Traveling between different worlds

In Lima we’ve been back to civilization. I met my old Hungarian friend Tamas and he showed us some Peruvian culture and introduced us to Pisco, the schnapps from Peru. Our flight was leaving the next day at 6 in the morning and I think the Pisco and the lack of sleep were the reasons why I felt terrible while having one of the most impressive flights over the Andeans to Cuzco. When we arrived there, we had to fight with the high altitude of 3500 meters plus it was very cold. The streets where full of tourists and inka vendors in the typical dresses, for us it was a bit too much and we caught some sleep to discover the beautiful city of Cuzco with all its colonial buildings and remains of the Inka culture. Again at night it was super cold (around 10 degrees, but wind) and I was totally not used to temperatures like that, that I spend my money to buy some warm Alpaca-wear, even that I looked like a hippy after that.

In the last years the ruins of Machu Picchu, which are only 3 hours from Cuzco became more and more famous and millions of tourist go to Peru, only to visit this impressive place. I’ve already been there, but my two colleagues not, that’s why Machu Picchu was again on my road. But the Peruvian government takes more than enough profit out of this and raises the prices, also the rail company who provides trains to Aquas Calientes, from where you can reach the ruins. The entrance of Machu Picchu is plus a bus who brings you up around 60€. And for the train, who goes 90 minutes you pay minimum 40€ one-way. That’s too much. Well for the entrance of the ruins we had no choice, but there was a cheap way to go to Aquas Calientes, which needs 5 hours more, but was, as usual when you travel on a budget level, a big experience. First we took a bus, which was like always super late (Ticket vendor: Bus is leaving in this moment; finally left 70min later)… But the bus ride was very impressive: First up from 2700meter to 4300meter then down up to 1250 meter. The views we’ve got where amazing! Once we left the bus, we found ourselves in one of the collectives who bring you to electric power craft, from where a train goes to Aquas Calientes. This tour was crazy too, cause the small street went through the mountains and to the left it goes more than 200 meters down. And from time to time we had some big trucks that came from the other direction and it was quite difficult to pass each other. From the train station it was a 30 minutes expensive train ride or a 2 hours hike on the rails. We decided to walk and it was cool. The mountain scenery was beautiful and the nature great. In the dawn we arrived to Aquas Calientes – a bit tired but full of impressions 🙂

The next day we started very early to see the ruins. Unfortunately it was raining and we were not the first at the ruins. But for 10 minutes the rain stopped and the clouds showed us this impressive place for some minutes. We were almost alone and for a couple of minutes we totally enjoyed that place. When the rain started again we waited in the line to climb the Wayna Picchu, the big mountain next to the ruins. When they opened the gate (only 400 are allowed to climb the mountain per day) they told us that we need extra tickets, which are already sold out. A bit pissed we left to discover the ruins in rain and the sun gate, which is one hour hike from the ruins. There I sacrificed some urine to the Inka goods to send us some sun and yeah – 10 minutes later the clouds began to go away and the sun came out! We were happy and explored the complex. Even if it was the second time for me – It was great and an unique moment.

We took the 40€ train back to a village with “O” (I forgot the name, it’s very difficult), we discovered the place and choose another crazy driver to go back to Cuzco from where we took a night bus to Bolivia. Country number 40 on my list. We didn’t know that we should have a 2 hours stay in the ice cold bus station of Puno from 5 to 7 in the morning. But somehow the time passed by while the ticket vendors cried out their destination which was sometimes funny, sometimes annoying.

When we arrived in Bolivia we realized soon that everyone tries to fool us to get our money or that you have to pay for every small thing. We had to be to enter the village of Copacabana, for every bathroom we used and for entering the Isla del Sol (Sun Island) from where the Inka-Empire started, as a guide told us later. Before we booked the boat ride and a ticket to La Paz in Copacabana and the first price we’ve got was more than the double we paid at the end after asking at different places for the price.

The ride to the Isla del Sol was long but the landscape great. After a while we could see the high peaks of some mountains with an altitude of 6000 meter and more. On the island we hired a guide (or he hired us) which explained a lot about the place where once the Inkas started to exist. It was again quite hard to translate everything correct to German, but I hope I managed it somehow good. The way back from the island we chilled on the roof of the boat and caught the last sun rays of the day. The bus to La Paz later had to cross the Titicaca lake again, but on a separate ferry. We had to go by a different boat and there were biiig waves that we almost kick out the boat. But we also survived that and arrived tired in La Paz. That’s the deal if you traveling a long route and don’t have too much time: You’re always on the road and don’t have time to rest. But the experiences are unforgettable and that’s worth the sweat!

More pictures here:

Mathias Written by:

One Comment

  1. 18. June 2012

    Amazing! I bet your adventures getting to Machu Picchu in the non-touristic way must have been wonderful. And visiting colonial cities like Cuzco, with beautiful and old buildings surrounded by indigenous people is always a nice experience. I imagine that it must be something similar to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, though of course having the Inca culture everywhere, instead of Tzotzil/Mayan.

    It’s bad that Bolivians tried to rip you off, but then, where in Latin America sellers don’t do that to blonde-looking tourists as the three of you. I hope your haggling techniques aren’t too rusty so you can avoid spending all your money.

    Keep enjoying South America, and I bet you look really cool like a hippie wearing alpaca-wear. Visiting Peru and buying alpaca-wear is a must. Especially when you can use them back home 🙂

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