Archive for June, 2015

Peru Episode 2: Cuzco and the Sacred Valley

June 21st, 2015

We arrived in Cuzco in mid-afternoon and by the time we settled into our hotel (right next to Plaza De Armas) and met our tour leader Holy for a quick orientation chat, it was already dark.  We decided to go for a stroll and discover the immediate neighborhood around the hotel.  We also wanted to scope out several restaurants in the area and decide where we would eat.

Near the hotel, we saw our first Inca Wall, down a narrow pedestrian street.  Little did I know when I took this picture that somewhere down the wall on the right there is a 12-cornered stone – we found it later…

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A little further, in the square in front of the Monasterio Hotel where we will be staying later, there were school children hard at work rehearsing a dance routine.  We saw several such events in the next few days and were told that it is not unusual for classes to organize something special for “Mother’s Day” which would be celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

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Plaza de Armas – the central square in today’s Cuzco (actually it was already the central square in Inca Times too).

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Before dinner, we had a drink in a cafe overlooking the Plaza; Cuzco is surrounded by hills and one of these is visible on the left.  In the distance, a statue of Christ (similar to, but smaller than the one in Rio) seemed to float above the city like a ghostly figure.

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The next day, Bee and I explored the city on our own.  We first stopped at an attraction that is not in any of our guides as it was only discovered and developed a few years ago.  Right in the centre of Cuzco, the remains of several Inca houses have been discovered.  The site is called Kusicancha and I was able to find very few references to it even on Google search!  The church in the background is Santo Domingo, part of the Qorikancha Complex which we will visit later with our group.

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Peru Episode 1: The Amazon Forest

June 6th, 2015

Bee and I recently came back from a great trip to Peru.  We stayed there for three weeks and had wonderful experiences everywhere we went.  We had more adventures at some point than we had anticipated (more on that later) but all in all it was a wonderful trip.

I will separate the trip in reasonable bites so that I do not bore anybody with endless photos and commentaries.  It will also allow me to issue these blogs more regularly, rather than all at once at the end.

After a 30+ hour trip, we finally arrived in Puerto Maldonado, near the Brazilian and Bolivian borders, on the East side of the Andes and smack at the Western end of the Amazon Rain Forest.  We left the office on Friday evening at about 18:30 Brussels time and flew to London, then Bogota, then Lima and finally Puerto Maldonado where we were met by the representative of the Riserva Amazonica, one of the resorts situated along the Rio Madre de Dios and where we would be staying for three nights.  The is probably the least typical Peruvian portion of our trip; it is a first introduction to the Amazon jungle for both of us.

After a short bus ride from the airport, we boarded a small boat for the final leg to the resort.  You got to admit that Bee still looks good on the boat after 30+ hours of travel!

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Just next to where we boarded the boat, there was the one and only bridge across the Madre de Dios River.  Nice bridge, the same colour as the Golden Gate bridge, and similar construction.  Puerto Maldonado is only 250 m above sea level (the lowest by far we will be on this whole trip) and much closer to the Pacific Ocean (only 600 km) but the Rio Madre de Dios flows into the Amazon and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean, more than 2600 km away. For the mathematicians out there, this is equivalent to an average slope of only 0.01% for all this water to flow into the Atlantic Ocean.

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The sun was setting as we motored towards the resort.  With storm clouds in the distance, it made for a nice combination.

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We decides to start our trip in Puerto Maldonado as it was expected to be the most relaxed part of the trip.  This would also give us a chance to recover from jet-lag.  When we arrived at the resort, we were told that tomorrow’s activity would start at 6:00 AM, with 5:00 AM breakfast; we thought “No Problems, we will be awake at 3:00 AM anyway” so we immediately signed up.

We started by crossing the Madre de Dios river and ran into many cranes, flying overhead and nesting in the tress.  On the picture on the right, the crane is actually landing, but not on the nest that is right below it – it continued to float past it to another hidden nest further down the tree.

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On the river bank, we saw a small crocodile and I caught a kingfisher in mid-flight – it is actually the same as the one on the branch on the right.

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