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The Amazon Jungle

8:27 am Filed under: General

Back here in Cusco again taking it easy after our Jungle expedition, the trip was great, we got to see many many awesome creatures and jungle scenery.

The trip started on the wrong foot though with the cachup drinks with the inca trail group getting a little out of hand, we got home at 2:30am for our 5:00am pickup way too drunk too pack we hit the sack… we awoke not to our alarm at 4:00 with enough time to pack, but to the pickup driver banging on our door… what followed was a mad scramble to shove stuff in a pack and get out, as a consiqence we had no idea what we?d actually packed. Turned out we did pretty well, over packing rather than leaving out.

From here onto our small 20 seater 4×4 bus (not well setup for tall people I?ll add) for the first 8 hours of our jorney, we slept a bit but the windy road across the Andies was rough, I slept in some weird position and somehow managed to pinch a nerve in my back just to make it a little more uncomfortable. We stayed the night in the upper jungle (on the east side of the Andies) in these nice little humpy/lodges with mosqito netted beds and no windows or doors for that matter.

This style of lodging was standard through out the trip bar one night in tents on the river bank on the second night, but this first night had no where near the level of bugs and insects we?d meet on the rest of the trip.

Second day consisted of another 5 hours on that fricken bus with a breif stop for last minute supplies, the rest of the traveling was to be by boat so Zetty and I grabbed a crate of 1.1 litre Ceversa and some sprite, a bottle of Rum (which was cheaper than one of the beers and as nasty as you?d expect for the price) some coke and a bottle of wine… we were met with some strange looks and sniggers when we carried it onto the bus.

Once we got on the boat Zetty and I quickly nabbed pole position in the front, plenty of room for the crate of piss and prime possy for spotting animals, 5 minutes after the boat headed up the river we ripped the scab of the first beer and so started the animal spotting.

Our group lead by Ruby (5 foot nothing macheti wielding peruvian bush woman) consisted of 6 older Germans (5 women and Migel) and Victor the Russian, nice enough poeple but they were completly dead weight in the animal spotting, Zetty and I had to rely on each other, the guide and Ricardo (the boat driver) for all animals we saw. I think Zetty and I did pretty bloody well in fact claiming at least 50% of the spots.

The rest of the trip consisted of early boat rides to various camps, quick rest and a bush walk, lunch and a little siesta in the hottest part of the day with another walk and perhaps a catamaran paddle around a lake before dinner then bed ready for another early start. I think the latest we got up the whole trip was 5:00am, not a bad thing when it?s so muggy, you basicaly can?t do anything from 12:30 to 2:30, just laying in you?re bed snoozing is enough to make you sweat!

Through out these trips we spotted some awesome animals, the Germans and Ruby were a little too into birds so we saw plenty of them, the monkeys were my favorites, we saw 4 different types and most of them we saw numerous times, each time they?d be up to something else.

We saw the worlds biggest rodent the Cabavari (the size of a pig), the worlds biggest ant the Cobra Ant, the worlds biggest Otter the Giant Otter, Wild pig thing, white and black Caymon (Crocks), Pirana, Turantula (scary because to find them we went to our huts!), a snake of some sort (didn?t get a good enough look to id), Army Ants that clear a path for them selves, Fire Ants, millions of butter flies, hundreds of spiders, millipiedes the size of my pinky finger and a shit load of birds!!!

Again it?s a thing that you can?t convey well enough to do it justice, you really have to be there to get it, the jungle we were in is not that unlike parts Dantree rain forest in Australia just filled with different stuff.

Unfortunaly we didn?t get to spot a big cat dispite our best efforts, it?s just luck of the draw I guess.

Can?t wait to get some of the photos developed I was pretty snap happy and playing with many of the settings of our big camera, I think there?ll be some pearlers.

I know you can?t go to the Amazon and complain about the heat and insect bites but man it certainly makes it pretty damn uncomfortable, during the day especialy down on the water you?re constantly surrounded in a cloud of sand flies, these tiny little flies (smaller than a midgy you can hardly see them) unbelivably bite like a mosquito.

Then at night they change shifts with the mosquitos, basically you?ve gotta be in long pants and long sleved shirt the whole time, I didn?t actaully have anything other than t-shirts so had to poison myself constantly with the mega strong (80% deet) repelent we took, I was a bit concerned when the outside of my pen began to melt during a jornal entry after leaving the deet residue on my hands! All in all we did pretty well for bites with only a dozen or so each.

Well that was mostly it, we seemed (at the moment anyhow) to have returned tropical desease free and without being inpregnated with spider eggs or fly larva… bonus!

Had an awesome time.

Inca Trail

5:21 am Filed under: Uncategorized

Were back in Cusco at the moment, returned from Machapitchu last night and are heading to Manu (Amazon Jungle reserve) tomorrow morning.

The 4 day Inca trail trek was great, even though it pored rain no stop for 2 of the days…

Day one was really cruisy with half the day spent on the bus and getting everything sorted, a nice easy 12k walk, the scenery on this day wasn?t all that spectacular but we weren?t in the real mountains or on the real Inca trail yet (this part of the trail was only built 8 years ago).

This first day we began to witness the freakish power of the porters (13 for our small 7 person group), each one carries 25kg on their back, not in a nice neat backpack mind you, they use blankets and tarps to wrap up the gear and either make makshift straps or wrap it around their body. Then they run up the trail…

We?d get to our lunch spot and the kitchen and eating tents would be setup and the table set, we?d eat and rest then head off, they?d have it all packed up then run past you on the trail and it?d be all set up again by the time you reached the next camp spot… oh did I mention that most of them don?t have real shoes either, they wear these rubber sandles that look like they?re made from recycled tires, this was even more impressive on the second and third days when the heavens opened up and the trail got steeper, they still managed to run past you on the trail.

We did see one poor porter (not one of ours) getting streachered back up the trail by 4 porters, apparently he went down on a steep section and compound fractured his leg… nasty but I?m suprised it didn?t happen more often.

Most of our group got through the first day pretty fresh, with the exception of Joanna (Indian decended pom) who was already having trouble with her knees, not good considering it was pretty much the easiest day.

Overnight on the first night the rain started to come down, we started out pretty dry on the second day but everyone was pretty much drenched by the end. We had to cross dead womans pass(the highest point of the trek at 4200 metres) in the hail, as we got over the crest the hail was horizontal and pelting us in the face, we didn?t bother hanging around for the view we high tailed i down to the camp spot. Apart from the bad weather this day was pretty scenic as we passed through the “micro climate area” up the valley, this was a sort of high altitude jungle area with dense folage, lots of parasitic plants hanging from the twisting trees and a beautiful stream running through it, stark contrast to the baron high land grass that surounded us as we got higher.

Having not hung around on the trail we arrived at camp extra early, we changed into some dry duds, setup our sleeping bags and checked their warmth with a little snooze. Afterwards we headed to the food tent to meet up with the others, most faired well although a little damp, Joanna again found it pretty hard arriving some time after the rest of us with Terry in tow.

After settling in with some card games we asked one of the porters if there was any Cervesa (beer) available at this camp, he ducked off and promptly returned stating they were 9 soles each, no worries we promptly order a round for everyone, after he ran off we started to wonder what type of beer they were as the mountain people make thier own from purple corn, to our relief he returned with arms full of 1.1 litre bottles of Cusce?a (a nice local larger), it was a nice night as we started to make friends with all the members of the group, James, Dilwyn (D man), Marrie, Joanna and Terry.

We set out the next morning in our wet gear from the day before in the rain, not so pleasent but this day we started on the real Inca trail, the real trail made all that we?d passed before look very half arsed, the trail itself was much better put together and hugged the mountain sides, passed through caves and ruins. Some sections you were on the 1.5 metre wide rock path with the mountain on one side and a hundred or so metre drop on the other (we couldn?t always see how far due to the clound cover that continued to pore rain down on us), We were supposed to check out another ruin half way through this day but seeing we were saturated and our destination was a proper shelter with a bar we skipped it, breifly stopped for lunch and headed for camp, Zetty and I had gotten a little cold through lunch and headed out a little faster to warm up, we ended not seeing too many other people for the rest of the day, it was nice to have the trail to ourselves for a bit.

We reached the camp a few minutes ahead of James and D, just enough time for me to have the massive dump that had been troubling me for the last hour. We had a half arsed look for the camp and headed to the bar, after the terrible weather we had resigned to the fact that we were not going to see anything at Machapitchu so decided to get pissed!

And pissed we got, after a few rounds of social drinks we started playing to variation of poker where you bet for fingers of beer, we had a fair few with this game then dinner was ready, after dinner some bright spark decided to by our guide a tequila shot, this led on to many more… not sure how many I had but I don?t remember leaving for bed… and I lost my llama.

I woke up very disoriented, still very drunk and busting for a pee… I searched in the dark with my hands for a torch then failing that for the door, no luck there either I seemed to be trapped in some sort of doorless black cube and things were getting desperate, at this point I felt and pair of legs that weren?t mine on the floor of the tent… shaking them and bluntly asking were the door was Zetty arose with light allowing me to escape to much relief.

The rest of the night was uneventfull but when the 4am wakeup call came around and we still heard rain on the tent I was far from motivated. I didn?t feel all that bad I think I was still pretty drunk.

Once we got going the final part of the trail was really nice and the rain started to let up, to our suprise by the time we reached the sun gate we could actually see Machapitchu, the clouds were shifting across in clumps so if you timed your run right you got a great view, the clouds came over when we got to Machapitchu so we headed down to the gate for a snack and a toilet break, then back up to explore the ruins with Javier (our guide), fortunatly the clouds once again cleared for us and we got to explore the ruins properly and took heaps of photos, the ruins are amazing but hard to make sound interesting. Lots of rocks.

We headed for lunch just as the big crowds arrived and took it easy for the rest of the day with a visit to the local hot springs… nice.

Well that pretty much sums up our Inca trail experiance, it was really wet and unforgetable.

Yoshi and the DS

4:59 am Filed under: Uncategorized

One thing that is essential on these trips is a mobile gamming platform, this trip has been the first real test for my DS outside of playing it on the toilet. It’s passed with flying colours, the play and stand by time is fantastic and the screens look great in all light conditions.

On the way out I picked up and copy of Yoshi touch and go, it’s filled in many hours for both Zett and myself as we’ve been waiting around airports and buses. It’s a strange mix of puzzle and action with a very score based replay factor and randomised levels, it’s worked well as both Zett and myself learnt to play at the same time and we’ve been fighting each other for the high scores list.

At the moment I think Zett holds most of the records after a late night session while I was sleeping, I’ve gotta put in a concerted effort today and regain some of them.

Of course I’ve put in a few rounds of advance wars, It’s by far the best game I’ve played on a portable platform, I’m hoping to pick up the new DS version on the way home.

Cusco pre Inca trail

4:36 am Filed under: Uncategorized

Just got in to Cusco on an overnight bus, first class seats so we got a little sleep but thats the 4th night in a row we’ve not had a proper sleep (night bus to Ariquiper, pickup for canyon trek at 2 am, hike out of canyon at 3am, night bus to Cusco), we’re at Zett’s mates hostel now abusing the free internet while we wait for them to setup for breakfast. We’ll get a good sleep tonight.

So basically since the last email we’ve had a wander around Ariquipa checking out the “frozen princess” (Frozen mummy they found up on some mountain, “Perfectly preserved” they said but I though she seriously needed a chap stick and some moisturiser) and the convent (big rabbit warren of a place…. nice enough but it’s just a building, the real nuns live in a secret section), that night the nuns put on a fire works display(Zetty doesn’t think it was the nuns but I recon it was). They had this strange bamboo structure that had fireworks (pin wheels, rockets, fountains etc) stuck all over it that they set off in sequence, pretty mad seeing it was right in the tight city streets, the coolest thing was as we were checking it out from the roof of our hostel we noticed about 20 nuns hanging out on the roof of the convent also checking it out… it was cool.

Next we headed to the Colca Canyon for an overnight hike, 7 hours hiking down one side and up along the other side with a little stop in the middle in a quant little town (no roads in there bar the goat track we walked, no power) for lunch, the lunch was suprising good with delicious soup and alpaka steaks. The final destination for the first day was the “Oasis”, it literally was an oasis lush green grass and trees and a fresh water swimming pool which was feed via a system of aquaducts from the near by water fall. After hiking through dry dust desert all day we dove straight into the pool and grabbed a beer from the shop (were they seemed to think storing the beers in a bucket of water will somehow keep them cool, obviously there’s no ice there). After a decent dinner with some more alpaka we retired early to our bamboo humpy, up at 2:30 to hike out to grab breakfast then head to the Condor lookout. The whole hike was very nice with a nice veriaty of terrain (rocky steps and paths clinging to the side of massive cliffs, thick bush and local houses, pulled up a little sore but nothing too bad.

The Condors really put on a show for us, even though there were a heap of people on the lookout they glided over head and buzzed the tower plenty of times, there were 4 at the peak, they’re bloody huge!

Called in to the hot springs for a relax and a beer half way home, it was a great way to break up the bumpy 7 hour bus ride…. they don’t accomodate for 6′4″ tall people on the buses here seeing the average Peruvian is lucky to be 5′5″.

Just been out grabbing a few last minute things for the Inca trail tomorrow, unfortunatly Zetty’s a bit crook in the guts so has spent the day resting, I’m sure she’ll be right for tomorrow after catching up on some sleep.

Nazca

11:07 am Filed under: Uncategorized

Here in Nazca at the moment waiting to head out to the spooky “Inca Cemetary”. I think it?s going to be dodgie but our night bus doesn?t leave till 10:30 tonight so we?ve got plenty of time to kill.

We just got back from flying over the Nazca lines, really interesting stuff lots of really big geometric shapes with a few figures dotted around them, no idea why their there but it must have taken them a long time to do and they did a really good job of keeping them bloody straight for so many k?s.

Well since the last mail we?ve been Mountain biking down pre Inca paths and fences in the Cordilia Negra (bloody awesome!!!), took the road… well and… bus less traveled to Hauraz(7 hours on gnarly narrow dirt roads through the hills), I?ve have the squirts and the fever, got a filling in my tooth while waiting for a bus, Zetty disbanded her tour and crawled around in some anchient tunnels in 3000 year old ruins, tore our cake holes larger and filled them with sand sandboarding on the dunes in Ica, saw a bazilion birds, guano and sea lions, gazed apon a 160m tall 2000 year old “candleabra” carved into the sea side and spent a nice afternoon drinking beer by the pool hanging shit on the Israilies!

It?s been a fun week.

Now the mountain biking was blody great, good bikes (Specialised Stumpjumper duelies), great trails and a great Guide. We were wording them up from the first moment that we were expericanced and wanted to hit some single track, we booked one of the standard tours where they drive you up to the top and you traverse (mostly down) and descend back to town on double track. He assured us that he had some single track that diverged off the main course, they must get a lot of show boaters there so he checked us out on the traverse from a distance then once he was sure we weren?t full of shit we dove off the track, we didn?t hit double track for 2 hours…. bloody awesome!

Some seriously rocky terrain and rock step drops, most of the tracks were walk tracks for the local hill people, we passed by heaps of them along the way, and donkeys, and groups of school kids (who threw Zetty with poo), dudes cutting down big trees with axes. We cut down through a lot of houses and mini farms from the hills to the city… from smooth hill trails to mega steep descents loaded with loose rocks… simply an amazing ride.

We signed up for another ride but I went down on a fever hairball the night before and we couldn?t go!

—-message interupted due to internet place closing for an afternoon siesta—

We`re back from the dodgie grave yard tour, actually turned out to be pretty good, the guide spoke good english and gave us a good history lesson. The grave yard was a desert plain with sink holes dotted throughout, these holes are tombs were the mumified remains of the pre-inca peruvians were buried, unortunatly (like the Egyptions) most of the tombs were raided by grave robbers, human bones and hair, ceramics and cloth are strewn everywhere, half burried in the sand… the (very) dry conditions here preserve the remains. Interesting but pretty sad seeing there are so many artifacts litterally laying around getting destroyed by the sun and no money to collect and study them.

Back to the past few days, the bus we caught from Mancora was pimp delux, the first bus I`ve seen with sleeper chairs (like a business class plane) and a hostess, even got surved hot coffee and a snack pack on the road… however the second bus we got was the other end of the scale it was the next bus from the terminal heading to our desination so we jumped on it, not realising it takes the most direct but also the worst route to Hauraz(we checked the lonley planet afterwards and it said it wasn?t recommended), rough, rocky, twisting single lane dirt road that hugged to the sides of the baren moutains, I couldn?t believe they take busses up there, on the sharp corners the driver gives a good toot to make sure the coast is clear…. it was during this 7 hours of road that I started to realise all wasn?t well in bottom town…. with many grumbles and grones permiating from my bowel… I started to realise that second prawn cocktail wasn?t a good idea!

Thankfully I managed (with some discomfort) to make it through the bus trip with relativly clean underpants (no poos just sweat!). After initially “cleaning out the system” I wasn?t really feeling all that bad just a little off colour and some mad water arse! So I soldered on and toughed out the bike ride mentioned before, unfortunatly this just sent me on a one way path to level 2… the FEVER

I?ll try and keep it short but I started to get the chills about 8:30 that night while haviing a chat to this really interesting Belgium guide who had been laid up in his room for 3 days with similar symptoms, sitting there next to a guy with a t-shirt on, with my thermal and puffy jacket on I started to suspect something (after speaking to a pom who had been stuck up in a tent on a mountain for 2 days with a similar thing and a mad Israilie, and 2 Canadians with Typhoid) and retired to the sanctuary of bed… here the adventure really began…. mad fever… Zetty said I wasn?t rambling but I?m sure I was… my mind was all over the place!

I made it through the night but was in no shape for a second days ride, Zetty grabbed me some stomach medicine and drinks then burnt me for a tour out to Chavin de Huantar (3000 year old temple, with cool underground tunnels). She took her little head light and soon got sick of the spanish only guide and took off on her own little adventure. Sounded pretty cool.

After a good days rest I felt heaps better and we got the night bus down to Ica were we stayed at this cool desert oasis called Huacachina, here we did the sandboarding and dune buggy ride, both were alright.

The next day with did a tour to pisco with a boat ride out to these bird and sealion infested islands, the boat reminded me a lot of the “ripid jit” boats in New Zealand… didn?t quite seem big enough for the open sea to me. The tour was pretty cool with us witnessing the greatest ubundance of bird and sealion wildlife we will ever witness… and weird spiders that look like crabs.

After drinking heaps and heaps of lemonade during the recovery from the FEVER one of my front teeth started to give me some trouble, I was going to wait till Cusco to look up a dentist but as chance would have it as we were waiting for the bus back to Ica there was a dentist over the road, we had 40 minutes to wait so I ducked in phrase book loaded to the dentist section, when I entered stuttering from the phrase book that I had a cavity and pointing to my tooth he directed me straight into the chair, after a 10 second inspection he grabbed the drill and started buzzing away… 15 minutes and $15 (40 Soles) later I?m back out on the street with my brand spanking new tooth!

A different type of souvenir but a fun experience.

Dodgie Pedro

5:18 am Filed under: Uncategorized

Hola from Peru,

Here in Mancora on the beach, stark contrast to the high altitude Andies, it?s muggy, warm, nice sandy beaches, bikini babes and surf bums…

Been here a couple of days taking it nice and easy, drinking beer and watching the kite boarding on the beach and gorging ourselves with mega fresh seafood, it?s all pretty hard to take!

We bused it out of Banos down to the Peruvian boarder, we?ll that kinda how it happened… our bus driver and cronies decided an hour before we reached our final destination that they didn?t want to go all the way, so pulled up at the bus station a couple of towns before and started unloading all the gear, it took us a while to catch on to what was going on, this group of women kept saying “Noooo” yada yada yada “Noooo”, our Spanish is getting better but we had no idea what they were saying, next thing half the people on our bus jumped on the bus infront, it took off before we could get our bags, then some other guy rolled up and said the bus was going the end, then the driver said it wasn?t…. I?m standing out of the bus now giving the driver my best death stare, arms up in the air repeating the name of the town on the border we wanted to get to…. next thing another bus pulls up (I think it was the one from before) and they shuffled us on ( I made sure the dodgy brothers from the first bus paid for our ride).

Now the angry group of women from before also got shuffled onto this bus, but on their way out of the other bus they stole the keys from the ignition, our bus made it one stop before one of the cronies of the driver caught the bus on foot, pissed off!!! Got on the bus demanding the keys back, the women held out though and didn?t give them back, told the guy some blinky blonkey story and he went… I?ve got no idea what happend to the bus with no keys as we were 8 hours from where we caught the bus initially… be warned… Equidorian women are vindictive!!!

The second bus ride was non-eventful although a little crowded, only problem was that due to the shenanegans it was almost midnight, we got dropped in the middle of town(there were no barrels burning but the “badlands” vibe was definetly there), with our packs on our backs and our very basic Spanish we found a cab and some how worked out the formalities of the migration to Peru.

At about half past 12 we made it to Peru, the boarder town on the Peru side looked worse than “Badlands” in Equador… we were imediatly approched by 3 guys… offering lifts, Mancora ( the beach side town we?re at now ) was 100ks away and we started to negotiate a price, Pedro was the only one that spoke any english and agreed to $30 US for the journey.

So started another chapter in our journey, old Pedro was a little loose, first thing was a stop at a “petrol station”, it was a mate of his a few streets back with a little stall on the side of the road with bottles of petrol, coke bottles, milk bottles… pored through stockings to filter it.

Then we hit the road, about 15 minutes into the jorney he hangs out the window and flags down the car heading the other direction, it was his “brother” and we had to swap cars… dunno what the go was but the second car was in a little better nick… after another stop for petrol and organising his “mix” tapes (Cranberies, the Eagles and an asortment of latin music, which he sang along to the whole time!), Oh and the free from spanish rap that he did at one point, we were finaly on the road.

Then the next town (it?s about 1 am now) he vears off the main road through town in to some back streets to take us to his mates kebab shop (we were getting a spanish lesson the whole way, through his little english and our limited spanish), lucky for us his mates shop was closed and we got back on the road…

All went well (all be it a little slow 80km/h) the rest of the journey as Pedro sang for us and taught us spanish, we finally made it to the Hostel (Sol y Mar, right on the beach) at about 2:30am… as we paid Pedro tried to pull a swifty on us and said the the price we negotiated was for each person… we prompty reminded him it wasn?t and left him on the street, it?s a pitty as I was going to get a photo of him…

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