We were on Peru’s well trotted trail by now. Our brief time in Lima was spent wandering around the pretty metropolis (at least the rich parts), which is where we chose to perch our van for a sleepover and enjoy the view from the malacon. Lima is well known for its culinary delights, and we were excited to partake in this. However having paid 2 to 4 dollars for some of the best food since we left home (served as two course meals with a drink) it was hard to conceive that food would get much better with price. So somehow while we still planned on eating in some of the ‘not to miss places’, we found ourselves at a cafeteria providing food for automotive service folk working in the area. Lima’s cuisine it appeared slipped right under us.
As we ventured down the coast the desert continued, barren as they come but changing shapes. It took two days from Lima to reach the point from which we were to turn into the Andes once again, and then another two days over the Andeas to reach Cusco. It was a nauseating ride as Astrid navigated the switchbacks, while at the same time we were trying to hydrate ourselves for the altitude.
Most of our time was spent in Cusco. We parked above the city in a campground and explored from there. Wandering aimlessly, as we do best we explored the artsy neighbourhood of San Blais.
It was there that we hatched a plan to make it to Machu Picchu. However, this would take an alternate route and dog watchers. Along with two other overlanding couples we set off on a 6 hour drive to the village of Santa Teresa. The drive took us through the Sacred Valley where we stopped at a few markets.
The last hour of the drive followed a dirt road etched in high slopes, to arrive in Santa Teresa where we would leave our car. From there a taxi would take us another 40 minutes to a hydroelectric station from where we would walk along the train tracks for 3 hours until we reached Machu Picchu or Aqua Caliente (the village at its base).
As our German friends Paula and Constantin took Ella, we went up to explore the holy mountain along with some 2500 other tourists. It is hardly suprising to hear that Machu Picchu slides 1cm per month with this amount of traffic. Not to mention the shoving of hordes of annoying people must keep the Inca’s spirits slightly distressed.
By the time we made it back along the train tracks to the car the next day, we were greeted with news of landildes which have made the dirt road we drove in on closed. Considering the rains were not stopping, finding a way out was better then waiting.
It was decided we would follow the dirt road for a while and then take a dirtier road over the mountain. This journey would take us past 3 landslides that we managed to drive through, a two hour detour across the mountain to avoid the fallen road lost in a landslide and three car pushing’s that inlcuded 5 to 8 people. By night time we were back on pavement.
If the drive did not keep us on our toes there was always Ella to fall back on.
The following day as we made a short detour and let Ella out of the car to run behind us (as was her usual excercise regime during long driving days) we encountered a herd of sheep.
Ellas’s instinct kicked in and we watched as she hearded 50-70 sheep over the hills with a cloud of dust rising behind them. Then came the 5 dogs that ran after them and to follow the shepherd. We joined the scramble and ran as fast as our lungs would cary us at 3500 m. Brett won. We reached Ella to find out there was sheep missing. Together with the shepherd we looked for the missing sheep over the hills, in the valleys, through the bushes until finally Brett spoted the poor thing on a vertical cliff. How it got there is beyond me. The shepherd claimed this sheep was a goner, as it could not get back up. Considering we were no sheep experts we offered to pay for it. So after an hour and a half of sheep searching expedition and figuring out sheep prices, it seemed fair to cross shepherding off my bucket list as we made our way to the more familiar place of a mall’s food court for a pizza.