Since arriving in Peru we have noticed that there has been an invasion of Tuk Tuk’s. In fact there were so many in Puno that you could have sworn you were in India. Added to the Tuk Tuk’s are bicycle trishaws, and of course the vans, buses, trucks, bicycles, dogs and humanity in general. Driving through the towns gets pretty hectic so you need to have your wits about you. The reason for the Tuk Tuk’s -they are much cheaper than cars, and the taxi business is pretty lucrative here. Of course they don’t come with air bags or any other safety features and their drivers take huge risks squeezing in and around the traffic so you could be putting your life at risk getting into one. About 50 km after leaving Puno we arrived in Juriaca, a busy market town town which Rod had warned us about. At first it just seemed like a normal hectic town but on the outskirts the road deteriorated into a million huge potholes and then without warning had us criss-crossing the railway line with the rails protruding well above what passed for a road. One was so bad that all the cars scraped heavily and Pete became beached for a few moments until he managed to rock it free. The skid plate on our car hit so heavily that it bent one of the mountings so far out of shape that we needed a big hammer and angle grinder to remove and replace the mounting bolt.
Our destination today is Urubamba where we will stay the night and leave our cars in secure parking as we head to Machu Picchu by train. We passed over the Alto Plano (high plains) and crossed the highest pass so far – La Raya at 4,338 meters above sea level. A few kms later we got the first sight of a Peru Rail train similar to the one we will be catching tomorrow – all of the trains are meticuluosly cleaned and polished, so different to most of ours in Australia.
We then followed the course of the Urubamba River as it wound its way through the Sacred Valley. The land is so fertile that every available space is cultivated creating a rich tapestry of green. Already we are noticing how much more substantial the dwellings are for the rural people. The one roomed adobe houses have been replaced by homes of brick or rendered mud brick and terracotta tiled roofs. The Urubamba River provides much of the irrigation for the crops of corn, potatoes and quinoa. Cows, pigs, llamas and sheep are common, often being cared for shepherds, and not a tractor in sight.
We arrived at around 5.30pm to our accommodation at Tambo del Inka after covering over 400 kms. The prospect of not being in Navy Car for a couple of days was appealing and Ian hasn’t been feeling great the last couple of days.