While we were in La Paz (it seems like ages ago) we decided to cycle down the World's Most Dangerous Road. It is a 64km long stretch of twisting dirt road that is cut into the side of a mountain and descends over 3,400m from start to finish. To the right, there is a towering cliff face with occasional rock overhangs and waterfalls washing the road away, to the left, a sheer drop of over 1,000m (3,300 ft.) And as luck would have it, it's the only road in Bolivia where they drive on the left, meaning we had to ride along the edge of the road, right beside the death-defying drop!
We had a fantastic day, although we were aching the day afterwards. At least the only thing we had to do was sit on a bus that took us over the border to the Peruvian town of Puno. The main attraction there is Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake apparently. It's home to this wierd little group of floating islands, called the Uros Islands, made from reeds. The ground, the houses, everything there is made from reeds. St. Brigid would have been proud!
We also went to Amantani, one of the islands further out on the lake, not a floating one, and spent a night in a homestay there. It was really nice to stay with Peruvian family and experience a day in their life.
While we were on the island they had a 'fiesta' for us and we got to dress up in traditional island clothing.
After Puno we went to Arequipa and from there did a side trip to Colca Canyon, a well know trekking area. For some crazy, idiotic, insane reason one of the most popular treks is to hike it down to the bottom of the canyon there, a mere 1200m descent, have a swim in the pools down there, and then try to haul yourself back up again. Obviously that's exactly what we did! Even though we were kind of aware of the stupidity of it beforehand, the point was really hammered home as we tried to drag ourselves back up the steep, winding, dirt path. It took us about twice as long as it had to get down there!
On the way back from Colca Canyon we stopped off at Cruz del Condor to see the condors that live there. Amazing birds that drift on currents of hot air, really big once they get close.
After Arequipa it was on to Nazca, where we flew over the Nazca lines, in what could only be described as a toy plane.
They're fairly certain at this stage that the lines were created by ancient Nazcan people, not aliens as once believed. But they're not 100% sure why they created these lines that could only be seen from the air in an era when there was no flying. One opinion was that they were for the benifit of the Shamans (ancient priests). When the priests got high they believed they could fly and so the people created the lines to provide a bit of scenery for these drug induced 'flights'.
After Nazca, we visited Pisco to go out to the Islas Ballestas. They're nicknamed the poormans Gallapagos, and that suited us fine since we won't be going to Ecuador.
The islands were literally covered with birds (we got to see penguins, pelicans, comorants and lots of others), and the rocks were dotted with sealions.
Our next stop was Lima. We've had a lazy few days here because we got here a bit earlier than intended since we didn't go to Rurrenabaque. To be honest it's been nice to laze around and not really do much. We saw some of the city sights, but nothing really stood out.
Tomorrow we head to Cusco and have a few days to try and get re-acclimatised to the altitude before we do the Inca Trail. Then it's on to Central America, scary hown close to the end of the journey we are!
Anyway would love to hear from anyone reading the blog, we're getting as little bit homesick at this stage.
Jan and Paul