In September 2002, I flew to Peru, my first time south of the Equator, as the guest lecturer at the 4th Peruvian Encuentro – a meeting for English teachers in Arequipa, organised by the multi-talented Luis Requena and his lovely wife Verónica. Here are my Peru photos from that amazing trip. Apologies for the quality of the images – this was 2002.
Llamas are wonderfully proud creatures and this one, near Machu Picchu, must be one of the most photographed llamas in Peru.
Machu Picchu – The Lost City of the Incas. Well, it wasn’t actually lost, they just stopped using it. When Hyram Bingham turned up, the locals told him about a ruined city up on the hill. He went up, cleared away the encroaching jungle – and hey presto, he became an international star! It is an awe-inspiring place – best seen very early in the morning before TOO many tourists arrive.
Another shot of Machu Picchu, which seems to adorn just about every book about Peru or the Incas. The peak in the background is Winnu Picchu which I climbed with Jackie from Paris and Josie from Canada.
Just to prove that I got there, here I am at the top of Winnu Picchu. The view was amazing and fortunately it didn’t rain.
My Peruvian trip wasn’t all fun and games. Here I am, hard at work during the Encuentro in Arequipa.
The team at Colegio Prescott in Arequipa led by Luis Requena, third from the left. They were all very welcoming – and I even got a cake for my birthday!
Arequipa airport. In the background is Chan Chani, an active volcano. It erupted in the eighties, melted the snow and revealed the body of Juanita, a young girl sacrificed by the Incas. You can now see Juanita at a museum in Arequipa.
If you can’t wait that long, you can find out more about Juanita at this website.
Arequipa is a lovely town. Most of the centre of the town in built with a white stone and the central square is striking. The climate is wonderful and from almost anywhere you can see the volcanoes around the town.
Talking of volcanoes… This one is El Misti, 5822 metres above sea level. By standing on a chair I could see it from my hotel room. Next time I visit Peru I will climb El Misti – hopefully.
I was very well looked after by the team at Colegio Prescott.
The session I delivered in Arequipa ended with a translation. Not from Spanish to English, but from a text to a practical skill -in this case, juggling.
Cusco is the old Incan capital and is a wonderful place. I stayed at the El Ninos hostal. A wonderful place (the courtyard is the picture) and it is run as a charity to support an orphanage for 250 street children.
For more details in Dutch or English, click here.
On my way over to Lima, I met Doris who put me in touch with the lovely Teoluz who happens to be the sister of Miss Peru (1992). She spent 3 days with me in the incredible Colca Canyon.
The females of Peru were very affectionate.
A lovely woman watching a cute girl holding an adorable lamb.
Hard to believe, but true, I turned 40 in Peru. I asked a travel agency in Arequipa for somewhere nice… There WERE other places in the town that were quite a lot better than this but for some reason, this is where they put me.
The minibus took 10 tourists along a bumpy road to the Colca Valley. There are thermal baths, snow-capped peaks, condors flying around. Fortunately, the place is not too touristy – yet.
The amazing Colca Canyon. It is, apparently, deeper than the Grand Canyon and there were four condors flying overhead. Me and Teoluz left the main tour group and spent two days hiking into and out of the canyon.
It was a long way down to the river so a quick break for some juggling. On the way down we passed an old man coming up with his donkeys. Great location but life is very tough.
A beautiful woman in a beautiful canyon.
Inca terracing. Yes, these terraces are over 500 years old and are still in use today. Also amazing were the women working in the fields. They were dressed in fantastic hand-stitched costumes while driving their oxen. How long will it be before they’re driving 4X4s?
At just 14 degrees South of the equator, the sun was virtually overhead at midday. Also slightly strange was that the sun was to the north, not south as it is in the northern hemisphere.
The river running through the canyon. Fed by the snow fields high in the Andes, it was (and still is) the lifeline through the whole Colca valley.
Having passed through a dusty village where our guide tried to get us to stay. He implied it was the same at the oasis. I disagree.
The pool at the oasis. It was pleasantly warm, even in early Spring.
This is the view as we walked up out of the canyon. What a perfect place.
From the oasis up to the top was a vertical ascent of in excess of 100 kilometres. It took twenty seven years and a team of 400 sherpas. This picture shows me showing my delight at reaching the top.
A cochineal beetle. These little beetles, were used to make red dye by the Incas and when the Spanish arrived they started exporting them to Europe. They were used as a red food colouring until recently. This one was squashed onto my hand by the tour guide.
On the road near Colca, we were fortunate enough to see a herd of vicuña – a shy cousin of the more common llama. They are timid animals and are protected by the government.
There are some beautiful hot springs in the Colca Canyon region. If you’re lucky, you’ll find this one. If you’re even luckier, Teoluz will still be there.
Fantastic scenery. Beautiful flowers, steep-sided valleys, parrots, humming birds – and deeper in the forest there are more exotic species though I only saw them in the zoology department of Cusco University. Here I am, having a quick break on the Inca Trail. I was only able to hike for two days of the trail but I will return to Peru and walk the whole way.
My favourite picture of the 18 days. This was taken at 4500 metres above sea level. Fortunately as I had been rising steadily, I didn’t suffer from altitude sickness. Though I was out of breath in two minutes when I played football with some local boys.
The Sacred Valley. A very beautiful area and very fertile land. The area now makes a good income from tourism but there are still many people who live from the land. Maize is a big staple and is served with almost every meal.
The Sacred Valley from above.
Is that a gun in my pocket? Well, I was very pleased to be there.
Teoluz and her sister, Titi – Miss Peru in 1992. Titi has now left Peru and gone to seek her fortune in the US.
Strange but true, a genuine Peruvian hairless (the dog).
I have a special section on Peruvian food – click Peruvian food
I went back to Peru in 2004.
For the official Peruvian Tourism website, click here.