I arrived back in Cusco and used the day to organise my things: Replying to messages, washing cloth, editing photos, writing and planning for the next days. One of the things that was probably the most important one was to find new shoes. My third pair of Salomon Speedcross3 in 15 month is through – good performance and nothing to complain. I guess I just walk too much 😂 I knew a store which even had the newer version Speedcross4. So I went there and thought it was going to be an easy thing but the biggest size was 45.5 – 0.5 missing. And this was the only shop in Cusco which carried my favorite brand. Oh-oh… Item stays on the list I guess

One of the things I still wanted to see in the area of Cusco was the Sacred Valley with its Inca ruins. To make it easy I just booked a tour for the next day which would cover the four most “important” sites: Chinchero, Maras, Moray and Pisac.

Pick up time 7.00-7.10am – the bus came at 7.40am. I have to admit I started worrying at 7.35 – but I guess that’s already a good adaptation to South American punctuality 😉 What can I say – the tour was probably the worst I have done on this entire trip so far. I was picked up last and had to squeeze in a window seat with leg room so spacious that I had to keep my knees on eye-level. Two thirds of the bus was occupied with a Korean travel group with their own tour guide. I had a very long non-verbal argument with the girl sitting next to me. After the first stop she closed the curtains. Having an understanding for the Asian cultures I knew that she didn’t want any sun in the bus and time in the bus was usually time to sleep. So I only peaked through a little gap trying to show that I was actually interested in the landscape. Before leaving the bus at the next stop I opened them again but had to find them closed again when I came back. Great discussion 😂. Well and then I decided to just be a European and opened it. My intention was a tour through the Sacred Valley – which I actually also wanted to see – and not a bus-sleep-ride with a few stops. From that moment on Ice-Age in row 12… 😂

What can I say – we spend a lot of time in the bus with random stops at shops, markets and toilets. When we got to the actual sites the guide rushed through the main path, gave a short speech and gave us 5 minutes to take pictures and then we had to return to the Ice-Age-Knee-Killer-Bus and continue. No time to sit and take anything in. If you want to go to the Sacred Valley, either do it in two days, only do half or not at all.

Well, what we saw from the sites was nice. I wish I had more time. Just a few impressions. Chinchero:

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This is a very unique setup of terraces at Moray with the different layers the Incas created different micro-climates on each level and tested the growth rates of different plants to learn where they will grow best. Quite impressive.

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Next stop the salt mines of Maras. Due to an ancient sea bed the mountains contain salt which is washed out by water. The water runs through the terraces build by the Incas and is harvested by evaporation. Today every family of the area owns three basins.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The water channels are situated between the basins to equally transport the water. Nice colours and water plays…

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Do you see the devil? Or a goat? A sign?
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XXX

Last stop Pisac. It was already late and a bit windy so we literally went in for a glimpse and directly back to the bus. Well, I snuck out of the group and at least ran up to get a few views. No more tours… 😡

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I was really looking forward to just get back to the hostel, have a beer and call it a day. Tomorrow I wanted to continue to Arequipa for a hike in the Colca canyon. I arrived in the hostel at around 7pm and told the girl in my room about my plans. She looked at me and told me to check if there were any day busses to Arequipa at all – the ride was supposing 11h. What? I thought it was a short trip. Had to find out there were only night busses leaving at 8.30pm. So I gave her my beer which I had just opened, quickly packed my stuff, bought a ticket, jumped into a taxi and just made it to the bus terminal ten minutes before departure. Hahahaha – love these things. Good as gold! 😎

11 hours later I arrived in Arequipa, checked into a hostel and went on the search for my shoes. After the 14th store and two malls even being willing to compromise with a different brand and type for the due time I had to give up. Not a single shoe bigger than size 45. So I went online, found a Salomon Facebook page, flicked them a message if they could help me to get a pair of Speedcross3 in 46 and they came back after 30 minutes saying they have reserved a pair for me in their store in Lima. Sweet as, brew! Can’t wait. Item off the list for now and the last hike for this pair to come 🤘

I had also organised a transport to the Colca Canyon – apparently a spectacular hike down and up the canyon with great chances to see Condors. After the disastrous experience with the tour I opted against a guided tour and decided to go on my own. I was still put in the same bus with the tours but was free to hike on my own. We had a short stop at the Condor view point. Again – aaaahhhhhh. Locals selling stuff the reminder that we have 20 minutes for pictures and then have to return. Help meeeeee. Not agaiiiin…! Well, the views were amazing though.

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And then we were dropped off at the canyon, I secretly listened to one of the tour briefings and then started running ahead of all of the groups so I had the trail almost to myself. The Colca Canyon is basically a 1,000m steep canyon which you drop down cross the river in the middle, walk through the valley, cross it again after a while and then hike up the 1,000m in switchbacks again. Probably around 22km and in tours a 2 or even 3 day program. I ran into a group with Lisa who I had shared the taxi with from the bus station the day before and I continued with them. It was a nice group and since there was no sense in running for me – my bus only left the next day I took it easy for the rest of the day and enjoyed the company.

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We stayed in a simple hostel with bungalows in the valley. A nice and cosy place which even had a little bar with an all night happy hour – 2 for 1! So a deck of cards was put on the table and a few “Peru Libre” and laughs later we all went to bed. Great evening!

Next morning the group started at 4.30am to make it up the 5km and 1,000m high climb to be up there latest at 8am. I figured I would be a bit faster and slept in. The path was a steady and nice incline – exactly what I love: running uphill. It very much reminded me on the Grouse Grind in Vancouver. So I started running and had a blast. Great morning cardio exercise!

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“My group” also adopted me for breakfast and the ride home which was really nice. We stopped at some hot springs and went in for a dip which was nice after the early morning exercise. On the way back we came into a little thunderstorm and a lot of rain – something people and the roads are not prepared for here. Chaos and massive traffic jams. Let’s hope this will ease out tomorrow when I want to continue to Lima…

Since the bus ride from Arequipa to Lima was another 20 hours and in the conditions of heavy floods and rain all over the country I decided to take a plane in the evening of the next day which gave me an entire day in Arequipa – which by the way in nice weather is a really cute town. I bumped into two girls in the hostel, Mila & Greta, and decided to join them on their visit to the monastery. Not my first call as an atheist but it looked very impressive from the outside. And it was also quite fascinating from the inside. A complete little city in its own.

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Thanks to the two models Mila & Greta.

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Model: Greta. Thanks for sitting still 😉

lsdfa

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