Peru November 2013 – January 2014
After having altitude sickness for 3 days we left Lake Titicaca and went back over the Anden moutains over Arequipa , along the Panamerican highway north up the coast all the way to Naszca and the small village of Marcona.
We saw a rock-concert at the beach there where me met a very nice family who even invited us to stay at their home! Next morning they came to pick us up at our hostel - which was not very nice anyways and quite expensive on top. We spend 2 days with teh family and made a smal hike along the beach. When the father wanted to pick us up there his 4WD didn't amke it back up teh stepp hill and he had to drive it down backwards which was really dangrous...after another truck came to halp he made it up finally.
After that we stayed 2 days in naszca and then I took the bus directly to Lima Airport to fly back to Germany for 10 days while Titony met some friends in Pisco because his plane for Martinique left a couple of days later. They had a small "reunion" party at the beach, when he felt suddenly a gun at his head. They robbed him out at the beach, while they were talking to his friends who were from uruguay and did not get robbed out! Luckily he just had his small backpack and some minor things were stolen, not much money and not his credit cards or passport. After that hs was totally shocked and left the place quickly to take the plane to Florida and another one to Martinique where we met again.
After beeing adjusted to the high altitude in Arequipa and Colca Canyon for a week, we went with the bus over the Anden mountains again at about 5000 m and a bit down to 3700 m to the town Puno at Lake Titicaca. The bus trip caused some altitude sickness again which lasted the first day in Puno aswell. From here we want go with a boat to see the Island of Taquila, where the ancient culture have been conserved by
the Quechua-people living there, still without electricy or running water.
But the sickness didn't go away so we had to drive down again - which meant not going further to Cusco and Machu Picchu – which would have been really expensive anyways.
AREQUIPA + COLCA CANYON
We arrived in Arequipa by panorama day-bus – which was the best thing we could do - to sit front row on the top level for this coast- panamericana and later mountains-ride is breathtaking. In Arequipa we took a taxi to our host-family - a couchsurfing family that friends of us told us about. They had a lot of information about hiking in the colca canyon and even had a lodge there. We could leave our backpacks with them – again with all our valuebales – just because our friends did the same before. Trust and a good feeling when to are essential in Peru.
After a scary 5-hour nightbus drive from Arequipa (2700m) over the Anden Mountains (5000m) we arrived in Cabanaconde (3200m) at the top of the Colca Canyon. The roads turned from narrow to almost not
passable and muddy, the view out of the window was stunning but often went right down the 3 km steep canyon.
At 8 am we started our 3-day trek, out of the village of Cabanaconde, all the way down to Llahuar Lodge at the Colca River deep in the canyon. A cute street dog decided to join us right in the village and stayed with us for the whole trek. Luckily we had brought lots of rice and noodles so we shared our meals with him. The first day we went only downwards, 4,5 hours, easy. The second day we went up and down quite often, on narrow walkways of about 40 cm up to 1 m, which went steep down
about a 1000m or more, that was our longest hike for 7,5 hours. The third day we went only upwards for 6 hours, back from Llahuar Lodge to Cabanaconde, that was definitely the hardest day.
We took a plane fro Iquitos to Lima and then a bus along the coast, 4 hours south of Lima: to a village called Paracas. It is a tourist-beach-town, with lots of palm trees but all around just desert and it's hot, but dry-hot for a change.
There are lots of sting rays in the very dirty looking water, so swimming is not an option, a bit out of town, close to San Andres there are lots of surfable waves but unfortunately no surf shop or rental around... It is not even a marked surfspot on wanna surf, even though the rather small waves have a good length with about 200-400m could be perfect for longboarding.
Taking a boat-tour to the National Park "Islas Ballestas" was the best part of Paracas, we saw hundreds of sea lions, some penguins and lots of birds. Unfortunatly there are a lot of boats, around the island at any time in the morning until lunch you'll have 20-30 boats around it. After that time no more boats and tourists als allowed for the animals to not get stressed too out.
IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST
We went 2 hours down the Amazon River by speedboat and then with an other boat onto the Tapira river for a 3-day-rainforest-tour. It was simply breathtaking. We've seen lots of spiders (mostly tarantulas), bugs, giant frogs, a black-and-yellow-striped snake, 4-cm-large ants, cute geckos, colorful birds, monkeys, pink and grey river dolphins, a caiman's red eyes at night, a baby caiman, scorpions, beautiful huge trees and millions of mosquitos. The lodge was simple, the food good and our guide, a 18-year-old "jungle-boy" took us 7 hours through the jungle each day and night. At night the jungle wakes up, and is a bit scary, you learn to respect the nature and its wild animals that you try not to frighten so they don't need to defend themselves – which could have been easily be dangerous or deadly for us.
Once I layed down in a hammock and forgot to look inside before, after a couple of seconds a huge hand-large black spider with thin legs crawled up on my leg. I first thought "this is an illusion" until I jumped up startled from her sight. I guess she must have jumped up with me since I didn't see her again. Poor thing, but she scared me so much, I had never seen a big spider like that in my life and am even scared of small ones. After this lesson I made sure to always check the hammock very thoroughly, turning it over and inside out before I lay down. The same with the boots, all kinds of animals like to explore them at night.
IQUITOS – BIGGEST JUNGLE-TOWN OF PERU
After arriving in Iquitos, there were already groups of guides trying to sell of rainforest trips – us - the 6 tourists that found each other on the boat. One of them who had a hostel too, close to the plaza des armas we decided to trust – and it turned out to be the best thing! the hostel had only 2 rooms, a kitchen that we could use and they had good prices for their rainforest guides and lodge. A small family run business - with very very nice people.
We could leave our backpack in the hostel while we did the 3-day tour into the forest and I actually left all my valuebales there – literally in their living room behind a door. No lockers, but the family always around to secure it. That was enough as we heard from other travellers who did the same and didn't get robbed out. In a country like peru where my laptop is worth a year's wages that is totally not typical! We were very lucky. Also with the people we were so lucky - a whole bunch of nice fellow travellers, all loved music (ukulele + singing), we ended up baking german cookies all together on christmas eve and eating argentinian empanadas – amazing! Then our ways all split up to go explore the rainforest in different directions!
BOAT-TRIP DOWN THE AMAZONAS
From Yurimaguas we took the Wilmer V Boat from the Eduardo company to Iquitos. Its a 3-day-trip down the River Manon which later on goes into / feeds the amazon river. Hammocks on every square centimeter, people touching one another while laying down, chicken with rice twice a day, river-water-showers, the rainforest passing slowly by, village-stops to unload chicken, beer, toilet paper, cars, tools, cement, food dead or alive but most exciting of all: river dolphins playing around the boat at each harbor.
From Tarapoto we took a 3 hour-minibus deeper into the jungle, here is a short videoclip of the breathtaking journey. Most times we went very close to the edge, able to watch about hundred of meters downwards, through a great scenery of rainforest-covered mountains.
After driving for 9 hours with a bus from Mancora to Chiclayo we took antother bus for 16 hours over the Anden mountains - it is heard of to be the most dangerous bus route in peru. It went left, riht, left, right, like in a boot with the only difference that we were going on a 5500 m pass. Then the next day around noon we finally arrived in the jungle. The green land of waterfalls, amazing animals, wild rivers, moto-taxis, palm trees, 32 degrees and rainseason.
We found a nice hostel "Viajero Wassi" 4 blocks from the Plaza des Armas with an amazing view from the roof-top-veranda. The first day we walked to the river, an 1 hour-walk through the city and all of the sudden you find yourself in the middle of the jungle. At the river some kids were fishing, women washed their clothes, people washed themselves, chicken running free around, thousands of mangotrees – where ever you go there lie mangos on the ground. Paradise.
On the second day we took a pick up-taxi to a waterfall nearby, just 30 min outside of the city. The water was chilly but we were swimming anyways – what a great experience. On the way back we hitch-hiked and a nice family picked us up, plus they invited us to go out for dinner with them, so we did – and we got some of the best food so far and our first real peruvian BBQ.
On our last day the family invited us to come with them to Lamas, a small folklore-village which had a great view over a big valley, from there we went to a nice hidden river-spot for bathing and having a natural water- massage in between the rocks.
is really quiet and non-touristy a bit run-down village, which has a good surfspot (nothing for beginners though cuz of the huge rock in the water), but the great thing is that you can have a house on the beach for 50 soles each person, it is right next to the only surf-school there is and it is surrounded by palmtrees standing on little wooden feet right on the sand.
MANCORA (northern Peru, almost Equador)
Sun. Beach. Surf. Fishermen. Pelicans. It is a nice little village, we found the great hostel "casa naranja" which is not central in town but quiet and just 200 m to the beach. Every room has a hammock on the patio, there is a kitchen and a living room area. Everything is beautiful decorated and clean, the owner, Edu is a great guy, very helpful and kind.
The surf in Mancora is supposed to be one of the best in Peru, but you have big rocks everywhere on the ground so for beginners its kind of dangerous plus the waves were a lot longer in Huanchaco (about
800 m) here its maybe 150 m...and its crowded, all day long, even early on the morning.
Yesterday we took the EPPO Bus (15 min.) to Los Organos and walked from there 2 hours along the beach southwards to "El Nuro" – a small fisherman town with a large pier from which you can see lots
of giant sea turtles, you can even snorkel and swim with them. On the way back we stopped at a restaurant on the hill with a beautiful view over the bay and then all of a sudden we saw a whale on the horizon, coming up high to breath over and over again. Our food arrived, but we kept on staring at the sea, waiting to see him come up again. That was amazing, because the whale season here is actually more from august to october. (we have 2nd December)
HUANCHACO FISHING VILLAGE
We wanted to get out of the city as fast as possible so next day we took a bus to the small fishing-and surfing-village Huanchaco and found a nice small hostel 100m to the beach. "Chimu Beach" has 5 private 2-People-rooms for 15 Soles incl. bath on the corridor and wifi. The owners, two brothers surf as well and are really nice and helpful.
The waves here are just amazing, 99% of the year ground swell – compared to 30 % at the french atlantic coast – it's paradise. Almost no wind, clear lines of waves, point break. Perfect. The village is rather quiet and layed-back, some stray dogs "adapt" tourists from time to time, especially when they have something eatable in their hand, they tend to follow them for hours until they find a new suspect. Very funny.
TRUJILLO (north of Lima)
After 9 hours over night in a bus, we arrived in Trujillo. First thing: we took a taxi to the "Plaza des Armas", and found a small hostel 100 m left
of the cathedral – luckily the owner stood outside yelling "Hospedaje?" over the road, otherwise we would have passed it. We had a shared dorm for ourselves, with a private bathroom and good working wifi.
Trujillo is busy aswell but you can reach almost everything by foot when you choose a central hostel.
For visiting the "Huaca de la luna" ruins 8 km south of the city we took a "collectivo", a shared minibus, which takes 30 mins and drops you off right at the entrance. The ruins are impressive, the museum of the moche culture aswell. They are still digging the ruins and details out of the desert sand, it's crazy to see with how many tons of sand the whole ruins were
covered with and the work they have done to unravel since 1998 is still ongoing.
Arrival in Lima, Peru in late November, this 10-Million-chaotic-Metropole reminds me of Delhi, India, traffic is crazy, horns are essential for communication, cutting other cars and "almost" accidents happen
every minute. We stayed just one night in Miraflores at a friends house and then spontaneously took the bus to Trujillo overnight. We choose the company "turdias" out of a hundred. 9 hours for 60 soles incl. a comfy seat that transformed almost to a real bed and snacks – not too bad.