Peru and Bolivia – May, June 2012

In May, Peter, Stephan, Ange and Rohan flew to South America for six weeks of adventure in Peru and Bolivia. We arrived in Cusco, Peru, and spent three days there acclimatising to the altitude (3,400 metres) and enjoying its lively tourist scene. Then we went on a 7-day trek, first around the enormous mountain Salkantay and then joining the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This longer version of the route to Machu Picchu puts you half a day ahead of the other 500 people who walk the Inca Trail each day, and ensures you have peaceful walking and choice of the best campsites. Highly recommended. We had two days at Machu Picchu, which was good planning as the first day was rather wet. The second day was much better and it was a fascinating and memorable experience to be at such a legendary place.

Not content with one trek, we then travelled to Huaraz in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, the Cordillera Blanca, and started a second, 10-day one, called the Alpamayo Base Camp trek. This took us into the most beautiful wild scenery you could imagine, with jagged mountains, glaciers, lakes and green valleys with abundant wildflowers. It also took us over no less than eight high passes, between 4,400 and 4,860 metres, where the thin air made it very challenging. The main highlight was seeing the almost perfect, pyramidal, ice-creamy summit of the mountain Alpamayo (5,947 metres) lit by the sunrise, but on this trek, every day is a highlight.

For a complete change, the next destination was Iquitos, in northern Peru, from where we took a speedboat three hours up the Amazon River and then along a small tributary to Muyuna Lodge, an intimate retreat with thatched huts on stilts in the jungle. Here we spent three days on excursions by foot, boat or canoe into the rainforest or the wetlands, seeing caimans, dolphins, monkeys, sloths, iguanas and all manner of birds. We even caught (and ate, in Peter’s case at least) some small but still toothy piranhas.

We then flew to La Paz in Bolivia, an extraordinary city that grows out of a canyon and up to over 4,000 metres above sea level. It’s also worth visiting for its llama steaks and beautifully colourful textiles, including alpaca wool clothing. From here we visited Lake Titicaca, staying for one night on the Isla del Sol, where we stumbled upon a local festival with people drinking and dancing and wearing costumes that you’d need to be drinking to consider wearing.

The last part of the trip involved a 20-hour journey by local bus and train to Tupiza, in southern Bolivia, from where we took a five-day tour by 4WD into the remote and other-worldly landscape of the southern Bolivian altiplano. Here, in a cold and windswept volcanic world , we saw lakes of green, red, blue, black and silver, deserts of red, orange and sulphur, rivers frozen with ice, bizarre rock formations, the world’s largest salt pan…. and pink flamingos. We also descended into a 300 year old Spanish silver mine, visited a cave with 500 year old mummies and stayed in a hotel made almost entirely from salt. You don’t write a list like that every day!

photo Photos

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Plaza de Armas, Cuzco. Anyone for snout?  Tongue??  Entrails in general??? Salkantay and icy tents at dawn through a frozen camera lens. Inca Chiriaska pass (4900metres), Salkantay in background. Lunch at Wayllabamba on the Inca Trail. The start of the "Inca steps". View down, 1200 metres, from Warmiwanuscca ("Dead Woman's Pass"), 4215metres. Calceolarias. Sayacmarca, Inca Trail. Sayacmarca, Inca Trail. Llamas and mountains. View from Phuyupatamarca of cloud forest and terraces of Intipata. Urubamba valley near Machu Picchu. Plentiful, tasty trekking meal. Cloudy greeting at Machu Picchu. Extraordinary stonework. Different styles and standards of stonework. The Incas were reverent in their use of precious water. Second day at Machu Picchu. Breakfast at Morales' Guesthouse, Huaraz. Our donkey train, near Vacqueria. "Curvas peligrosas" on the way to Portachuelo de Llanganuco, 4767 metres. Sampling the snack packs on the way to Punta Union Pass. Punta Union Pass (4750 metres) and Pucajirca. What a lunch spot! Meeting the locals at camp. View back to our route up to Paso Pucajirca. Grand scenery, Alpamayo on left and Laguna Jancarurish. Dawn light on Alpamayo (5947 metres). Central square, Lima. Inca gold, Museo Larco, Lima. Iquitos, Peru - "a manic, jungle Sodom"! Muyuna Lodge. Our catch of piranhas. Searching for lily pads and howler monkeys. La Paz, Bolivia. Yes, the ladies do wear bowler hats. Festival dancers, Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca. Un-named rock formation near San Pablo de Lipez. Flamingos can survive winter at 4500 metres! Isla Incahuasi, Salar de Uyuni. Optical illusion on the salt flat.

Posted on July 8th, 2012, tagged with travel

5 responses to “Peru and Bolivia – May, June 2012”

  1. Ange says:

    Awesome collection of piccies!! Now which to make into posters??

  2. Nadia says:

    WOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!!! Amazing!!! Stunning photography, must go there! xo

  3. Erica Booker says:

    Wonderful to revisit some memories and enjoy new sights. Beautiful pics thanks. you certainly covered a lot of territory and must now be in tip top condition (as if you weren’t when you left!!) xxx

  4. Sue Hewett says:


  5. Glenda says:

    What a fantastic trip you have had. Tho there was a great selection of subjects your photography is inspiring. I am glad I am not choosing which to make a poster! Congrats to you all for making it in one piece.