Monday, 29 September 2014

Friday 26 September, 2014

This morning we went to the Inca Fortress of Ollantaytambo to see a home of the locals, complete with many guinea pigs which are a huge delicacy here. 
Then it was time to take the train through Urumbamba to Machu Picchu. What a beautiful relaxing trip following the river.  

Still trouble breathing and a pretty severe headache so had oxygen on the train which really helped. Machu Picchu means Old Mountain and is known as the "Lost city of the Incas". The altitude is 2453 metres high and was mapped by a German cartographer Herman Gohring in 1874. I don't know what I was expecting but it didn't seem to look anything like the photos I had seen.
We spent several hours climbing up and around the ruins. It is a huge place. Coming in the afternoon is good as most people were heading home. We saw the Temple of the Three Windows, Temple of the Condor, the Inkas house and the agricultural sector.
We had a scrumptious dinner at the beautiful hotel, but I am going to do a separate blog about that.

Wednesday 24 / Thursday 25 September, 2014

Wednesday we explored Lima, walking to Kennedy Park, where we saw heaps of cats wandering around. They were in the gardens, on the grass and on the paths. They also had lots of shoeshiners polishing men's shoes while they read the paper!
We then walked down to the beach, sorry, Lima, no comparison to our beaches. The waves made really interesting patterns of the rocks. Except for the rocks instead of sand, the coastline looks very similar to Santa Monica. We stopped for a coffee at some shops set below the level of the street. Very nicely set out.
Early in the afternoon we had a bus tour of the city taking in the pyramids that they have just discovered. It is so wonderful that these countries are continuing to explore the ruins in their area and taking the time to preserve what they find.
They have an area in the middle of the city that they use for people to be able to protest. This time they were complaining about the cost of housing for older people. We then visited the St Francis Monastery, one of the oldest churches in the area before we toured the Larco Herrera museum. This museum has the largest private collection of Pre Columbian Peruvian art in the world. The tour guide was very knowledgable but I just do not enjoy museums! We had dinner at the museum!
Thursday we flew to Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire, where the altitude was over 8000 metres. We are not staying in Cusco but in the Sacred Valley so that we can acclimatize better and wont be so affected by altitude sickness. That would have been nice if it worked but it seems that I picked up a bug and I'm finding that I have a bad headache and am having trouble breathing. We are all drinking coco tea hoping that will help.
We visited the Puca Pucara ancient site where we saw the Temple of Sacsayhuaman. It is made up of these huge stones weighing 350 tonnes and they were even brought over from the next valley! How they ever moved them was anyone's guess.
We were also fortunate to participate In a Mother Earth Ceremony done by the local shaman, a well respected person in the community. In the ceremony thanks and offerings are given to Mother Earth to ask for good health and safe travels (well needed in this group with so many bugs going around)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tuesday 23 September, 2014

Today we see the Brazilian side of the falls...certainly the most spectacular side. We started with a group photo, saw a fabulous toucan in a tree and then headed off on the walk. We walked along the base of the falls and then took an elevator up to the top of the falls. I don't even know how to explain how spectacular these falls are! They beat Niagara and Victoria Falls in Africa hands down. Mrs Roosevelt, wife of one of the Presidents of the US was heard to have said "poor Niagara" when she saw the Iguassu Falls.
Iguassu means Big Water. The falls are made up of 275 separate falls, all which have names! 1756 m3 per second of water falls! It is just so amazing to watch!
We got very wet going across the catwalk. We had ponchos from when we had gone to Australia Zoo 12 years ago and I take them on each trip but this is the first time we have used them!
After seeing the falls Jan, Michelle and I along with 2 other couples took a boat ride to see the falls. It was a cross between a jet boat ride and river rafting. So exciting and they took us under the falls! We were soaked, ponchos or no ponchos. Some people even wore their swimmers! Michelle took all the photos with a underwater camera so Ill post them as soon as I download them. While we went on the boat ride, Rob and many others went to the bird park. Rob had a crash course in how to use a iPhone and he went quite well!
We are sitting at the airport now and our plane has been delayed two hours. It is a great group and we have made lots of friends!

Monday 22 September, 2014

Today we had a 5am wake up call to head to Iguassu Falls. Not only were we bussed to the airplane and had to load from the Tarmac, we were only about 10 m from the runway and planes that were landing! (Never in Australia!)
The falls are 3.2 km wide.they were founded in the 1500's I think. We walked along the top of the falls on this side. They have had a lot of rain lately so the falls had a lot more water than usual and it was very brown due to all the rain. They say in 2006 they had no rain that year so had hardly any rain in the falls.
There were a few birds that were spectacular (this one was a crested jay of some sort) and a very interesting animal similar to a raccoon. Butterflies galore! They are everywhere! One landed on Jan's hat and stayed there while we walked down about 60 steps. It then moved to her back!
It is hard to describe the falls, there is so much water falling over the edge. I only wish I could remember all the statistics! As they are so spectacular, waterfalls that we would normally think of as unbelievable, pale into insignificance when looking at all the falls.
Some of the falls we saw today fall over 90 metres!
Dinner at the hotel and a somewhat early night.