Saturday (Sabado) 3rd July, 2010
Day 477

Pisco, Peru
Pisco, Peru
Miles: 47,427
S 13.70908°
W 76.20463°

Today we left the Andean Plateau and descended to the coastal town of Pisco (a region that makes that famous drink). The mountains gave us an appropriate send off. From our camping spot gas station we climbed into the Cordillera Occidental the mountain range that is the western border of the plateau. These mountains are similar to those we saw in south west Bolivia being composed of the bright colored minerals indicating thermal activity. From the high point of this climb at Alta Apacheta at 4750m the road descended to sea level in less than 100 miles. As you could guess, more switch backs. Initially the descent was through mountain grass lands with scattered habitation and then into a steep valley with numerous small villages and almost continuous cultivation. The final stage into Pisco brought us into the grey sea cloud that is apparently common this time of year.

Our travels through the high Andes, particularly the Peruvian part, has been sometimes challenging but always breath taking. The features that will stick in our mind in the years to come are

  • The breath taking vertical scale of the place. As we have mentioned earlier in the journal every day seemed to confront us with a mountain pass above 4000m and a climb from and then descent into a valley at 2000m. That's like driving into and/or out of the Grand Canyon every day. And while these valleys are not canyons they are steep.

  • And the cultivation. We saw literally hundreds of square miles of steep valley walls formed into terraces and being cultivated and almost exclusively being cultivated by hand. As well as hundreds of miles of hand made irrigation canals along the walls of those same valleys. One cannot help but admire the energy of the people that built those canals and terraces.

  • The women and children in traditional clothing carrying bundles wrapped in blankets on their backs and the adobe brick buildings everywhere.

Unfortunately the return to the coast is a less attractive story. The agriculture here is industrial in nature with large plantations of corn and cotton everywhere. There is no traditional clothing and the towns look poorer. The people seem caught between their previous subsistence way of life and a materialist 21st century lifestyle they cannot afford.


We stayed in a hostel - Hostel Parador - in Pisco, they have access to a large parking area less than a block away. We had to wait for the morning to get hot water for the shower. The Pisco sours were great.