A Travellerspoint blog

Peru - Chile July 2010

Goodbye South America

After much deliberation, we decided to take the Inca Jungle Trek, the least expensive and supposedly the least strenuous trek to Machu Pichu. At this stage Murf had perfected his haggling skills and he got us a good price for the four day trip. We took it easy for the few days in Cusco before heading off and took advantage of the first bit of sunshine we had seen in ages.

On the first day of the trip, we were collected from the hostel and dropped off around 2 hours from Cusco to start an afternoon of mountain biking (downhill thankfully) in the middle of some really gorgeous landscapes – the views were just amazing – and without major injury we landed at our first destination, the little village of Santa Maria. The next day we started the hard part......the trekking. At 6.30am, we starting walking from Santa Maria uphill for what seemed like forever, no joke at one stage Murf was literally pulling me up the side of the mountain while I was huffing and puffing! I have to say it was tough and apparantly our trek is not a patch on some of the others which makes us feel really unfit!! At around 4pm, we arrived at our second nights accommodation in the village of Santa Teresa. On the third day... more trekking (although not as strenuous or long as the second day) and we made it to our (almost) final destination, Agus Callientes (which is actually really called Machu Pichu). Big pats on the back all round as the group celebrated in the hot springs and looked forward to the last day of the trip, the visit to Machu Pichu. After an early morning rise (4am) we made it to the top and i think everyone was completely breathtaken. I have to say, sitting eating our 100th white bread cheese sandwich on the side of Machu Pichu was really something and we decided the view was definitely worth the previous few days of hard work (although we’ve now decided to take a break from ‘trekking’ for a while).

We were absolutely wrecked by the time we got back to Cusco and were delighted to see a nice warm bed and running hot water waiting for us at the hostel. We were also looking forward to our date with kenny and Julie the following day in (where else) only the highest Irish pub on the planet. We watched the world cup semi final between Spain and the Netherlands and a few sociables later we had booked to head rafting and zip lining the following day with some others we met on the trek. (Again Murf’s negotiating skills got us a good deal). No casualties and a great day was had, I’d say we’ll definitely be heading rafting again.

We weren’t sure where we were going after Cusco and everyone was suggesting different places to visit. But we decided to head for the coast in the possibility of catching a few rays. We made it to Huachachina, a little village outside the town of Ica on the south west coast of Peru literally in the middle of massive sand dunes and funnily enough is famous for sandboarding. The sun was beaming and we had a nice pool so we were happy out to stay there for a few days and chill out after all our hard work. We tried our hand at sandboarding which was scary but great fun. Murf got a bit carried away and headed off by himself the next day – lets just say he wasn’t in good shape by the time he came back :)

After Huachachina, we made our way south to Arequipa – home of the deepest canyon in the world. As our days of trekking were over we decided to buy the one day trip to Colca Canyon leaving at 3am (these early mornings are starting to feel like hard work). Our ‘great deal’ meant we got the smallest bus going and no air conditioning so our early morning start left us with frozen windscreens and a three hour bus journey to our first stop. It was even more uncomforable when the sun started beaming in and the lady next to us was a little car sick. Lovely. Anyway, lets just say it was a long day and 15 hours later we arrived back at the hostel but we got some nice photos of condors flying over the canyon and of the Colca Valley which houses the remains of some inca settlements. I’m wondering if it would have been a better option to do the two or three day trek......

From Arequipa we headed for the border and were on our way to Chile. Surprise surprise, a couple of long bus journeys and taxi rides later and we arrived in the desert town of San Pedro de Atacama. We just had a quick stopover there and didnt decide to try any more sandboarding so headed for another 24 hour bus journey to Santiago, our final destination in South America :( Santiago is heavily polluted and when you head up to one of the main tourist attraction to get a view of the city, you can clearly see the layer of smog which covers the city – makes you think what you’re walking around in!! We stayed in a really cool hostel called Don Santiago, met a good gang and had a few sing songs so it was a good send off from the Gringo Trail.

And so, after 11 weeks, 7 countries and over 200 hours on buses, our South America journey came to an end. Although we are looking forward to heading over the Pacific, we’re both sad to leave this amazing continent but hopefully we’ll be back at some stage…..

Posted by murfclaire 02:04

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