Peru 2018-2019

Republic of Peru

PART 1, General Information
PART 2, BLOGS Pictures and Gallery                                                                                                                                                                                              PART 3,  VIDEO Clips Peru and link to Dakar 100% Peru, 2019

PART 1, GENERAL INFORMATION

Capital city: Lima

Population: 32 million

Currency: Nuevo Sol

Km travelled: 5590

Days in Peru:  141

Languages: Spanish and Quechua

GENERAL

Peru is a country in western South America and the fourth most populated in South America and the third largest. Throughout the 20th century, Peru endured armed territorial disputes, coups, social unrest, and internal conflicts. It is classified as an upcoming market. The poverty rate hovers around 19%. But today Peru is one of the region’s most prosperous economies with an average growth rate of 5.9% and it has one of the world’s fastest industrial growth rates at an average of 9.6%. Its main economic activities include mining, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing. Except for Lake Titicaca all its borders lay in remote and sparsely populated areas.

TOURIST HIGHLIGHTS

Peru is a country that has many tourist attractions but the most well known are Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. However, for those who have time Peru has a lot more to offer.

75% of the worlds Alpaca’s live in Peru and the national animal is the Vicuna (like the Alpaca). This animal comes in 22 natural colours and its wool is considered the world’s best. Cuy (Roasted Guinea pig) is the national dish and it is served with complete head and feet. Forget the Sahara or Namibia: the world highest sand dune is in Peru and is just under 1200 meters high from base to summit. Forget the Grand Canyon or Fish River Canyon the Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru is nearly twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

Peru is where the potato originated and today just over 3000 varieties are grown.

LAKE TITICACA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

The lake is in the South East of Peru at an altitude of 3827 meters. Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and the centre of a region where thousands of subsistence farmers eke out a living fishing in its icy waters, growing potatoes in the rocky land at its edge or herding llama and alpaca at altitudes that leave many a tourist gasping for air. Every tourist in the area will visit the floating islands of Uros, the inhabitants are known as the water tribe. They build their own islands and houses from tortora reeds, as well as their hand-made boats made of the same material and used as their means of transportation. Amantani Island is known for the Inca temples and has around 4000 inhabitants. The residents make beautiful textiles and sell them quite cheaply at the Artesania Cooperative. The people are Quechua speakers but understand Spanish. Electricity supply 6-11pm. For those with time explore the area and peninsula north of Puno.

CUSCO

A city in southeast Peru, the city was the historic capital of the Inca empire and since 1983 a UNESCO HERITAGE SITE. With more than 2 million visitors a year it is the number one tourist destination in Peru. Prices are high. And the train ticket to Machu Picchu must be the most expensive rail ticket in the world. (But you could walk the 4-day Inca trail). Must do’s are the Sasayhuaman walled complex built in around the year 1100, Temple de La Sagrada Familia, Temple of virgins, Cathedral of Santa Domingo, or at just under 4000 meters incahuasi the highest of all Inca sites. In town also visit the Arco de Santa Clara and the neighbourhood Barrio de San Blas. It is one of the most picturesque sites in the city. Its streets are steep and narrow with old houses built by the Spanish.

MACHU PICCHU                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Only 2 ways to get to Machu Picchu, either you walk the 4-day Inca trail, or you take the train to Aguas Calientes and take the bus to Machu Picchu (alternative you can walk the steep road to Machu Picchu). The ruins are located within Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary. It is one of the seven wonders of the world. In the local language Machu Picchu means “Old Peak or Old Mountain.” The Citadel of Machu Picchu is considered the main tourist attraction in Peru and one of the most visited worldwide. It is a mysterious wonder. A city of stone built without the aid of wheels or iron tools. This is the best example of Inca engineering. More than 600 terraces prevent the city from sliding down the mountain. A water supply system extends over a length of about 1 km.

NAZCA LINES

There are three basic types of Nazca Lines: straight lines, geometric designs and pictorial representations. There are more than 800 straight lines on the coastal plain, some of which are 30 miles (48 km) long. Additionally, there are over 300 geometric designs, which include basic shapes such as triangles, rectangles, and trapezoids, as well as spirals, arrows, zig-zags and wavy lines. The Nazca Lines are a collection of giant geoglyphs—designs or motifs etched into the ground—located in the Peruvian coastal plain about 250 miles (400 kilometres) south of Lima, Peru. Created by the ancient Nazca culture in South America, and depicting various plants, animals, and shapes, the 2000-year-old Nazca Lines can only be fully appreciated when viewed from the air given their massive size.

COLCA CANYON                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

A canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru approx. 160km North West of Arequipa. It is Peru’s third most-visited tourist destination with about 120,000 visitors annually. With a depth of 3,270 metres it is one of the deepest in the world. The Colca Valley is a colourful Andean valley with pre-Inca roots and historical towns. The local people maintain their ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces. However, for most the Canyon is a daytrip from Arequipa to see the Andean Condor. ‘Cruz del Condor’ is a popular tourist stop to view the condors. At this point the canyon floor is 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) below the rim of the canyon. The condors can be seen at close range as they fly past the canyon walls. The Andean Condor typically lives about 60-70 years and has a wingspan of about 2.1–2.7 metres.

LIMA

The capital and the largest city of Peru. It is in the valleys of the Chillion, Rimac and Lurin Rivers. With a population of more than 9 million, Lima is the third largest city in South America (behind Sao Paulo and Mexico City). Must do’s are a walk through the historic centre covering Central district and Rimac, the upmarket area Miraflores and the waterfront shopping centre, the cities plaza’s with regular dances.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE TO CUSCO VIA CENTRAL HIGHLANDS.

For those with more time and a looking for some of the beaten track roads/and scenery this route to Ollantaytambo and the sacred valley from Lima is a must. On the way you will see expert craftsmen who carry on the tradition of ancient Wari pottery. The Central highlands of Peru are crossed by two mountain ranges that divide it into three geographical units: high plains to the south, steep mountains in the centre, a rugged terrain of valleys, deep gorges, high mountains, winding roads and plateaus and tropical rainforest to the north-east. The heart of the Andes is dominated by two great cultures, the Wari and the Chancha and pristine landscapes and waterfalls that are like huge curtains of water covering the mountains until reaching peaceful lagoons, and flora and fauna that never cease to astonish scientists. Villages have deep religious traditions, such as Tarma.  A handicraft route where you can see the production of fine weaving and metalwork in gold and silver.

SACRED VALLEY

The Sacred Valley or the Urubamba Valley, is a valley just north of Cusco. It has become a major tourist attraction and if you arrive from the west it is the first bit of civilization after days crossing the pristine mountains and villages of Central and eastern Peru. Alternative you come from Cusco and park your vehicle to board a train to Aguas Calientes and the next stop Machu Picchu. Must do’s are the Pisac Saturday markets and ruins and Ollantaytambo historic town plus the ruins.

 

HUACACHINA        

Known as the “Oasis of America” it is one of the only true desert oases in the Americas. A lush island in a sea of sand, its blue and green lagoon looks like an oasis in the Sahara Desert. Circled by palm trees, the verdant Peruvian watering hole has been a must do destination by Peruvians. Great spot for some R & R

THE PARACAS NATIONAL RESERVE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The Paracas peninsula covers 33500 ha. It’s Peru’s largest continuous protected coastline. The Paracas National Reserve was created in 1975. The reserve extends south from the Paracas peninsula to Independence Bay, and is a place of rugged, arid beauty. There are some spectacular beaches here, as well as great off roading and bush camping. There are around 216 species of resident and migratory seabirds, as well as two types of sea lions, the Andean condor, and Humboldt penguin. Parts of the reserve are literally covered in birds. It’s a pretty spectacular place. The dirt roads that lead here are bumpy, and it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours to reach the beaches from the main entrance of the reserve.

THE CORDILLERAS

Known as the Cordillera Blanca and Negra (White snow-covered and Black without snow). Main features are Huascaran the highest mountain in Peru, at 6768 meters high and the area around it with 25 peaks over 6000 meters and 50 over 5500 meters and over 700 glaciers. It is also home to the world highest road tunnel at just under 4800 meters (Tunnel Punta Olympica). Very beautiful are the Laguna 69, Laguna Paron and Lake Llanganuco.

OLD YUNGAY

Old Yungay is a national cemetery, crosses and tombs mark the spots where homes once stood. A magnitude 8 earthquake caused part of the mountain to collapse and 25000 inhabitants died within 3 minutes. Just over 300 survived.

CANYON DEL PATO

This is where the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra meet each other within 15 meters. The road is cut out of sheer rock with 1000-meter drops. Despite many stories trucks up to 3.9 meters high can pass. We felt the width at some stages more of a worry than the height.

CLIMATE

Peru’s geography naturally leads to a varied climate. Much of the western coastal plain consists of dry deserts, while the Andean highlands range from temperate to frigid.

The jungle regions of the east are tropical and humid, with distinct rainy seasons.
At the Coast, the weather varies, with a damp and cloudy winter that runs from June to September. Average temperatures come in at 14°C. During the summer, temperatures can peak at 28°C or over.
In the Highlands, the sun shines all year round during the morning, but temperatures descend at night, averaging 5°C.

LIMA

Lima’s climate is a mild desert climate with no extreme hot or cold weather. During the winter (June to October), the city is often covered with a dense fog [drizzle-like], June to October are mostly grey and foggy

Summer Temperature between 18 degrees at night and 28 during the day.

Winter temperature between 15 degrees at night and 18 degrees during the day.

Rainfall is very little throughout the year

TACNA                                                                                                                                                               

Most of the year the weather is fine very little rain except in November                                       

Summer Temperature between 16 degrees at night and 28 during the day.

Winter temperature between 9 degrees at night and 23 degrees during the day.

Rainfall is very little throughout the year. November is the wettest month with 30mm

HUACACHINA

Summer Temperature between 20 degrees at night and 28 during the day.

Winter temperature between 14 degrees at night and 20 degrees during the day.

Rainfall is very little throughout the year.

CUSCO

During the month of September, October, November and December you are most likely to experience good weather with pleasant average temperatures.

Summer Temperature between 8 degrees at night and 20 during the day.

Winter temperature between 0 degrees at night and 18 degrees during the day.

Rainfall between Oct to March. Dry season April to September.

MACHU PICCHU

During the month of September, October, November and December you are most likely to experience good weather with pleasant average temperatures.

Summer Temperature between 7 degrees at night and 20 during the day.

Winter temperature between 0 degrees at night and 18 degrees during the day.

Rainfall between Nov to March. Dry season May to Oct.

LAKE TITICACA 

Summer Temperature between 2 degrees at night and 13 during the day.

Winter temperature between -8 degrees at night and 14 degrees during the day.

Rainfall between Nov to March. Dry season May to Oct.

AREQUIPA

Arequipa has dry periods in March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.

Warmest month is March, wettest month is February and the coldest month is August

Summer Temperature between 8 degrees at night and 24 during the day.

Winter temperature between 5 degrees at night and 20 degrees during the day.

Rainfall between Jan to March.

HUANCAVELICA

This area is cool all year round. The average annual temperature in Huancavelica is 9.0 °C. and around 800mm of rain annually.

Summer Temperature between 2 degrees at night and 17 during the day.

Winter temperature between -2 degrees at night and 15 degrees during the day.

Rainfall between Dec and March.

PART 2, BLOGS PICTURES & GALLERY 2018-2019

After 4 weeks of Bolivia and a few days R&R in Copacabana we crossed the border to Peru. Not a smart move to cross at a small border at the start of school holidays. It looked like the whole of Peru had left for Bolivia. The poor one man at the Aduana could not cope and the queue was long (VERY LONG) Strange as we were the only ones leaving Bolivia. We asked Immigration for a 6 month stay as we wanted to see the Dakar in January. This request was granted. Next the Aduana, and our TIP which we also wanted for 6 months. The  poor guy full of stress due to the long long queue said no!!!! to our request, but once we explained (with a great smile) that we just received 6 months from the immigration and are here to participate in the Dakar rally, he was all ears as he watched the Dakar since it came to South America. 3 Minutes later we had a 6 month TIP (Temporary Import Permit).

Next stop insurance and data for our phone. Due to a public holiday no shops and offices where open. Lucky, we found an insurance broker in Puno the following day. (amazing that you require an insurance but none are available at the border) Puno is a city in South East Peru right on Lake Titicaca. Population around 150000. Looking for an insurance broker it was interesting driving the truck in the very narrow streets. Online and via friends in Lima it was impossible to obtain insurance. In Puno it took less than 20 minutes. Puno is an interesting city where much of the economy relies on the black market driven by goods smuggled in from Bolivia. In Puno we got lost and finished up in the town’s less developed and poor areas. Very steep streets, unpaved resulting in reversing down some dead-end unpaved streets. (very interesting in a 12000KG truck) We were unable to find the Kuntur Wasi viewpoint. We gave up as we knew we would be back next year. For this trip our main destination was Cusco knowing that when we return to Peru in December it will be rainy season in Cusco and Machu Picchu.

The name Peru comes from an Indian word meaning land of abundance.  Arriving in Cusco tourist in abundance, people trying to rip you off in abundance, restaurants in abundance, touts in abundance, Tour agencies in abundance, backpackers in abundance and the list goes on. In short it felt like walking in Disneyland. Having said this Cusco is a must visit town but I am not sure for how long. Lucky we had a campsite just out of town away from the hustle and bustle. Main reason people visit is that it is the gateway to the famous Machu Picchu.  Cusco altitude at 3400 meters has many tourists gasping for air, for us being around the 4000-meter mark for the last 5 weeks it became something we got used to.

The very steep cobbled streets were perfect exercise after lunch. Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire. This empire covered an area south to Chile & Argentina and North to Columbia and the Amazon region. The Incas were known to be the best stonemasons, but also in planning their cities. For us 2 days walking around Cusco was enough. However, we did find a perfect Café for lunch “Jacks Café”. Our perfect camp site Quinta LaLa was a great place to relax for a few days and meet up with fellow overlanders (Busiest overlander camp we have seen since Jungle Junction in Nairobi, Kenya 2016) It was now time to book our tour to Machu Picchu. (nightmare) We trusted a guy and got shafted. We should have known better after 14 years of travel around the world. More in the next update.

MACHU PICCHU & AGUAS CALLIENTES

After 4 days in Cusco it was time to travel to Machu Picchu and Aguas Callientes. Machu Picchu is the world-famous ancient city located high above the Urubamba river in the Andes Mountains. It has been on our bucket list since I was sent as a marine in 1974 to the Caribbean Island of Curacao for one year.

Machu Picchu sits 2500 meters high and has a superb setting in a semi tropical mountain forest. Despite all the troubles we had with our tour agency (see more below) we had the best guide we could wish for in Machu Picchu. He supplied us not only with an incredible amount of information but also knew how to avoid the huge crowd visiting Machu Picchu. (Las Vegas on steroids) Machu Picchu was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Machu Picchu was built and occupied between the year 1550 and 1650. Why the site was abandoned no one knows, but lack of water appears to be one of the reasons.

Around the site are many stepped terraces used for growing vegetables and watered by an aquaduct system. Thousands of steps and walkways consisting of stone blocks connect all areas in the village and the main plaza. The guide explained that most experts agree that Machu Picchu was built as a settlement (llacta) to look after the local economies.

Machu Picchu was a royal estate of Pachacuti, the great Inca who expanded his huge empire. Officially only 2500 people can visit Machu Picchu per day but up to 10000 visited this site when we were there!!! It appears lack of control and corruption allows this to happen. We even noticed a hotel at the entrance to Machu Picchu (Belmont Hotel) and our guide told us with a smile, the only 3-star hotel in the world which charges 1500 USD per night.

On the other end of the scale you could walk the Inca trail between 4 and six days covering several thousand stone steps, tunnels, walls and other obstacles walking between 2500 meters and 4200 meters before reaching Machu Picchu. If you like to save 24USD for the 20-minute bus ride to the entrance of Machu Picchu, you could walk the (very) steep uphill hike!! I would not recommend it. There are options galore to get there, from a 4 or 7-day hike, to all kind of combinations between bus, hiking and train. The most convenient is the train from Poroy to Aguas Callientes.

Our choice is the train with an overnight stop in Aguas Callientes. We were prepared for the many tourists and it should be said that crowds detract from the magic of the experience. I wonder how long it takes before UNESCO stops this overselling of tickets and lack of crowd control? I did ask the guide if they ever considered a cable car system like in La Paz as this would stop damage done by tourists. He told us it has been discussed, the money is available, but the Greenies put a stop to it!  AMAZING. Story re the crooked travel agencies is still developing awaiting answers.

Cusco to Lima

Time is running out for us as we have to be back in Australia in a few weeks for my next eye operation. Not willing to rush through the Sacred Valley we decided that we will return in December 2018 or January 2019 after the Dakar Rally and explore this area in detail. Machu Picchu is a must do destination, but Cusco is not the real Peru and with over 2 million visitors per year a tourist trap full of locals trying to rip you off. It has been given the title of a World Heritage site since 1983, however it is not a city we really enjoyed exploring.

Leaving Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca empire, we followed the valley towards Abancay descending from 3800 meters (the altitude of our camp spot in Cusco*1) to 2400 meters. This was the first time we were below 3000 meters in the last 6 weeks. (*1 the actual town of Cusco is located at 3400 meters). Enroute we bush camped in the valley and enjoyed perfect views. Next we stopped in the town of Nazca. Like Cusco, another Unesco World Heritage Site and like Cusco, the town is a bit of a circus in the middle of a desert. Full of tourists all interested in the geoglyphs, better known as the Nazca Lines. A series of large ancient geoglyphs and some figures are up to 370 meters long. Figures vary from just straight lines to birds, llamas, flowers and trees. We were told they could only be seen from an aircraft (not sure if I would trust the small planes!!) but this is untrue: they can be seen from surrounding hills and also from the lookout right on the Pan Americana Highway.

Anyway to us they looked very disappointing, but maybe this is also due to the fact that those we spoke to all had another story in regards to the mystery. From Nazca we followed the Pan Americana North, bypassing Ica and the Paracas also called the land of valleys and sun. We arrived in Pisco, home of fine wine, Peruvian Afro music and the national drink called Pisco. We bypassed the oasis of South America Huacachina, described as a lush island in a sea of sand. (part of our 2019 trip)

But as they say when in Rome………………, hence when in Pisco drink Pisco (Pisco Sour), 44% alcohol and the colour must be transparent, with a strong flavour and its odour lightly fragant, NEVER PERFUMED. We are told each type of Pisco has its own characteristic taste. The even stronger Pisco is the Pisco Acholado.

Our next and last stop for this trip was Lima the capital of Peru, the country’s commercial and industrial centre. 25% of the population of Peru lives in Lima. The city is congested, noisy, dirty and some parts are depressing. It looks like many migrants from Venezuela are moving into Lima. On entering Lima we were confronted with lots of road works, demolition and reconstruction sites. Unfortunately detour signs and where to go were few and far between. From Downtown Lima to Chaclacayo the traffic was heavily congested and mayhem, in contrast to Miraflores one of the wealthiest districts in Lima.

One has only to compare the elegance of those who stroll through Kennedy Park in Miraflores with the people who beg in central Lima to realise the huge difference between rich and poor. For the great majority of people, access to piped water, sewage systems, inexpensive food, and steady employment are still things they are dreaming about. Lima has a vibrant nightlife with theatres, clubs and lots of Penas featuring folk music which is very popular with the local Lima people.

Provincial and district clubs and associations celebrate weekly with songs, dances, and foods typical of the distinctive regions. Much of Peru’s folklore can be learned in the heart of Lima itself. We really have to say thanks to Hans and Elizabeth for showing us Lima; without them we would have missed out on some of the highlights of the city.  It was time to catch a plane home and start planning our next South America trip starting in November 2018. Crossing the Andes and looking down knowing that we did this area in our truck was amazing. Flying into Cairns (Australia) along the coast confirmed that we live in Paradise. Great to be home again and walk into our house.

Lima via the remote Eastern highlands to the Bolivia border.

After 13 weeks at home we have hit the road again. Flying from Cairns to Lima took just over 27 hours including a 7 hours stopover in Santiago. Lima (Peru) is a bustling city with a vibrant nightlife and cultural scene. More important, it is the main gateway to Peru as only very few enter by road like we did earlier in the year. After we picked up our truck again at Carlos 4X4 in Chaclacayo, we were off to explore inland Peru and the highlands. After we did our shopping, we followed the Carretera Central East and made our first ascent over the Ticlio mountain pass (4818 meters) around 130km East of Lima. Here you also find the world’s second highest railway line in the world at 4719 meters. The weather turned from sunshine into rain, rain into sleet and sleet into snow. Visibility zero and slippery roads made the drive down the mountain a challenge. Once we entered the Mantaro valley the weather cleared. The Mantaro River is the most distant source of the Amazon. South of Huancayo we veered off and followed the track to La Esmeralda. The road is narrow and dangerous with overhanging rocks, parts of the road are missing and in many places the road is bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters, unprotected by guardrails. This is a mountain track with many hairpins and very dangerous drop offs. To make matters worse the rain started to set in making the road slippery. Next, we were confronted with a minor landslide, but just passable, unaware that the road was blocked by a major landslide just a few kilometres further. 7 hours later we could pass at our own risk. This meant we had to drive 5 hours in the dark. Following the mountain track with deep ravines, slippery roads and being just one lane, it involved reversing to let others pass. It’s certainly breathtaking and now I understand why this road has a fearsome reputation.

It remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. I have attached one of our own clips before the landslide and as we did 50% of this road in semi dark and darkness, I have copied a Utube movie from another traveller to show you some of the terrain we tackled. You may question why we drove in the dark? The answer is they may close the road indefinitely, until it would be stable again.

But we made it with our 12000KG 2.5meter wide 4×4 truck despite the many detours. The road through the canyon is extreme. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. We crossed yet another of the world’s challenging roads of our list. From here we followed the track via Kiten and, Santa Rosa to Ollantaytambo This road is very exciting and sometimes very exposed, an unsecured driveway with innumerable twists and turns. From Santa Maria the road is in perfect condition and we enjoyed Ollantaytambo, the markets in Chinchero and Pisac and the Sacred Valley drive before arriving in Cusco for some R&R at Quinta Lala. You can skip the intro and start around 50 seconds in, which covers the part we did in the day time  https://youtu.be/M7aGjyBbEqg

The great part of travelling through this remote part of Peru is that a lot of the agricultural practices are still being implemented since the time of the Inca’s and haven’t changed in over 2000 years. Medicine men still use mother earth as their guide, and we loved the colourful costumes of the ladies. We never knew that over 3000 different varieties of potatoes are grown in Peru! After a few days rest in Cusco it was off to our next destination Lake Titicaca and the Floating islands. Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at just over 4000 meters high.

We bush camped on the Capachica Peninsula North East of Puno at Playa Chifron. Lake Titicaca has over 50 floating islands made from grass; this area is called Uros (very touristy) however the further away islands are where people still live like centuries ago. The people wear colourful clothes and make things out of grass, weave, while the man go out fishing for a living.

CHILE BORDER TO LIMA & DAKAR 100% PERU, 2019

After Christmas celebrations with great company in Arica (Chile) we moved back into Peru this time to explore the South West of Peru. After clearing customs and immigration (all up took less than an hour) Our first stop was Tacna just 60KM North of the border with Chile. The town did not excite us, and we kept going further North towards Arequipa. Arequipa is also known as the White City but as we bypassed the city centre, we did not notice any of the old colonial buildings.

Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru with just over 1 million people.  Located at 2400 meters and more than 80 volcanoes some active makes Arequipa an earthquake prone area. We did not stay in Arequipa and moved to Yura and camped near the Hot Springs. After a relaxing day it was time to proceed. The spectacular drive to Chivay brings us to a magic viewpoint at the Patopampa Pass (4940 meters high) with views of El Misti 5822 (high)and Chachani 6075 (high) From here the road drops 1300 meters before arriving in Chivay a small village at the beginning of the Colca Canyon around 3650 meters high. It has a central town square and an active market where we did some shopping before finding a camp spot and another swim at the thermal springs (Calera Hot Springs) just outside town. Next was Colca Canyon the third most visited tourist destination in Peru nearly 200000 people visit the canyon every year.

We arrived mid-afternoon and tour busses had left. The canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and second deepest in Peru after the Cotahuasi Canyon.  We camped at the Cruz del Condor the viewpoint where Andean Condors can be seen most days throughout the year. We were very lucky to see some in the afternoon upon our arrival with no-one around. The next morning, I think around 15 tour busses pulled up and so did the market stalls selling souvenirs.

Instead of following the tourist back to Chivay or Arequipa we decided to follow the track towards Huambo on the 109 towards the Pan Americana Sur an area of astounding scenic beauty, with giant Andean terraces unique natural scenery, as well as animal life; such as herds of Vicuñas (a wild relative of Llamas and Alpacas) and various types of birds, of which stand out the giant hummingbird, eagles, gooses and the mighty Andean Condor.

We were pushed for time as the Dakar friends were waiting in Huacachina. We travelled further north via The National Reserve of San Fernando, bypassing Juan de Marcoona as we would visit this as part of the Dakar race. On the way we camped near the Cerro Blanco. The world highest sand dune at more than 2000 meters. The dune is 1180 meters high from base to the top. Buggies can’t climb the hill hence it is a few hours walk to the top people tell me. (Not for us) with clear runs going down takes minutes on skis. I was surprised to learn that only one of the highest dunes in the top 10 was in Australia and only one in the Sahara Desert?

2. Cerro Medanoso, in Chile (550 meters)

3. Badain Jaran in China 500 meters,

4. Rig-e Yalan in Iran 470 meters,

5. Isaouane-n-Tifernine in Algeria, 460 meters,

6. and 7 are Big daddy and Dune 7 in Namibia 325 meters,

8. is mount tempest in Australia 280 meters.

It was time to visit our Dakar friends in Huacachina. a small lagoon surrounded by palm trees and gigantic sand dunes, this desert oasis Huacachina is home to a great Training ground for the Dakar and the dune buggy capital of Peru. These ancient mountains of sand are beautiful, surreal and jaw-dropping, allowing you deep into the desert to see the huge sand dunes all the way to the coast. After the Dakar we continued North to Paracas National park. the Park contains various archaeological sites from the Paracas pre-Inca culture, which existed in large part of what is now the reserve.   FOR DAKAR 100% Pictures and 2 video clips

CLICK  http://www.doubledutchworldsafari.com.au/dakar-2019/

Time for us to return to Lima and explore the city meet up with our friends Hans and Elizabeth, store our truck have a few drinks with Carlos and his family prepare the truck and get ready for the flight home in a few weeks.

For us this was the end of our exploring of Southern and Central Peru.

Till next time when we explore Northern Peru

LIMA TO ECUADOR BORDER 2019

After 6 months at home (we never stayed home longer than 3 months since 2004) we are back on the road again.

After an overnight in Sydney and 3 days in Santiago we arrived in Lima.

The Cordillera is part of the Andes Mountains. This is our last stage in Peru before we enter Ecuador. The Cordilleras’ main features are the Cordillera Blanca, Parque National Huascaran and the Canon del Pato. It is also where we found the world’s highest road tunnel at just under 4800 meters. The Cordillera Blanca is the world’s highest and most glaciated tropical mountain range, topped by the 6768-meter-high Huascaran Mountain. (highest mountain in Peru)

In this area you find 25 Mountain peaks over 6000 meters and 50 over 5500 meters. One of these high mountain peaks is the Artesonraju, also called the Paramount Picture peak, due to the profile seen in the Paramount Pictures logo The Cordillera Blanca (white mountain) has a total of 722 glaciers covering an area of 723 sq. kilometres. However, locals tell us that the glaciers have become smaller and smaller since the 1970’s.

Our first stop was planned in Huaraz, also known as the Switzerland of the south, but what a disappointment this was. The towns of Carhuaraz, Yungay and Caraz are much better stops.

The “must do’s” in this area:

The world highest road tunnel (Tunel Punta Olimpica) at 4732 meters. Before this tunnel was completed it would take up to 12 hours to reach Chacas on a very rough mountain road prone to landslides, snow and avalanches. Today it is all asphalt, quick and easy. The tunnel itself is around 1400 meters long, 7 meters wide and 6.5 meters high. The road is open all year round unless heavy snowfall when it may close for a day or 2.

Lake Llanganuco. The road/track starts at Yungay and climbs to around 3900 meters to a beautiful turquoise lake and lots of snowy peaks around it including a view of Peru’s highest mountain Huascaran. Great bush camping in the area. It does get cold overnight.

Laguna Paron. Great Laguna surrounded by snow covered peaks. The track up starts from Caraz and stops at the viewpoint right on the edge of the Laguna. You can camp overnight in the carpark. It is the largest lake in the national park. The mountain most visible from Laguna Paron is called Artesonraju with the highest point of 6.025m.

Another must do visit is the old town of Yungay, May 31 1970 a magnitude 8.0 struck of the coast of Peru The quake destabilized the glacier on the north face of Mount Huascarán, causing 10 million cubic meters of rock, ice and snow to break away and tear down its slope at more than 193 kilometers, per hour. By the time it reached the valley – barely three minutes later – the 914 meters-, or 3,000 feet-wide wave was estimated to have consisted of about 80 million cubic meters of ice, mud, and rocks.

Within moments, what was Yungay and its 25,000 inhabitants were buried and crushed by the landslide. Out of the approximate 25000 inhabitants only 350 survived of which were 300 children, who had been taken to the circus at the local stadium, set on higher ground and on the outskirts of the town.

We left the Cordilleras via the amazing and at times very narrow Canyon del Pato. This track was just wide enough for our truck and the tunnels just high enough. It is in this Canyon that the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra come within 15 meters of each other.

From the town of Huallanca the road improves. (gets wider) From here on the road descends west towards the coast and the cities of Chimbote and Trujillo.

Till next time where we enjoy some R&R from Peru’s northern beaches and enter Ecuador for our next adventure.

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