Immersed in Hot Waters (Agua Calientes)

August 27, 2016

MIMG_1730achu Picchu Diary 10 July 2016
Our day has ended with dinner together. Trout again. The group split up today. Many climbed Huayan Picchu (that tall spike which is the familiar backdrop to the Machu Picchu site), but five of us begged off for various reasons. Kavitha and I woke early and got out into the town at 0700 after a brief breakfast and awful coffee downstairs. It was a very cool 7 degrees around town so we settled for a café in the main street until the day warmed up. We had an omelette while we waited, and a very welcome latte. Read more

First Stuff Your Llama

August 19, 2016

IMG_1411Machu Picchu Diary

9 July 16

The stuffed llama standing on the terrace above me is a disappointment. “How does a UNESCO World heritage site stoop so low?” I wonder. Its stiff silhouette stares down at me for what seems ages as I make my way to the highest point we can find. Then the damn thing blinks and stalks off in that high stepping, insouciant way the llama does. Not so stuffed after all. Maybe it heard my uncomplimentary thoughts and has moved off in a huff.    Read more

Zip Line

August 13, 2016

IMG_1303Machu Picchu Diary
8 July 201

The rain pattered on our tent through the night in that lullaby that nylon and water so often put together. I thought it might herald another wet day but I was awake at 0600 to a clear morning, a droplet decorated tent, the sound of roosters crowing and an agitated dog barking so much he had clearly forgotten what was up his fur. Many of our crew had joined the crowd around the fire last night so were slower off the mark than Henry desired but despite that we got through our breakfast mostly on time. The cheap and abundant tequila had been tempered by the hostel hosts switching everything off at 11pm (much to the relief off those attempting to sleep and, I am sure, the neighbours as well). Despite that restriction on the intake there are clearly some slightly sore heads this morning, and I watch some of them ease out of their tents slowly and carefully, as if deliberate actions somehow make the pain go away. Despite the tequila the clear morning seems to galvanise even the most reluctant starters and one by one they emerge from their nylon caves – though Hamish was early, has his tent packed and is ready to go before most had even woken. Maybe he is the reason the dog is barking! Read more

Pig Under a Mango

August 2, 2016

IMG_0983Machu Picchu Diary

7 July 16

I am conscious next of the sounds of wings flapping and a rooster crowing. It seems like a pretty energetic bird until I realise that it’s Henry prowling our tents clapping his hands and crowing. It is a very good imitation and I can picture a rooster standing on tip-toes, at full stretch, wings beating and at full throttle. I laugh despite the fact that it’s 0530. The day lightens quickly to reveal what was not so clear last evening as we arrived in camp. We are tucked up on a grassy terrace above a deepish gorge, with tall timber all around. Chickens scratch around geraniums and a small tin shed, in which we had our meals (dinner and breakfast). As we have breakfast mules are driven and prepped for other trekkers who are camped elsewhere around the base of this ridge. There are hostels scattered about but we are in our tents, doing it cheap and adventurous. Or so we assure ourselves. But today we are no longer using mules, but are having our gear picked up by a small bus. Either today or tomorrow we have to farewell our mules as they are not allowed near Machu Picchu. So I guess it might as well be today. Read more

Savage Mountain Pass

July 29, 2016

IMG_0870 (1)Machu Picchu Diary

6 July 2016

It’s 1830 and we are sitting around in our puffy jackets drinking sweet cocoa, eating popcorn and sweet pastry and reflecting on a remarkable day. We have just covered 27km, climbed 550m to cross the pass at 4602m (15,000’), dropped 1900m through ice and icey rain being driven sideways by strong winds to arrive at our ‘warm’ bush campsite tonight. From alpine to rain forest, sun to snow, rain to fog. Maybe the only constant  that seemed oblivious to it all was the mule, or rather multiple mules that tracked up and down the mountain with us. As with the Annapurna Circuit and the Thorung La pass in 2012 this track and pass remain of commercial significance to the locals. Though of course in this case most of the mules are hauling back and forwards with camping gear and packs. Of ours. Read more


July 24, 2016

IMG_0804 (1)Machu Picchu Diary

5 July 2016

The alarm goes off at 0400 but we have been awake prior to all the iphone alerts pinging off. No one really wants to get up but we stir ourselves into action and clear the room. I’m mildly surprised to see most of the group sitting around the common area, slumped like so many half filled bean bags, no hint of energy. But they are at least out of their rooms and ready to go. It turns out they had not tuned into the start time and the word had gotten around that we were due to leave at 0300. It’s a source of amusement for me but I leave them alone. Early is better than late. We try and move about quietly for the sake of others in the hostel but it seems everyone is up early to catch a bus to somewhere, so it’s not long before the half lit common room has a slight hum to it as people check packs, catch up with social media, double check times and make last minute additions or subtractions to the bags they plan to leave behind at the hostel. Read more

Cloud Mountains

July 20, 2016

IMG_0348Diary, 2 July 2016

Ana-Sofia has advised us that Cusco and the area we are trekking is not considered the ‘Andes’ (or Las Sierras) but rather the ‘Cloud Mountains’, an area or region that borders the Amazon jungle, but which features its own type of forest. That sounds good to me and besides, is suitably poetic. I look forward to seeing it as we bore through a sunny sky and I gaze out over mountains and gullies that share the same brown hues as those in Afghanistan. There is no vegetation around Lima and I was reminded that this is one of those rare coastal deserts, Lima being the largest desert city after Cairo. We are all on LA2023 this morning but slightly subdued over yesterday: time differences, jet lag and constantly being on the move all taking their smallest weight of flesh and spirit. Diamox is slowing some of us as well. Read more

Ricky Baker

July 19, 2016

IMG_0248Machu Picchu Diary

Friday 1 July 2016

1337 hours and the aircraft frame vibrates and shudders as the undercarriage, not designed to be aerodynamic in any way thrashes through the air below us. As the undercart is cleaned up over Botany Bay everything settles down and the slightly alarmed look on Kavitha’s face vanishes. We have been delayed an hour due to congestion at Sydney airport, a delay that only reinforces my impression that this piece of infrastructure is a serious embarrassment. Anyone in denial over Badgeries Creek has not repeatedly been inconvenienced by this third world airport of ours. Anyway, I am assured our flight will make up time over the Pacific and that our already tight window to make the connection through to Lima will not be further constricted. “Relax” the assured cabin attendant tells me. “We know who has tight connections on this flight”. His multitude of boy scout like buttons and badges twinkle in the sunlight thrown into the cabin by the low Sydney winter sun.  I know he is just assuring me in order to get me to my seat but there is little else I can do or say. Read more

Leaving Lima – and a bit of my heart

March 11, 2011

lima290.jpg(Diary 15 Nov 2010) I am sure they sound erudite and clever to each other but the two German ladies , otherwise quite well presented, are through half a bottle of white and have knocked off half a bottle of duty free Drambuie.  I am surprised they are still sitting upright. It is one form of therapy I guess as I sit here waiting all day (Buenos Aires) for a delayed QANTAS flight. There are a lot of “sh” sounds in German and right now this pair are blurring together in to a rolling, excited “shhhhhh” If they are on my flight it will be along haul alright, especially if all those drugs don’t knock them out. It’s my birthday so the wish I make for myself is one of quiet travel back across the Pacific. Read more

Museum of a Dusty Mind

November 9, 2010

owl-290.jpgThe National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru is a mouthful but it was worth a walk around even if almost all the explanatory panels were in Spanish. It provides a little bit of history and culture without having to leave the city. It is located in what looks like a former colonial residence. Funny how Lima seems to recycle its buildings in this way. “Let’s put our national treasures in someone’s old house”. I don’t think it is a case of not respecting their heritage. But over the years it may well be case of simply not having the funds to house them in premises that would more effectively set them off. Read more

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