So where were we……?
After a couple days thought about visiting the Eagles nest we decided we needed to continue our journey as we had already spent 10 days in Puerto Maldonado.
We set off to Cusco on what is reputably the worst road in Peru. A 500km stretch of dirt road running from the lowland jungle and rising up to the Andes, culminating in a pass of 4800 metres. In the dry season possible in 3-4 days of solid driving and in the wet season trucks can take up to 30 days to complete!
The road is an excellent example of a rocky riverbed where we spent the first 2 ˝ days driving in 1st and 2nd gear ALL DAY. As usual the scenery was stunning jungle where we drove through dry river beds, waded through streams and huge water puddles. The ditches created in the road by the trucks in the wet season were evident all the way and if they were full of water, Lodzi would be submerged to above the wing mirrors!
We also had our very first serious bogging down having to use the sand ladders and the hi-lift jack although not on the road as one would expect. On the 3rd night we found a quiet camp spot just off the side of the road next to a river. It was late and getting dark so we pulled in quickly without assessment and managed to bury the whole driver's side of the vehicle up to the sills in a sloppy mud. 2 hours later, a full repertoire of swear words, a lot of "I told you so" and "now what" and a full energetic work out we finally pulled out of the bog to camp just in front of the mire.
The climb up the Andes was hard on Lodzi as the road was still appalling being done in 1st and 2nd gear. At the top of the Andes we joined our first bit of decent road at the town of Urcos before the final 40km drive into Cusco. We camped in an another new "Overlander" campsite 20 minutes walk from the town centre on the side of a hill overlooking Cusco just near the ruins by the name which sounds like "Sexywoman", fortunately we acclimatised to the altitude quite quickly but not to the cold nights again, at least they had hot showers and a room to sit in with a heater!! Luxury.
After a service on the vehicle where James replaced a suspect looking universal joint on the front prop shaft and a few rubber bushes on the suspension, as well as helping out with a Landcruiser that had taken a big knock on the front axle on the same road we had just done. We researched visiting Machu Picchu which is a bit of an expensive tourist trap; make that a huge expensive tourist trap.
Machu Picchu is accessed in 3 ways.
-The most expensive is definitely doing the Inca trail via the Sacred Valley. This needed to be pre-booked weeks in advance and (on our daily budget) was not an option.
-The second was taking a Tourist train to the small town of Aguas Calientes a few km from Machu Picchu which also was fairly expensive when push came to shove.
-The third option was to drive around to a village called Santa Teresa whereby you can park for a nominal fee, hike 15km for free, camp at the base of Machu Picchu in the council camp ground and then hike up to for free. Entrance there on in was about 24 USD each. No prizes for guessing which one we did.
After a long drive of about 200km over a 4500m pass and then back down into a valley and then a slow mountain side trail up to Santa Teresa we found secure parking in the local hospital grounds. A night camped there we packed our tent and kit into rucksacks and headed out. Half a km away we managed to hitch a cheap ride on a local truck the first 6km to the hydroelectric station where it is possible to catch a cheap train to Aguas Calientes. We opted to walk the 8km which was in beautiful forest along the railway line following the river.
After a night camped at Puente Ruinas campsite in the tent we started our uphill climb at 5am in the morning by torch to reach the ruins for sunrise! An absolutely awesome sight and very impressive and that early meant not too many tourists. By 10am, all the day tourists had arrived and sort of spoilt the view with about 2000 tourists swarming all over the place like ants. C'est la vie! We spent the whole day walking around the ruins taking far too many photos.
Another night camped near the river then we trekked back to Lodzi in the morning and were on the road by 1pm. We decided on the long route back to Cusco via Quillabamba through all the farming and fruit growing areas, stopping in at Pisaq market town for the morning.
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