Charli and Leigh in South America

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An odd week Made by charli on 2011-07-07 18:58:20

It's been quite an odd week, that which should have been straightforward turning out to be a headache and the thing we were quite concerned about being no trouble at all. Firstly we paid good money for our tour of Machu Picchu and with that expected some level of organisation but ended up being badly disappointed. It didn't really occur to me just how much faith you put in these people until it went wrong at exactly the worst time it could have. That time would be close to midnight when you are in the middle of nowhere and with no hope of transport back to your hostel. With a little luck and thanks to a nice South American family we got a better hostel than our booked one and got a nice ride back in the morning. Of course this messed up our plans for the next day (no pony trekking for Charli!) and cost us more for a bus to Puno and for the Hostel. Did our tour company care? No. We got refunded for the bus and nothing more, given that they would have saved that money by not bothering to send us a bus in the first place it didn't really seem to cover it.

Then Puno and crossing the border, this has been a problem of late with protesters blocking roads and the border. You wouldn't have known it from our experience we had 2 great tours in Puno, of The Uros Reed Islands and The Sillustani Ruins, and crossed then border without incident. Uros is a remarkable example of a lifestyle so different from what most people are used to, it's been a little tainted by tourism but it's easy to appreciated what it would have been like before. Building floating Islands with the roots of the reeds as a base and layers of reeds on top that had to be topped up every month. This meant lifting up their houses to put under a fresh layer of reeds! Sillustani being the ruins of a pre-Inca burial ground that was still used in Inca times and is still used ceremonially today. Both tours offered a fascinating insight into the cultures that existed in the area before the Spanish came along and struggle to maintain an identity today. At 20 soles (around $7.25 or £4.50) the Uros tour has to be the bargain of the trip so far it included transport to and from our hotel, the boat trip out, the tour guide and the 5 soles to get in to the islands.

So we made it to La Paz pretty much on schedule but not in time to confirm our ride down the death road today so we wait impatiently for that tomorrow. The only slight excitement on the trip being the random stop of the bus when we had to all get off the bus and take a boat while the bus took it own ferry. It had to go on its own on the ferry in case it sank! A little time to rest, make a few more indepth posts (witness this one) and hopefully litter the internet with reviews of our Machu Picchu tour company won't go amiss. On that note if you are thinking of booking with Chunchaski Tours (we booked through Promoturs so I'd avoid them too) then I'd think again. Their office is in the Main square (plaza de armas) in Cusco pretty much in the middle of the side with the BCP bank at the end. With an open front the tour desk was on the right hand side as you walk in and the back was filled with the usual tourist tat for sale. It wasn't just the ending the whole tour was uninspiring and badly organised getting stranded was just the icing on the cake!

And here are pictures of Machu Picchu, Sillustani and Titicaca.

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