We ended up staying about 10 days in Cusco, mostly relaxing. Sonja, Tom and Craig went to Macchu Picchu; Jeff and Jason (having already been on previous trips) chose to avoid this increasingly overexploited and expensive tourist area. Cusco turned out to be excellent for live music, with a couple of bands playing reggae and reggae/ska/Andean fusion. Best live music site we have visited since San Cristóbal, Chiapas and Antigua, Guatemala, over one year ago.
Jason jamming at Hostel Delcy with other travellers
Argentinians are so passionate about mate (national beverage, a tea made from the yerba mate bush) that they will go to extreme lengths to prepare it (especially when outside of Argentina).
a panorama of Cusco at dusk
in the narrow alleys of San Blas (Cusco) at dusk
Plaza de Armas in twilight
wow! bike awareness in Peru, who would have thought??? note the relative flatness of the terrain, first we've seen since northern Colombia!
church seen at Abra La Raya
descending, but with a strong headwind we had to pedal alot
Tom entertains local kids in Santa Rosa
dusk riding brought us onto the altiplano, huge spreading plateau lands at nearly 4000m
we camped next to the railway on the altiplano, a freezing cold night, coldest on the bike since northern Mexico in January 2010. Awoke with frozen water bottles.
remoteness is the norm on the altiplano
we opted for a dirt road cutoff that took us through Lampa. Amazing riding here.
modest local homes
... we had to climb a bit on this stretch of dirt, but the ensuing descent was great...
dusk between Lampa and Juliaca
we camped in the yard of an abandoned house outside of Juliaca
entering Juliaca, the scene was reminiscent of Armageddon... ugly, trash everywhere, construction projects abandoned and in heaps, flat, smelling of refuse and sewage; on the whole: disturbing.
...exiting Juliaca... what has to be the ugliest and most blasted area we have seen on the whole trip, topping Fairbanks, AK; Fort Nelson, B.C., Grand Prairie, Alberta, etc....
lots of traffic on this bit, not our preference
as we near Puno, this sign reads: "Ollanta, Puno rejects you, you are a Chavista" (socialist dictator in the mold of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez). Actually, Ollanta has only been in office for a few months and his politics are as yet undetermined, according to Peruvians we have spoken with.
potato farming on the far edges of Lake Titicaca, which separates Peru and Bolivia
indigenous lady seen at park above Puno
dusk in the flatlands heading east from Puno
trout weirs in Lake Titicaca
these sheep are being taken to market, tied to the roof West Africa-style
trout encountered at Pomata. Fresh, local, huge, cheap (8 soles, or less than 3 dollars) and delicious. This fish was served with a huge bed of potatoes, chuño (dried black potatoes), and fava beans. One of our best meals in Peru.
these boys were interested in Tom's guitar playing
in Copacabana, Jeff and Tom met up with Stephane, a French/Mallorcan friend of ours first encountered in Panamá and later in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Together we hopped a boat over to nearby (2 hours) Isla del Sol in the middle of Lake Titicaca.
Isla de la Luna, backed by many snowy peaks, seen while arriving at Isla del Sol
Jeff, Stephane, Tom in late afternoon
surreal, magical views of the Cordillera Real from Isla del Sol
dusk from the north end of the island. This was to be a magical night, as we camped in archaeological ruins here, finding a small room with low wind. We watched the crescent moon rise right in the head of the constellation Scorpio, then stargazed for hours and played music in the ruins.
the ruins in the morning. Incan ruins from the 15th-16th century. The Incans believed the Isla del Sol to be the birthplace of their sun god, making it one of the most spiritually-important places in their universe.
sunset from north end of Isla del Sol
amazing storm just next to the sunset
at Tiquina, the main highway to La Paz is broken here by a narrow strait of Lake Titicaca. In lieu of a bridge, the solution here is a fleet of barges plying the strait, transporting all vehicles across for a small fee:
we rode across with this colorful bus
Titicaca: Sacred Lake. Largest lake in South America.
on the way to La Paz now, we followed the shore of Titicaca for a long ways, snowy peaks of the Cordillera Real rising in the background
improvised sailboat plying the waters of the lake
classic altiplano landscapes, dominating much of western Bolivia
Jeff takes a breather
18km from La Paz, crossing El Alto, Jeff's seatpost cracked off. It lasted 31000km or so, but this led to a hair-raising all-standing 400m descent down into La Paz.