After a month of planning and anticipation we left Toronto for Vietnam with a long layover in Beijing. The approach to Beijing was remarkable. Extraordinarily dense development with the city peeking out of a heavy layer of smog. Not surprisingly, Beijing Capital Airport is vastly larger than I remember from our first visit in 1982. … Continue reading Off to Saigon
We flew back to Lima and split with our group to spend our second last day exploring Pachacámac, an enormous, sprawling archaeological site about 31 km south of Lima. It was a major adventure that required two local minibuses and another bus down the highway to the site. I'm not sure how, but we navigated … Continue reading Last days in Peru
When I checked my email on February 27, a strange thing happened. There was nothing new. Not even the junk mail that greets me every morning. Oh well, thought I, just a glitch, I should log on fresh and get things synced up. It can occasionally happen that, due to an update or some such, … Continue reading Email is great when it works but a big pain when it doesn’t
It was an early start. Well before the crack of dawn we left our hotel and trudged down to Aguas Calientes' bus loading area to join a very long but fast-moving line for the nine km, 1,500 ft. grind up the Hiram Bingham Highway to Machu Picchu. Walking is an option for those with a masochistic bent but … Continue reading Machu Picchu!
We were off to Aguas Calientes and our long-anticipated visit to the "Lost City of the Incas," Machu Picchu. It was an early morning departure from the Hotel Marquese in Cusco for the five-hour PeruRail Vistadome trip to Aguas Calientes. We could have walked the Inca Trail -- four days three nights of hard, high … Continue reading Train ride, long hike, jungle waterfall, early night
Still acclimatizing for Machu Picchu, we spent the day exploring the so-called "Sacred Valley," so-called because according to our guide this is a recent name, created for touristic purposes. Oh well, still a lovely, extraordinary place and the centre of the Inca Empire. First stop was Awana Kancha Living Museum of the Andes which features llamas and … Continue reading Stepping up, stepping down in the Sacred Valley
Truth is that I had never heard of Cusco and had very little idea what to expect. This was a pre-arranged tour so research was not necessary and I let the experience sweep me along. Looking out over Cusco. So it came as a bit of a surprise that this provincial town and ancient Inca … Continue reading Discovering Cusco
It's been a while but Vietnam and Xmas are behind me and it's a new year so time to get back to blogging. Our trip to Cusco was by a guided public tour bus with several stops on the way and it didn't start well. Our six am transportation didn't show up at the hotel … Continue reading Tour bus to Cusco, the Inca capital
We set off from Arequipa in a small bus with a new guide. Peter announced he would be our doctor and gave a detailed lecture on preventing altitude sickness. I had brought a prescription but opted for the recommended combination of coca leaf, dark chocolate and mineral water. I soon had a big wad of coca … Continue reading Up to Abra Patapampa & down to Chivay
Handmade textiles are a big part of Peruvian life. Alpacas and llamas provide the fibre which is often hand-dyed using traditional methods and is spun, woven, embroidered and knit into all kinds of products with both traditional and modern designs. Mummies are still clad in their 2,000-year-old shrouds and museums display some amazing examples of similarly-ancient … Continue reading Peruvian textiles
After the Nazca Lines flight, our stop at the Chauchilla Cemetery, an open-air Nazca Culture burial site and Indiana Jones movie location, was decidedly more subterranean. Legally protected since 1997, Chauchilla was discovered in the 1920s but local grave robbers (huaqueros) plundered valuable artifacts and damaged the site. The cemetery is in the middle of a … Continue reading Nazca’s desert mummies
Wonderful visit to the Reserva Nacional Islas Ballestas. Only protected since 2010, the area was once covered by guano up to 70m thick. The nineteenth century guano trade created modern "input-intensive" farming and guano is still mined though in much lower quantities. Before the birdshit came the birds and they are still there in vast quantities and configurations, … Continue reading Even if you’re not a birder, the Ballestas are remarkable
This was a first for us -- a private tour put together for a group of friends, neighbours, relatives and assorted hangers-on. It was treat to be picked up at the airport and not face the unease that comes when arriving in a strange city at 2 am. Next morning we were right at it and had three … Continue reading Acclimatizing in Lima
Here we go... Tired of Facebook and needing a purpose for my photos I've become a blogger. They tell me that blogs require dedication and consistency so we'll see how it works out. There's a lot to talk about that doesn't involve politics -- retirement, photography & travel for starters -- and I hope you'll join me.