the assistance of mules to carry our tent, stove, food etc. An English chap who had just returned from the trip recounted how he had struggled all day up to the pass (with a poor mule carrying all his equipment) only to vomit at the top.

For some reason Laura and I refused to believe the naysayers. We packed our bags and set off on the 6am micro to the trailhead.


On the way, the track rose up to a 5000m pass. I felt lightheaded. But there was enough snow for a snowball fight!


After a few hours' travel we gaily set off on the trail.


It was the second day before we made it into real mountain territory.


During the day the sun made trekking very hot. But at night it was below freezing at the higher campsites.


And the higher we got, the thinner the air. The final few hours approaching the pass we could only advance about ten paces at a time before having to stop to recover our breath. The pass is that little notch in the rock in the picture below:


Victory! It had been a pretty gruelling three days to get there, but we sat at the top, looking back the way we had come:


The Punta Union sign at 4750m (15600ft):


And ominous skull nearby:


Just below the pass, the dazzling blue lake below mountain Taulliraju:


And the view onwards towards home:


Looking back at the pass, a stark cleft in the rock:


Laura takes a well-deserved (if accidental) rest on the way down:


The descent down the other side of the pass -- the same distance, but 5 times faster:


We found a huge moth


And a hiding donkey


Leaving the mountains on day five, the weather turned foggy. We cooked a lunch of asparagus soup and sandwiches as the rain started.


The trek wasn't as hard as we'd been led to believe. The hardest aspect wasn't the walking, but setting up camp, cooking dinner in the failing light, and waking up the next morning to set off again. We both got pretty grumpy. But we survived and remained friends!


To understand the following sequence of images you need to know that I terrorised Laura on a daily basis with a photo of my arse after that horse-riding incident in Ecuador...


Poor Laura.

Posted by hughw 05:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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