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The Sacred Valley

Posted by Jason del Sur in Photo Albums, South America 2012
November 13th, 2014

I’m still slowly catching up on my blog posts over the past couple years. Here’s another from my South American adventure from two years ago…

Shortly before I departed on my trek to Machu Picchu I received a Facebook message from a friend asking how long I would be in Cuzco since they would be there soon as well. This is yet another serendipitous moments where Facebook has brought us all closer together. My friends Ryan and Abbie were living in Ecuador and were coming down to Cuzco for a few days. Due to the fortuitous viewing of my of my posts, I now had friends to explore the Sacred Valley with, and later a place to stay in my final stop in Quito.

With them I visited several amazing locations surrounding Cuzco including Salinas featuring beautiful salt ponds, and Maras with ancient concentric rings built by the Incas.

Salinas  Maras

After a day with them, I went for a short excursion to one of my favorite locations in the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo. Nestled within a scenic valley, Ollantaytambo boasts great hiking and beautiful Inca ruins set into the side of the mountain. This is where I took one of my favorite photos of the entire trip (with my iPhone, no less):

Ollantaytambo

If any of you lovely readers find yourselves in Ollantaytambo, stay at Casa de Wow!!! (exclamation points are an integral part of the name) to stay. It’s a quaint hostel run by American expat Winn featuring private rooms full of hand-built furniture and displaying the fine sartorial craftsmanship of Wow.

Completely handmade bunk beds

Here’s the a full album of my trip to the Sacred Valley:

OllantaytamboOllantaytamboLoki made me deadCuzcoCristo BlancophotoSacsayhuamánSacsayhuamánSacsayhuamánSacsayhuamánSacsayhuamánSacsayhuamánSacsayhuamánMarasMarasMarasMarasphotophotoPaintingphotoSalinasSalinasSalinasphotophotoOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboCompletely handmade bunk bedsphotoTry to eat the our guinea pingOllantaytamboOllantaytamboFace in the rockOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboPumamarcaPumamarcaphotoPumamarcaPumamarcaphoto

Manu Jungle

Posted by Jason del Sur in Photo Albums, South America 2012
August 25th, 2014

Yet another short post, the most import piece being the photos…

Cuzco and the surrounding environs is where I spent the longest portion of my trip. I arrived in Cuzco from La Paz on 4 March and did venture beyond until 18 March. My final excursion was a four day trip to Manú Jungle. While not a deep venture into the Amazon, it provided a good introduction to the flora and fauna to what you might find deeper into the jungle.

I can no longer recall my guide’s name, but he had a deep knowledge of the area, especially the native birds. He could hear a chirp or a call from an out-of-sight bird and immediately tell me exactly what species of birds it was and recall exactly what page of his aviary reference book it was on. At first I was skeptical, but after several instances of the bird then flying into view I could see that the shape, sizing, and plumage matched exactly what he had portended. My only real issue with the guide was that every time he referred to the “Cloud Forest”, his Quechua pronunciation always came out as “Clown Forest”.

Cui go in hereDinnerParrot loves cocaHoney badger loves cocaParrot is ready for ManuPlayingThree toed sloth just hangin'Bitey parrotIn the jungleOn the riverTermites taste like mint"Boats"This spider will kill youVery venomous snakeThe river runs red

Machu Picchu

Posted by Jason del Sur in Photo Albums, South America 2012
August 21st, 2014

As I’ve described previously, this is part of my series of getting caught up on my South American adventures, and as such will be much shorter than my usual posts.

As I had a very undefined itinerary for the second half of my trip, I did not know when I would arrive in Cuzco and when I would be able to do my Machu Picchu trek. The famous route is the Inca Trail, but due to environmental concerns with erosion and overuse it is extremely regulated. Because of this you must acquire a permit several months ahead of time specifying exact dates. Instead, I opted to do the arguably more strenuous Salkantay Trek. It’s a four-day trek reaching a maximum elevation of about 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) eventually leading to the town of Aguas Calientes.

We arrived in Aguas Calientes moderately early on the last day and took some time in the eponymous hot springs relaxing. After dinner we all retired to bed for a short nap. We departed around four in the morning to climb the nearly 2000 stairs to reach the entrance to Machu Picchu at sunrise.

Salkantay Trek

Before the trek, I was concerned that the beauty and splendor of Machu Picchu had been overhyped. I can now definitively tell you: it is that awesome. And I mean that in original sense of the word “inspiring awe”. The ancient stonework and the surrounding mountains make for a glorious sight in the early morning.

If any of you choose to visit Machu Picchu, I highly recommend doing the hike up the stairs. While arduous, you are able to enter the park as soon as it opens and explore with only a moderate number of other people. By the time 11:00am arrives with the loads of bus-riding tourists you will have largely gotten your fill and not feel bad relaxing in a secluded section until it is time to depart.

Machu Picchu

I also recommend the optional Huayna Picchu hike taking you to an extra peak far above the main structure. From there you are able to look down and bask in the grandiosity of the Incas. It also provides additional solace from the hoards of people arriving on busses.

My pictures cannot do justice to the experience of being there yourself:

Salkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuAtop Huanya Picchu looking down at Machu PicchuAtop Huanya Picchu looking down at Machu PicchuAtop Huanya Picchu looking down at Machu PicchuAtop Huanya Picchu looking down at Machu PicchuAtop Huanya Picchu looking down at Machu PicchuAtop Huanya Picchu looking down at Machu PicchuAtop Huanya Picchu looking down at Machu PicchuSalkantay TrekSalkantay TrekMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu PicchuMachu Picchu

La Paz Photos

Posted by Jason del Sur in Photo Albums, South America 2012
April 26th, 2012

Here’s a full photo album of my time in La Paz including Lucha Libre and Death Road.

IMG_0709IMG_0710P1040157P1040160P1040164P1040170P1040198P1040201P1040206P1040208P1040209P1040210IMG_0731P1040213IMG_0735P1040234IMG_0743IMG_0747IMG_0748IMG_0752IMG_0753IMG_0758IMG_0762P1040250P1040256P1040257P1040258P1040260P1040262P1040264P1040265P1040267P1040273P1040275P1040277P1040278P1040279P1040281P1040285P1040289P1040290P1040291P1040294P1040297P1040299IMG_0765P1040309P1040312P1040315P1040322P1040328

And a little insight into my time in La Paz.

“do you have any plans for tomorrow? because I don’t know about you, but I plan on getting ridiculously drunk tonight.”

5 minutes later: “this is going to sound ridiculous but I have to be up tomorrow at 7 to be on Bolivian television”

 

Iguazú Part the Second: Smallworld-itis

Posted by Jason del Sur in Photo Albums, South America 2012
April 2nd, 2012

Wednesday 21 March–Saturday 24 March

Getting across the Argentinian border was more time consuming than planned, but without incident. Our bus driver left while we were getting our Brazilian exit stamps, so we had to wait about 30 minutes for the next bus from the same company. I would recommend you just pay another R$4 for the very next bus, even if it’s a different company. The weather was bad that Wednesday, so once I got to the hostel I took it pretty easy. I did walk out to the point where Rio Paraná and Rio Iguazu meet. From this three-pointed junction, you can see Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

P1030846  P1030849

The next day at the Puerto Iguazú bus station is where small-continent syndrome really started hitting. As I was boarding the bus, I ran into Reggie, one of my favorite people I had partied with in Buenos Aires. He had just arrived and was on his way to the hostel. Unfortunately, with only email and Facebook as methods of communication, we were never able to meet up again. This was after I had run into Bernard whom I had also partied with in BA at the Cristo in Rio de Janeiro.

Once at the park, I opted not to hop on the train, as the line looked like an amusement park. There’s only one track, so the train only comes and goes every 20-30 minutes. After walking through the pleasant jungle-lined Sendero Verde I saw the falls once again. Where the Brazil side gave wonderful panoramic views, the Argentinian side gets you up close and intimate with the falls.

photo%204 P1030868

And by intimate, I mean it gets you wet. Really wet. </sexjoke> Especially when you take one of the jetboats which bring you right under the falls. I had brought my bathing suit, but once we happened upon the jetboat entrance, there was nowhere convenient to change, so I just went in the shorts I was wearing. I then later changed into my swimmers to dry off.

Iguazú - Argentina

And this is when I ran into Kurt and Rachael from Hawaii again. I had first met them at the Boca Juniors match in BA. They later in the day convinced me to go find the swimming hole with them and their Danish friends Nanna and Annelie. This led to a much longer hike than initially planned, but was worth it to be able to swim and hang out under a small waterfall. (The water is coming down so fast it’s slightly painful).

P1030937

We got a little lost coming back from the Sendero Macuco. The rest of the crew was in a rush to get back to the entrance to catch their bus, so we ended up hitching a ride on a bus that drove by. Somehow we had gotten outside the park. Fortunately I was able to use my limited Spanish to explain my situation and gain reentry. Unfortunately by this point I had missed the last train to Garganta del Diablo, the giant falls that can only be reached via the train.

That meant I had to return the following day. (Thankfully they give you a discount on admission if you return the following day.)

And here is what I had missed the first day, La Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat)

It was also good that I returned because the previous day San Martín island was closed. It’s a short boat ride, then a very steep ascent, but the views are absolutely worth the trouble.

Iguazú - Argentina Iguazú - Argentina

For my final full night in Argentina, I went out for a final bife de lomo and some wine. I thought I was just ordering a half bottle of wine, but it came out as a full bottle. By the time I had finished my steak, I was a little wine-drunk and plenty meat-drunk so I offered the remainder of my wine to the table of Parisians next to me. I then proceed to hang out with them for the rest of the evening. To complete my small-world tales (for now), I posted this picture on Facebook not realizing that I had taken a picture of these fine French folk even before I had met them.

P1030892

More Iguazú Photos:

P1030767P1030770P1030771P1030779P1030781P1030783P1030786P1030798P1030800P1030801P1030803P1030807P1030814P1030824P1030826P1030830P1030835P1030837P1030842P1030845photo%203P1030851P1030852P1030856P1030858P1030868P1030870P1030876P1030881P1030886P1030892P1030897P1030906P1030909P1030937photo%202photo%203photo%204Happy snake just wants to bite youIguazú - ArgentinaIguazú - ArgentinaIguazú - ArgentinaIguazú - ArgentinaIguazú - ArgentinaIguazú - ArgentinaIguazú - ArgentinaIguazú - ArgentinaIguazú - ArgentinaPanoramic%20of%20GargantaP1030846P1030849
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