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Casagranda and Lucas, June 2012

Well I just wanted to report to you what a fantastic trip I had.  I was taken back by the beauty and history of Cuzco and Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley, Pisac, Macchu Picchu etc. etc…..

Everything we did was beyond my expectations and may I commend the service that was provided to us by your local operators.

Jeanette and I arrived in Santiago Chile to a glorious sunny day.  The flight seem to go quickly.  We watched about five movies and were served a couple of meals.  I actually found LAN airlines to be very clean and efficient and in contrast to QANTAS I also found their standard high and this carried through to all its internal flights.

We were greeted in Santiago for our one and a half ride to Valparaiso by our pre booked driver who dropped us off at the Hotel Manoir Atkinson.  Although I found Valparaiso to be a tired old Port town it had a wonderful quirkiness about it.  Most of the houses were painted lovely pastel colours some even displaying some brilliant mural art works.  The street are also had some kind of artistic element.  One in particular that I loved was a set of steps leading from our street up a level to the next street.  Someone had painted them to resemble the keyboard of a piano.  The whole place was a bit gritty and run down, and it was an element that seemed to follow through to Buenos Aires.  I imagined both cities to have had a past architecture once proud and glorious of the rundown decay that it had now become.  We took a bus down the coast to Isla Negra and visited the former home of Pablo Neruda but mainly walked around the streets of Valparaiso.

Buenos Aires was just brilliant I never imagined something so beautiful and its people so proud.  I immediately saw glimpses of Paris everywhere only to find that in fact they call it the Paris of the South.  We went to a Tango show (naturally) and did a wine city tour which we had such fun with. The Moreno was also a reflection of its beautiful past which they had restored it to its former glory and Aldo’s next door, where we ate and drank every night had the most amazing drink and food menu.  It was so good, after not having had any alcoholic beverage prior then sitting down to a wonderful dinner and a whole bottle of wine from the Argentine Patagonia area on our first night.  The rooms at the Moreno too were huge, we were ushered into a suite the size of a ballroom.

Back to Peru.  I think that as soon as I started to walk down the concourse at Cuzco airport I had a slight bout of breathlessness which I dismissed as just having rushed because it only lasted a second.  I was fine for a day, but then it all started and I think I had every symptom of altitude sickness described in the guide book.  I spent the whole day in bed sleeping.  I did recover though and after about four days  was well again and had no recurring bouts.  Jeanette however got sick again when she got to around the 3,000 metres on day two of the trek, but she persevered on slowly, slowly  and then as we descended to a lower altitude she came good.  Cuzco is such a beautiful place, very very clean and getting back to food, we ate most nights at Greens the organic restaurant.  They had the best quinoa soup I’ve ever tasted and on the day I was very sick, they offered me chicken broth.

The trek itself was gruesome there was one day in particular where we were heading to Abra Warmiwanuska.  We climbed and climbed and climbed – I kept looking up at the peak but it never seemed to be getting closer no matter how much or how far we walked it was as if someone played tricks and kept moving the peak further away just keeping it out of our reach and of coarse the altitude was literally incapacitating our lungs.  Perhaps with more oxygen it may have been easier.  We did however finally conquer it.  I took heaps of photos wanting to capture so much of the ruins and the landscape as possible. I took it slowly on our walk to the sungate and then it was all over.  There is a genius to all the Incas achieved in such a sort space of time and a history which I found awesome. The Hotel in Ollantaytambo was set among the most beautiful garden setting surrounded by mountains.  It was a lovely setting and really so peaceful.  We would walk into town each day and take short walks. Jeanette got sick again at this time and it was touch and go as to whether she could make the trek, thankfully she took a couple of Panadol and woke up well the next morning.

We spent a lovely evening in the pictureque town of Aguas Calientes and were so relieved to be finally showering and using a proper toilet after the camping.  We awoke bright and early the next morning for a bus trip back up to Macchu Picchu where found our way to the check point to enter and start our climb up Huanupicchu.  At this point I was so pumped up with energy that I practically flew up Huanupicchu.  After all, compared to the 36 kilometres we had just walked, a one hour climb was a walk in the park.

So there came to an end our Macchu Picchu adventure, but not before the most entertaining train ride I have every experienced.  We boarded the train at Aguas Calientas which would take us back to Ollantaytambo  and a van was waiting to drive us back to Cuzco.  Fifteen minutes into our train journey they served our snacks and then not long after collected the empty containers and then behold started the entertainment.  Those same stewards that served our meals put on a fashion parade. The passengers were all cheering and clapping.  It made our travel time seem so quick.

Thank you guys for such a wonderful time and I’ll see you again when next I travel to South America because you truely are the specialists.

Kind Regards

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