Exterous' Summer Vacation #2: Ecuador and Peru

Exterous

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Jun 20, 2006
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4.5 days after getting back from Canada we headed down to Lima Peru on a crazy cheap business class fare. One of the downsides to booking sale flights is that I usually only have a day to make sure that it's a good idea to visit that country that time of year, let alone the best amount of time to be there. So when being able to get around to actually planning the ground itinerary my first thought with our 13 day trip was that we could do Maccu Picchu and the Galapagos but this was not nearly enough time. And, due to some flight schedule changes, we ended up with some chunks of time that were not quite long enough in Lima and Arequipa to do all the things we would have wanted. So not my most time optimized trip but still a fantastic trip

We first spent several days in Quito to help acclimatize ourselves since we live at about 100' above sea level






Ecuador uses the US dollar as their currency and, apparently, all our $1 coins end up there. I don't think I ever say a $1 bill being exchanged.

Inhabited volcano:








When I saw the knots of electrical lines I always thought that was from people tying into the lines 'on the side' of the official workers. Not in Ecuador. I saw official linemen adding wires and making the knots worse:


(Sorry for the bad pictures of those but its due to a moving vehicle)
 
Nov 8, 2012
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Those electrical wires look like what I've seen in Brazil. People just add their lines in and leach off of it.
 

Exterous

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No trip would be complete without a trip to The Center of the World* where the lattitude is 0 degrees 0 minutes and 0 seconds




*Well its actually a few hundred feet away but close enough for a passport stamp!







The Botanical Gardens in one of the main Quito parks was surprisingly good



After Quito we headed to Lima for a short stay before flying to Cusco


The food in Peru was really good and, often, crazy cheap
$17 for a bread basket, beer and this much food (there are fried bananas under that egg) Use the fork for scale:


$3 breakfast:
 

Exterous

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You hiking up to machu pichu or taking the choo choo?
My wife isn't an overnight hiker so we took the train. We did hike up Maccu Picchu mountain though

Those electrical wires look like what I've seen in Brazil. People just add their lines in and leach off of it.
Yeah I was expecting people to add their own lines but I saw official linemen adding to the rats nest
 

ponyo

Lifer
Feb 14, 2002
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Beautiful pictures! Peru is known for their food. It's one of the major reason I want to visit Peru. Food and Maccu Picchu.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
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Thanks for sharing, plan to download your pictures like I did for the Canadian Rockies thread. I know some people who have "vacationed" in Peru. I hope to, and Galapagos too.
 

Exterous

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Two things I forgot to mention about Ecuador:
#1) They use the USD and I think we shipped all our $1 coins there. Need $9 in change? Here are a bunch of $1 coins
#2) There are barbers and salons everywhere in Quito. Like 3-4 per block. And they had crazy long hours. 9pm on Sunday and you need a haircut? No problemo!

After Quito we headed to Cuzco





Which we used as a jumping off point of our Sacred Valley tour. A little negotiation at the airport got us a 25min taxi ride for $2.75. Since my wife is fluent in Spanish we stayed at some smaller, more out of the way places and asked the hotels to arrange a driver for the day for us. Stayed in the nicest $35/night hotel I've ever been to with a memory foam bed and pillows and fairly good free breakfast. For $55 we got a driver to take us to various sites on our way to Urubamba, drop us off there 11 hours later while he drove back to Cuzco.

Pisac



Moray



It was interesting to drive up to ~10,000ft, be surrounded by massive fields of grain and then see mountains rising up from the ~10,000ft high plateau we were on


Salt Flats (at ~10,000'ft elevation)




You used to be able to walk between them but they had to close them off because tourists suck
 

Exterous

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Beautiful pictures! Peru is known for their food. It's one of the major reason I want to visit Peru. Food and Maccu Picchu.
Thanks! The food was highly variable even from places with great reviews on various websites. We had some great food but we also had some very bland and mediocre food that was, relatively, a bit pricey. I think the 'being known for their food' comes from how cheap it is. So tourists can go to very fancy and expensive restaurants and pay 1/5 of what they would at home. It was kind of interesting at times. You would go into some places and you'd see very nicely dressed locals along side slightly grubby 19 year old hostel staying backpackers from American or Europe because it was a fancy expensive local spot which was quite cheap compared to home for the backpackers (and us).

Lol those egg shaped waffle thing is from HK.
Or did HK get it from Quito? ;)

Thanks for sharing, plan to download your pictures like I did for the Canadian Rockies thread. I know some people who have "vacationed" in Peru. I hope to, and Galapagos too.
You're welcome. We were a bit bummed about not having enough time to go to the Galapagos
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
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Stunningly great photos! I can't imagine seeing better in the magazines. Have you thought of submitting, even selling them? Seriously!

Edit: Just saved all the photos and many text comments to my Photos NAS drive, using this laptop, to be viewed on a 43" 4K display later! Thank you! Hopefully will inspire me to get my passport out of UN-safe deposit box (read an article yesterday about how SDB's actually are anything but safe!!!) and visit Peru and/or Ecuador... etc.!!!
 
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Exterous

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After Urubamba we headed to Ollantaytambo - the last city accessible by car before Aguas Calientas, the town near Machu Picchu. From here on out it was a 28km mountain hike or a train. We opted for the train. There are some pretty good sights at Ollantaytambo too

Templo del sol
(cell phone)

(Real Camera)




We took the Vistadome train there and the Expedition train back. Having taken both, there isn't really enough difference to choose the Vistadome over the Expedition but our schedule meant that the Vistadome was the best option


For Machu Picchu we lined up at 5:25am to be on the first buses up the hill. We didn't quite make it into the ruins before the sunrise happened but we made it pretty darn close all things considered






Then we started 'hiking' Machu Picchu mountain. If you want to know what it would be like to glue a set of stone stairs to a mountain just go here to find out. It was more of a stair master workout than 'hiking'. Its about a 650m rise over ~1600 steps. Unfortunately about 3/4 the way up my wife tweaked her knee pretty well. With no real area to sit and wait for me (Because it was just stone stairs up and down) I didn't want her to wait the remaining ~30min for me to ascend and then 25min for me to descend (it took the same amount of time because these were shallow and irregular stairs)

Picture from just above where we had to stop. Machu Picchu is in the lower left corner



I normally carry our pack up and she carries it down but I had to carry it both ways and help her down some of the stairs. She also had to sit while I toured some of the rest of Machu Picchu that we hadn't seen before we started the hike. Fortunately a little rest, ice and ibuprofen at the hotel helped but it continued to cause her problems on and off for the rest of the trip


 

Exterous

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How many guinea pigs did you eat?
MMMM rodent
Why do they have to leave the head and the feet on?
How else can you tell a rat from a guinea pig?
Funny was thinking the same thing!
We didn't eat any - basically because they leave the head and feet on. My tender American sensibilities prefer more abstraction between animals that become meat that I eat

Stunningly great photos! I can't imagine seeing better in the magazines. Have you thought of submitting, even selling them? Seriously!
Thanks! :)
 

Mai72

Lifer
Sep 12, 2012
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How many countries have you been too? Your passport allmost full? Mine is.

It's a life worth living, IMO. :):):)
 

Exterous

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After that we headed back to Cuzco by train, arriving late and then leaving early in the morning for Arequipa








We got to see a parade\political rally while we were there with police, a few bands, a few military units and this guy:



 
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Exterous

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Amazing pictures
Thanks!

How many countries have you been too? Your passport allmost full? Mine is.

It's a life worth living, IMO. :):):)
Unique countries? 35. We've been to a few like Ireland and Belgium more than once though. My passport is pretty full but I'm getting depressed about that. Mine expires soon so after our NYE trip I'll have to get a new one before April. It will have zero stamps and some countries who have stamps in my current passport aren't stamping them anymore :(
 

Exterous

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Then we headed back to Lima:







Overall a great trip and we really enjoyed both countries. Great sights, friendly people and cheap prices. The biggest draw back was the traffic and pollution in Lima. Even the city buses belched black smoke. So for anyone considering Peru I would echo the general recommendations to not spend a lot of time in Lima but the country is well worth a visit
 

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