next trip, Peru

In about a week, we fly to Lima, Peru for a six-week trip to the Inca Heartland and Amazon jungle. I am taking my camera and iPad and hope to be blogging on a regular basis.

Ouch! Just got my yellow fever…

Ouch! Just got my yellow fever shot.

Ugh. Just took my typhoid pill…

Ugh. Just took my typhoid pill.

Map of Peru and South America

This map shows Peru in relationship to South America and Central America. It is in the tropics; the latitude of Lima is about 12 degrees.

Syncing tunes for bus rides an…

Syncing tunes for bus rides and photos of home to show new friends.


To get ready for my trip, I watched the movie, Aguirre: The Wrath of God. Germans dressed as Spanish conquistadors float down the Peruvian Amazon searching for gold. A dark movie directed by Werner Herzog, 1972. Strange and compelling. Good location footage. In the end (spoiler), they all die.

Map of Peru

map of Peru
Here is a large map of Peru. The southern area around Cusco is the center of the historic Inca empire. The green-colored sections generally hold the Amazon basin jungle; the headwaters of the Amazon are in the north.

Arrived on time San Francisco …

Arrived on time San Francisco airport despite thick fog. Sleepy from 3:45 wakeup.

Arrived Houston. Smooth flight…

Arrived Houston. Smooth flight. Took a nap.

Arrived Lima. Taking taxi to h…

Arrived Lima. Taking taxi to hotel. Bumpy air ride because of storm, Lee.

Parque del Amor

20110906-082108.jpgAlong the sea walk in Miraflores (a Lima neighborhood) are many parks. The sculpture of a couple kissing, the quotes on the walls and the couples kissing explain the park’s name, Parque del Amor.

Gray as garua

20110906-090654.jpgThey call it garua, the winter fog in Lima. Look at the flags in this photo: color. The statue of San Martin is black; the buildings are white; and, the sky is gray.

Arrived Cusco by plane. In col…

Arrived Cusco by plane. In collectivo going to Ollantaytambo. Altitude 11,000. Sunny and warm. Muy autentico.

Peruvian movies

To get ready for my trip, I watched some movies depicting social and political life in Peru. Alcoholism, abuse of women, disparity between rich and poor, and the futility of political change are typical themes. The portrayal is typically frank, direct and candid. People survive with a sense of humor. The scenery is beautiful and the lifestyle picturesque. They are listed more or less in the order of how I rate them.

Even the Rain–A movie crew (more…)

Cusco flight

20110909-092444.jpgFlew by plane from Lima to Cusco. I can see why farmers construct terraces; the land is so mountainous. The approach to Cusco took us by some mountain peaks. I could tell the pilot had landed here before.


20110912-061508.jpgAcross from our hotel are Inca ruins and an image of the face of Tunupa. On his back is a bundle. On his head is a crown. His eyes are dark as he looks over the valley and the people. He is also known as Wiraccochan, mythical messenger from Viraccocha, the major god creator.

Woman in Square

20110909-093036.jpgWoman sitting in sun at Plaza de Armas, Ollantaytamba.

Leaving Ollantaytambo. Enjoyed…

Leaving Ollantaytambo. Enjoyed cobbled streets, visit to Fortress ruins and 10 mile hike to the Inca quarry in the Andean highlands.

Me among the Inca

20110912-101806.jpgI have actually met several descendants of the Inca, but in this photo my reflection shows up among the heads of 500 year old artifacts.

Arrrived Urubamba. Took a half…

Arrrived Urubamba. Took a half-hour taxi ride from Ollantaytambo up about 700 meters. The town is bigger: 2700 (versus 700).

Took taxi to Moray. Driver wai…

Took taxi to Moray. Driver waited while we explored Inca experimental agriculture site. Then on to the Salinas salt pools. Hiked home.

Street in Ollantaytamba

20110912-102159.jpgHere is a typical street in Ollantaytamba. The street is cobblestone. All the buildings are courtyards. The walls of the houses lean inward.


20110913-090321.jpgThe Inca used this site for agricultural experiments. Each level has a different micro-climate. As we walked down, it got considerably hotter, from 68F at the top to 84F at the bottom.

On a bus. About 100 Peruvians….

On a bus. About 100 Peruvians. Women in stove pipe hats with dark braided hair and bright colored bundles. And now we have a flat tire!

Nueva Amiga

20110914-092454.jpgComing back from the ruins at Pisac, the bus broke down. I carried on a nice conversation with this woman. She was in good spirits despite the delay. After about ten minutes of trying to fix the flat, the driver just drove the bus for about ten miles to the terminal. It was fun looking at everyone staring at the bus.

Last time I ate this many pota…

Last time I ate this many potatoes was in Ireland. Ate three types today.

Salinas salt pans

20110913-094058.jpgNear the small village of Salinas, there is a natural volcanic salt stream that flows into over 5,000 terraced Inca salineras or salt pans. They were constructed over 500 years ago.

Arrived Cusco, capital of regi…

Arrived Cusco, capital of region. Moved from valley to high plateau. Elevation around 3400 m (11200 ft), up from 3048 in Urubamba.

Woman Reading Paper

20110915-083738.jpgA florist reading a newspaper in Urubamba market.


20110916-083404.jpgBaby riding on her mother’s back in a traditional K’eperina.

Cusco Procession

A Cusco, Peru procession along Portal Espinar presumably going to San Francisco de Assisi Church. Includes band music.

Visited cathedral in Cusco. M…

Visited cathedral in Cusco. Many fine carvings, sculptures and paintings. A centerpiece is the Last Supper. The entree was guinea pig.

Ollantaytamba Fortress

20110916-082552.jpgVisited the Fortress in Ollantaytamba. First climbed 16 massive stepped terraces. Found the Temple of the Sun, Bath of the Princess and Inca Misanca. The fortress is historically significant in that it both represents an Incan defeat of the Spaniards and the second to the last stand before the conquest was complete.

Andean Artifacts

Visited three art museums in Lima, Museo Larco, Museo Nacional de Antropologica and Museum of Contemporary Art. These photos are from Larco and Nacional and contain not only Inca but much older civilizations–Cupisnique, Chimu, Chancay and Nazca.

Visited awesome Machu Picchu b…

Visited awesome Machu Picchu by train, stayed one night and returned to Cusco. Now headed south to Puno and Lake Titicaca.

Inca earrings

20110912-104947.jpgThese earrings were likely worn by an Inca priest.

Lichen on Andean Rock

20110918-114430.jpgI took this photo at the Inca Quarry.

Leaving Puno. I have mostly ad…

Leaving Puno. I have mostly adjusted to the 12,800 feet altitude, but am still looking forward to easy breathing in Aeriquipa.

Inca Terraces, Rotated

20110918-115108.jpgI like the way this photo looks when it is rotated 90-degrees. I used a telephoto lens and a low f-stop to flatten the image.

Crossing pass at 4410 meters …

Crossing pass at 4410 meters or 13,200 feet. Some snow and pink flamingos. Big lakes. Lots of sheep.

Now it’s 4528 meters or 15,000…

Now it’s 4528 meters or 15,000 feet. Hand me the oxygen, please.

Modernist Gate

20110918-115530.jpgThis is a photo of a gate. I suspect the metal was originally a sign and then used in a paint shop and finally mounted to the gate. To me it has elements of a modernist painting: repeated text, splattered paint, and graduated color.

Visited Juanita, 500 year old …

Visited Juanita, 500 year old Ice Maiden found atop Volcano Ampato. Sacrificed by Inca to appease gods. Preserved by cold and 17,000 feet.

Salineras Salt Pits, Photos

Near Urubamba, a warm stream flows into a valley. For unknown centuries people have harvested salt from here. These photos show some of the salt pits and workers.

After three weeks in Cusco are…

After three weeks in Cusco area and southern Peru, we are leaving Arequipa and flying north to Trujillo.

We came to Trujillo for pre-In…

We came to Trujillo for pre-Inca ruins. At breakfast, we met twelve USA baton-twirling champions, here for the Festival of Spring.

Machu Picchu

20110924-075252.jpgVisited Machu Picchu on two sequential days. Both times were rainy, but we got to hike around for several hours, once with a guide.

Visited Chan Chan and Huaca de…

Visited Chan Chan and Huaca del Sol. Not much left of Chan Chan, except vast size. Del Sol is being excavated. Same age as Roman Empire.

Brandi, Chrissie and other bat…

Brandi, Chrissie and other baton twirlers are celebrities here. Posters in main square, TV coverage and bodyguards while mall shopping.

Machu Picchu, Photos

Arrived Chiclayo from Trujillo…

Arrived Chiclayo from Trujillo. Four hour drive through desert. Looking for ruins of ancient cultures and the treasures of Sipan.

Chan Chan

20110927-065249.jpgDust in the winds. The civilization of Chan Chan was conquered by the Inca. Tens of thousands lived in these vast complexes by the sea for hundreds of years. Now the rains have reduced their grandeur to eroded mud, dirt and dust.

Visited Mochica and Sican pyra…

Visited Mochica and Sican pyramids at Tucume and Sipan. Saw tomb treasures discovered in past 20 years that are 1500 to 2000 years old.


Luna archaeological siteThe stylized fish are a detail from Chan Chan and the face and prisoners are from the Moche at Huanaco de Luna.

Back in the mountains at 9,000…

Back in the mountains at 9,000 feet. Six-hour bus ride from Chiclayo to Cajamarca. Stunning scenery. Nice town, few tourists.


20110928-091521.jpgThis pottery was found in Lord Sipan’s tomb. It is about 1,800 years old.

Down the Road

About to enter a new phase of travel. We have now visited most of the famous tourist sites, but are now in an area of northern Peru that is less-frequently visited.
The guide book warns of uncertain transportation, food and accommodations, 20 hours of gut-wrenching and kidney-busting bus rides, 4000m cliffs, rare hummingbirds, a Chachapoya ruin that rivals Machu Picchu, dozens of ancient recently-discovered mummies, the world’s second highest waterfall and destinations only accessed on foot or by horseback. Beyond that, it’s the jungle in areas recently secured from Shining Light rebels and the cocaine industry. Oh, and then there is the three to five day cargo boat ride down the Rio Huallaga to the Amazon River and Iquitos.
My experience with the guide books is that things are seldom this exciting. A respectful greeting, some pleasantries spoken in Spanish and some sole notes should get us where we want to go. Nonetheless, this sounds like Traveling Dude territory.

Inca Quarry

Took a hike to the Inca Quarry near Ollantaytamba, about ten miles. When the Spaniards defeated the Inca at the fortress, the quarriers immediately stopped work. Carved stones are littered all along the Inca Trail.

Took splendid bath at Banos de…

Took splendid bath at Banos del Inca. Atahualpa, the last Inca lord, was relaxing here immediately before Pizarro captured him.

Santa Catalina Monastery

20110927-064758.jpgMany of the walls in the Santa Catalina monastery in Aeriquipa are painted blue. The red flower offsets the blue.

Santa Catalina Monastery Room

20110930-090814.jpgThis photo is a still life of one of the many rooms at the monastery. it wasn’t as cold as it looked when we visited, but it was mid-day in Spring.

Baby in Shawl

20110925-035038.jpgA baby is riding in mother’s shawl in Raqchi marketplace.

Arrived Leymebamba after 9 hou…

Arrived Leymebamba after 9 hour bus ride on rough dirt road. Wonderful views of Andes. Rustic, country town with burros, horses in plaza.

Following a machete-wielding g…

Following a machete-wielding guide, we tromped 12 km in knee-high, borrowed boots to almost forgotten 1,300 year old Chachapoya ruins.

A guinea pig escaped from a bu…

A guinea pig escaped from a burlap bag and was running under the seats in our bus from Leymebamba to Chachapoya. Dinner for a relative?

Cajamarca 12

I took these twelve photos one Saturday afternoon in Cajamarca. Many people from the surrounding villages came to the central market. I used street photography techniques, shooting from the hip for all but one of the photos.

Visited Kuelap ruins. This Cha…

Visited Kuelap ruins. This Chachapoyas fortress is larger than Machu Picchu and housed maybe 3,000 people. Built 600 AD. Good defense.

Inca Woman

20110927-070458.jpgAn Inca Woman at the market in Ollayntatambo.

Shadow of Plant

20110925-081936.jpgA plant’s shadow looks like a fossil on this rock.

Like that, dropped down from t…

Like that, dropped down from the high, dry Andes to the jungle. Thick with pineapples and water-filled rice fields. Took three taxis here.

Leymebamba Hike

Hired a guide and hiked near Leymebamba. Took a taxi for about half an hour up in the mountains and then hiked down. The guide used a machete to cut and hack our way to the ruins of Cantonea, Molinete and La Congona. We wore boots from the hotel and sloshed through creeks. Quite an adventure.

Leaving Moyobamba. Lots of orc…

Leaving Moyobamba. Lots of orchids and hummingbirds. Traveling to end of road. Find a river boat going downstream on Rio Huallaga.

Woman at Pisac

20110925-032922.jpgPisac is at the top or southern end of the Sacred Valley. This woman climbed up the ruin to check out the scenery.

On cargo boat, Eduardo V from …

On cargo boat, Eduardo V from Yurimaguas to Iquitos, a three day journey. Took taxi over last mountain range. Only jungle and river ahead.

Arequipa Sundown

20110930-092811.jpgShadows come early in the Arequipa Plaza de Armes, but the setting sun still glistens on the volcanoes and top of the cathedral.

Inca Stonework

Inca stoneworkThis photo shows a detail of the Inca stonework at Sacsayhuaman. Each stone is much larger than I am. Note how the stones notch together.

Just got off the boat in Iquit…

Just got off the boat in Iquitos after three days going down river. Traveled through the headwaters of the Amazon. It is Big.

Cusco Art

20110925-034248.jpgThis example of Cusco Art, which mixes local Inca art with imported Spanish Catholic art, shows a well-dressed Virgin Mary nursing two people.

Putting our expedition togethe…

Putting our expedition together for the Amazon jungle. I hope the animals are not as vicious as the touts and vendors.

Amazonian Boat Ride, 3 day

The following is a description of our boat ride from the beginning of the Amazon River headwaters, into the main stem proper and on to the jungle city of Iquitos.
Day 1–Embarking.
The logistics of potentially difficult travel were easy. Left our Moyobamba hotel after breakfast, walked two blocks with our luggage, and decided between three taxi drivers that were eager to put our luggage in their trunks. Drove at break-neck speed for two hours from Moyobamba to Tarapoto. In about the time it took to go to the bano, we were on our way for the two hour ride to Yurimaguas. The driver mostly kept the car on the road (more…)

Amazonian Boat Ride, Photos

Photos are from three-day cargo boat ride on Amazon River. See related post, Amazonian Boat Ride for details. Photos show a cargo boat, locals taking bananas to cargo boat, a local village and port of call, passenger hammocks, port workers in Yurimaguas and early morning at the start of the Amazon.

After visiting 16 places in 37…

After visiting 16 places in 37 days, tomorrow we are going to the Tahuayo Lodge in the Amazonian jungle for nine days.

Moray, Photo

MorayThe Inca site at Moray is an experimental agricultural site, but many people believe it has mystic qualities.

Slippery, sticky, sweaty, wet,…

Slippery, sticky, sweaty, wet, muddy, slimy. Sloth, hawk, pink dolphin. Centipedes, mosquitoes, army ants. Boat, hike, watch. The jungle.

Pyramids at Sipan

pyramidAlthough the adobe pyramids at Sipan are still large, they have been eroded severely by the El Nino rains over the centuries. After archaeologists dig down, layers of adobe bricks appear.

Owl monkeys, tree runner lizar…

Owl monkeys, tree runner lizards, pygmy geicko, blur morpho, yellow-tailed cribo snake, jaguar tracks, 500 year tree. 6 a.m. hike.

Got blessed by Shaman Woman. S…

Got blessed by Shaman Woman. She became shaman when the dolphins took her husband into the river. Smoke, camphor, shaking leaves, singing.

Owl Monkeys

Saw owl monkeys, also known as night monkeys, on an early morning walk in Tahuayo River basin.

Two hour boat ride up Rio Blan…

Two hour boat ride up Rio Blanco. Four hour hike into the highlands. Took photos of 23 species, including poison dart frogs.

Poison Dart Frog

20111017-135711.jpgWent for a boat ride to the highlands and hiked around looking for little frogs. They were mostly in the bromelia where the plant held water. The frogs’ venom was one of the ingredients used by indigenous to make darts for blow guns.

Boat ride to lake for birds, a…

Boat ride to lake for birds, afternoon hike for monkeys and night hike for cayman, scorpions, tarantulas and an anteater eating termites.

Going deeper into the jungle, …

Going deeper into the jungle, two hours by boat upstream to the Research Center for four days.

Hairy Plant

20110925-081427.jpgNot sure what this plant is, but I like the way it looks. It reminds me of green hair.

Amazonian Night Walk

animals on night walkTook a night walk in jungle. Photos show scorpion, tarantula, and spider. Also saw a cayman alligator and an anteater crunching on a termite nest.


20111020-125439.jpgThe photo shows piranha’s teeth and red eye. We hooked a few. They taste good with a delicate, flavorful white meat.

Feel tired. Took 5 hour hike t…

Feel tired. Took 5 hour hike this morning, 4 hour last night, 5 hour yesterday morning. Going upriver this afternoon and then drift back.

View of Cusco

cuscoThis photo shows the city of Cusco from a look-out above town.

Vampire and Leafnose Bats

batsI took this photo during a night walk in the jungle. The bats were in the hollow of a dead tree.

Leaving the jungle later today…

Leaving the jungle later today for Iquitos. A day there, a couple of days in Lima, a couple of days flying…and we’re home.

Little Monkey

20111021-201407.jpgThis was one of several pygmy marmosets that were playing in a bunch of leaves. One would go up a limb, the run and jump into the others.

Inka Kola

20110925-083044.jpgInca Kola is extremely popular. The yellow color reflects the role of the sun in the Inka religion. The secret ingredient is lemon verbena.

Iquitos, population 400,000, c…

Iquitos, population 400,000, can only be reached by boat or plane. It is surrounded by jungle and 3,000 km from the mouth of the Amazon.

Church and Full Moon

20110925-082346.jpgThis iPhone HDR photo shows the Ollantaytamba plaza church under the rising full moon.

Getting ready for Halloween. V…

Getting ready for Halloween. Visited the Lima catacombs. Saw skulls and lots of femors and tibias.

Preparing for home. Latte at D…

Preparing for home. Latte at Dunkin’ Donuts, Big Mac Combo at McDonalds.

Blood from a Vine

20111024-181903.jpgThis vine looks like it is bleeding after it was chopped by a machete.

Arrived Houston. Back in the U…

Arrived Houston. Back in the USA.

Waiting for plane in sunny San…

Waiting for plane in sunny San Francisco.

Bird-Eating Snake

20111024-182259.jpgThe guide called this a Patrick-eating snake, but it’s real name is bird-eating snake. (Es una broma).

Made it home. From Lima hotel …

Made it home. From Lima hotel door to
our door took 22 hours. Feels good to
be home. It is chilly, cloudy and the leaves are turning.

Village Home

jungle homeA typical Amazonian village home.

Orchids in Orchids

orchidsThese orchids have flowers within flowers.

Potatoes for Sale

20110928-092618.jpgPhoto taken in the market at Urubamba.

Cactus Leaves

20110927-070720.jpgDetail of cactus leaves seen on hike to Inca Quarry near Ollayntatambo

Kuelap, Photos

Kuelap, sometimes known as the other Machu Picchu, is a fortress built by the Chachapoyas centuries before the Inca even existed. The fortress only has several entrances, all designed for optimal defense. The fortress is at the top of a mountain and has splendid views of the surrounding area. One of the nice things is that it is difficult to visit and has few tourists.

Urubamba Moto Taxis

20110928-093054.jpgFor a sole, you can get anywhere in Urubamba by taking a Moto-Taxi.

Green Lichen, Blue Skies

20110927-073105.jpgGreen lichen on a tree glows in the afternoon sun.

End Artwork

End ArtworkEnd Artwork is a sign in The Rocks in Sydney. You might think this government sign signals are repressive attitude. On the contrary, there is a complementary sign, Begin Artwork. It is used like, Begin Construction and End Construction. Alas, consider the related “Artwork.” The wedding couple is hamming it up for the photographers.Artwork