The Highest Lake To The Driest Desert
We spent our last day in Cusco doing a final spot of sightseeing, I think everyone was pretty tired from the early mornings on our side trip to Machu Picchu, so we just wondered around the picturesque town, checked out the Inca museum and made a trip through San Pedro market.
The skills of the locals are incredible, if only we had more space for souvenirs on the bike. It’s amazing watching the ladies weaving without any pattern to follow – the textiles they produce must take days and days of work.
The trip around the market ended up being an interesting one….to start with it was just the normal things you might see for sale….
But then it got weird…..okay, frogs legs I can understand!
…..but what on earth are these for!!! Ergh!
Our last night in Cusco involved the first of three goodbyes. After Mike’s accident he was flying back home to Canada (to buy another bike and plan his next trip no doubt 🙂 ). It’s strange to think we wont be riding together again.
Mike waved us off the following morning and we headed out of town with Chris to Puno. My parents were taking a slightly more luxurious and warmer method of transport – the Andean Explorer Train which is part of the Orient Express.
Their train left before we headed off, partly because we were struggling to get the bike out of the hotel reception! In fact Dan almost took one of their glass entrance doors off whilst trying to ride up the steps onto the street. It all got a bit messy and passers by were helping out, definitely the most difficult exit yet!!
A couple of hours down the road and we caught up with the train. I was waving frantically as we rode along – I’m sure everyone else on board was probably wondering why 🙂 I was starting to feel quite envious of the passengers as we gained altitude and it got colder and colder.
Luckily the scenery made up for the chilly weather…even on a dull day it looks amazing.
Chris bought some small LED torch’s from the UK and hands them out to the locals – they love them! Although it does look more like he’s trying to light the young boy a cigarette….haha – he really isn’t!
We met back up with Mum & Dad in the town of Puno, which sits on the edge of Lake Titicaca. The town wasn’t quite as beautiful as Cusco, but a great base for checking out the highest navigable lake in the world.
There was a huge street party going on one evening…we never did find out what it was in aid of – but as we’ve experienced in the past, they do enjoy a good street party in Central and South America!
We took a day trip out on Lake Titicaca to visit the nearby Uros Islands – floating islands made from the reeds. It was interesting meeting the local Uru people who live here.
These guys look like they’re waiting at their local ‘boat’ stop, maybe to get back to the mainland.
A local inhabitant explained the construction of the islands….it was weird to think people live out here. The base of the islands is made from cutting and floating sections of reed roots, they then lay several layers of reeds to create a surface on which they can build and walk around. The top layers rot and have to be replaced regularly and the islands are not permanent – some only last for 20 years before being rebuilt. The whole island feels squidgy under your feet as you walk. They have to anchor the islands with rope to the bottom of the lake to stop them from floating off and into Bolivia as they don’t have passports 🙂
After nearly two weeks, it was now sadly time for my parents to head back to Lima for their flight home. Goodbye number two. I hate saying goodbye to my parents…but we’ll be back in the UK in March, so not long until I get to see them again! They had seen quite a lot on their holiday, including the Dakar Rally, Cusco, Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca…..quite a tiring trip but I hope they enjoyed it 🙂
As they headed for the airport, we hit the road with Chris towards Chile. We reached an all time altitude high of approx 4650m and we stayed at over 4000m for hours, it was super cold and I hadn’t put enough layers on. Plus is was really foggy and at times we could barely see anything. Every time we started to descend a little bit I was hoping we would be on our way to the warmth of sea level…but then we would start ascending again…it went on forever!
Finally we reached the warmth near the coast and after about a month in Peru, we crossed into Chile. I had read that people compared crossing from Peru into Chile as being like crossing from Mexico into the USA….they were kind of right. Peru was really poor and there was a definite noticeable difference entering Chile, it almost instantly seemed richer. Unfortunately they have prices to match….fuel is super expensive as is accommodation and food. I guess we wont be spending too much time here then.
Our journey from Puno to the coast and into Chile had taken us into the Atacama Desert – the driest place in the world!! No need for my waterproof linings for a few days then 🙂
I’ve never seen scenery like it before….you would think driving through a desert would be boring – but this was far from boring.
Some of the roads were long and straight, but that just gave us a chance to relax whilst still riding along – although I don’t have anywhere to put my feet up!!!
A new country means new beer……for some anyway – I’m just here for the wine 🙂
We hit the coastal road for a couple of hours before heading inland deeper into the desert.
As we neared the town of San Pedro de Atacama the scenery changed again…so many different landscapes in one day on the road!
It was time to relax for a few days in San Pedro…..the sun was shining and we needed to plan some more of the trip – where will we go next??
We also used the day off to check out the local salt flats of Salar de Atacama…..
…which along with being home to lizards are also home to one of the rarest flamingos in the world – the Andean Flamingo. Quite a strange thing to see at altitude on slat flats, but this is where they migrate to in the summer months.
More great roads and scenery en route to and from the salt flats.
Now time for our third goodbye….Chris has to be in Buenos Aires before the end of the month, so he’s headed off for the Argentinean border. Now we’re back on our own….other than the odd day here and there, we’ve not been on our own on the road for months – time to hunt down some more overlanders I think 🙂