Peru - An Account of my travels

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I had dreamed of this day since the mid 60's and here I was bound for Peru. I, like so many people, had been intrigued by Von Danniken's book - "Chariot of the gods". Now it was my turn to view these extraordinary symbols but first I had to endure hours of nothing but blue sea as the Atlantic ocean rolled underneath me - to be more accurate 37,000 feet below with an outside temperature of -47 degrees centigrade. My other love for this country was a growing admiration of the Moche civilisation who had been around at the time of Our Lord's Birth and had been so successful for about 800 years.
As I arrived the night was falling but the journey of the continent of South America had been spectacular with the flight leading up to the Amazon Jungle with its large expanse of uninterrupted jungle which seemed boundless. The sun was getting lower in the sky as each minute went by and as approached the Andes then the landscape was transformed it a a mosaic of pastel colours of the setting sun casting a pink caste over the clouds and the valleys already in darkness added a very moody feeling to the land as we flew over. Soon the Sun had set and we were landing at Lima. There had been so little time to get an impression from the air.
The next day was spent recovering from the flight by walking around Lima and tackling the local culinary delights. My first was the "Sopa a la Criolla" which I had on several occasions. The other dish I enjoyed were Palto a la Reyna (Avocado filled with Chicken Salad) and Lomo Saltado (sliced Steak on a bed of rice). The day was hot and against my better judgement tried the local ice cream which was very good. I also had the chance to book my first trip - to Lunahuana by bus.


Itinerary

Town

Venue

Lima

Luanahuana

Nazca

Nazca Lines

Chauchilla

Pisco

Isles Ballestas

Paracas

Tambo Colorado

Cuzco

Machu Picchu

Trujillo

Chan Chan

Huaca de la Luna y Sol

Huaca Arco Iris

Huanchaco

Lunahuana
This involved 2 buses changing at Canete. The journey took about 3 hours. The journey was filled with changing extremes of countryside from the arid desert and foothills of the Andes to the lush and verdant areas of irrigated crops, which were near the many rivers running from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. At Canete we followed the river towards the Andes until we reached Lunahuana. The reason for going to town was to see some ruins. Since it was Easter the town was packed.

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Nazca
Having arrived late at night it was difficult to get ones bearings together with the over attentions of the Tour Guides all trying to get you to stay at their selected hotels. Although I had planned my hotel before I had arrived it was hard to get the Guides to tell me where but insisted that their hotel was better. Experience showed this not to be the case and in some cases was more expensive. At one point I panicked when the police approached and intervened but only to find they were there to protect the tourists and after they explained many of the guides melted away. Not speaking Spanish made things more difficult. However, Oscar and suggested he would take us to the hotel of our choice but first look at his...I was pleased did since it was only 30 soles(S/.) per night and had a swimming pool and security that meant you could sleep at night. Also the hotel was away form the square and therefore much quieter. The next morning we were up very early to catch the small charter plane that was to fly us over the Nazca Lines. The party was made up of 5 people and the cost was $30. The flight took about 45 minutes. The biggest disappointment was that photographing through perspex meant that the photos would come out tinted and would not be as clear. However, the flight was inspiring and to realise that the people who built these lines would not have appreciated them from the air. The patterns were immense and one wonders how they were constructed as well as to why. Maria Reiche, before her death in 1998, had spent 40 years trying to unravel their mystery.

Chauchilla Cemetery
This was a very unusual experience to be walking through a 2000 year cemetery which had been extensivley robbed by people over the years leaving the remains covering the surface. The Government has tried to limit people walking over the area and opened up about 12 graves and populated them so that tourist get an idea of how these people would have been buried. After the person had died the corpse was cleaned and the intestine removed. The cavity being packed with cotton. The body then being enbalmed was encased in a shroud made of cotton. This can clearly be seen in the photos on the last page. The corpse was then buried with a wealth of possessions and food.

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Pisco
On leaving Nazca we took a taxi to Ica and then a bus to Pisco. Oscar had already given us details of a hotel to stay at and a restaurant to eat at. The hotel would have been good but for the noise from the family and the extension. This will all have changed by summer 2000 when the family will have there own area away from the hotel and the restaurant, although the other side of town was worth the walk and easy to find. Oscar then came to the hotel to book up those tours that we were interested in. The next morning we were met at the hotel by bus and taken to the pier from which our small craft would take us out to the Islands of Ballestas.

Islands of Ballestas.

Paracas.

Tambo Colorado.

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Cuzco
Since there were only 2 ways to get to Cuzco - Bus and Plane and since the bus route went through an area of Bandit as well as high drug smuggling we decided to return to Lima and catch a plane rather than take the longer but safer bus route via Arequipa.

Machu Picchu.

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Trujillo
As I was fast running out of time and this was the real point of my visit I decided we should fly to Trujillo and stay, for a change at the hotel I had selected before I left the UK, having ignored all the guides. The hotel was almost in the centre of town with a recommended restaurant and I was happy with it despite the poor view from the room. Since we were only sleeping there it did not matter

Chan Chan.

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