Sunday, 16 December 2007


Our first encounter with Peru was the desert of the north coast. From Lima north to Ecuador the waves meet the desert dunes and nondescript dusty concrete-box towns that smell of stale urine. We passed through the towns of Piura and Chiclayo (inland) and the beach towns of Pimentel, Pacasmayo and the more gringo-friendly Huanchaco. The beaches provide good surfing at the right time of year.

Roger finds a board to hire

The mainstay of the region is fishing, which is primarily done from a type of canoe made from reeds. They are called caballitos (little horses) and the riders are skilled at negotiating the surf.

Caballitos drying in the sun

Reeds to make caballitos

Surfing caballito

Beach and desert

There are numerous archeological sites in the region but they have problems with grave robbers and urination.

Do not urinate on the archeological excavation site

Inca Cola, by the Coca Cola Company, is popular

From the coast we took a long bus ride into the Cordillera Blanca, the centre of the Andes. The main town, Huaraz, is a good place to spend time and numerous snowy peaks can be seen from your hotel window. We were tempted to organise a walk independently but joined a tour because it was cheap and easy.

We walked for four days through alpine grassland and small villages to Punta Union, a 4750m pass through spectacular scenery. Well, it would have been if it wasn't snowing. We did get good views on the last day of Alpamayo, once described by a famous English climber as the most beautiful mountain in the world.

Punta Union, 4750m, no views today

A blue lake

Alpamayo, the most beautiful mountain in the world

Donkeys, kind enough to carry our packs

It was now time to think about going home. Roger developed a stomach bug on the walk which was to last almost two weeks. This made bus travel unpleasant but possible with Imodium. We spent a day getting to Lima and then flew to Santiago in Chile.

Santiago is a lovely city, similar to Sydney in many ways. It has an outdoor cafe lifestyle and a climate to match. It probably deserves its own blog entry but we didn't spend enough time there to do it justice. Maybe next time...

We're now back in Australia, looking for jobs and somewhere to live.