It feels like only yesterday I last wrote this blog, and yet it was almost a month ago! sorry!
Again a lot to tell you about and probably the most exciting month yet!
So in Puno we met up with Ralph´s friends and visited the Uros floating islands and Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca. The floating islands are made out of reeds piled on each other and although they were very touristy they were really cool. Apparently if they need the toilet in the night they have to get a boat to the toilet island! Awkward. We then travelled to Taquile island which was very similar to Isla del Sol from the Bolivian side. That evening Ralph and Lizzie tried guinea pig which apparently tastes like chicken but has barely any meat on it! The next day we visited Sillustani, a site with Inca tombs. We also went to an Alpaca farm where we tasted ´edible´ clay, tasted like clay and we´re sure they only did it to laugh at tourists each clay.
Next we headed to Cusco. We took a bus that stopped in 5 different places along the way, and if we hadn´t been so tired/a tiny bit hungover, we may have thought it was more interesting. Saw lots of inca stuff and some amazing views of the mountains. In Cusco we met Ralph´s friends from uni in our hostel and spent the next few days with them. We went on a rather eventful horse riding trek to have a view of Cusco from the skyline, only a thunderstorm erupted complete with freezing wind and hail meaning we had to hide in a cave covered with danger signs for 20 minutes until it passed! Had to catch a local bus back to the centre as we were too cold and soaked to carry on after that! The next day I had my interview for my masters course which although was quite stressful, paid off in the end as I was accepted onto the course woo! Ralph and I explored Cusco a bit the day after and saw the most interesting painting in the cathedral of the last supper, however it had a guinea pig in the centre of the table, and Judas was looking straight at us whereas everyone else was looking at Jesus. Apparently that was the Andean influence of the painter. We also went paragliding over the Sacred Valley which was sooo fun. It involved them telling us very little except, run off the edge of the cliff and relax!
Next was the big trip we´d been waiting months to do - the Inca Trail!
The first day we visited sites in the Sacred Valley including temples, villages, a cemetary, and spent a night in Ollantaytambo before starting the Inca trail.
The first day of the trail was sunny, rocky and fairly steep but we only walked for 3 or 4 hours before arriving at our campsite for the night, so spent the afternoon playing cards and enjoying the views of the valleys. Along the way I was told that I was the one who was going to be sacrificed on the trip as I was the youngest female, great! Day two was nicknamed ´gringo killer´as it was the steepest and highest point of the climb, however it wasn´t that bad really and had spectacular views of the valley along the way. The highest point was 4215masl called Dead Womans Pass, or Warmisamusca! Reached the campsite by 12ish so spent the afternoon sat around again chatting. Day three was the longest but most enjoyable trek day where we visited more ruins, and had a great talk about the nature in Peru. We were in the cloud forest and the nature around us changed and was far more colourful.
So the last day deserves its own paragraph. We got up at 3.30am, got the gate and waited until 5.30am when it opened. Then, half the group including Ralph, ran to Machu Picchu in the hope of getting tickets to Waynapichu, the mountain opposite which was meant to have great views but only 400 tickets per day. The rest of us power walked/ran and got there 20 minutes after the running group. However only 2 people in the running group got tickets, and they missed the Sun Gate which is where you get the first view of Machu Picchu. It honestly took my breath away (or maybe that was the vertical steps we´d just walked up...) as it emerged from the clouds as we got to the Sun Gate. Machu Picchu is an incredible site that truly is more amazing in person than in pictures. We walked around the site and glared at the hundreds of tourists that had just arrived by bus instead of trekking for 3 days. Our guide told us there is another Inca site that is 5x the size but just hasn´t been uncovered yet, so in the future it will be even more famous than Machu Picchu! So the trip was definitely worth the wait!
Back in Cusco we went out with our guide for a meal and night out, then the next day saw a parade in which vegetables were thrown in the crowds and Ralph caught a bouquet of herbs and I caught a single bean! We also went to see a football game which was hilarious, quite some acting skills those Peruvian players have! We then took a night bus to Arequipa!
Arrived in Arequipa, had a nap and some lunch and then, DISASTER! Ralph discovered he had lost his camera somewhere between Cusco and Arequipa, possibly fell out or was stolen on the night bus! Means that 2 months of photos were lost! Spent the afternoon in the police station sorting the statement then packed for Colca Canyon.
Although our legs hadn´t recovered from the inca trail, we set off on another trek of the Colca Canyon. An early bus journey allowed us to observe the Condors flying around 6.30am. The first day of the trek was a bit of a killer as my legs were not happy with me at all but it was still enjoyable and we learnt about the plants around the canyon, most importantly which one was poisonous! Reached the oasis and had a swim in a cold pool, then ate and went to bed. The next day involved starting at 5am but was actually a nice climb up, for only 2 hours as well! We were excorted by a lovely dog the whole way up too! After some breakfast Ralph fell asleep on a fountain (i´ve got a photo don´t worry!) and then we went to some hot springs which was AMAZING and just what we needed after a weeks trekking!
Soooo, we then went to Nazca where we were greeted by a woman holding a sign saying ´Dominique´. Bit of a highlight for me! The flight over the lines was quite cool. The lines are quite faint but so cool to see, its almost a bit stressful as theres no explanation for them so you think of so many questions but theres no answers! My favourite was the astronaut and the monkey!
We then got a bus to Ica then a taxi to Huachina. Here, the girl Annie who we´d been travelling with met her Peruvian friend Bato and we drove to a Pisco brewary, had a free tour and tasted 5 different types of Pisco from 16 to 43% before lunch, eeek! After another pisco sour, we headed back and went sandboarding. This was sooo much fun. We drove to the dunes in sand buggies then led down on the board and slid down huuuge dunes really fast! We then watched the sunset.
wowee, so now we´re in Lima. Not a lot to update you on here so far, its very different to what I expected and where we´ve visited has been really nice. Heading to Mancora tomorrow then into Ecuador!
Sorry this one has been so long, didn´t realise there was so much to write about! Missing you all but loving it out here! Hope everyone is well!