Cerro Santa Apolonia

As it was my last full day in Cajamarca, I wanted to make the most of it. It was a nice day with lots of sunshine so I decided to go up to the top of Cerro Santa Aplonia. I had previously gone about half way and taken a few photos but as it was crowded, decided to abandon the trip. As luck would have it, yesterday it was almost deserted.

Cerro Santa Apolonia, was where the Inca emperor Atahualpa had a “throne” and from where he surveyed his army and people.

??????????????Very quiet.

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DSCN1820With amazing views.

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????????????????????I had thought that this was the top but there is a small plateau further up which has a pleasant garden area. Entry about 25p.

????????????Was this some sort of sentry box? It is very small.

????????????The emperor´s throne, allegedly.

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This cactus looks older and more weary than me.

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Los Baños del Inca

Yesterday I went to the thermal springs known as Los Baños del Inca, Cajamarca. They were famously used by the Inca emperor Atahualpa just before he was captured by the Spanish.

If it was good enough for him, it is good enough for me. It is only a few kilometeres outside of the city of Cajamarca and the taxi fare from the city centre was acceptable, about £2.50 each way.

DSCN1786Where is the water? This can’t be right.

DSCN1775Aah. A modern version. The water looks a bit murky though…

DSCN1779…and a bit hot. Unless that’s piranhas bubbling under the surface.

DSCN1776I am definitely not getting in there.

IMG_0269My private thermal bath. It was luxurious. The water from the thermal spring is at 71°C so needed some cold water added for personal comfort.

DSCN1782There is also an information centre, which has a few artifacts and a photographic exhibition of almost everything of interest in the Cajamarca area. I was shown around by José who patiently explained things to me. Fortunately for me, he did not speak as rapidly as most of the local people.

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Colpa and Cascades

On Monday, I went to Colpa, which used to be a successful farm and now appears to be a successful tourist attraction.DSCN1666It has an artificial lake, complete with artificial islands.

DSCN1691As we arrived, the storm clouds were gathering and it was not long before we were heading for the shelter….

DSCN1677… of the hacienda, as the torrential rain began.

DSCN1676After the downpour subsided, we looked at the farm’s little church….

DSCN1686…which had some nice stained glass windows but not much else.

The farm does have a party trick involving its cows, whereby each one is called by name to go to its individual feeding stall. It is quite clever but I don’t want to get carried away.  The farm, like many others in the area produces a wide range of dairy related foods and drinks.

From the farm we moved off towards our next destination, waterfalls. This involved some walking….

DSCN1694and some balancing to cross a couple of small rivers.

DSCN1702It must have been at least a kilometre walk in each direction but it was worth it.

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Granja Porcón

On Saturday, I joined a tour to Granja Porcón, a farming cooperative situated in a dense pine forest about 30 km north-east of the city of Cajamarca. Apart from day visits, the farm offers hands on farm experience and activity holidays.

DSCN1556On the way there we stopped at  a stone-masonry to see some local artisans and their work. I was intrigued by the dump trucks and felt a little nostalgic. I resisted the urge to buy one as they weighed more than 1Kg each. Nevertheless, they were well made.

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View on arrival at the farm.

DSCN1579I was lucky to see this bird flying in the distance.

DSCN1580I was even luckier when it turned and flew towards me.

DSCN1597There is also a collection of animals and birds, unrelated to farming.

DSCN1621This pond reminds me of a certain politician’s expense claims.

DSCN1614I felt for a moment as if I was back in the workplace. Ignored and irrelevant.

DSCN1635A pride of lions……

DSCN1654….and a proud peacock.

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Ventanillas de Otuzco

On Friday, after a light lunch in El Zarco restaurant in Cajamarca, I joined a tour to visit the ventanillas de Otuzco. An ancient burial site where the graves are actually set in the cliff face and shaped like windows. Ventanilla deriving from, ventana, the Spanish word for window.

However, I did not realise that first we were going to visit a dairy and then a botanical garden. The dairy, Fundo Los Alpes, produces a great variety of products, some of which we sampled. The dairy has a Swiss owner, hence the name.

I use to eat lots of cheese but am unable to do so these days, so my attention wandered to the outdoors and the ever darkening sky.

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May till October is the dry season in the Northern Highlands of Perú but can be unpredictable.

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After the dairy, there was another stop at a botanical garden but I felt as if we may not have seen the best of it.

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Finally arriving at the ventanillas at the same time as the heavy rain commenced.

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The ventanillas have varying depths. Some single occupancy and others multiple. Much like a backpacker´s hostel.

Arriving back at the Plaza de Armas, as the rain had stopped, I decided on an early dinner.

After dinner, before going back to my hotel, I decide to try photographing some illuminated structures.

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This was about the 10 th attempt at this one but it was more than 500 metres away and up a lot of steps.I was not prepared to make the climb just after dinner.

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The cathedral, in the Plaza de Armas.

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Cumbe Mayo

Yesterday I joined a tour going to Cumbe Mayo, which is the site of a pre-Incan aqueduct. It is situated in the area of a “stone forest”, which has eroded over time and has taken on an extraordinary form. Apparently the locals can see various bird and animal shapes and even monks, in the formations. I was not able to discern all of the shapes but perhaps I was not understanding what was being said. Never mind, I was just happy to enjoy the rock.

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There is a museum complex being built – tastefully.

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View from the museum.

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A viewing point for petroglyphs.

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Unfortunately my photo does not show the petroglyphs very clearly.

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Queuing to enter a very narrow “tunnel”. Once in, you had to keep going as there was not room to turn.

It was totally dark inside….

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….with the welcome light at the end of the tunnel.

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The locals were happy to pose for a photo – for a small fee.

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The aqueduct was constructed with just a slight gradient.

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 I did manage to spot the bird shape here. There was some debate as to whether it was an eagle or condor.

I thought it was a giant stonechat.

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I bought two hard boiled eggs from this lady for my lunch.

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A clearer example of a petroglyph.

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Cajamarca

After two months, the time finally came to leave Lima.  I travelled up to Cajamarca on an overnight bus journey lasting more than fifteen hours. The journey was not unpleasant – for me anyway, as I slept fairly well. I don’t doubt that my sleeping must have annoyed the other passengers. I soon got settled into my hotel, the cheap but cheerful, Hostal Giraflores, which is more comfortable than the penthouse in Lima.

Cajamarca is famous for being the place where the Spanish conquered the Incas but it is also blessed with being surrounded by natural beauty. In the ten days that I will spend here, I hope to see as much as possible. At first look, the tour prices seem reasonable so I may rely on them rather than find my own way around. Except of course, for the city itself, which I have already been exploring on foot.

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The Plaza de Armas was a good place to start.

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The cathedral.

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The church of San Francisco.

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All of the tour operators and money changers seem to be in or close to the Plaza de Armas.

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There are some steep hills but I feel happier walking here than I did in Lima. It certainly is more tranquil.

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Looking toward the Cerro Santa Apolonia

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