Rurrenabaque – The Jungle

August 27 to September 5, 2016

After almost 10 days in La Paz, it was time for the jungle. All the different jungle tours starts in Rurrenabaque. A few different options to get there. Taking the bus you can expect to spend about 15-18 hours. Not because it is far, but because of the road 🙂 However it is by far the cheapest option (70-100 Bolivianos, 10-15 USD). I had met a few travellers taking the bus and they had all advised me to take the flight (664 Bs with Amzonas, plus airport tax 15 Bs and transportation to the airport – 60-70 Bs in a taxi). The last option is to take a taxi which is 200 Bs per person (6 people in the taxi).

It was an interesting flight in a tiny airplace. During check in, the woman told me “Also, you should know that the plane only holds 19 seats….”. I arrived in Rurrenabaque at 11 AM (the flight time was only 35 minutes).

Rurrenabaque

Rurrenabaque is a small town in the North of Bolivia on the Beni River. It is the capital of Rurrenabaque Municipality. In recent years it has become popular with international tourism as it is an easy gateway for visits to Madidi National Park (within the Bolivian rainforest), as well as the surrounding pampas. Locals commonly refer to the town by its shortened nickname, “Rurre.”

Rurrenabaque is located in José Ballivián Province in Beni Department, Bolivia. Rurrenabaque Municipality, the fourth (municipal section) of José Ballivián Province, has 14,000 inhabitants, out of which 19,195 live in Rurrenabaque itself (Censo 2012, according to Instituto Nacional de Estadística de Bolivia).

 

I spent a few days relaxing in Rurre. I met 2 French guys at the hostel (El Lobo, 60 Bs per night for a dorm room). Together with Christian and Olivier we were looking for looking for different options to visit the Selva and Pampas. Unfortunately the Government had recently changed the rules in regards to pricing (August 15, 2016), so the minimum price was now 1200 Bs (close to 200 USD) for 3 days and 2 nights. Before August 15 it was possible to find a tour at the price of 500-600 Bs. There are several agencies and we ended up joining Max Adventure and Mashaquipe on a combo tour. 3 nights in the jungle and 1 night on the pampas. It is the two most professional agencies and most expensive as well. We ended up paying 2900 Bs, excluding the entrance fee to the parks of 80 Bs and 150 Bs. Expensive but worth it!

Views from La Cruz in Rurre

Selva (The jungle) 4 days and 3 nights

On day 1 at 9.30 AM, we left by boat and crossed over the river to San Buenaventura where we paid the entry fee of 80 Bs to the Madidi National Park.  Then we headed up the River Beni for 2.5 hours.  Just a brief stop at the Madidi Park Guard Office before heading up the RiverTuichi. We continued up on the River Tuichi, enjoying the beautiful scenery and wildlife on the way.  Different types of herons, kingfishers, egrets and birds of prey. Due to the low water, we had to jump off the boat several times and help out.

We arrived at the camp site where we spent the first night (and third night). Beautiful place where the cabanas are built as tree houses. All different.

On the same day we had a jungle trek in the afternoon as well as in the night. On the trek, our guide (Diego) pointed out and explained about the flora and fauna, toxic plants and trees, seasonal fruit and flowers we saw on the way.  He also taught us how the various plants are used in medicines etc. Not that many animals, but still a few howler monkeys, a variety of birds and a multitude of insects.

For our night walk we looked for nocturnal animals but mostly spiders….. Unfortunately no armadillos, tapir, owls which you can be lucky to see.

On the second day we walked further into the jungle. It was quite a long walk but quite amazing. Late in the afternoon we arrived at our camp site next to the river. Beautiful sunset and surroundings. We prepared our “beds” just using a few trees, sticks, lianas and then our mosquito net.

We also went on a short hike to look for the wild pigs and we saw a lot of them (what a smell haha).


On the third day, back to the camp while looking for different animals and tarantulas – and we found one 🙂

In the afternoon we went on short trip up and across the river by boat to a site called Caquiawara, a series of exposed cliffs where parrots and macaws come to lick the minerals from the rocks.  After a short walk we arrived to an observation platform overlooking the cliff – an excellent spot to observe and photograph the parrots and macaws as they flew in below us to lick the rocks.

The Pampas

On the fourht day we left Rurrenabaque at 9 AM to Santa Rosa located by the Yacuma River – about 2,5 hours. A short boat ride to the camp site of Mashaquipe, lunch and the off on another boat ride (about 5 hours in total).

During the ride we saw several animals and the pampas wildlife, including turtles, monkeys, capybaras, alligators and many types of birds as well as the pink dolphins. Just before the sunset we stopped to fish for piranhas – fun experience 🙂

We got back during the which was quite an experience. Using the flashlight we saw the eyes of many nocturnal animals reflecting and appearing to glow.

On the last day we went to look for anacondas but unfortunately the weather wasn’t with us, so no anacondas…… :S

 

 

 

 

Lake Titicaca and the Floating Reed Islands (Uros)

August 11 to 13, 2016

I arrived in Puno on August 11 at 1 PM and I spent most of the afternoon struggling getting my visa in order. It had expired a couple of days earlier…. It is not the worst that can happen in Peru, you just have to pay 1 dollar a day that you expire your 90 days (or how many days you got when you arrived at the border). Normally it is accepted to pay once you get to the border, but there is a risk that they will ask you turn around and go back to nearest bank in Yunguyo. Since I was traveling with PeruHop/BoliviaHop, I didn’t want to take the risk as the bus wouldn’t wait for me – and also I planned on crossing the border on a Sunday…. 🙂 So I went to bank and realized that I had to go to the immigration office first…. Of course that was closed so I had to wait until later in the afternoon. Later I got my ticket from the immigration office that I had to pay in the bank (Banco de Nacional) a couple of hours and 4 dollars later I was good to cross the border 🙂

HOMESTAY IN AMANTANI ISLANDS IN LAKE TITICACA 

The main attraction in Puno is visiting the different islands in Lake Titicaca. It is known as one of the world’s highest navigable lakes.

Departure from Puno in the morning on a boat to the floating Reed Islands (Uros Islands) and a short visit to two of the islands including a boatride on the Contitik boat. After that a visit to Amantaní with a homestay as well and the next day a visit to Taquile Island. Return to Puno around 3 PM. Everything included – 37 USD 🙂



Uros Islands (the Floating Reed Islands)

Less a lake that a highland ocean, The Titicaca area is home to fantastical sights, but none more so than the surreal floating islands crafted entirely of tightly woven totora reeds. Centuries ago, the Uro people constructed the Islas Uros in order to escape more aggressive mainland ethnicities, such as the Icas. The reeds requirements near-constant renovation and are also used to build thatched homes, elegant boats and even archways and children’s swing sets. 

It was quite interesting visiting the Uros Islands and learn about how they build and maintain them. Every week they change the top layer of reed and every 10 years they have to rebuild the island. There are about 87 floating islands in the Lake Titicaca and 4-5 families living on each one.

Several places in the world it is getting more and more popular to offer a stamp in your passport of the tourist attraction (Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines) and of course now you can get. A stamp from the Uros Islands as well (see below).


Isla Amantaní 

The more remote Amantaní Island, popoulation 4000, is a few kilometers north of the smaller Taquile.

The villagers usually organize rousing traditional dances letting travelers dress in their traditional party gear to dance the night away.

The island is very quiet (no dogs allowed!!), boasts great views and has no roads or vehicles. Several hills are topped by ruins, among the highest and best-known of which are Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Pachacata (Father Earth). These date to the Tiwananku culture, a largely Bolivian culture that appeared around the Lake Titicaca and expanded rapidly between 200 BC and AD 1000.

As with Taquile, the islanders speak Quechua, but their culture is more heavily influenced by the Aymara.

We stayed one night on the island with our “mama” Ana-Maria. I shared a room with Jenn and Leah (US and Canada).


In the afternoon we hiked Pachacata and Pachama to see the sunset. Easy hike and great views!

View from Pachacata

There was a festival going on while we were there, celebrating the holidays of the island and it would last 3-4 days. Different dances and costumes during the daytime. For the night, there was arranged a fiesta for us with everyone wearing a local dress or poncho with local dances as well. Fun but nothing special.



Taquile Island

Inhabited for thousands of years, Taquile Island, 35km east of Puno, is a tiny 7-sq-km island with a population of about 2200 people. Taquile’s lovely scenery is reminiscent of the Mediterranean. In the strong island sunlight, the deep, red-colored soil contrasts with the intense blue of the lake and the glistening backdrop of Bolivia’s snowy Cordillera Real on the far side of the lake.

Several hills boast Inca terracing on their sides and small ruins on top. The natural beauty of the island makes it stand out. Quechua-speaking islanders are distinct from most of the surrounding Aymara-speaking island communities and maintain a strong sense of group identity. They rarely marry non-Taquile people.

Taquile has a fascinating tradition of handicrafts, and the islanders’ creations are made according to a system of deeply ingrained social customs. Men wear tightly woven woolen hats that resemble floppy nightcaps, which they knit themselves. These hats are closely bound up with social symbolism: men wear red hats if they are married and red and white hats if they are single, and different colors can denote a man’s current or past social position.

Taquile women weave thick, colorful waistbands for their husbands, which are worn with roughly spun white shirts and thick, calf-length black pants. Women wear eye-catching outfits comprising multilayered skirts and delicately embroidered blouses. These fine garments are considered some of the most well-made traditional clothes in Peru, and can be bought in the cooperative store on the island’s main plaza.

A short walk to Plaza de Armaz and then a hike around the island. Trucha (trout) for lunch and then back to Puno – about 2,5 hour boatride.


View of Lake Titicaca from Taquile
View of Lake Titicaca from Taquile
 

La Table del Inca
It is a French/Peruvian inspired cuisine and probably the best restaurant in Puno! I gave it 5 stars on Tripadvisor. I started off with the ceviche (“facon tartare”” of lake trout, walnut slivers, avocado foam and Andean cheese galette) – almost like “poke”. It was so tasty! For main course I had the Quinoto (risotto de quinoa) – a different experience and very interesting. It was an vegetarian dish but just a tasty. For dessert they had a few options as well – I had to choose between the chocolate “lava” and the crème brûlée with muña. Muña is a very common herb in Peru (like a mint) and is usually used for tea. However it wasn’t bad in a crème brûlée either – but very sweet 🙂

The Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) – Part 6 of 6 – Chinchero, Cusco

August 3, 2016 – “Valle Sagrado” – Part 6 of 6

I woke up early and left Maras at 6:30 AM. It is about 17 km from Maras to Chinchero, so I was expecting 3 hours or so. I stopped a few times to speak to some of the locals. They were very curious to know what I had been up to and where I came from. I guess they aren’t used to have that many tourists hiking the distance. Everyone thought I was crazy… Especially since it was possible to cover the same distance for 1-2 soles (50 cents…). 

The hike was just as beautiful as the other days and a bit more interesting this time. I wasn’t able to follow the route on my map, so I ended up crossing several fields in the middle of nowhere. I asked for directions a couple of times and managed to reach Chinchero just past 9:30 AM. Another great hike!!


Once I arrived in Chinchero, I had a short brea and some breakfast. My feet were killing me (blisters and tires), so I wasn’t too excited to visit the Chinchero Ruins – I just wanted to get back to Cusco and get some rest…. 

Oh well – I didn’t want to miss it! (And I am glad that I didn’t!!)

Chinchero Ruins

Known to the Incas as the birthplace of the rainbow, this typical Andean village combines Inca ruins with a colonial church, some wonderful mountain views and a colorful Sunday market. On a high plain with sweeping views to snow-laden peaks, it’s quite beautiful. Since it is very high, it’s unwise to spend the night until you’re somewhat acclimated. Entry to the historic precinct, where the ruins, the church and the museum are all found, is by the boleto turístico (boleto turístico (adult/student under 26 with ISIC card S130/70), valid for 10 days. Among the 17 sites included), valid for 10 days and covering 17 sites across the region, including Cuzco.

The streets of Chinchero and a magic potion (well concentrated coffee haha :))
The ruins of Chinchero

OK – time to head back to Cusco. I was lucky getting a collectivo just as I returned from the ruins. 3 soles and 1 hour later I arrived in Cusco.

16 days and close to 300 kilometers of walking – DONE! A few hours of rest, laundry and then food and beers – just AMAZING. Favourite spot in Cusco – Bar21 next to Plaza de Armas. A lot of different craft beers from all over Peru. The owner (Yann from France), started brewing beers some years back and it is now called Nuevo Mundo. Great food and beers! There is also a Nuevo Mundo bar in Lima close to Kennedy Park in Miraflores – also worth a visit!! Also if you are looking for a place to stay, then Dragonfly Hostel is recommended (Lima, Cusco and Arequipa), selling the same craft beers! (Nuevo Mundo, Sierra Andina, Barbarian etc.)

The Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) – Part 5 of 6 – Soqma, Moray, Maras

August 2, 2016 – “Valle Sagrado” – Part 5 of 6

I left Las Chullpas Eco Lodge at 7:30 AM and caught a collectivo to Pachar. At 8:15 AM, I started my real hike towards the waterfall (Perolnyioc), passing Naupa Iglesia and Soqma. 


Soqma is a small charming village. However when I got there I was met by quite a few drunken locals. Some festival was going on in the village and I think that they had been partying all night 🙂 Anyway – from the village to the waterfalls of Perolniyoc it took about 1 hour including a detour as well. The waterfall of Perolniyoc is 50 meter high and located at 3,520 meters above sea level and the archaelogical complex with the same name is located at 3,660 meters above sea level. Quite an amazing waterfall.


Back to the bridge and continued to Pumatales. From there it goes uphill to Quakllarakay for 8,6 km and total elevation gain of 900 meters. Some incredible views of Soqma and the opposite Mountain ridge as I was progressing uphill. Some very steep inclines on the way as well and it was tough as h…. However it took me “just” 2 hours to get to Quakllarakay where I had I short break buying some chocolate and some more water 🙂

Then I continued to Moray, approximately 3 km or so. Some even more amazing views of the country side as I got closer to Moray – see a few pictures below.


Moray

Moray or Muray (Quechua) is an archaeological site in Peru approximately 50 km northwest of Cuzco on a high plateau at about 3,500 meters and just west of the village of Maras. The site contains unusual Inca ruins, mostly consisting of several enormous terraced circular depressions, the largest of which is approximately 30 m deep. As with many other Inca sites, it also has a sophisticated irrigation system.

The purpose of these depressions is uncertain, but their depth, design, and orientation with respect to wind and sun creates a temperature difference of as much as 15 °C (27 °F) between the top and the bottom. It is possible that this large temperature difference was used by the Inca to study the effects of different climatic conditions on crops. Speculation about the site has led to discussion about Moray as an Inca agricultural experiment station. Its microclimatic conditions and other significant characteristics led to the use of the site as a center for the ancient study of domestication, acclimatization, and hybridization of wild vegetable species that were modified or adapted for human consumption.


Maras

Another 6 km or so and I almost managed to get lost… Well I did chose the wrong path but turned around and asked for directions and ended up crossing a few fields before I was back on track. I made it to Maras within an hour or so. Once I arrived in Maras I found a small Hospedaje next to the Plaza de Armas. Nothing special, but it had a bed and I only paid 20 soles (6 USD).

I was exhausted and needed some food and a beer. There weren’t that many options and the street food I saw, had hair in it, so I skipped the dinner…. Not the wisest thing to do when you have been hiking for 10 hours straight, 40 km and more than 2000 meters in elevation gain. Well I had some crackers and bought a few bananas and a large beer of course. Straight to bed and I think I slept almost 10 hours that night 🙂

The Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) – Part 4 of 6 – Urubamba, Pachar

July 29 to August 2, 2016 – “Valle Sagrado” – Part 4 of 6

Back in Urubamba after 4 days in Ollantaytambo. “Unfortunately” Las Chullpas Eco Lodge was full, so I got to stay another night in Hotel Pisonay Pueblo with Chloe etc. 🙂

On the way back near Pachar, I saw this alternative hotel on the hillside of the mountains. (About 300 USD for one night – next time :))


Ñaupa Iglesia in Pachar
Hidden high above a deep gorge in Urubamba is a little known Inca site called Ñaupa Iglesia.

In Urubamba, cross the Pachar Bridge over the Urubamba River. Entering the Huarocondo gorge by a dirt road, a 20 minute walk along train tracks and a rushing stream until agricultural terraces appear sitting high on the flank of a mountain. 

The gorge is spectacular with high mountains encroaching on every side.
There are quite a few stairs to climb before arriving at the beautifully carved altar, Ñaupa Iglesia.

The face of the boulder has a carved recess. Surrounding the recess are three steps on the left and three steps on the right, which are joined at the top. Imagine the upper half of a Chakana, the Inca cross, framing the recess.

The steps represent the three levels of the Andean world. The lower world or the underworld, the interior world (the Ukhu Pacha), the middle world or the world we live in (the Kay Pacha) and the upper world or celestial world (the Hanan Pacha).

The edges of the carvings are smooth, the angles precise.

A rectangular knob protrudes from each side of the wall adjoining the recess in the area of the lower world. Angled to the right of the face of the altar is a carved recess as tall as the top of the altar. To the left is another recess.

Unfortunately, someone blasted the top of the altar, but what remains is a perfectly sculpted structure.

To the right of the altar is a building with its stone work exposed. It has a row of four blank niches with three niches beneath them. The area where the fourth niche should be appears to have fallen down.

Facing the altar is a cave. To the left of the cave is a portal carved into the rock. Someone with a creative flair arranged offerings of five evenly spaced groups of three coca leaves covered by a small flower blossom around the door frame. There are three groups across the top of the frame and one on each side of the frame.

Offerings of three coca leaves with a blossom on top of each set of leaves are scattered on the recessed threshold of the portal. In their center is a shell filled with coca leaves and blossoms. The doorway looks like a picture frame showcasing the offerings on the threshold.

Words cannot do Ñaupa Iglesia justice. The gorge, the climb, the sudden arrival at the site, its breathtaking setting and its mood, all have to be experienced.


Sabor y control – Cerveceria del Valle
Saturday the Cerveceria hosted a monthly fiesta with a salsa band playing and a lot of great beers! A get-together for expats working in the Sacred Valley as well as other parts of Peru including brewers from all the other craft breweries as well.


Salineras de Maras

Beautiful hike to the Salineras from Urubamba along the river – about 3 hours in total.

History of the Salineras

Back in the 1400s even the amazingly clever Incas hadn’t figured out that salt might cause high blood pressure, but they knew it tasted good so they made and consumed a lot of it. Oh those were the days!

About 30 miles from Cusco you can tour the Salineras de Maras. Our group muddled out there on a gloomy day but, even in the gloom, the salt ponds were visually impressive. Per our guide, about 300 local families own the 3,000 ponds that are terraced down the hillside. The ponds are passed on to subsequent generations. (So if you get a flyer in the mail or a message in your Spam that someone wants to sell you one of these salt ponds you should be highly skeptical. Although if it’s a call from a telemarketer it’s probably legit.)

The Incas didn’t have a written language so knowing that they didn’t write anything that will contradict our explanation is rather freeing. So here it goes. It’s a chicken or egg thing. Did they know the hill was rich with salt or that a spring fed the hill? Or both?

El “Paraiso” (Paradise)

A secret place near Urubamba – it wasnt easy to find, but magical once I got there! Peaceful and only the sound of the river that couldnt be seen. Almost like being in the movie Avatar 🙂


Ruinas de Las Chullpas and the Eco Lodge

If you want to get away from city and stay next to the mountains and ruins, this is the place! I stayed here for 3 nights and did several hikes on my own, but also just relaxed in the garden. The lodge is next to the Las Chullpas ruins – a short hike that you can do in less than 1 hour or so. And you dont need a guide – However, if you want to – then just ask Julietta to take you and she will show you the way (btw Julietta is one of the dogs guarding the lodge :))

The lodge itself is magic and peaceful, different types of rooms with a fireplace as well – it is awesome 🙂 Mrs Nelly cooks for you, breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want – and both quality and price is good!

I planned to stay at lodge for just one night but ended up staying for three nights 🙂


The Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) – Part 3 of 6 – Ollantaytambo

July 25-29, 2016 – “Valle Sagrado” – Part 3 of 6

After a night in Urubamba (Hotel Pisonay Pueblo), I left the next morning for Ollantaytambo. A total of 20 km, so I had planned a stop in Pachar to visit the “Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado”.

A beautiful walk along the river and through small villages. A lot of crazy dogs on the way as well, so not too happy that I left my walking stick in Urubamba…. Oh well, I survived and I arrived in Pachar after a couple of hours (13 km). I found the brewery, but to my disappointment it was closed…. A sign with new opening hours said that it was open from Wednesday to Sunday…..

Walking along the railroad – Sabor y control – beer festival coming up at “del Valle” 🙂

After a short break I continued to Ollantaytambo by foot and arrived one hour later at the Inca Bridge where there was a dirt path leading uphill into the city. That was the walk of the day 🙂

Ollantaytambo 

I had planned to stay in Ollantaytambo for just a few days but I realized that there were way too many things to do, so I ended up staying for 4 nights instead 🙂

I found a decent guest house where I got a private room for 30 soles (10 USD) as my base (Hostal Andenes).

Ruins of Ollantaytambo

Next morning I started my hike early I was expecting it to be a long day. I was ready at the gate of the Ollantaytambo Ruins at 7 AM waiting for the site to open as I had seen the amount of tourists during day before.

Beautiful place as the sun was rising and only a few tourists!

The ruins of Ollantaytambo
The ruins of Ollantaytambo
The ruins of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru some 60 kilometers northwest of the city of Cusco. It is located at an altitude of 2,792 meters (9,160 feet) above sea level in the district of Ollantaytambo, province of Urubamba, Cusco region. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance.

Ruins of Pumamarca

After visiting the ruins of Ollantaytambo, I decided to visit the ruins of Pumamarca. It was a little bit further out of Ollantaytambo, so I was expecting a good hike! (3-4 hours)

The ruins of Pumamarca sit on a hillside overlooking the convergence of the Rio Patacancha and the Yuracmayo (White River). This well-preserved site is thought to have been a checkpoint to control access to Ollantaytambo. It is in the shape of a Puma and also derved as a place to store crops. The trail passes the Media Luna terraces and goes through Muscapujio, a hillside of over 100 narrow terraces.

Pumamarca ruins are about 2.5 hours from the Inca town of Ollantaytambo and it is one of the most popular of the Sacred Valley destinations. The area is very interesting because it is a place where the Spaniards suffered one of their few defeats in a direct confrontation with the Incas. Pumamarca is a fortress built on a steep slope, which was built to control the entrance to the Sacred Valley of the nearby jungle. A steep climb will be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view and the knowledge that you will be visiting a place known only to a few tourists.

Hike along the river – Puente a Puente riverwalk

An easy walk of a couple of hours along the far bank of Rio Urubamba westward from the Inca Bridge to a second bridge near the town of Rumira. From across the river, there are views of agricultural terraces, Inca ruins and the railway station.

Cachiccata Quarries and Inti Punku (The Sun Gate)

The Cachiccata Quarries or Las Canteras (“the Quarries”) were the source for the large granite stones used in the construction of Ollantaytambo. Many “Piedras Cansadas”, stones that never arrived at their final destination, can be seen en route to the Quarries. This trail offers great views of Ollantaytambo and the surrounding peaks as you gain altitude up the mountain. At the end of your journey sits Inti Punku, an ancient Incan ritual site situated on a ridge overlooking the glacier on Mount Veronica. On the ruins you can see marks in the stone where Incas would tie their wrists to practice their sunrise ritual.

Also, a burial site with skeletons can be found in a small cave on the right side of the trail. When locals visit this site, they sprinkle their ancestors’ remains with coca leafes and water.

Burial site
Stones from the Quarries that never made it to Ollantaytambo and views of the valley
Inti Punku – the Sun Gate and Apu Veronica (the mountain)


So the hike including Inti Punku is scheduled to take between 6 and 9 hours – However I made it to Inti Punku in less than 4, so I decided to continue towards the Peak and the ridge of the mountains. I had met some guides earlier on their way back to Ollantaytambo and some of them thought that I could make it to the top and still be back in Ollantaytambo before sunset, so why not!  🙂 (also from talking to them I understand that it was a circuit leading me back to Ollantaytambo).

The altitude of Inti Punku is 3925 meters and Ollantaytambo is about 2800 meter, so I had already done quite a few elevation meters but I was feeling great!!  I continued towards the top as it got more steep and the sun was burning! Also,, I only got a little water left…. Finally I made it to the top – more than 4500 meters in altitude! I was looking around, enjoying the views and the landscape and I couldnt see the path along the ridge leading to Ollantaytambo. I looked at my phone, it was 2:30 PM. Almost 6 hours to get here. My map showed 4 km to Ollantaytambo in a straight line – however. That wasnt an option as there was no path and had a decline of 1700 meters ahead of me…

I had three options: 1. Follow the ridge as the guides had told me (no path), 2. Continue in the direction of the other mountains leading to Soqma and Pachar (further away from Ollantaytambo or 3. Play it safe and take the same path back to Ollantaytambo (still about ​18 km and 1700 meters in decline.

I chose the safe option and started running back to Ollantaytambo, praying that I would beat the sunset :). I also managed to have some fun on the way back playing with my own shadow haha (yeah I am still a kid inside :))


Had I known that I would have to climb to 4500 meters and return of the path, I would probably not have done it… 🙂 Well I made it back safe to Ollantaytambo before sunset and got a cold beer from Cerveceria del Valle 🙂

Later that night I learned that it wasnt possible to follow the ridge but what the guides had been trying to tell me, was that I could follow the other path to Pachar, but usually that would be a 3 day trip… Happy I chose the safe option – lost in translation 🙂

9 hours hike, 35 km and more than 2000 meters in elevation gain – what a day 🙂


Pinkuylluna (Storehouses)

Again an early start of the morning before headed back to Urubamba including a stop at the Cerveceria del Valle in Pachar.

Pinkuylluna is the group of the Inca ruins that can be seen m Ollantaytambo on the hillside opposite the fortress. This hike passes multiple Inca sites that are believed to have been built in the 15th century. In addition to the many ancient ruins, this hike also offers great views of Ollantaytambo and the fortress. 

The Incas built several storehouses (Quechua: qollqa) out of fieldstones on the hills surrounding Ollantaytambo. Their location at high altitudes, where there is more wind and lower temperatures, defended their contents against decay. To enhance this effect, the Ollantaytambo qollqas feature ventilation systems. It is believed that they were used to store the production of the agricultural terraces built around the site. Grain would be poured in the windows on the uphill side of each building, then emptied out through the downhill side window.

The Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) – Part 2 of 6 – Coya, Lamay, Calca and Urubamba

July 22-24, 2016 – “Valle Sagrado” – Part 2 of 6

During my stay in Cuyo Chico (Pisac), I wasnt feeling too well, so it didnt quite start off as planned. After the first 3 days, I had only walked a total of 20 km…

I was feeling better (at least I thought), so I decided leaving Pisac, making my way to Urubamba to meet a friend that I had met on the trek to Choqequirao. On the way to Urubamba I planned to visit the small villages, Coya, Lamay and Calca.

The route to my first stop in Coya wasnt that long and I started my walk on the mainroad in the boiling hot sun. I turned down someone who was offering a ride, something I did regret minutes later. However, (as some may know) I am “little” stuburn, so I continued my walk and didnt look for another ride. I was starting feeling really bad, stomach cramps, the sun was killing me, but finally I made it to Coya – hours later…

View of the ruins in Pisac and on the road

I found a small guest house and got a private room. The hike almost killed me and I had to stay an extra day at the hostel doing absolutely nothing…. Not my plan… But the next day I was feeling way better and did close to 20 km, walking to Urubamba. I passed the villages Lamay and Calca, nice villages but nothing too exciting, so just a quick stop.
Statues in Coya and scenery leaving Coya
 

I made it to Urubamba early in the afternoon and I met up with Fabrizzio from the Choqequirao trek.

Fabrizzio and Nancy are running the beautiful Hotel Pisonay Pueblo as well as Las Chullpas Eco Lodge. The hotel is location near Urubamba. The rooms are amazing, the surroundings are beautiful, the atmosphere is magical, the food is great, the staff kind and helpful and then ofcourse Fabrizzio and Nancy who are running the hotel – absolutely faboulous!!! Also they make one of the best Pisco Sours in Peru 🙂 And dont forget the alpacas running around on the property 🙂 I will be back (actually been there twice during my visit in the Sacred Valley).


While staying at Pisonay Pueblo, I was recommended to stay at Las Chullpas Eco Lodge as well. I planned to spend just one night but ended up staying 3 nights. Beautiful place as well and a little further up in the mountains close to Las Chullpas Ruinas. Peaceful!!

Hotel Pisonay Pueblo and the alpacas (my new love – Chloe :))