A Travellerspoint blog


Around the World in 20 days - sixth stop Peru

Chiclayo and Trujillo


The majority of the Constellation Journeys passengers headed to Machu Picchu for the next stop but as we had been there before we decided to take advantage of the alternative destinations on offer - Chiclayo and Trujillo. Once we touched down in Lima our small group of 16 headed off to catch a domestic flight to Chiclayo. We arrived but unfortunately our luggage didn't. Apparently the flight was too full so the airline decided to not to put the bags on as it would be too much weight! Fortunately they came on the next flight.

The first destination we visited was Huaca Rajada (Sipan) which is a Moche archaeological site dating from 50-700AD but was only discovered in 1987 when an El Nino finally eroded some of the tombs away revealing the treasures inside. Apparently, locals woke up to discover the treasures and looting began. One local was too late to the party so reported the others to the police but sadly only 10% of the treasure was recovered. Because of thousands of years of erosion the pyramid tombs looked like hills of dirt but now it is clear to see the area is full of pyramids which are slowly being excavated.

As the area has been excavated the items in the tombs now are just replicas but the site shows how there were burials over 3 levels and that sacrificial ceremonies were part of the burial. All around the site were very cute Burrow Owls, aptly named as they live in burrows.

We also visited a place called Tucume with a further 26 pyramids including a partially excavated pyramid with ocean themed murals. Tucume also had a small museum containing some of the ceramics and smaller jewelry items that were excavated.

Later that day we visited Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan which is where all the items that were recovered or subsequently excavated are now exhibited. Sadly I have no photos to share as photography was prohibited but the 'treasures' were well worth seeing. Lord Sipan along with several other people sacrificed with him were buried adorned in precious metals and jewels along with ornate and beautifully decorated ceramics filled with food and drink, carvings and animals such as llamas. It was a fascinating place to visit.

The next morning we had a 4 hour drive to reach Trujillo, another pretty colonial city. We had a quick city stop before heading to see the sun and moon temples and the city of Chan Chan.

Chan Chan was constructed around 850AD. It is huge, covering around 20 square kms, and is being painstakingly renovated. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986.

We had a lunch stop by the beach before heading to the Sun and Moon Temples.

We spent time on a guided tour of the Moon Temple which is located about 500m from the Sun Temple. The Moon Temple is a monument that has been modified during different time periods. As it has been excavated archaeologists have uncovered layers of large multi coloured murals depicting the Gods that they worshipped at that time. It was a very impressive place.

After a long, busy day we flew back to Lima for a night in the Wyndham Airport Hotel ready for our flight to Easter Island the next morning, but that's a whole new blog....

Posted by bumblebum 15:34 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

A little trip to South America

Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu and Quito

semi-overcast 22 °C

Time zones are funny things. We left New Zealand at 4.15pm on Jan 8th and landed in Lima at 4.25pm on…..Jan 8th. If only it had taken 10mins instead of well over 10 hours!

Lima was an unplanned stopover – our flight got cancelled and the airline put us up in a hotel free of charge. By the time we had checked in at the hotel it was early evening, we decided to go for a quick wander round the local area but the sun soon started to set and we decided to head back and order room service.

The next morning we had to be up at 5am for a flight to Cusco. Once we arrived we checked in at the JW Marriott. The hotel was very impressive and our room was lovely. We decided to explore Quito and combine it with some geocaching – there was a multi cache which took us to some very beautiful sites around the UNESCO town, at each spot we had to solve a clue to give us the numbers for the final location. This just happened to be a spot that overlooked the whole town, obviously meaning we had to go uphill a lot. This wouldn’t normally bother us but Cusco is already at a very high altitude and altitude sickness did kick in a little. I developed a horrid headache and every step up hill was ridiculously difficult. My heart was pounding and it felt hard to breathe. We bought some coca sweets and walked at a slow pace with lots of stops and water drinking which really helped. The view did make it all worth while though!
Luckily our room had oxygen pumped into it so after our exploration we headed back there for a bit of recuperation. We had dinner in a very small, quaint restaurant just down the road from the hotel before heading to bed for an early night in preparation for yet another 5am start to get to Aguas Calientes. Being as we were very tight for time we decided to book our Machu Picchu trip through Sun Gate Tours whilst we were back in NZ. We were met at our hotel by a tour rep who took us to the station.

We were supposed to get a train all the way from Cusco to AC but a landslide meant the line was covered in huge rocks and we ended up having to get a coach to a train station further down the line. We spent about 3 hours on the train and fortunately had been seated on the left hand side which meant that we had great views the whole way. The railway line follows the river at the bottom of the valley. The train had glass windows in the roof so you could see the impressive mountain tops as we travelled along. Once we arrived at AC we were met by another rep to take us to Machu Picchu. This should have involved getting a bus all the way to the entrance but a theme had developed – another landslide! This one had happened during the night, the road up to Machu Picchu is long and very windy and the landslide had started pretty high up taking out several sections of the road with huge piles of boulders. The bus could only take us half way up meaning we had to walk the rest! Machu Picchu is not as high as Aguas Calientes so altitude sickness was not a problem but the walk up was still hard work. It involved a long, steep climb up many, many steps – some of which were pretty high. With regular water stops we made it to the top nice and sweaty!
Part of our tour included a delicious buffet lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge before having a guide show us round the ancient city. Unfortunately as we ate lunch it began to rain. We entered Machu Picchu and were greeted with the breathtaking view despite the clouds and rain. Llamas were roaming around and climbing up and down the steps.
Our guide had exceptional English and told us so much about the ruins and how they demonstrate the importance of the sun to the Incas. We learnt so much as we were shown around. Unfortunately the rain got harder and the clouds got lower so we gave up with the photo taking and packed our cameras away for fear of them breaking. Soaked to the skin we made the descent down all those many, and now very muddy, steps. We got the bus down the last half of the mountain and then made the short walk to our hotel, El Mapi.
It was bliss to get to our lovely room, have a hot shower and get into dry clothes before having a delicious dinner. Thankfully our room had a heater so we were able to dry all our bags and clothes.

The next morning I was woken by a cockerel at 5.30am! I looked out of the window and was greeted with a blue sky.
We decided to get up, have breakfast and head back to Machu Picchu. We went to the bus stop only to find out that with all the rain there had been more land slides and now the buses were not running at all!!! We met a girl at the bus stop who we got chatting to and the 3 of us decided to make the journey back up to the top.
After a hard 1 ½ hour climb we reached the top and it was worth every drop of sweat because the view that greeted us this time was a hundred times more impressive then the day before! The views in every direction were just amazing. We spent a few hours walking around and taking all the photos we hadn’t been able to do the day before.
As it was such a nice day we decided to attempt some of the geocaches that were nearby too. After we had absorbed all the beauty we made the long journey back down, many people were still heading up – some of them not looking too good! I guess many of the people doing the climb, like us, had never expected to have to walk but having come all that way couldn’t miss out on seeing the wonder of Machu Picchu.
We arrived back at the hotel, had a buffet lunch that was included in our tour and then explored the town of Aguas Calientes before heading back to the train station. Every train had been delayed by an hour (no idea why!) so the station was packed with hundreds of people. We finally arrived back at the Marriott around 10pm, showered, packed, headed out for dinner and then crashed ready for yet another 5am start!

Day 5 saw us saying goodbye to Peru and hello to Ecuador. We flew to Quito via Lima so by the time we checked into the Hilton in Quito we had racked up 5 flights, 5 hotel rooms in 4 different cities over 2 countries! Needless to say we were looking forward to our stay in Quito as it meant we had no set plans, no early mornings and the same hotel room for 3 nights!
We had some lunch and then wandered around the market across the road from our hotel. It was a total tourist trap with stall after stall of Ecuadorian souvenirs, none of which appealed to us! As it was starting to rain we headed back to our room. Once the rain stopped we decided to attempt some geocaches we knew were fairly close by. We jumped in a cab and headed to Metropolitano Park. In retrospect this was probably not the best idea I have ever had! The park was not what we were expecting, it was very ‘rural’ more like a forest at times. We soon had a few cache finds and ploughed on into the park that turned out to be way bigger than we had realised. As we were looking for our 6th cache (one that nobody had ever found before) the sun began to set, after a few minutes searching we found it, signed the log and decided to head home. This is when we realised just how big the park was! It started to get dark quite quickly, fog started to descend and there wasn’t a single street light in the park! Thank goodness our geocaching app has maps! We followed the tracks marked out which led us to a village.
Now everything we had read had said how it really isn’t safe to walk around Quito after dark, especially when you are away from the main centre so I will admit I started to get a little scared as we continued to find our way home and every time we saw a car heading towards us we hid behind trees in paranoia!!!! By the time we made it to a main road it was totally dark, as we passed a petrol station there was a little old man washing his taxi. We asked him if he could take us to our hotel and it seemed to make his day – it definitely made ours! We got home safely and he drove off with a huge smile on his face!

Day 6 was our first proper lie in of the ‘holiday’ so far. We made the most of the breakfast buffet before heading off to see what Quito had in store for us. We walked to Itchimbia Park as we knew it had a couple of caches hidden that promised a ‘panoramic view’ of Quito and they weren’t lying! Obviously to get that kind of view meant another big climb (my legs are really feeling it!) but as usual it was worth it and we did find the 2 caches hidden in the park.
After that we got a taxi to El Panecillo – a huge winged statue of Mary.
Once again we knew there was an unfound geocache hidden there, the cache owner had made it very clear that this area should only be visited by taxi or bus as the surrounding area is very unsafe so we followed their advice jumping back into a cab once we had taken photos of the views, found the cache and signed the log. Our final tourist spot for the day was a visit to the Basilica. The impressive build was started in 1892 and incredibly didn’t get finished until 1992! We climbed the many stairs to the belfry for yet another lot of impressive views of Quito, then crossed a platform above the ceiling, but under the roof, which led to two flights of steep steps up to the top of the spire. The climb up was a little scary but the views were incredible from the top.
We felt that enough exploring for the day and headed back to the hotel.

Today we decided to hire a taxi driver for a few hours….Our first stop was Intinan Museum where the equator lies. For $2 each we had our own guide show us around the museum and explain about some of the different tribes that have lived around the area over time including the headshrinkers. He gave a detailed explanation about how they shrunk the heads and why and we even got to see one.
The main reason for visiting here is to take part in all the experiments to prove you are on the equator like watching the water go out of a sink on the equator line and then a meter or two to each side of it. Incredibly the water really does go straight down at the equator and then opposite ways to the north and south. We also had a go at balancing eggs on a nail and I was awarded my diploma for succeeding!
After that we headed to the monument where the ‘fake equator’ is, because the earth is constantly shifting due to earthquakes etc the equator has actually moved over time meaning that the monument no longer stands on the equator – is it now about 170m away!
This afternoon we get to meet our tour group for the Galapagos Islands and it will be an early night for us as we have to leave for the airport at 4.30am!

Posted by bumblebum 16:54 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

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