Tag Archives: landscape

Quito

It was in Manta that we temporarily parted ways. I (Saskia) went to Quito to fly back to Santiago and then make the journey home in order to get organised for a new job. Mark decided to stay a bit longer to get some more kite surfing practice in, and he took the more gruelling option of bussing back to Lima, then flying to Santiago and back to Auckland before meeting up again in Sydney.

By the time we reached this stage of our adventure, both of us were fairly exhausted. The travel had taken its toll, and with constant stomach bugs and other illnesses, we were getting quite weary.

When I reached Quito, all I wanted to do was rest before the long journey home. Whilst I had a couple of days there, I had lost the inspiration to go exploring so didn’t venture out much beyond the hostel and main part of town. I took the opportunity to get a haircut (first time in months!), buy some new clothes so I wouldn’t look so ragged upon returning to Sydney, and basically enjoy some time to myself.

I was fairly wary of Quito, after having had several friends visit who had all been victims of petty theft. As such, I kept my big camera locked away at the hostel and only ventured out with my phone and bare essentials when I wandered through the old part of town. It was nice to see that there were actually tourist police on almost every corner of the old town. It looked like they were really trying to change the attitude that people had of the safety issue in Quito, and it was actually fine. We managed to escape South America without once being robbed!

Tourist police keep an eye on things.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm to be a tourist, I would have to say that Quito was possibly the prettiest city that I had seen in South America. It definitely had a certain charm, which I had expected to experience more often in other areas but hadn’t. The old colourful buildings were beautiful, and the squares were similar to other places, but had a different feel. There is a definite distinction between Ecuador and what I imagine the other countries heading north would be like compared with the more southern South American states. I would love to go back again to enjoy Ecuador from a fresh perspective, and head north into Colombia and Central America to see that side of things. Perhaps another adventure awaits!

 

 


The Nazca Lines

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While we were staying at Huacachina, we arranged for a day trip to Nazca and a flight over the Nazca Lines. Although we had heard scary stories of the plane ride, we thought it was an opportunity not to be missed.

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Apparently these lines were created by the Nazca people sometime around 400-650 AD, but only became well known after a Peruvian archaeologist saw them while hiking in 1927. Although some can be seen from on top of the surrounding foothills, it is best to see them from the air to get the full scale and magnitude of the images.

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The lines are made by removing the red pebbles on the ground and uncovering the lighter coloured ground beneath. Once up in the sky, it is quite astounding to see that there are lines EVERYWHERE! Along with the familiar pictures there are also just geometric shapes and random lines scattered across the desert landscape.

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The most impressive where the hummingbird, monkey, whale, dog and the waving man that looks like an alien!

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Sandboarding in the Desert

The coast of Peru is one long stretch of desert. We got our first taste of it on the trip from Cuzco to Lima, which covers some fantastic landscapes, moon-like plataues of rock to massive sand dunes.

We had learnt that it is possible to stay at a small oasis in the desert a couple of hours south of Lima. The oasis has become a resort style town called Huacachina and it is surrounded by crazy-huge sand dunes that you can sandboard on. We were mad keen to give this a go so we stayed a couple of days and hit the dunes.

The oasis at Huacachina.

The dunes stretched as far as the eye can see.

The size of the dunes requires some serious machinery to get around. This came in the form of dune buggies on steroids. These machines roared up the hills at speed. As we would reach a summit the driver would plant his foot and we would plunge down the other side. It was like a roller-coaster ride, a huge rush!

We were pumped by the time we hit our fist dune. We rushed to the crest and after a quick wax we were throwing ourselves head long down the biggest dunes we had ever seen.

Waxing the board.

It was an awesome buzz. Here's hoping we get to do it again sometime soon!

 


Alternatives to Hiking the Inca Trail

Hola amigos,

Today we wanted to share a few ideas on great treks that you can do around Cusco in addition to, or as an alternative to, the Inca Trail. This post largely reflects our own research but also conversations with fellow travellers. If you find the Inca Trail to be prohibitively expensive, or you want a bit more Indiana Jones in your adventure, then this might be of interest to you.

There are three trips near Cusco that we would recommend looking into:

  1. Choquequirao
  2. Salcantay to Machu Picchu
  3. Vitcos and Espiritu Pampa

These trails are great alternatives the Inca Trail. There are companies offering hikes to all three, although Choquequirao and Espiritu Pampa are not covered by many companies, which is part of their appeal. They are also multi-day hikes of at least four days in duration.

A brief explanation on each is offered below. If any of them catch your interest then we highly recommend looking into the South American Explorers Club, who have a Cusco office. They gave us valuable information on everything from details on the trails, the cost of guides and where to buy hiking equipment. Membership is cheap and covers all of their clubs in South America. We also highly recommend the Trailblazer Guide to the Inca Trail, which provides detailed hiking information on these and other trails.

Note: Machu Picchu is part of a network of trails within the region. The Inca Trail is but one route to get there. The other trails range in terms of difficulty but it is possible to link up other ruins as part of a greater multi-day adventure to reach Machu Picchu. See the Trailblazer book for more information.

Choquequirao

This hike caught our intention for a number reasons. It is one of the few trails you can do without a guide, which brings down the cost substantially. In fact all you have to pay is the park fee, which from recollection is under USD100. So, those used to carrying their own gear will appreciate it. The trail is also straightforward – it is two days to the ruins and you return along the same path.

Choquequirao is a large site south west of Machu Picchu. Some consider it to be Machu Picchu's sister site because of its size and the quality of the stonework. Part of the appeal lies in the fact that the ruins are still being uncovered, so there is a genuine opportunity for a bit of exploration. It is off the beaten track too so you won't have the same crowds and it is possible to walk from here to Machu Picchu or to Espiritu Pampa.

We were dead set on tackling this but due to a bought of food poisoning we had to pull out. A shame as we put a lot of time into planning it. Send us photos if you go!

Salcantay to Machu Picchu

This is touted as one of several alternative trails to Machu Picchu. Salcantay is a nearby mountain with trails that can connect you to Machu Picchu. This trail is common amongst tour companies and it costs less than the Inca Trail. We are not clear on whether this trek can be done independently but we suspect it will require a few vehicle pick ups.

Source: https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Salcantay_Stevage.jpg

We spoke to several peope that tried this trail and highly enjoyed it. Worth looking into!

Vitcos and Espiritu Pampa

Those wanting a real adventure need to seriously consider Espiritu Pampa, the real lost city of the Incas. This was the city Hiram Bingham was trying to discover when he found Machu Picchu. For many years people really thought Machu Picchu was the last city if the Incas. However, the general consensus is that in fact it was Espiritu Pampa, the last refuge of Manco Inca when he was in rebellion against the Spanish.

Source: https://i2.wp.com/www.thewhiterock.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Peru-2011-333-Copy.jpg

Like Choquequirao the ruins are still being uncovered however you are probably going to see more vine-covered ruins here. The reason is that this site is so off the beaten track. We only found two companies that would hike there. Unfortunately at the time we could not go because the Peruvian army was cracking down on local drug traffickers. Anyone interested should make enquiries as to the security situation.

Our understanding is that it is not advisable to tackle this hike on your own. Guides should be used. The track is not frequently walked and is at least four days. To get there you need transport to Huancacalle, the last town on the road west of Ollantaytambo. We explored public transport and it seemed difficult. We looked into just visiting Huancacalle for the day and were told it would cost several hundred dollars. So, a trip that needs serious planning and a good guide.

The White Rock. Source: National Geographic.

This trip has the advantage of including Vitcos, the ruins of an Inca town, and the sacred white rock. Neither site is visited frequently and apparently the local valleys are beautiful.

And so ends our series of posts on the Incas. We hope you have enjoyed them and if you missed any just click on the 'Inca' tag below or on the right hand pane.

Gracias,

Mark and Saskia

 


Death Road Part 1

We are interrupting our scheduled broadcast to bring you our first posting on Death Road. We recently reached 1,000 subscribers for the blog and thought putting this up would be a good way to celebrate.

Mark gets ready.

That's Mark raising his hand.

This is part one of two postings on our Death Road cycle tour in Bolivia. We've had to split it up as there is an hour of footage and a lot of photos. The second post will go up as soon as the remaining video has been edited.

We picked Altitude on the basis of a recommendation from friends. They proved to be a good choice, great guides and there were enough to accommodate different speeds.

Mark switching on his GoPro.

The tour was split into two stages. The first began at the top of the mountain pass and ended near a truck stop. This was all on tarmac. The second stage involved getting back in the vans and travelling to the start of Death Road, a dirt road that hugs the side of a mountain range. This road has now been replaced by another route so it is much safer to use. However, unbeknownst to us when we booked the tour, the new road was partially blocked by a recent landslide so there would be traffic coming back up towards us…kind of a problem when the road narrows to one lane with no rails to prevent a fall.

The tip went well though. No-one was hurt, apart from the guy that front-braked for a shopping bag…Saskia rode shotgun in one of the vans as she didn't fancy riding a bike, but this was just as scary as she had to deal with traffic coming from the opposite direction!


A bit of video for ya. Best with headphones.

 


Machu Picchu

Llama photo bomb!

Machu Picchu. You have seen it all before. But don’t be put off by the touristy cliché, it is amazing, and it is one of the world’s top tourist destinations for a reason!

Seeing the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu was something we had been looking forward to for years and we were really excited about it, despite aforementioned food poisoning. Everyone at our hostel seemed keen to get up at 5am to watch the sun rise over Machu Picchu. However, we had read that the mountains are usually covered in a morning mist that blocks out the sun, so we decided to sleep in to a more respectable time.

Arriving at the top of the mountain, looking down to the Urubumba River.

It is possible to hike to the entrance from Aguas Calientes but as we weren’t feeling well we decided to just catch a bus up. This was cheap and easy and got us to the entrance to Machu Picchu at around 9am.

When we arrived it felt like we were lining up to enter a theme park, but the lines moved quickly despite the hundreds of people pouring off buses all at the same time. After a quick bag check we had our passports stamped and we were on our way!

First glimpse of Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu.

This was actually a perfect time to arrive, as the mist was lifting and the ruins were starting to show us their full glory. We weren’t sure exactly what to expect. After having seen thousands of images of Machu Picchu over the years, we were worried that we might be underwhelmed. However, this was definitely not the case as the sheer scale and location of the ruins were breathtaking!

We wandered around for a while, took a few photos, and pinched ourselves. Hikers started to appear covered in mud from multi-day treks, and even though that would have been an incredible way to arrive, we were just stoked that we made it at all!

Machu Picchu: morning and afternoon.

Unfortunately we didn’t book our tickets in time to hike up Huayna Picchu (the mountain behind the ruins – numbers are limited to 400 people per day and they sell out quickly). We were however able to get tickets to hike up the higher peak, Mount Machu Picchu, which overlooks the postcard view. The mountain is ridiculously steep, and combined with altitude and remnants of food poisoning, pretty tough! The last part was more like rock climbing than hiking but the views over the valley were spectacular and gave us a good idea of the layout of the ruins as well.

The steep climb up Mount Machu Picchu.

Looking down over the ruins from Mount Machu Picchu.

Mount Machu Picchu.

We brought our own food and had lunch on a grassy terrace overlooking the ruins. The mist had slowly cleared and we had perfect views of the whole valley. We spent the afternoon wandering through the ruins with our guidebook in hand, feeling like explorers. Every now and then we latched on to a tour group to hear their explanation of certain sites, but it was pretty easy to get around and by 3pm most people had left. One of the best tips we had was to stay two nights in Aguas Calientes so that we didn’t have to rush off to catch a train back to Cusco. That was great because it meant that we had access to the ruins without being surrounded by hundreds of people, and it was easy to just catch a bus back down the hill when everything shut at 5pm.

Machu Picchu in the afternoon, minus hoards of tourists.

Just before we left we went on another walk to see the Inca Bridge, which is precariously placed on the side of a cliff. It is no longer possible to get too close (a tourist died trying) but it's still interesting to see how they would have controlled these access points as a security mechanism.

Inca Bridge at one of the entrances to Machu Picchu.

After a long day we headed back to the hostel, quickly got changed, and wandered up to the thermal springs to soak our tired bodies in warm pools. The complex was really nice and it was the perfect way to finish off the day!

 


Pumamarca: Inca Outpost

The area around Ollantaytambo was so beautiful that we decided to stay for a couple of days to have a look around. We read about a day hike to Pumamarca, an Inca outpost in the valley not far from Ollantaytambo. It was only five hours return so we picked up a picnic lunch from Heart's Café and headed up the valley.

Soon we were heading through the valley, surrounded by high peaks and incredible terraces still used for agriculture.

The most impressive piece of terracing we saw.

The path was not well marked, and if it wasn’t for a kind old man who happily rambled away in an incomprehensible dialect and showed us which way to go, we would have missed it completely. One path lead straight through the valley, but we needed to veer up the hill to head for the ruins. The climb was steep, and was made even tougher by the altitude, but the views were amazing!

After about 3 hours, we stopped for lunch inside the ruins of what was perhaps an old grain store, before climbing the last stretch up to the top. Upon reaching the top we discovered we had the whole place to ourselves! This was definitely some kind of outpost, as it was quite remote, but the scenery was beautiful!

A water channel follows the contour of the hill on the left. At on e point it ran right through the ruins but has since been diverted.

We spent a couple of hours exploring Pumamarca. Mark found a water channel and resolved to follow it to the source. This led to a hill rise, where the water tumbled down in a control waterfall. Mark went quite high up but could find where the spring emerged from the rock. It was a cool little innovation though and it was fun to think that this channel had been in place for several hundred years!

Pots, statues and other items would have been placed in these alcoves.

We highly recommend a trip to the ruins. It is a great walk, the ruins are largely intact and there's a good chance you will have them all to yourselves. Note that it is possible to get a taxi up there but we recommend the walk.

 


Pisac: A Royal Retreat

Pisac is a small town in the Sacred Valley, not far out of Cusco. We caught a local bus out there for the day, which was significantly cheaper than going with a tour group (around $2 instead of $30-40) with the aim of seeing both Inca ruins and the famous local markets.

The bus ride was lovely, winding down the valley through some amazing scenery. We arrived in Pisac in time for lunch, only to find that Mark had left his jacket on the bus, with his money and credit cards in the pocket. Panic ensued, followed by a good old-fashioned car chase where we jumped in a taxi and yelled “follow that bus!”

The Sacred Valley from Pisac.

Luckily the bus stopped regularly and we knew which direction it was headed, so it didn’t take long to catch it. Mark jumped on, grabbed his jacket and ran off again, leaving the driver and passengers somewhat confused. The taxi ride there and back meant that we didn’t in fact save any money by catching the local bus, but it was a bit exciting nonetheless!

Pisac turned out to be a beautiful little town with an old plaza and some very good quality shops and cafes. There is a popular market, which sets up around a massive tree in the central plaza. It is possible to buy a huge range of hand made goods here, including the gaudy, colour clashing rugs that are a specialty of the area.

We recommend stopping for lunch at Ulrike’s Café, which serves up an amazing vegetarian menu del dia consisting of soup, a main meal and desert that was so good we came back for dinner before we left for Cusco at the end of the day!

Pisac also has a large Inca fort on the ridge above the town. The young Sapa Inca Pachacutec built a fort here after he conquered the local tribes. The Sacred Valley was and is a very fertile area with a temperate climate, and the Incas knew its agricultural value. A similar fortification was built in Ollantaytambo at the other end of the Sacred Valley and both are easily visited.

It is possible to walk up to Pisac but we opted to catch a taxi up and then walk back down to town. This turned out to be a great idea – the views are stunning and we would have missed them if we hadn’t taken a cab. Upon arrival we turned down a guided tour at ridiculous prices and struck out on our own (again, we recommend the Trail Blazer Guide as it has a map of the ruins).

The Spanish destroyed most of the structures at Pisac in the 1530s, but it is still possible to see that it would have once been quite grand. Highlights include an intihuatana stone, or hitching post for the sun, which can be found in an old Sun Temple (we will provide more detail on these later). There are also large agricultural terraces, aqueducts and look out points.

The black arrow points to the Intihuatana stone.

Aqueducts.

Perhaps the most interesting feature was the evidence of grave robbing. The ridge on the northern side looks like a beehive, full of little holes, which were once filled with mummies inside urns that were accompanied by various treasures to take with them to the afterworld. This area is off limits to tourists but it was still interesting to look at from a distance.

By the time we got back down into the main part of town, the weather had turned cold and windy. We did manage to have a quick wander through the market and buy a few little souvenirs. Most of the markets sell exactly the same products – standard llama clothing, scarves and beanies; rocks and crystals for the spiritual tourists; key rings; toys; jewellery etc. but we did manage to find some handmade silver jewellery, which was a nice souvenir to take home from such a pretty little town!


Horseriding Through Inca Ruins

Getting sick while travelling is never fun. We were struck down with a combination of the flu and food poisoning, and were forced to lie low in Cusco for a few days feeling sorry for ourselves. Luckily we were staying in a really beautiful old colonial building near the main plaza (Ecopackers Hostel), which had a great TV room full of lounges and beanbags so we didn’t do much apart from rest there.

When we started to feel better we felt like we needed to see a few things in one go so we were pretty happy to find a half-day horseriding tour that goes to all the main archaeological sites around Cusco. This was a quick and easy way to tick a few things off the list ($35 booked through the hostel) while having a bit of fun riding horses past some beautiful scenery.

Scenery around Cusco.

Our fifth horse ride in South America was lovely. It was a nice change to ride a horse that wasn’t starving or looking like it would collapse underneath us!

We started by driving out to pick up the horses and rode in a loop to visit the Qenko ruins, the Salapunco moon temple, the fortress of Puca Pucara, and the water temple of Tambomachay. We finished up the tour with a quick visit to the famous archeological site of Sacsayhuaman before the sun set.

Traditional Inca dress.

Qenko

While not the most impressive of Incan ruins, we were excited because these were the first major ruins we had seen. It looked like a pile of rocks from a distance, but up close you could see that the rocks had been cut and placed there for a specific purpose. Unfortunately the Spanish destroyed much of the Incan architecture but it is possible to see that there were huge rock statues of pumas at the entrance to these ruins. There is also a carved stone that apparently casts a shadow of a puma’s head when the sun rises on the winter solstice.

Qenko ruins with what once was a puma statue.

Our guide also pointed out several significant ceremonial sites, including where the Incas performed sacrifices (mostly llamas). One rock had a platform for the sacrifice, with two crevices cut into the base below for blood to drain through. Apparently the Incas used this as a way to tell the future depending on which path the blood flowed down.

Channels cut into the stone for ceremonies.

Salapunco

Not far from Qenko is Salapunco, otherwise known as the Temple of the Moon. Again it just looked like a giant pile of rocks and we wouldn’t have taken much notice if it wasn’t pointed out to us. The entrance inside the cave had snakes carved into it and led to a small chamber. This chamber featured a platform that was lit by a crevice in the roof. Apparently the Incas would perform rituals here when the full moon passed over the rock, casting light into the chamber. You can see where the script writers for Indiana Jones have been geting their ideas!

As we entered the cave we disturbed a group of people who had apparently been meditating in the caves for several days. Cusco and the Sacred Valley attract a lot of spiritual tourists and these temples were no exception!

The Temple of the Moon.

The platform underneath the hole in the roof of the Temple of the Moon.

Puca Pucara

The ruins at Puca Pucara are a collection of stone buildings overlooking a valley. While no one really knows exactly what it was used for, there are theories that it was either a fort or checkpoint along an Inca road leading to Cusco. We do know that the Incas used to tax farmers by demanding a portion of the seasonal yield be donated to the empire. It is likely that Puca Pucara was a site for storing this food and tallying the contributions from neaby provinces.

People may be interested in knowing that the Incas did not write or use paper. Intead, they would send messages using quipu, which recorded information using multiple chords that would feature several knots. These would be interpreted in a similar fashion to morse code and allow basic accounting. Messengers would transport these records across the empire, on foot using a relay system. Apparently the runners were renown for their speed and stamina.

Tambo Machay

We were running out of time if we wanted to make it to Sacsayhuaman before it got dark, so we tied the horses up to a fence and caught a minivan up the hill to the water temple. There are ruins everywhere along the road, with the remains of various temples, lookouts and fortresses scattered throughout the landscape. After walking a short distance up the hill (which is harder than it sounds because of the altitude) we came across the ruins of Tambo Machay. This temple has carefully cut stones that channel fresh water from a spring in the mountain down through the terraces to a fountain. Nice.

Sacsayhuaman

The giant stones used to construct the fortress of Sacsayhuaman have left many people perplexed. The stones at these ruins are so massive that they have caused some theorists to conclude that they must be the work of aliens. Some stones have been discoloured from people touching them after claiming that the rocks have a particular energy that emanates from them – or it could just be that they are in the direct line of daily sunshine, which heats up a massive black surface and generates heat…either way, there is no denying that it would have been a huge undertaking to cut such giant pieces of stone and place them together so perfectly (the largest stone is 8.5m tall and weighs 361 tons). Apart from their size, there are also archways and patterns in the stones such as snakes and llamas.

Giant stones placed together at Sacsayhuaman.

Stones placed in the shape of a llama (looking right).

The Spanish Conquistadores destroyed most of Sacsayhuaman when they were trying to overthrow the last of the Incas, but it is possible to get an impression of how imposing it would have been. Something also impressive about this site is that the zig zag shape of the fortress forms the shape of a puma head, which is connected to Cusco, whose original shape was that of the puma body and legs. Clever!

Sacsayhuaman.

 


Isla del Sol

We ended our time on Bolivia with a visit to Isla del Sol, the Inca's mythical birth place of the sun and the god Varacocha. It is from here that the first Incas are said to have journeyed to Cusco to found the Inca empire.

The island can be found in Lake Titicaca, the largest high altitude lake in the world. To get there we took a boat from Copacobana, a small town on the eastern edge of the lake.

This was our first time getting up close with a significant Inca site so we were pretty excited. We opted to stay a night on the island to catch the sun set and sun rise, which as you can see above turned out to be a great idea.

Yumani Village, Isla del Sol.

Things got off to a comical start. We stayed at Yumani Village, one of two main drop off points on the island (the other is Cha'llapampa). Our hostel was on a ridge but we hadn't realised how steep the hike up would be…

Old Inca terraces used for agriculture.

At 3,808 metres altitude the hike, with all our bags, had zero appeal. We retreated to a nearby café and tried to work out what to do. Saskia in particular has a hard time with altitude and was a little distressed.

As we waited and took in the view we saw several herds of donkeys being shepherded down the slopes. We found out that the donkeys carry supplies up to the restaurants on the ridge…the answer to our problems! So, we paid six dollars for two donkeys and headed up the ridge with our pack animals in tow.

Isla del Sol features several sets of ruins and minor sites but the two main attractions are arguably the terracing and stairs at Yumani and the Chincana complex to the north. These sites are linked by a picturesque half day walk along the island's ridge line, which we tackled the next day.

The stairs, known as Escalera del Inca,.

We really enjoyed the walk, although the thin air made minor slopes feel like hills! The views are sensational. It actually looks remarkably similar to the Taupo region in New Zealand and Mark had to keep reminding himself that this was a serious Inca site.

A small village on the ridge line.

Looking south towards Copacobana.

Piles of stones. In the background you can see the Andes, which pass on the east.

The big draw for Chilcana is the sacred rock, the site where the sun is meant to have emerged. The site also contains a small ceremonial plaza and dramatic ruins that once housed the priests and caretakers of the rock.

To be completely honest we thought the rock itself was a disappointment. We walked straight past it several times and it was only through deduction that we worked out which one it was. They really need to put signs in there, but regardless we couldn't understand why that piece of the landscape was singled out.

What's the big deal?

Opposite the rock is a small patch of cleared ground with a ceremonial table. Not sure whether the area has been restored but that was slightly more interesting.

The ruins a few metres north were far more interesting. They are a small, labyrinthine complex that provided accommodation and food storage for the priests. Perched on the edge of the hill, they look down onto a tranquil beach and provide a good view of the lake.

Note the wall insets in the left. These are actually very common in Inca architecture and apparently are where religious artefacts would be placed, as well as mummies.

After a bit of a rest here we headed down to Cha'llapampa to catch a boat back to Yumani. It's a nice spot with am interesting museum. Apparently there's an underwater village just north of the island. Not sure how old it is but they've recovered pots etc and put them in the museum. Worth a visit while you wait for the boat.

Kids pretending to go fishing.

One thing we really loved were the boats made out of reeds. They look like old viking boats. The locals on the Peruvian side actually make islands out of the reeds as well as boats. We considered paying them a visit but heard the area has become heavily commercialised, so we skipped it and headed to Cusco instead.

And so ends our trip to Bolivia. We have one more dispatch on Death Road but it will take awhile to pull together (Mark has an hour of footage). All in all we really enjoyed our five weeks in Bolivia. The altitude got the best of us in the end but it was definitely worth the time. If pushed for time make beelines for Rurrenabaque and Sucre, they are great places to stay and offer plenty to do in the region. Don't linger in La Paz, it's not worth it!

The next posts will be a series on the Incas, including trips to ruins, museums and general stuff we learnt. Will mark them all with the 'Inca' tag so that they are easy to pull up for those interested. Looking forward to going back over the material.

As always thanks for reading. We've clocked up over 450 subscribers, which is both flattering and humbling. We get a real buzz looking at which countries our readers are based in, very cool! This blog has exceeded our expectations and we hope everyone else is enjoying this as much as we are.

Kind regards,

Mark and Saskia.