Posts From Peru


A BIG descent,and our first truly solo border crossing (Tumbes, Peru)

Journal entry for Tuesday 13th Oct, 2009 (day 214, miles 24520)

Peruvian coast and a start of the desert (Desert South of Piura, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 14th Oct, 2009 (day 215, miles 24734)

We had a few emotional moments in Tumbes this morning as Nina thought she had lost her ATM card, and then for a few moments feared the ATM had eaten the card she borrowed from me. While all finished up ok it was not a encouraging start to the day, but .. things improved from there.

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A day of desert scenery, with interludes at the beach (Huanchaco, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 15th Oct, 2009 (day 216, miles 24969)

We had a very pleasant night, temperature in the mid 60°F's and no insects. Not what we had expected from a desert.

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A visit to Chan Chan and a mall (Huanchaco, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 16th Oct, 2009 (day 217, miles 24982)

Today was a quiet day. In the morning we drove the few miles to the archeological site of Chan Chan. It is the remnants of a city built by the Chimu culture who occupied this area for about 600 years from 850 AD. From the remnants archeologists think the city was 28km square and supported 60,000 people. The Chimu were conquered by the Incas before the arrival of the Spanish. The site is not spectacular, just a huge expanse of adobe walls, corridors and burial chambers. But the scale of the site is impressive. You are left with the impression that this was a powerful and well resourced culture.

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Narrow canyons and, more, amazing roads (Rio Santa, Peru)

Journal entry for Saturday 17th Oct, 2009 (day 218, miles 25214)

We were away early this morning heading for the mountain town of Caraz in the valley that lies between the Cordillera Blanco (snow covered) and the more westerly Cordillera Negro (not snow covered) mountain ranges. The route we chose travelled down the coast to Chimbote, then headed inland along "highway 12" through Huallaca, and the Canon Del Pato.

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More tunnels, and a quiet afternoon in Caraz (Caraz, Peru)

Journal entry for Sunday 18th Oct, 2009 (day 219, miles 25220)

We continued on the rough dirt road this morning to the village of Huallanca looking forward to the sealed road south to Caraz as described in the guide book. But alas the book lied, at least a little. After Caraz the road continued to be gravel but of a better quality as it climbed up into the Canon Del Pato. This was yet another amazing road. Built about 1913, presumably to put in the hydro power plant, it winds along the side of the canyon for maybe 6 miles and passes through 30 rough rock tunnels. At places the canyon (like the one yesterday) is less than 50 yards wide (about a 1/2 wedge shot).

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Notario, lagunas, and a flat (Huaraz, Peru)

Journal entry for Monday 19th Oct, 2009 (day 220, miles 25306)

Before heading out of Caraz this morning we had a challenging and somewhat unusual chore to perform. Nina receives a pension from her time as a teacher in Australia. Every year the pension organization requires proof that she is still alive (I know it sounds like the Russell Crowe movie Proof of Life). She must fill in a form and get it witnessed. So this morning we set off to find a notario, the Latin equivalent of a US notary or Australian JP. That accomplished, with lots of laughs, we went to a post office to send the letter certificardo. It's amazing what a few words of Spanish, lots of miming, and some intelligent locals can accomplish.

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Giant Puya Raimondii (Hwy 14, Peru)

Journal entry for Tuesday 20th Oct, 2009 (day 221, miles 25413)

So what are giant Puya Raimondii?

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What a contrast! (Reserva De Lachay, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 21st Oct, 2009 (day 222, miles 25550)

Words are going to fail me today.

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Lima - an unexpected stop (Lima, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 22nd Oct, 2009 (day 223, miles 25623)

When we left the camping ground at De Lachay this morning we had no intention of stopping in Lima; in fact we had spent most of the previous evening planning to get up early to try and miss the worst of Lima's notorious traffic.

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Driving in Lima, then down the coast to Nasca (Nasca, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 23rd Oct, 2009 (day 224, miles 25923)

This morning we decided to try and find an Acogas place we had read about where other travelers had purchased an adapter that allowed US fixed propane tanks to be filled at gas station GPL pumps (location details in the camping section below). This proved to be a challenging driving experience as it took us on some of Lima's busiest streets at rush hour. Also took us through some of the up market shopping areas. But it was successful; we got the fitting and a couple of hours later at a gas station filled our fixed tank with no trouble.

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Those mysterious lines in the desert (Along the Cusco Road, Peru)

Journal entry for Saturday 24th Oct, 2009 (day 225, miles 26014)

There was never any doubt that we would take a scenic flight to look at those famous Nazca lines and figures, so that was the first item on the days "to do" list. I must admit that they are less impressive than I expected. The photos I have seen in places like National Geographic make them look bigger than they are in real life. Also there are lots of marks made by modern man that cut across the ancient lines and figures. But I am still pleased we took the flight, and the lines and figures are worth seeing. Even if smaller than expected you still can't help but ask yourself - why; why would a group of people make these figures ??

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A long day, another unbelievable road, and we finally get to Cusco (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Sunday 25th Oct, 2009 (day 226, miles 25623)

What an arduous day. We were on the road for over 12 hours (6:00am to 6:30pm) and covered 550kms over yet another amazing road. The scenery was simply awesome, and the road surface generally excellent. But the topography - has to be seen to be believed. The high point on the road before the town of Puquio was just on 15,000 feet, but altitude alone does not give the full picture. At least three times the road descended to 6,500 ft before climbing back to 13,-14,000 and each time both the climb and descent was achieved by what seemed like never ending switch backs. The climb out of Abancay was perhaps the most impressive of all. The town was at 6,500ft and within 30 km of road travel and no more than 10 kms of actual distance we were back at 14,000ft.

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Cleanup day (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Monday 26th Oct, 2009 (day 227, miles 25623)

There is not much to say about today; we stayed at the camping ground doing the washing and catching up on other chores.

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Fuel filter and train tickets (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Tuesday 27th Oct, 2009 (day 228, miles 25623)

A couple of days back the Tigers engine computer started telling me it was time to change the fuel filter. This was a bit of a surprise as at the start of that day I am sure the same computer said we had 40% life remaining. Guess we picked up some dirty fuel along the Cusco road. So this morning we went off to the local Volvo/Mitsubishi dealer to get it changed - luckily I have a number of spares. I was a bit anxious about this because the vehicle is sometimes difficult to prime and start after a fuel filter change. But I should not have worried. The guys at the local Volvo dealer had it changed and the vehicle running again in 40 minutes from the time I walked into the showroom. Also only cost us $13.00.

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Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 28th Oct, 2009 (day 229, miles 25623)

The day started with a bit of a mad rush. We got a taxi to Cusco's San Pedro station only to discover that our train departed from a different station 15 kms out of Cusco and that we had to be there is 20 minutes. So another taxi and a bit of hair raising driving; but we made it.

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Machu Picchu (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 29th Oct, 2009 (day 230, miles 25623)

Everyone is told that you have to get to the ruins to watch the sunrise. Also one part of the ruins, Waynapicchu mountain, is restricted to 400 people per day. So by 5:15 am there is a huge crowd in the main street waiting to catch the first bus (5:30).

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Plaza De Armes and Mercado Centro (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 30th Oct, 2009 (day 231, miles 25623)

We spent the morning doing some more washing and other chores - boring.

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A change of plans (Road to Yauri, Peru)

Journal entry for Sunday 1st Nov, 2009 (day 233, miles 26584)

Today is proof that we don't plan a long way in advance.

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A day on the antiplano (Chivay, Peru)

Journal entry for Monday 2nd Nov, 2009 (day 234, miles 26790)

The antiplano is the name for the high desolate plateaus of Peru, Bolivia and Chile; and that's pretty much where we spent the day. From our camping spot last night at a little over 13,000 feet we drove all day at altitudes between 11,000 ft and our high point of 16,000 ft. And desolate it is, dry, dusty and cold. With the temperature at times as low as 35°F and never about 60°F. But - there are small communities and even individual family groups scattered all over the antiplano making a living from a combination of agriculture and rearing llama, alpaca, and sheep. Plus all these scattered little settlements are served by buses. The bus services are all the more amazing considering the quality of the roads, they vary from good black top to terrible gravel and broken pavement. On the bad sections of roads the buses travel at speeds of 40 mph whereas the roads restrict us to 10-15 mph. Anyone interested in building a vehicle for rough roads should come talk to the Peruvian bus companies for some hints on suspension design.

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The Day of the Condors, Peru has a scale all its own. (Cruz Del Condor, Peru)

Journal entry for Tuesday 3rd Nov, 2009 (day 235, miles 26845)

We were on the road to Cruz del Condor by about 7:00 am as the condors, apparently, are only visible around 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, and we wanted to be there in time to see them this morning. Apparently so did every other tourist and tourist operator for 200 miles around as the road was busy. It was also rough with the traffic from tourist buses making heavy washboards in addition to the parts of the road that are simply creek beds. But to compensate for the roughness the drive was wonderful. It winds along the side of a very deep steep valley both sides of which are covered with terraced agricultural land, foot trails, and villages (with no road access). The scale of the terracing is hard to comprehend, particularly when one realizes that much of it has been done by hand over hundreds of years of farming.

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Arequipa to fix a flat (Imata Junction, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 4th Nov, 2009 (day 236, miles 27050)

We had a nice quiet night at this spectacular lookout. We were more than a little curious as to how proceedings would get started this morning after discovering that there was no afternoon activity yesterday. The security guards arrived by bus about 6:00am and the first of the vendors about 6:30am but by 7:00am when we departed there were no tourists, not all the vendors, and no condors flying (presumably because the thermal air currents had not yet started). On the drive back to Chivay we passed dozens of large and small tourists buses. We concluded that Cruz Del Condor only operates from about 7:30 to 11:00 am each day.

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Pink Flamingoes, Puno, Titicaca and a parade (Near Santa Rosa, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 5th Nov, 2009 (day 237, miles 27259)

Last night was the coldest we have experienced since Alaska/Yukon. At 6:00 am after the sun had been on the vehicle for 45 minutes the trucks thermometer showed 22°F. The cold, and a desire to cover some distance today had us underway by 6:00am.

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Cusco again, and another parade. (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 6th Nov, 2009 (day 238, miles 27419)

It snowed in the hills above our camping spot last night!

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Preparing for Manu (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Saturday 7th Nov, 2009 (day 239, miles 27419)

Only chores today in preparation for our 9 day trip to Manu National Park in the jungle of Peru.

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Jungle here we come! (Cloud Forest Lodge, Peru)

Journal entry for Sunday 8th Nov, 2009 (day 240, miles 27419)

We were awake at 2:00 am for our 5:00 am pick up; how silly was that.

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End of the road, into the boats (Boca Manu, Peru)

Journal entry for Monday 9th Nov, 2009 (day 241, miles 27419)

We were awake at 4:30 am this morning to go to see a bird called Cock of the Rock. Each morning and afternoon these birds gather in a section of the forest near our lodge for about an hour, then disperse for the day, until their afternoon gathering. We spent an hour at this place looking with great diligence for a glimpse of the bright red male birds.

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Jaguar sighting (Salvador Lake, Peru)

Journal entry for Tuesday 10th Nov, 2009 (day 242, miles 27419)

Today we entered the Manu River and the Reserve Zone of Manu National Park. The Reserve Zone is a recent addition to the national park and together with the Cultural Zone are the only parts of the park that allow visitors, the bulk of the park is restricted to scientists. Access is carefully managed and we had to call in at the park office to register.

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Giant Otters (Salvador Lake, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 11th Nov, 2009 (day 243, miles 27419)

Today was a full day of looking for animals. We started by returning to Cocha Salavador early hoping to see the giant Otters and we were not disappointed, there were a group of maybe 7 of them frolicking in the lake and having breakfast on the local fish population. We spent a couple of hours following them around the lake hoping to get close but they kept us at a distance.

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Another jaguar! (Tambo Blanquillo, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 12th Nov, 2009 (day 244, miles 27419)

Today we said good by to the Manu River and National Park. After a relatively leisurely start we were into our boat and headed down the Manu River to the confluence with the Madres De Dios. Along the way we got really lucky as one of the guides spotted another jaguar on one of the numerous beaches along the river. We got a good, though distant, look at him. That's our second. Many groups don't see one in their 9 days in the jungle.

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Macaw clay lick (Boca Manu, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 13th Nov, 2009 (day 245, miles 27419)

A 5:00 am start for one of the highlights of the trip, The Macaw clay lick. What's that you ask?

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Pantiacolla - beginning the return journey (Pantiacolla Lodge, Peru)

Journal entry for Saturday 14th Nov, 2009 (day 246, miles 27419)

A somewhat leisurely start this morning (7:00 am departure) as we are starting our return journey with a 5 hour boat trip to Pantiacolla Lodge on the banks of the Alta Madre De Dios. Along the way we stopped at Boca Manu village for some cold drinks. The up river journey seems to be taking about half again as long as the downstream journey as the river is flowing very swiftly. The boat trip was again cool, insect free and pleasant - except for somewhat uncomfortable seats. We got a brief glimpse of a Capybara this morning, it's a member of the rodent family but about the size of a large dog. The name comes from a local indian language and means master of the grasses, which is what it eats.

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A dip in some thermal pools (Pantiacolla Lodge, Peru)

Journal entry for Sunday 15th Nov, 2009 (day 247, miles 27419)

Today turned out to be a day of relaxation.

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Back to Cusco (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Monday 16th Nov, 2009 (day 248, miles 27419)

Today was a long day of travel.

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Chores (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Tuesday 17th Nov, 2009 (day 249, miles 27419)

A day of chores, cleaning and drying gear from the trip.

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The Inca ruins at Sexywomen (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 18th Nov, 2009 (day 250, miles 27419)

For me today was another day of chores, mainly emails and updating the website. However Nina visited the nearby Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman. These are right next door to the camping ground and are a large complex that has had very little excavation. It seems that up until recently all the money available for excavating Inca sites went towards the work at Machu Pichu, but now some money has been ear marked for work at Sacsayhuaman. The guide told Nina that in the 1930's locals mined stone from the ruins, using dynamite to break the stone, and sold the stone for one sol (today about 30c) per truck load. Other interesting tid-bits

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On our way to Chile!! (Imata Junction, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 19th Nov, 2009 (day 251, miles 27707)

Today we started the next leg of our journey - onwards towards Chile. We travelled over familiar territory today, first taking the road from Cusco to Juliaca (a grubby town with lots of small scale brick makers belching smoke everywhere), then onto the road towards Arequipa. We did not (plan to) make Arequipa today but camped again at the road junction just north of Imata on a very large flat area near a salt lake.

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A Peruvian political protest, a bogged minibus, an old convent, and a sacrificial mummy. (Arequipa, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 20th Nov, 2009 (day 252, miles 27795)

Throughout the night activity continued on the highway with more and more vehicles arriving and joining the line waiting for the road to be opened.

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Sheep (or llamas) on top (Puno, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 23rd Jun, 2010 (day 467, miles 46444)

Back into Peru today. Before leaving Copacabana we tried to get fuel but the local gas station would only sell us 100bs worth. So be warned; don't arrive here needing fuel.

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The Uros people and their floating islands (Cusco Road, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 24th Jun, 2010 (day 468, miles 46251)

This morning we took a tour to a famous Puno tourist attraction. The floating islands of the Uros people. Originally conceived as a defensive mechanism against the warlike Incas. The Uros make their homes and live their lives on floating platforms a few kilometers from the shores of Lake Titicaca at the Puno end of the lake.

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(Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 25th Jun, 2010 (day 469, miles 46674)

Entering Cusco this morning was familiar ground. The roads are still rough, and the traffic frantic. Fortunately we had not forgotten the route to the camp ground so that after some grocery shopping we arrived at the gate to be greeted by Heimie (the guy that runs the campground). The place was well stoked with vehicles, though we were told less so than the previous day.

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Traffic jam in the sacred valley (Ollantaytambo, Peru)

Journal entry for Saturday 26th Jun, 2010 (day 470, miles 46769)

Today we traveled up the sacred valley to the town of Ollantaytambo - or Ollanta (pronounced like Oi-yanta) to meet up with an Australian guy named Max that we have met a few times on the trip.

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Exploring the ruins (Ollantaytambo, Peru)

Journal entry for Sunday 27th Jun, 2010 (day 471, miles 46769)

Ollantaytambo sits at the junction of two river valleys - the Ria Urubamba is the larger and main valley and the Rio Patakacha is a steep side valley. The small flat area of the town in the Urubamba valley is given over to cultivation and the town itself is inside the narrow steep sides of the mouth of the Patakacha. On the West side of the town are the ruins of an Inca fortress with very steep terracing and many building ruins that seem to simply hang on the sides of the cliff. On the east side there are remains of Inca grain store houses. Surprisingly these also hang on the sides of the steep valley. They certainly did not make things easy for themselves.

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Return to Cusco - a recovery afternoon (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Monday 28th Jun, 2010 (day 472, miles 46827)

Nina and I were both suffering a little from stomach upsets this morning so we did not do much other than pack the vehicle while Max finalized some business matters. By late morning we were on our way back to Cusco. Electricity was still not available in Ollantaytambo and traffic was still hectic.

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Have we lost our washing? (Cusco, Peru)

Journal entry for Tuesday 29th Jun, 2010 (day 473, miles 46827)

Today was a chore day. Buy some groceries, get some welding done on the rear carrier (again!!) and pickup the washing that we left at a laundry last Friday. The last of these turned into a bit of a drama as the laundry did not open, even though we called back there a number of times. We started contemplating the possibility that we would never get our clothes back. Nina was particularly concerned about this as almost all of her under wear was in the load. Eventually we got some relief as we discovered that today was a public holiday San Pedro day. These guys in Peru seem to have a public holiday every second day. We will not know for sure if this is the reason for the closure until tomorrow.

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We are re-introduced to Peru's steep valleys (Ayacucho Road, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 30th Jun, 2010 (day 474, miles 47009)

We got our washing back - quite a relief really. I was not looking forward to searching all over Cusco for replacement underwear for Nina.

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Road work and mountains (Ayacucho Road, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 1st Jul, 2010 (day 475, miles 47102)

There was mist around the mountains as we started driving this morning and for a few hours we had mixed visibility with the light wind sometimes blowing the mist over the roadway. This added some additional spice to driving the narrow, twisting, mountain track.

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I cannot capture today in a single phrase!! (Ayacucho, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 2nd Jul, 2010 (day 476, miles 47226)

We were woken early by the mini-buses taking workmen back up the hill for another day of road building.

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Down from the Andean Plateau! (Pisco, Peru)

Journal entry for Saturday 3rd Jul, 2010 (day 477, miles 47427)

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.

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Along the coast with grey skies (NP de Lachay, Peru)

Journal entry for Sunday 4th Jul, 2010 (day 478, miles 47644)

The drive up the coast and through Lima was mostly a replay of roads we traveled last year while heading south. But even so we were surprised at some of the sights. The juxtaposition of desert and large scale industrial agriculture, and the shanty towns being built in the desert. The coastal desert of Peru is certainly an inhospitable place and we noted again that the mountains of Peru seem to be a better place to live than the coast. At least there, one could grow some food.

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The coastal desert (Huachaco, Peru)

Journal entry for Monday 5th Jul, 2010 (day 479, miles 47929)

More coastal desert today. But fortunately we saw the sun for a while.

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Fishermen in Caballitos (Huachaco, Peru)

Journal entry for Tuesday 6th Jul, 2010 (day 480, miles 47929)

Today we had a quiet day in Huanchuco. We spent some time walking along the beach front watching local fishermen in their little reed boats (called Caballitos) paddle out through the surf to set or check their fishing nets. Apparently the locals have been using this type of craft for at least 2500 years. Though on closer inspection we did note at least one modern modification to the boat - they now pack styrofoam into the center of the boat to reduce the quantity of reed required. Similar to the way coke bottles are used by the people on the floating islands on Lake Titicaca.

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Huaca de la Luna, and a Quarter Pounder (Huachaco, Peru)

Journal entry for Wednesday 7th Jul, 2010 (day 481, miles 47929)

This morning we visited one of the local archeological sites named Huaca de la Luna. This large temple made from (140,000,000) adobe bricks was constructed by the Moche people between 0 and 600 AD. The structure is in fact 6 different buildings built over successive 100 year periods. Each new building was constructed to cover its predecessor. So that the current structure is like one of those Russian dolls - peel one layer and find another inside.

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Another Adobe Temple (Sipan, Peru)

Journal entry for Thursday 8th Jul, 2010 (day 482, miles 48122)

This morning after a late start we continued north through more coastal desert towards the city of Chiclayo. The sun was trying to come out from behind the clouds and the temperatures made it as far as the mid 70°F.

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Desiertio Sechura (Lobitos, Peru)

Journal entry for Friday 9th Jul, 2010 (day 483, miles 48357)

Today after leaving Chiclayo we crossed the Sechura desert of Northern Peru. This is a 100 mile section of road that passed through a vast expanse of flat sandy nothingness approaching the city of Piura.

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Another update - A Month in Lima (Lima - Miraflores, Peru)

Journal entry for Monday 2nd Jan, 2017 (day 99, miles 0)

We have been off the air for a while so it is time for another couple of update posts.

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