Category Archives: Peru

Oxapampa: a place of surprises

Oxapampa sounds like a made up place, but it is in fact a beautiful jungle oasis in the centre of Peru. It is quite an unexpected sight after driving for hours through mining towns across the central mountain range of the Andes, where mining companies have raped the land and contaminated the towns. Continue reading

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Filed under Peru, Service Projects

6 day expedition: Huaraz: Cordillero Blanco

IMG_1381A 6 day climbing expedition in the Andes, beginning with 4 teachers, me, 2 guides and a cook and ending up with just me and the cook!  Then a day later I ended up in hospital for 5 days!  So what happened?

The aim was to climb Ishinca, then Urus and finally the big one: Tocllaraju, all from the same base camp.  Possibly a bit ambitious but Rommel, our guide was convinced we could do it.  However the weather was against us.  Every afternoon it poured at base camp and that meant snow on the mountain. SO much snow!!
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Inca Pisac

Today was amazing! The Castilla family invited me out to see Pisac on a glorious Sunday morning.  I had been to Pisac before, a quaint town with a wonderful market.  However I was in for a surprise for little did I know what was atop the hill behind the town!  Inca Pisac!

The interesting thing about the Pisac ruins is that despite being the largest Inca ruins in the whole Sacred Valley, little is conclusively known about them and much is speculation, therefore I have not even attempted to summarise all I have read.   One thing is for sure – the Inca terraces are still in use today.  I find this quite amazing as they possible date back to the mid 1400’s.


The ruins themselves are incredible.  Juan told me there were two eras at work in the masonry, which was quite evident in the style of the rock work.  The skill is quite something and hard to comprehend how they could make the joins in the rock walls so precise in the earlier work.  I kept thinking I wished my brother William could be here – he would appreciate it even more!

The buildings and paths were steeply built into the mountain, cleverly incorporating large boulders and the natural shape of the mountain.  The views were spectacular and around every corner was something else to marvel at.

Looking across the valley from the ruins are holes scattered through the mountain side. These are tombs; thousands of them. The sad thing about looking at the holes is the knowledge that the Spaniards raided each and every one of them!  The Incas believed the dead could take processions with them into the underworld so they would bury their loved ones with treasures.

Here are some of the many photos I took. If I was asked what was a “must see” in Peru then I would have to say Pisac ruins is a very close second to Macchu Piccu! It is simply amazing……

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Filed under Cusco, Peru, Places of historical interest

Moray: Inca circlular ruins

I never carry much money with me in case of being robbed.  For the same reason I never carry any credit or bank cards, unless I am actually going to the bank. There is the risk of running short and this is what nearly happened to me on my trip to Moray!  After my excursion to Pisac yesterday (see previous blog – Pisac is amazing!), I found myself with a ticket to see other sites which was included in my entry to the Piscac ruins, so I got up early, jumped in a mototaxi to the bus terminal (which cost me one sole) and jumped on a minivan to Urubamba (1.5 S/.)  Initially there were only 3 people in the minivan that back home would be a standard 9 seater.  Here they are filled with 3 x 2 seaters in the back plus a bench seat at the very rear for 4, and a long thin side bench, plus a bench behind the driver’s and front passengers’ seats. So a 9 seater becomes a 19 seater.

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Filed under Peru, Places of historical interest

Beautiful Calca

I am in Calca for a music course in Andean Music  (more on the course in a separate post).  Calca is the capital town of the Calca province in the district of Cusco.  (Why does Peru confuse everything by having capital cities and towns with the same name as their district or province?).

Calca (the town) has about 8000 residents and lies in the Sacred Valley, about 22 kms from Cusco (40 -50 minutes on the bus or in a minivan) and at an elevation of 2928 metres.  The drive is beautiful as you descend down the mountain from Cusco into the Sacred Valley and past Pisac.

As you enter Calca you are greeted by this magnificent creature!


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Vallanaraju: mi primera montaña en la cordillera blanca

Fue difícil entender que en realidad había llegado hasta la cima. Definitivamente es una de las pruebas físicas más difíciles que he enfrentado. Tomando en cuenta que la temporada para escalar estaba por terminar, y después de haber estado a 4000 m. el fin de semana anterior en Huayhuash. decidí que si iba a escalar una montaña, tenía que ser en ese momento. Inclusive después de haber participado en la caminata (o senderismo) en Huayhuash y haber obtenido un poco de práctica, mis músculos y mi corazón hicieron un ejercicio maratónico.

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Vallanaraju………my first “white” mountain

IMG_0187The realization that I actually made it to the summit has still not quite sunk in. It was certainly one of the hardest physical challenges I have faced. With the climbing season nearing its end and with my having been at 4000m the previous weekend trekking in Huayhuash, if I was going to climb a mountain it had to be now.   Even with the preparation of trekking in Huayhuash, my heart and intercostal muscles endured a marathon workout —  my heart racing and my lungs heaving for hours and hours on end at every stage of the trek, ice training and glacier walking. Continue reading


Filed under ADVENTURES, Peru