Arequipa rules OK

Hola from Arequipa in Peru. I´ve been here for a few days now and it´s just epic. It has a few great streets such as San Francisco full of great restaurants – even kebaberies and middle eastern, some of which are OK – and the place just has a really busy, vibrant vibe to it. Just like every half decent Peruvian city, it has a Plaza De Armas and this one would have to be the best yet. It´s picturesque to say the least. Apparently Cusco and Arequipa have an age old rivalry going. But the later being the second biggest city in Peru and far less touristy, I´d have to say Arequipa is way better. It feels more like a European, sophisticated vibe and you say ´No Gracias´a lot less to street hawkers. If you´re wondering what there is to do aside from all the great restaurants and bars, you can even see a frozen mummy. That´s right, about 5 years ago this explorer bloke  found an Inca teenager who was sacrificed to the gods by the Incas. The mummy, named Juanita, is about 400 odd years ago. Because the sacrifice site was at such high altitude (six kilometres above sea level, and two kays higher than Maccu Pichu), she has been preserved near perfectly, hair, skin, shoes clothing and all! Anyway, if you´re lucky enough, she will be on display in the museum, at minus 20 degrees celcius in a bespoke glass case. An awesome site. Goriness aside, it´s also a really big insight into the Inca culture and why the hell the slaughtered perfectly innocent girls. And...

Machu Picchu trek blow by blow

Well cross one thing off the life list. I’ve completed the Machu Picchu trek down the Inca Trail with SAS Travel Peru. To be precise, here’s a trip iterary for the trek that I did. Photos and stuff will come later, but first here’s a day by day account for anyone who’s thinking of giving it a go. If you have any questions about Machu Picchu or SAS, please feel free to make a comment using the links below and i’ll try and answer it for you. Day 0 – meet at SAS offices in downtown Cusco for a briefing. They go over the route, what to expect, what you need and arrange porters, sleeping bags etc. Also the first chance to meet your guides and your fellow tourist hikers and get acquainted. Day 1 – Meet up at Cusco at 6am and start a really long drive to the first check point. Most of it down one lane dusty roads where trucks have to back up to let you through! The starting point is called Kilometro 82. Here the porters grab your stuff, you pack up and hit the trail. The first day is about 14 kilometres of hiking. The first few hours is very tranquil and easy going. Sort of like something out of a kung fu show like Monkey Magic. You see the river, the train, llamas, alpacas (literally being led by local farmers) mules and donkeys, everything! The second half is a bit more uphill and really starts to get to you. It’s a baptism of fire if you will. Because I was knackered at...

Chillin in Cusco: practical part

OK, I´m going to have to separate this into two posts because Cusco is awesome but there is some stuff you should know. Firstly altitude is a bitch. Many people fly into Cusco from other high altitude spots like La Paz in  Bolivia and so they´re already well adjusted. But if you´re doing Peru only, then take care on your first few days. My advice is if you´re coming directly from your own (low altitude) country, check into your hotel, get a really plain meal for dinner (no rich restaurant food), drink plenty of water and go straight to bed. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. You will feel like death warmed up. So don´t waste your money on a great meal you can´t eat! Secondly, Cusco is a bona fide tourist town. It´s a cliche used widely in the west, but until you´ve experienced it here, you have no idea. Some pubs even sell a T shirt with ´No Gracias´ on it to fend off the local vendors. It´s also a bit sleazy at night with people offering you free drinks and stuff. Leading me onto my next point. Regarding alcohol, take it easy champ. There´s plenty of bars but with less oxygen in your lungs, you´re gonna get drunk a lot quicker and end up like a fourteen year old mess. And you will be dehydrated as hell and up all night pissing. No fun. So at least for the first couple of days, maybe lay off the piss! Oh yeah, and the coca. It´s everywhere. Drink plenty of coca tea, or even better buy...

Hola from San Tiago

Well here goes the first post of the trip. Had a couple of days in Chile which was pretty OK except for the fact that they take weekends pretty seriously by doing absolutely nothing. Especially on Sundays. Oh yeah and no one speaks any English here! Thankfully the restaurants were open and I had one of the best steaks ever. It was grilled and salt rubbed or something but dang it was good. Probably as good as anything Argentina has to offer. With all the trimmings, it would´ve cost close to $40 Aussie. I´m told Argentina is M U C H cheaper. She who must be obeyed says Chile is a bit expensive but I was only there for two days! Sadly not much else to do but get pissed – which I did – whilst finding out the hard way that every drink is a double in Chile, and well most of South America. So remember, go easy tiger! Four drinks is enough to get shit faced here! Oh yeah and you get a litre of beer per cup (you can get smaller but that´s what most people drink) and a jug is something like 2.7 litres! But there´s some gret night life if you´re not legless by sun down! I was staying at the La Chimba hostel, which is in a really bohemian, multi-cultural part of town, a fair whack out of Santiago proper. It was like a Chapel St kind of vibe and really went off on a Saturday night. In the morning the zoo is close by and you can catch a chair lift over...