I have been having such a great time and so busy that I have not had time to catch up with the blog until now, so I will now go back to last Tuesday and fill you in on what we have been up to.

Last Tuesday we departed Puno for Cuzco on an exciting bus journey through the Peruvian Andes. The journey is one of South America’s most extroadinary overland trips taking you by comfortable coach to Cuzco passing through striking highland scenery and picturesque Andean villages. We had brief stops at Raqchi to see the remains of the remarkable temple of Viracocha, considered by the historians an important Inca construction, we also stopped at the town of Andahuaylillas, a showcase of colonial art in Peru, sometimes called the “Sistine Chapel of America”. Lunch was a scrumptuous buffet at a lovely quaint hotel. We arrived in Cuzco approximately 5.30pm after another amazing day.

On Wednesday we were due to have a rest day to relax and explore Cuzco, but a strike was planned for Thursday and Friday. The strike was over gas – yes gas. Apparently Cuzco produces its own gas but they pay more for the gas, than what is sent to Bolivia and other parts of Peru. Arrangments over here are very flexible so our guide Diana and myself decided it would be a good day to visit the Sacred Valley, Pisac Indian Market and Urubamba Valley and Ollyantaytambo. We set out after breakfast by mini bus to Saqsaywaman which is 2 klms from the main town The remains and foundations of this colossal structure features three tierred defence walls made of stones that fit with razorsharp precision. Sacsaywaman means “Satiate Falcon” It was built in some 77 years (1431-1508) under the rule of Incas. We will return to Saqsaywaman on the 24th June to celebrate the Inti Raymi Festivity which takes place at this site. We continued on through fertile countryside of the Urubamba Valley to the colonial village of Pisac where there is an Indian Market, we tried a local delicacy of Empanadas a type of pastry similar to a samosa stuffed with cheese tomato and onion and fired in a clay oven absolutely delicious. We wandered through the bustling marketplace we had the opportunity to bargain (not too much as these people have just experienced a terrible flood during the month of January so tourism into this area has been low) with the locals for many types of Peruvian handicrafts and jewellery. We wandered the markets for about 1 hour collecting gifts for friends and families. From the markets we enjoyed a another wonderful buffet lunch this time at a restaurant which was situated at a sprawling Spanish Hacienda. We all rolled out full up to our eyeballs with food. Diana then proceeded to tell us that we would now be visiting Ollantaytambo archaeological complex (which I must say is my favourite site) the Incas built it as a fort that included a temple, agricultural terraces, and urban area. There are two distinct sectors, the religous and worship zone, and the residential area. Ollantaytambo was an important administrative center with probable military functions if one considers the walls and towers. We arrived at the site and I thought the guys were to throw me off one of the terraces when they saw what they were about to climb – on a full belly as well! We then returned to Cuzco and our hotel at around 6pm after a very big but rewarding day. Roll on tomorrow a free morning to recover then a 3 hour sightseeing tour of Cuzco.

After breakfast we all went our seperate ways, myself to meet up with my very close friend Ana Sofia who was my guide on previous trips and now works with Intrepid. We had a leisurely morning wandering around aimlessly and catching up on old times. We could not have picked a better time to be in Cuzco strike and no traffic or pollution. I seen to get is lucky most trips as during a strike is the best time to be in a city as everything comes to a standstill. Of course the shops and museums are still open. In the afternoon we went on our sightseeing tour and visited Cuzco’s Cathedral, Sabto Domingo Church,m Plaza de Armas and Koricancha “The Temnple of the Sun”. We dined in luxury and tasted some wonderful Peruvian and Chilian wine.

Today we have the full day free to wander around Cuzco exploring this amazing city, shoppingm visiting the markets, returning to the museum and man galleries. What a wonderful way to spend a magnificent sunny day – which I must mention we have had right throughout this tour. We leave Cuzco at 4pm the strike has wound down and vehicles are once again on the road. The traffic was pretty caotic getting out of the city and during the 1-1/2 hour drive to Urumbumba and our hotel our driver had to negotiate many obsticles along the way, for example during the strike the local people place rock not not rocks huge boulders on the road to stop vehicles going through. We were all very thankful to our experienced driver for getting us to our hotel safely.

This morning the guys who opted to do the Laras trek departed at 8am very excited but nervous of the unknown. I feel very confident that they are all well acclimitised for the 35 klm trek which will take then to a maximum height of 4900 mtrs. We will meet up with them in 4 days at Aguas Caliente.

The remainder of the group including myself visited by foot Chichubamba Agrotourism village. It is a project developed by the residents of Chichubumba and the NGO Pro Peru, designed to help improve the economic conditions of those living in this area. The agrotourism project brings together many different families in Chichumbamba who continue to farm weave or make other products in the traditional manner. Through the use of small interactive and very informative demonstrations the very friendly residents immerced us in the Andean Culture. There are several activities to choose for example:

bee keeping, ceramics, chichi ( alocally brewed corn beer) weaving, chocolate, horticulture and cuy (guinea pig) breeding, potter. In addition you can sample the all natural, locally grown and freshly made typical Andean dish of cuy served with corn and potatoes.

The activities we chose were pottery, chocolat and bees keeping. We were then treated to a scrumptuous lunch at Eufracia’s home (the pottery lady). If you are reading my blog and thinking of visiting Urumbumba I encourage you to visit Chichubamba and contribute to the local community.

We hiked back to our hotel and sat around the beutiful garden to relax, read and write up our diary’s oh and pack for our overnight hike tomorrow to Misminay. I am not taking my computer to Misminay or Aguas Calientes so my next posting will be in about 4 days and I will have lots to tell including both treks, our visit to Macchu Picchu and the Inti Rami Festival. So much to tell you, I am sure that night I will be up all night writing the blog.

Adios everyone from mystical Peru.
our dayat On oN
Filed under: Adventure travel