The Assault Course

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Before I start this entry properly I need to advertise the following route as an excellent, cheap way to get to Machu Picchu. PeruRail run a rip off service, with all the profits going to Chile, thus not even benefiting the local population. The Inca trail is usually booked out and is a similar cash cow to someone somewhere that probably doesnŽt live in the Cusco area.

This leaves the alternative of going via Santa Maria and Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes, which is what I did. IŽd also recomend the sevices of Lorenzo and his son Johan that operate out of Santa Maria, I think the route would be a bit tricky to find without one of these guys. Their contact details are lorenzocahuana@hotmail.com and johancc3@hotmail.com, telephone (Santa Maria) 830091 - 830044. Alternatively just turn up in town and find them in the DVD shop!

I ended up leaving with Johan. I was looking forward to practising my Spanish, he obviously relished the opportunity to practise his excellent English. We ended up mixing and matching the languages as we felt like it. Usually when there was something more difficuilt that he wanted to explain heŽd use his native Spanish, not necessarilary the best thing to do if he wanted me to understand him! The old town was pretty creepy, with trees and bushies growing out of all the old houses that hadnŽt been demolished, but had started to fall down of their own accord.

The walk started by heading through Old Santa Maria. They moved it up the hill about 8 years ago when the railway line that used to run through town (joining it to Aguas Calientes and Cusco) was abandoned. I don`t understand why they had to move the town, this was one of the things that Johan explained in Spanish.

Another tourist had arrived in town the previous day, with a guide that heŽd hired out in Cusco for his multi day trip to Machu Picchu. We ended up starting the walk to Santa Teresa around the same time and would, rather unfortunatly, end up spending a lot of time together. Not that IŽm saying ALL vegan, tea total opticians are boring.

The trail meant business straight away and presented me with a steep climb after only a short time to warm up. It was on this climb that the two others whipped passed us, maybe a low fat diet is the way to go afterall. At least this meant that I could enjoy the scenery in relative peace and quiet.

We then reached the dangerous part of the trail that IŽd been warned about beforehand. An old Inca road ran along a steep section of the hill, it was narrow at points and the drop off was pretty severe. Without a good head for heights IŽd give it a miss and take the bus round instead. However I thought that the views from here were just magnificent, a real highlight of the walk.

At lunch time we caught up with the other group, at least the lunch was superb. I`m here during Avocado season and at the moment I just canŽt get enough of them, theyŽre so tasty here as well. I love it.

The afternoon session started with the crossing of the dodgiest bridge IŽve ever seen. only the metal frame still existed and there were several large bolders on it for some reason. I had to employ my best tightrope walking skills, it was a scarey moment as I thought about the alternative of falling into the rushing river below. Johan sprang across as if he did it most days. Hold on, he does do it most days!

The trail started to look more like an assault course as we came up to the fire fox style crossing. We got into the little basket one at a time and shot half way out over the canyon, Johan then pulled me in the rest of the way, great fun. I then had a go at pulling and helped the vegan, tea total optician get to the otherside.

One hour before Santa Teresa there are some Hot Springs, they appear really out of place as if they are part of some 5 star hotel complex. Beautifully landscaped, clean, cheap, and more importantly, hot! They were great, and give it a few years, they probably will be part of a hotel complex. They did get a little boring after a little time but I was so relaxed afterwards. It was such an effort to walk that last hour when all you wanted to do was sleep.

Our guides got together and in the name of saving money they ended up sharing a room while I shared with the other tourist, yep, the optician. Our guest house was nice and we spent sometime just sitting outside relaxing and reading books, listening to music that the owner was playing. This was fine until the CD finished, it was at this point we realised that she only had one CD, time to head somewhere else.

We found a little place with a pool table, we played doubles, me and my guide versus the other two. Just as well we didnŽt play Peru .vs. The UK, as neither of the guides had ever played before. You take it for granted that someone can at least hold a cue and make a half decent attempt to hit the white ball (In this case it was a spare 8 ball as theyŽd lost the white), but as soon as they tried to take a shot it became apparant that this wasnŽt the case. At least they had fun trying.

I had to say goodbye to Johan that night as he was getting an early (3am!) bus back to Santa Maria and I would be continuing on myself. Although perhaps he felt sorry for me and he arranged it so that the other guide would take me in the morning, even though I didnŽt really need it. I was in bed by 9pm, I was tired and there was still a lot of walking to go.
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Comments

Cecilia on

The Old town of Santa Maria was abandoned due to the river flooded during the El Niño. That also why they closed down the railway to Santa Maria, several parts of the rail had slided down into the water and tunnels had fallen togheter, leaving the rail unusable.

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