Rafting near Bariloche

San Carlos de Bariloche in Patagonia,(in the Argentina part), is a great place for rafting, kayaking, skiing, depending on the season. Having previously tried rafting when I was in Cusco, and, having to cancel a trip in Arequipa after being delayed on my journey, I was keen to have another go, before returning home.

The Cusco rafting was quite tame, levels 2 and 3, although a great experience. Bariloche was said to be mainly rapids of levels 3 and 4. That sounded good. Within my insurance cover. The site was located over 100kms from Bariloche and was close to the border with Chile.

There were 2 rafts with 8 of us in each and I was with a very friendly family group who came from Buenos Aires. I volunteered to go in the front and my new friend Tito, was opposite me. All went well, until the most demanding of the rapids. We got a bit out of shape and seemed to be stuck, just being spun around. We lost one person and then Tito became dislodged and was sat on my leg, the raft tipped over and we were all thrown into the water.

Leaving a boat and entering cold water is not a new experience for me. Having said that, when entering the water, I usually have a moment to adjust, as the cold water on my face usually makes me feel nauseous. On this occasion, whilst feeling the nausea, I also felt a sickening blow as I was hit full in the face by someone’s  safety helmet, with all of their body weight plus acceleration, behind it.

I was stunned and sank like a stone. I have to say, I thought that this could be it. I have had a few underwater moments previously but on this occasion was not even able to take a deep breath before going under. The water was deep and cold and I was being spun around. We had been well equipped, with wet suits and life preservers and I was able to suppress the urge to take a breath long enough to get to the surface. My nose was bleeding and I was still a bit stunned but the water temperature helped to keep me focused. It was bloody cold.

The other raft also had problems so there was quite a bit of recovery work to do. I was towed towards the river bank by Martin who was in the recovery kayak and left there while he was busy chasing others. Eventually we were all picked up and the story had a happy ending. We all posed for photos on the Argentina/Chile border. I had thought until now that it was Tito who had crashed into me but after reviewing the photos, it is inconclusive. However, I am looking forward to meeting Tito for a drink in Buenos Aires before I return to the UK.

Click on photos to enlarge or for a slide show.

From Cusco to Puno

To travel from Cusco to Puno, in Perú, instead of the usual direct bus, I decided to take the tourist route. This involved several stops along the way and included the services of a guide. There was also a stop for lunch and the journey took almost 10 hours.

 

The first stop was at Andahuaylillas to visit the church of San Pedro. Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed to be used inside. The church has many works of art and is known as the ” Sistine Chapel of Perú”.

 

 

The next stop was Raqchi, a large Inca site. It had been partially destroyed by the invading Spaniards but some of it is still standing.

 

 

The next stop was for lunch, buffet style, which was adequate. I sat at a table occupied by a friendly couple from Argentina, which gave me an opportunity to get advice for my forthcoming visit to their country.

 

Onward and upward to La Raya, at 4335 metres above sea level, the highest part of the journey and an opportunity to take fotos.

 

 

The next stop was at Pukara. One again, in the museum, cameras were not allowed to be used.

 

And finally, on to Puno, on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

 

Puno-PERU

Puno-PERU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cusco, day and night

Cusco, situated in the Andes, in south-eastern Perú, was the capital of the Incan Empire. It is surrounded by sites of historical and archaeological interest. The modern day wonder of the world, Machu Picchu being the most notable.

Tourism is big business in Cusco and there are some disreputable companies ready to take advantage of people easily parted from their cash. Happily, there are other companies who, while not being the cheapest, offer a good service. Also you can buy a tourist ticket which lasts up to 10 days and gives you entrance into many of the sites in and around the city. It is a good way of saving money.

Having visited a lot of the sites around the Sacred Valley and my Boleto Turistico  expired, I decided to take the tour bus and have a look at the city from a different perspective. The bus departed from the Plaza de Armas at about 5 pm, which was shortly before dusk.

As we climbed the hill, the sun began to set and the various cloud formations became more noticeable.

As the bus began its descent back toward the city, darkness fell and still marvelling at the light show that nature had provided, I decided to take some photos of the city lights. Not easy when you are on a bus, especially as it goes over speed bumps.

Laqo and ?

After visiting Tambomachay and Puka Pukara, two Inca sites a short distance outside of Cusco, I set off in search of the Temple of the Moon. I had been given directions by Jeremy, of Rumi-Tumi Tours but after a couple of hours of looking over the previous sites, I couldn’t remember them very well.

I had a vague idea of the direction I should be going and I knew my position with regard to the road and the location of the city, so I was not going to get lost. I walked for at least 2 hours during which I discovered…

…but no Temple of the Moon. I carried on walking, intrepid explorer style, passing bemused farmers and their families. I was on the point of giving up, when I spotted a group of young men collecting wood. I asked them if they were aware of Inca ruins close by and received directions to a site which was just a few minutes away.

From the “unknown” site, I started back towards the City. It had started thundering and rainfall was imminent. As luck would have it, before long, I stumbled on another site. This one was clearly signposted as Laqo, which as it happens, is the Temple of the Moon. However, by this time, with a 5km walk ahead of me, at least, I decided to take just a few photos and try and get home before the downpour began. I can go back again later for more if I have time.

Tambomachay and Puka Pukara

Tambomachay and Puka Pukara are two Inca sites quite close together, about 8kms out of Cusco,Perú. They are easily reached by bus or as part of a tour.

Tambomachay was a resting place for the Incas, apparently, and has a series of aqueducts to maintain a constant supply of water.

A short walk from Tambomachay, is Puka Pukara, a fortress and/or control post. It´s dual purpose being to defend Cusco and act as an administrative centre.

 

Q’enqo

Another hike up the hill out of Cusco for about 30 minutes and I was at Q’enqo. It was a religious site or temple and was used by the Incas for making sacrifices. The rock formations are much different to what I have become used to seeing recently.

One statue is said to be of a Puma but bears little resemblance, except when the angle of the sunlight is correct. The shadow is supposedly in the form of a puma.

There are tunnels or labyrinths and you can enter the “ritual room” where sacrifices would have been made.

 

Sacsayhuaman

Sacsayhuaman in Cusco, Perú, was a fortress built high on a hill overlooking the city. It was built using blocks weighing up to 200 tons, apparently. The construction was so precise that even without mortar, it was earthquake proof. The reason there is not more of it still standing today is that the Spanish Conquistadors used it as a quarry to source materials for their building projects.

As my accommodation is not far from the site, I decided to take a short cut, climbing to the top of the hill. It was a bit strenuous for an old bloke but worth the effort. There were spectacular views on the way up.

There are various theories about how the Incas were able to construct Sacsayhuaman using such large stones. Also there is the question of where did they get the tools to work with such precision. Some theories even suggest extraterrestrial involvement.

However they managed to get the stones there, it is a testament to the builders, that their handiwork can still be seen today.

When I started my ascent earlier, I was unaware that there was a parade taking place at the Plaza de Armas. The music of the marching bands carried up to the top of the hill and seem to add something to the atmosphere. Maybe, resembling the bringing down of the walls of Jericho.