Over the Andes from Nasca to Cuzco
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
We couldn't resist pursuing a mountain track in search of a campsite near the aloof and elusive animals. We enjoyed being perched high on the pampa at close to 13,000 ft, watching the surrounding hills starkly silhouetted against the deep azure sky as night fell
The road from Puquio once again became a series of sharp curves as it rose out of the valley back up to a height of well over 13,000 ft. Vicuņa were no longer in evidence, but were replaced by hundreds of cuddly alpaca - white, brown, black, gray and even multi-coloured - feeding on what seemed to be little other than 'ichu' grass. A series of high-altitude, desolate lakes provided a haven for cold-weather pink flamingoes, and a perfect setting - albeit somewhat higher than we were comfortable with - for our lunchtime cheese and tomato buns.
In striking contrast to this arid landscape, the road soon dropped down through a deep, ruggedly spectacular canyon. A newly-built highway (Japanese funded) made for a very pleasant drive through the gorge to Abancay
The last 80 km from Limatambo to Cuzco traversed a lush agricultural plain, backed by the snow capped mountains of the Cordillerro Vilcabamba. With the rains expected shortly, the fields were crowded with teams of oxen busy ploughing, and even some campesinos beginning the seeding process. In close proximity to Cuzco, the wealth of the area was evident through all the newly constructed, handsome adobe houses. Our first glimpse of Cuzco came from the upper rim of the bowl in which the city is nestled - a sea of red-tiled roofs dwarfed by numerous towers and spires of the world famous cathedrals and churches. Winding our way slowly down into the heart of the city, we could feel our excitement rising in anticipation of exploring the ancient Incan capital.
However, before even thinking about visiting the multitude of Incan and Spanish sites, we had to attend to a basic housekeeping chore - filling our propane tank. Not such an onerous sounding task, you say? Well, after being told by many individuals that Cuzco didn't have a propane gas plant, we persevered and did manage to locate one on the outskirts of town - but by the time we got there they were closed for the day
By day three we managed to find a mechanic who had converted a few cars to run on propane and could fill our tank if we had the right connection. He put us in touch with a machinist who worked on his lathe for half a day and produced a nice bronze adaptor for us. That now enabled the mechanic to fill our tank from his cylinder fitted up with a jury-rigged hand pump - all a bit of a dubious set up, but it seemed to be the only way to get our fridge and stove back into operation. When the hose split in the middle of the fill-up, with a tremendous bang and spewing gas in all directions, we thought we were all done for! No problem, this was all in a day's work for the mechanic, and with the help of a bit more wire and some baler twine we were back in business. So, by the end of the third day, our tank was again full and we were ready to think about exploring the marvels of Cuzco.