Monday, November 10, 2003

Peru Trip

I don't remember exactly when the trip was, but this is the experience I try to recount:

How was the trip? The trip to Peru was great. One of the best trips of my life.

We started our trip at Cusco. Landed on Thursday morning and gave ourselves two days before the Inca Trail (Camino Inca) to adjust to the altitude (Cusco is at about 12,000 ft). We did water rafting trip on the Urubamba River (the largest tribunary to the Amazon River) before the hike. The last time we went rafting was at the Delaware Water Gap. I was expecting the facility to be similar (a complex of changing room, equipment rental, etc). So I was a bit surprised when we pulled over to the side of the road by the River and they started to unload things from the van. They took out wet suits for us to change and we started changing on the side of the small highway. Good thing we had our swimming suits underneath already. The rafting was fun. Our guide was knowledgable and we went through Class II and class III rapids. Since it's dry season right now, the water was not very rough.

Noel and my altitude sickness was slightly different. I was feeling most ill on the first day. Constant headache and nassia. We passed by a store that sells Coco leaves/tea and products (that's suppose to help with the sickness). I did not like the smell of Coco leaves. I find that it made me feel worse. I started to feel better the following days. My apetite was still small and the constant headache was still there, but it was not as bad. Noel was fine the first day. By the time I started to feel a bit better the High Altitude sickness was hitting him hard. He took coco tea and it helped.

We started our 4 day-3 night Inca Trail with about 22 kg of stuff (each). The first day is the easiest. But since we were still adjusting to the high altitude, it was not that easy (especially with that weight). The group we did the Inca Trail with was very good. Provided tents and sleeping bags and prepared all the food. I can't imagine having to set up the tent and try to start the fire for food after a day of exhausting hike. We hired a porter on the second day of our trip. The second day was much longer and much harder. We reached the highest point of our trail (around 13,800 ft) at a passing called Dead Woman's Pass. The closer you get to the top the harder it seems to get. The third day is a lot of down hill hiking. We decsented about 3280 feet on that day. I got tendonitis on my left knee at the end of the third day. I took some anti-inflammatory medicine and bandaged up my knee to hike on the fourth day to get to Macchu Picchu. It was not a long hike and I was careful to put less effort on the bad knee. I think Macchu Picchu seemed to be more incredible and rewarding because we worked harder to get there. Overall the Inca Trail was just as amazing (if not more) than Macchu Picchu itself. The Andes is beautiful.

At Peru, you can live as expensive or as cheap as you want. A lot of backpacker hostals cost $10-13 per night for double. (which is where we stayed). They are mostly clean and simple. We took an 6 hour bus ride to Puna/Lake Titikaka that cost $10 each. It was one of the nicer bus with video and toilet on the bus. Took one day tour of the Lake Titikaka. I think it's the highest-largest navigatable lake in the world (the altitude was similar to Cusco). The view of the lake on one of the island visited looks like the Meditaranea Sea. It was blue and tranquile.

We took another 5 hour bus ride to get to Arequipa. At this point my knee got a bit better so we went to a two day hike at the Colca Canyon. Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The terrand was very different than the mountains. It's very dry and dusty and there were virtually no shades and the sun was very strong. Good thing we finished hiking before the sun came up on the second day. Our guide was pretty new and doesn't really know what he's doing so that made the whole experience even worse. But we were glad to get back to Arequipa and did some shopping and relaxing. We went to a really good restuarant to have Peruvian food and the experience was great. The food was wonderful and the day sunny and beautiful.

We flew to Lima and spent one day there. Did not do much sightseeing because we had enough at this point. We walked around and little and decided that Lima is too polluted. Went to a nice restaurant and had Cerviche (Peruvian specialty that's raw fish marinated in lime juice).
Our last stop was Iquitos. It's a large city in the Northern Amazon region of Peru. The place we stayed in did not have electricity but they did have solar panels that helps with cooking and other things. Lamps were lite at night all over the lodge. They had some "pets" that stays around the lodge willing: parrots, dogs, a funny looking bird that's 1 foot tall and a Capybara named Charly. Charly likes to be pet and makes this funny noise (suppose to be like when cats pur). I would say that's the most exotic pet I ever had. We also saw many different things in the jungle: beautiful color birds (macaws, hawkes), monkeys (one the size a young kitten) "walking palm tree", leave-cutter ants, etc.. We also went Paranha fishing (and ate it for dinner!), dorphine watching (there are pink ones and grey ones)

At this point it's been more than 2 weeks and we started to miss home very much.

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