June 2023

At the beginning of June we left Cusco to drive to Machu Picchu (MP). We had taken a few days to do this. We had booked the tickets online through the government website which was a bit difficult, but the cheapest option. You can also take a train from Cusco to Aguas Caliente, aka “Machu Picchu town” but one ticket is $120,- (MP is definitely the milk cow of Peru) so we decided to drive and walk. You can’t drive all the way to MP though, you can only drive up to Hidroelectrica (water power plant and a few houses) and from there walk the roughly 11km to Aguas Caliente. On our way to Hidroelectrica we had a pleasant stay for 2 nights at a very nice wild camp spot near a river and decided to come back there after MP.

We arrived at Hidroelectrica at Sunday afternoon and got a good camp spot in the shade at a small campsite. Here we could safely leave Binkie over night alone. No pets allowed in MP. On Tuesday morning we had an early start walking to Aguas Calientes (AC). A long but easy walk next to the train tracks, there are only a couple of trains a day. In AC we took the rather expensive bus up, since MP is situated on a mountain plateau. And then we spend about 2.5 hrs inside this ancient Inca capital. It is very well maintained. They started building it in 1420 and inhabited until somewhere in the 16th century. The Inca’s didn’t write anything down so it is unclear why it was abandoned but it is thought that it was a combination of the Spanish conquest and the (Spanish) diseases killing people. It was re-discovered by a German gold digger in 1866. The city was mostly used to house the Inca royalty and noblemen and their staff, but there were also plenty of temples, a quarry and warehouses. They grew crops on the terraces. It is thought that the common people lived in the valley below. Although there is plenty of information online, unfortunately there is zero information inside the archaeological site. And although we’d done our homework, it still wasn’t easy to figure out what was what. It’s a bit of a shame really that there’s zero information inside, not a single name on a building, not one photo of how it used to look or what a certain temple was used for. Things like this could have brought MP to life. It was of course build completely manual and on a hard to reach location so the size is impressive. Because it is in a remote area the Spanish never found the location, the main reason it is still intact. So we have now seen one of the 7 world wonders but honestly, well it was nice, nothing more. We walked back down to the hostel to spend the night and were already looking forward to seeing Binkie the next morning. When we came back to the van, Binkie however was more interested in going outside than in cuddling, so….

We spend another great few days at the same campsite near the river. Doing some laundry, baking bread, grilling meat and of course relaxing, before driving back to Cusco. We visited Moray on our way back. Here was an agricultural testing site from the Incas. They experimented with different crops and how they grow under different circumstances, quite advanced really. The Incas grew food on the steep mountain slopes by building terraces.  Mostly they experimented with potatoes, which was -and still is- a major food source. 

Back in Cusco we spend a few days at an overlander campsite, meeting other overlanders and then we drove off in to the Red Mountains. A beautiful area where the roads pass the 5.000 masl. The mountains are mostly red (duh) but also have other colours like green, white and yellow. We spend a night at 4800 masl which was figuratively and literally a new high but it also meant parking the van with the nose down a bit in order to get the engine to start again the next morning, by rolling down. Twice we drove past 5000 masl (new record) and while driving the van did well. We really enjoyed this beautiful, colourful and remote area. The mountains of Peru are absolutely gorgeous! Red bare mountains and grassy plains surrounded by snow capped mountains which are 6.000 masl and higher. We drove down again after a few days, where it’s warmer but less beautiful, the car starts without a problem and breathing is just a little easier. We spend enough time at high altitude to not get altitude sickness, but do get tired more easily after any physical effort. The same goes for Binkie although he doesn’t realize he should take it easy so we keep him inside a bit more and we only take him on short walks.

We spent a few days camping near another river where we met a local, Braulio, who helped Kilian to get the bike rack repaired yet again. As if the bad roads with its many potholes aren’t enough, there are unmarked, “home made” speed bumps everywhere. They have the exact same colour as the asphalt or dirt, whatever the road is made of. They are placed on main 80 km roads preferably at a place where they are difficult to spot or where you absolutely don’t expect them. So when you’re busy avoiding other cars, dogs or whatever, you suddenly bounce like crazy over one of those practically square speed bumps, thus causing damage, to the bike rack mainly, although the rest of the car suffers as well. So with a newly welded bike rack we drove of to Puno. Only a day later the bike rack had to endure another speed bump which we noticed to late and although not cracked, it now needs to be bend straight again…. Kilian has now secured it with extra cargo straps. We really wonder how much damage they cause to cars every day, especially since we are usually one of the slower vehicles on the road. 

Anyway we made it to Puno where we had a nice dinner with delicious alpaca steak to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Meanwhile we finally managed to buy online car insurance for Bolivia. This is mandatory but you can’t buy it at the border…. We had to wait a few days for it to start which we did at a campsite above lake Titicaca with a beautiful view on the Bolivian mountains.

On the 26th of June we crossed in to Bolivia at what was the most easy border crossing ever. We then enjoyed some time at the lake in the town Copacabana where we coincidentally met Raphael en Corina, two Swiss overlanders we had met a couple of times before. Kilian went on a bike ride with them and we would see them again in La Paz.

We drove to this capital on the 28th. We crossed the lake on a small ferry which looked rickety but it got the job done. We stayed a week at a campsite in La Paz where other overlanders meet up and we had a great time. La Paz itself is one of the least interesting cities we’ve been to, but they do have an interesting system of public transport. They use teleferico’s, cable carts. There are several lines, each with its own colour. And although they’re not very fast, you get to avoid the slow and crazy traffic in the streets. And you have a nice view. They were actually the most fun and interesting part of the city 🙂 Of course we also had some good food and stocked up on some supplies.

2 thoughts on “June 2023”

  1. Always very nice to read a new blog. How high you have driven and camped! Is it harder to start the engine with lower oxygen? Nice picture of you three which you took with the automatic release function on your camera. And I enjoy the very good quality of your pictures (on my phone at least-it looks very good 😅). Thank you for your personal message. I would like to answer when I am on the laptop because it’s easier to typewrite with two hands. But it turns out that I am never on the laptop. Here summervacation has started. An this time we drive to Italy. Which will be out of my comfort zone because it is very hot there. Have fun there and keep blogging. Greetings, Ilona

    Reply
    • Yes the lack of oxygen, the cold and also the lower quality diesel (also no winter diesel here) make it harder to start. Thank you for your compliment on our photos. I rarely feel the photo’s are good enough, not enough detail or the colors aren’t that great or they just don’t show how big or beautiful something really is, so I’m glad you like them! I hope you enjoy your holidays despite the heat! We are preparing two new blogs now so we’re not stopping! Greetings

      Reply

Leave a comment

Read more?
Peru is a very diverse country, with landscapes from sea…
We arrived in Bolivia at the 26th of June 2023.…