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AN INCA ADVENTURE 2005.

DAY 1,Long Journey to Lima, Peru.
The 3am alarm means we are ready and excited for the off at 4am for our drive to Heathrow. Check in at 5.30,too early for the hot breakfast we all crave, and make do with a sandwich.
We are due to depart at 07.25 but a technical fault with the plane means a 2.5 hour delay and leaves us anxious about our connecting flight to Lima due to depart at 12.40 Euro time. Our misery is compounded with a continuing breakfast saga- Iberia do not offer breakfast which is surprising in a £7000+ trekking package.
Arrive in Madrid at 13.00 to a chaotic scene with most passengers having South American connections. The two Iberian staff with little English tackle several hundred irate travellers including us and we are initially told we are overnighting in Madrid and travelling tomorrow. Chloe bursts into floods of tears but I notice our Lima flight is still on the board and we push our way back through Departures and Security and eventually to the gate all hot and bothered to discover our flight is delayed to 15.30.
Have a sense of “deja vue” as I was delayed 7 hours in Madrid in February returning from my Patagonian trek.
It is a long wait and we meet Jo and Christine who are fortified with a 3-course lunch and wine and wonder how the Manchester flight wangled that when we are still dining on sandwiches and crisps we do not really want.
Eventually depart Madrid at 18.00 for the 11.5 hour flight to Lima after a far from brilliant day so far muttering
Walks Worldwide should have booked the usually reliable KLM they advertise instead of the less than impressive and apparently unconcerned Iberia.
Long, dozy, “want to be there flight” but Chloe and Sophie are happy with their stickers, music, drawing and reading despite Iberia running out of the pasta dish they want as we are the last row to be served dinner. Thought children had priority!
 Arrive Lima at 23.00, 5am at home, Thursday morning.
 It sums up our day when customs search all 5 of our bags much to Alison’s annoyance but despite this and the overwhelming number of people waiting at the airport we find our driver. He wants to whisk us off alone as he has not heard of Jo and Chris Alston but we force him to wait and set off together through the early hour Lima streets.
The hotel staff are friendly and welcoming and we get to bed at 01.00 after a 27 hour travelling day.
All exhausted but at least we are here and the trip can only improve after a tortuous start.

DAY2, Acclimitising in Cusco.
It is a short night with a 5am call giving us time to shower and breakfast before our early,09.15 flight to Cusco.
We meet Jill who travelled comfortably and on time with KLM!
It is nice getting to know our trekking companions who are all obviously nice people which augers well for our adventures together.
Arrive in Cusco and are pleased the girls avoid the nosebleeds they suffered at a similar altitude in the Dolomites last summer.
Meet our guide Evert who delivers us safely to our hotel in the city centre. Check in after coca tea and freshen up for an orientation day on our own.
Cusco is a magnificent place and we wander around the historic square taking in the sights although are hounded by children selling cards and small items which is, initially, a little disconcerting for Chloe and Sophie as the sellers are about their own ages.
Enjoy lunch and decide to visit the museums and the Inca treasures but find the museums difficult to enter, as you need a pass. Troop around the city to find a kiosk and eventually buy a multi-pass, not the cheapest option but all that seems available and enjoy a cultural afternoon which gives us all some great first impressions. Think Evert could have given us a bit of advice, as whilst this is an acclimatisation day young children need to be occupied after a long journey and some pre-information and suggestions would have been helpful for our afternoon. Come back to rest at 4pm and eventually meet the group for dinner at 6pm.
Enjoy the Peruvian food in the Inka Grill but Sophie falls asleep in her seat almost straight away, Chloe quickly afterwards and we are in bed by 8pm after an enjoyable day.

DAY3, Cusco Tour and up to Sacsayhuaman.
Not the best of nights sleep with the altitude, time difference and the water heater above our loft room, which starts to gurgle loudly at 3am.We, are revived though by a delicious breakfast before meeting Evert for our morning tour of the city.
Evert announces proudly he is an anthropologist and proceeds to dazzle us with his immense knowledge in a fascinating morning. The highlights are:
*The Plaza de Aramas, a wonderful spot in the heart of the
  City.
*The Inca walls from Pachacutec’s palace reminding us of    
  Michael Palin in “Full Circle.”
*Coricancha, The Temple of the Sun and Santo Domingo.
*The cathedral with its gold and silver wonders and many
  Crucifixes including the famous Lord of the Earthquakes.
Evert describes everything in impressive detail but in the cathedral I notice Jo and Chris smiling a bit too obviously and Jill’s eyes glazing over. Alison and I meanwhile are working hard to keep Chloe and Sophie interested into the 4th hour on pain of death and with bribes of sweets.
We are sure Evert has not yet noticed there are children on the trip as his eyes are fixed on a knowledge horizon far above their heads!
We are so full of Inca facts and histories by lunch we forget our meal is included and allow Evert to slip off quietly to swot up for the rest of the tour.
We lunch as a group in a lovely balconied restaurant revived by pizza and coffee waving to the children below queuing up to sell us their wares once we leave.
We split up in the afternoon and acclimatising really well we go for the hard option and walk up to the fantastic ruins of Sacsayhuaman.
Chloe struggles a bit at first but the Llama’s and the wonderful view of Cusco below is a real tonic. Very pleased with ourselves we head down the steep steps getting caught in a surprising rain shower. We shelter in an old Inca courtyard and reflect on this lovely place.
There is time in our room for an hour or so for postcards before we meet at 6pm again for dinner. Chloe and I are nearly run over by a taxi and we are persuaded by a young Peruvian girl to select her restaurant where we are guaranteed a music show, which sounds good. Unfortunately it starts as we leave at 8.30 carrying two sleeping girls who at least managed a couple of bites of their dinner tonight before falling into their plates.
Enjoying getting to know a nice and experienced group of fellow trekkers.

DAY 4,Pisac and the Sacred Valley.
Another poor nights sleep with the girls in my single bed at 5am playing “I Spy” and famous Sophie sayings-“I can do it”,
“I don’t need any help”, etc. Good fun and it at least means we are ready for the day early.
Talk to some of the children outside the hotel and buy some things being impressed by their English. One little boy, Mike, about 6 has a piece of paper saying he is an orphan.
We have a fantastic day with a wonderful excursion to Pisac.The Terraces are really impressive and our lady guide is excellent involving the girls from the off. We walk off along the old Inca steps, which are quite airy and exposed, but everyone manages really not least Alison and Chloe who love it especially the tunnel section. I cling on to our 5 year old fearless Sophie a bit too hard and wish I had brought a harness!
 We eventually descend to the bus after an exhilarating morning walk and head to Pisac market for lunch and to shop.
We find ourselves in an open courtyard owned by a delightful local family who look after us really well. They cook our lunch on an open stove and encourage us to tour the amazing market for half an hour, a fascinating cultural experience as they prepare our food, which is delicious.
We buy a nice collection of local crafts and take lots of photos today.
Call at a local Llama farm en route back to Cusco, which the children really enjoy getting up close to the animals and before farewells to our excellent guide.
We leave Jo and Chris to a romantic dinner alone and head off with Jill back to our favourite Inka Grill to sample again the delicious Peruvian menu.
Chloe and Sophie manage a bit more dinner tonight but a very tired Sophie whimpers all the way back to the hotel as she is carried once again. My poor back!
I come out again to buy water and to change some money before Alison and I pack ready for the trekking part of the holiday, which begins in the morning.

DAY5, Inca Ruins and first trek to Chekan.
Awake to rain which is disappointing but at least have a better nights sleep. All feeling good as we fuel up at breakfast but not wanting to start the trek wet and with the weather clearing we trade a delayed start for a lecture from Evert about the main Inca chiefs.
There is a further delay when Evert tells us the sheet we thought was a souvenir is actually our entrance ticket to the Inca sites, which means a return to our spare bag in the hotel to find it! Spot Jo and Chris searching too and all wish Evert had mentioned this yesterday.
We visit 4 Inca sites in a busy and enjoyable morning:
*Tambomachay and the Inca baths.
*Puca Pucara, the military check point on the main Inca road.
*Qenko, a place known as zigzag or labyrinth.
*Sacsayhuaman to tour the walls, the stone slides and another
  Tunnel.
We still do not think Evert has noticed Chloe and Sophie and 20 minutes into his key note speech on the magnetic inter connectivity between Inca sites Alison and I flip and politely ask him to involve the children who by this time are climbing the ruins on their own.
In fairness to Evert he quickly readjusts and whisks the girls off to the top of the rocks to spot Llama, condor and puma shapes and to become their best friend for the rest of the trek.
Call at an Alpaca factory between Qenko and Sacssayhuaman where there is a bit of a hard sell and we give in and buy gloves and hats for the girls.
It has been a good morning and we walk to our lunch spot in a field to find the mess table set beautifully. Our cook conjures up a delicious soup and spaghetti bolognese that is very welcome as we prepare for our first walk.
The afternoon walk is delightful in the hills above Cusco although it is a bit windy and chilly and we have to put on our waterproofs at one point as the rain falls.
Everyone enjoys the walk and the sense of adventure with the horses bringing along our gear.
We scramble down to a gully and a cave balcony then descend to the valley floor splashing in the river.
Eventually reach the hilly bowl of Chekan, which is our first campsite for the night.
We are disappointed the family tent we specially ordered is not here with 2 x 2 tents available but decide to sleep together in one of these. Jill takes the other 2-person tent and we take her single to store our bags.
We are busy organising and making everything cosy before being called to tea in the mess tent. Toilet talk dominates as the loo tent is erected and I have to help the girls who find the experience both amusing and challenging, as my boots get very wet!
 We play cards before dinner well wrapped up against the 3700m cold. The cook then prepares another great meal, soup and fried trout before stories, shooting stars the dreaded toilet tent again and a very early night at 8 pm.
Amazing, busy day really and a good start to the trek especially with Evert now tuned into the girls and their needs.

DAY6, Horses and Trekking to Laguna Piuray.
We all toss and turn our way through a first camping night at 3700m,quite an achievement. It is cosy but cramped and I am up before tea organising for the day.
At breakfast the adults all look as though we slept in a tent last night with creased faces and puffy eyes!
We set off on our long trek to Laguna Piuray on a bright and fresh morning with Chloe and Sophie happily on their horses where they remain for most of the day. It is Sophie’s first ride and we are impressed with her confident, no fuss attitude that mirrors Chloe’s approach.
It means too Alison and I have a grown up walk and it is a great chance to chat to everyone and admire the wonderful views.
We wind our way up and on to a 4000m pass where we stop to rest and listen to Evert’s keynote speech on the history of the 14 Inca Chiefs, which whilst long is actually very good and interesting!
We admire the wonderful colours, the yellowy green landscape with neat ploughed fields, the mountaintops and massive sky.
We march on through dusty villages with many dogs and donkeys in evidence.
We walk for 4 hours to our lunch stop at Carmen Villa where we bake in the sun over another delicious meal. We continue the walk through Chincheros and see women toiling in the fields with pick axes- amazing as their men folk look on.
 Nearing our camp after a wonderful walk we shelter from the lorries driving up dust from the dry roads as the children trot along on their horses.
We reach a lovely campsite by the Laguna, a sort of green paddock and prepare for another night this time at 3800m.
We set up our tent and change into warm clothes feeling a bit nauseous from too much sun and the altitude.
Everyone seems to pick at dinner tonight but we reflect on an excellent day and sing songs and play word games before a very early night around 8pm.

DAY 7,Moray, Maras and final camp at Pichingoto.
What a night!
It is freezing even with our 4 season bags and liners and Alison complains in the night about me bringing the family camping to such a cold place. We get through the night and at dawn discover ice inside the tent and a massive frost, which looks lovely from our tent. The sun quickly warms the place up and it is no surprise to us the sun was worshiped by the Incas.
Chris later says she is revived by our happy girls singing songs in their sleeping bags and I have to admit they are coping exceptionally well.
Everyone though looks a bit battered at breakfast with still very puffy eyes.
The cook tries to warm us up with a hot chocolate with mint, which tastes foul and I think we all sneakily pour it out on the grass.
We are quickly revived by breakfast and with the thought we only have one camping night left and set off to have a very busy and satisfying day-although the girls miss the horses!
*We visit Chincheros with its fascinating alter overlooking a
  vast arena. The church here is also special with many
  flowers. Everyone enjoys the market and the music man from
  whom we buy a number of things.
*Moray where the initial attraction is the real toilets! We all
  love this place and descend to the bottom of the circled
  terrace which the girls find very exciting.
*Lunch in “the middle of nowhere” surrounded by snowy
  Andean mountains and eat yet another fabulous meal. The
  Cook is helped by lots of local boys who like the sweets we
  give them afterwards by way of thanks.
*The salt mines at Maras which is where we trek down to the
  Urubamba River below. This is a lunar like scene and we
  wonder at the strength of the locals gathering salt for a few
  Sols.
We admire the might of a river which flows into the Amazon but are surprised to find it polluted with many plastic bottles and containers. Alison finds this a desolate spot.
We find the bus again and are driven to our final campsite.
We cannot believe how poor it is after two superb spots, next to the river with its plastic surface and opposite houses on a main road.
Chris mutters,”Oh Jo” and Alison bursts into tears-it is a tense half an hour or so.
We decide just to get on with things as they position the toilet tent near to a house just across the river. Lorries hoot their horns and workmen stare as we wash and change outside our 2-man tent, which is too small to accommodate our family and luggage but which in the more idyllic remote camps has not previously been a problem.
It is very disappointing to end the trek in such a poor place.
We press on and enjoy the final nights dinner, which is a sumptuous buffet; amazing what can be produced in such a place.
Jill tells some excellent stories to keep the children spellbound and we play more word games before a very over tired Sophie brings our day to an end.
We struggle to get to sleep with the dogs from the nearby houses barking away in a nightlong canine competition.

DAY 8,Revived in Ollantaytambo.
Wake after a better night despite the local cockerels competing with the dogs in the early hours.
Definitely a very poor campsite in comparison to the previous two and would not recommend it to future family trekkers.
We are quickly packed up and ready for breakfast Chloe and Sophie again raising the spirits with their singing.
There is a big tipping culture here but we gratefully hand over a well-deserved bonus to the cook and his assistant as we depart the camp heading for Ollantaytambo.
We are able to drop our bags off at our friendly hostel before the Ollantaytambo tour and are grateful for that with everyone keen to use the loo!
We meet up with Evert for the tour and enjoy another fascinating morning climbing up to the top of the fortress where we are serenaded by a Peruvian family who seem delighted when Chloe and Sophie respond with a song of their own. I am very proud of them.
I am personally really affected by the faces, apparently natural, on the rocky Cliffside opposite and muse on their meaning. It seems to me this could have been a showcase of Inca technology with visitors in the past then having the opportunity, Mecca like, to worship the God like faces from the fortress walls.
 Evert seems interested in my theories, everyone else smiles!
 Go on to see the condor and other shapes which interest the girls.
We chat on what we have seen over coffee before returning to the hostel for lunch.
Spend the afternoon shopping with Jill before coming back for electric shocks and water cascading all over the floor in our very cranky bathroom. Discover later everyone has electric shocks!
We go out on our own in the evening which is nice leaving the others to a grown up evening and we have a really good time in a pizza place owned by 2 brothers and their sister who look after us well. The pizza arrives individually at 5-minute intervals and tastes of cardboard but we do not mind as we have a nice bottle of wine and the girls are happy with their Inca colas taking in an unusual scene.
A cranky but very enjoyable evening as we reflect on the trek so far and the wonderful experiences we are enjoying.

DAY 9,Train to Aguas Calientes-Mozzies but no Bears.
We all sleep very well but are still first up to breakfast at 8am.
Breakfast is delicious but 2 slices of toast with the best coffee so far hardly hits the spot so we eat chocolate on our final hour around the town.
We are bundled down to the railway station mid morning and enjoy people and train watching in the waiting room. We soon board and are off to Aguas Calientes following the river valley in a fascinating 90 minute rail journey.
Aguas Calientes is “Platform city “ ranges of stalls and restaurants being spread along the side of the track and it looks a fascinating place to explore later.
Chloe and Sophie are excited about the visit to the Bear sanctuary planned for today, which they have read up about on the Internet and as it is the first real activity of this family trek dedicated to them as children.
They rush us along as we settle our bags into our hotel and make sure we bring the swimming costumes for the hot springs later in the afternoon.
We grab a quick sandwich before meeting Evert at 2.30.He wanders us around the town, is sheepish about the Bear sanctuary but leads us into the garden of the Pueblo Hotel to see the orchids which does not especially capture the attention of two bear distracted girls. True, the humming birds are fantastic but sitting there we are eaten alive by mozzies, Jo later recording 50 bites on his legs.
We seem to be the only travellers in our group with insect repellent but we have left it in the hotel as Evert stressed we would only need it for Machu Picchu.We later realised he includes Aguas Calientes as part of Machu Picchu but wish he could have made it clearer to have avoided a lot of pain and later suffering for everyone!
Chloe and Sophie are bitterly disappointed when Evert quietly announces we are not visiting the Bear sanctuary but the way he does it makes us think this was never going to happen and is something Walks Worldwide should address in their literature and trip notes.
The group go their separate ways at the hot springs, which prove to be worse than the guide book’s description,”tacky”.
There are trekkers washing themselves presumably after coming down filthy from the Inca trail and hordes of locals washing their hair with sachets of shampoo floating in the pools.
Still the girls do not notice and have fun and Alison makes sure they are given a good shower later back in the hotel.
That is after a shop and brief pre-dinner return to the hotel to spray with insect repellent-better late than never!
We find another amazing restaurant and dine on avocado, alpaca and chicken enjoying the local atmosphere. We chat about tomorrow and hope Machu Picchu will not be an anti-climax after all the wonderful Inca remains seen so far.
We are back in our room to shower, pack and generally prepare for an early 4.30am start in the morning before our journey back to Cusco.

DAY 10,Machu Picchu and a long delayed return to Cusco.
We have been looking forward to this day ever since committing to the trek and everyone is positively up and ready for the 5.30 bus departure. It is exciting making our way up to the Machu Picchu site along the twisty trail with the lights of Agua Calientes shining below. As we enter this famous place in semi-darkness the misty, atmospheric conditions gives us all a “lost world “ feeling.
The sun rose over the jagged mountaintops and the suns rays quickly evaporate the early morning mist and there it was below us-the magnificent, classic view of Machu Picchu.
Definitely no anti-climax here!
What struck us all was the superb setting which was very moving even for Chloe and Sophie at their tender years.
We take lots of photographs of course and enjoy our tour of the site and its many highlights with the sacred stone our favourite spot where we stop to gaze munching a snack.
Altogether we stay nearly 5 hours before Evert indicates he has to leave. We say our goodbyes and each offer our thanks and present him with a well-earned and large tip.
He then joins us for coffee and we casually ask about the meeting arrangements in Cusco only to discover we are only travelling by train to Ollantaytambo and being driven from there back to Cusco-nice to know and this could have been an embarrassing mistake!!
With lots of time today-perhaps too much with young children and with the site becoming increasingly crowded-we return for a second tour of a magnificent place before returning on the coach to the town for lunch and to barter in the track side craft shops.
Amazingly we run into Evert twice and wonder why he is not escorting us back to Cusco.
With our train due to leave at 17.40 and after a very early start everyone is looking forward to our evening in the old Inca capital and the chance to prepare after the trek and a busy few days for the next leg of our journey.
Unfortunately it does not work out that way and we have a very stressful end to an initially wonderful day.
Our train is delayed until 20.15 and the station becomes a heaving mass of pushy tourists and locals all wanting to get back to Cusco.We board in complete darkness with not a single light working on the train and that means an uncomfortable journey. Jill is ill and with Chloe and Sophie fast asleep and with 4 heavy kitbags to negotiate, Alison and I feel under massive pressure especially being surprisingly unescorted on this part of the journey.
We eventually reach our destination and thanks to Jo and Christine manage, in the still pitch-blackness, to get two sleeping children and our bags off the train and through the heaving mass of travellers to our minibus, which is a very welcome sight!
It is 00.30 when we reach Cusco only to be turned away from our hotel having been transferred to a sister hotel for some unknown reason. Fortunately, thanks to the co-operation of the new hotels staff we manage to rescue our left luggage containing all our clean clothes for Lake Titicaca.
We are a tired, dirty, hungry family as we get to our room at 01.00 and with Alison’s legs very swollen indeed after the mozzie bites we just fall into bed and set the alarm for 5am to shower then and organise our luggage.
What a day!

DAY 11,Andean Explorer to Puno and more problems.
 A short, 4 hour night but again the girls get up beautifully to bathe and help organise for the next part of our journey.
Poor Alison, though, has size 16 legs on her size 8 frame and is very sore indeed. It does not stop her tucking into breakfast with a ravenous group of fellow travellers.
The day offers a great opportunity to recharge the batteries with a 10-hour train journey on the Andean Explorer to Puno.
Again, unfortunately, problems creep into the programme when we discover we have 7 seats in different places on the train with our family group, including a 5 and 9 year old having reserved seats “miles apart”.
The travelling conductor is very sympathetic and helpful but it leads to a tussle with a French group and we are eventually found seats together in a different compartment, quickly joined by a less than impressed Christine, Jo and Jill.
It works out fine though and we enjoy a wonderful train journey with magnificent scenery, an amazing observation carriage, troups of entertainers and, of course, delicious food and even a bottle of wine.
The train makes a scenic stop at La Rayna at an altitude of 4313m and we got off to visit the market, which is great fun.
There is even lots of opportunity to massage Alison’s still massive legs and ankles.
We reach Puno at 6pm after a fantastic, much enjoyed journey, which should have set us up well for the much looked forward to sail on Lake Titicaca and the world famous Tequile Island.
Once again the gremlins intervene in the form of the worst tour guide I have ever encountered in trekking holidays on 6 continents over 14 years!
First of all she tells me we are to meet at 08.45 the next morning but gives Jill a time of 07.45.Then, in having to replace Jill’s missing flight coupon between Juliaca and Lima we discover our 09.55 departing flight to Lima Tuesday is changed to 17.50.It does not occur to her this would have totally screwed up our connections home and we set about trying to make sense of our options.
With her very negative attitude and two English phrases:
“I am tired”, and
“It’s impossible”
this is very difficult and Jill, Jo,Christine and I set off with her to the office to try to resolve matters.
It becomes apparent too we are not now following the published itinerary with the Tequile Island excursion being replaced without explanation with an overnight visit to Amantani Island. Jill is very tearful at this point as this was to be her highlight of the trip.
We spend 3 frustrating hours with the non-English speaking Anna waiting for Maria, our key contact in Lima to call. This is a very frustrating episode especially as I speak German, Jo Italian and Jill French yet despite our smattering of Spanish between us we just cannot communicate with this woman who we all feel has a very negative attitude.
Maria cannot explain the Tequile switch but promises to try another flight option to have us leave Juliaca at 9am Tuesday meaning we can largely stick with the programme substituting Amantani for Tequile.
She promises to get us a message on Amantani tomorrow with an option to return to Puno early and fly to Lima Monday evening if that fails.
Anna’s strains of “It’s impossible” to Maria do not inspire any confidence in us as we head back to our hotel after a second lost evening in a row.
Poor Christine is very upset about money changing facilities having run out of cash at this point.
Sophie is asleep when I got to our room at 10.30 with Alison and Chloe very anxious about me being missing for so long.
Chloe quickly goes off to asleep and I try to reassure a concerned Alison with an impromptu supper of tea and kit Kats before yet another hour’s reorganisation of our bags ready for the island visit.
Manage lights out around midnight after another difficult pack as Anna has stressed we need to take our camping equipment and lots of warm clothes.

DAY 12,Unsettled on Lake Titicaca and Amantani Island.
An unnecessarily uncertain day begins with another early start and we are breakfasting at 6am.
There is no new news as Anna escorts us to the harbour looking disdainfully at the 5 kitbags our 7 strong group of trekkers have between us. It is only latter when we arrive we realise we do not need our camping equipment at all which explains why most other people travelled with a rucksack!
We are deposited on to a very cranky, diesel smelling boat with, apparently, no life jackets and wonder what on earth is going on.
Jo, Jill and I manage to persuade Christine and Alison to stay on board but it is a very unpromising beginning.
Anna gives me a key as we depart with “ 34 “ written on it which we imagine is for a room on the Island. Her “tomorrow, tomorrow” urgings suggest we will be departing early for Lima.
We do overcome our frustration with, obviously, the worst vessel leaving Puno that morning accentuated with the frequent failings of the engine.
In the event the visit to the floating Islands and the trip on a reed boat are exciting much enjoyed by Chloe and Sophie.
The long journey to Amantani is, however, less rewarding as we worry our boat will not get us there without falling apart.
On the Island at last we struggle with heavy bags in the blinding heat to a family home where we settled in. There is no message for us on arrival which we all think is very poor on Maria’s part and assume the mornings return and the shortening of our programme is on.
Experienced travellers and a positive group of people we settle down to make the best of a difficult position.
We eat fried eggs and potatoes with our fingers, which is a first and enjoy the company of the Innez family who do their best to look after us. We are lucky in having a Spanish speaking Polish guy with us, Kaspar, who helps explain what is going on and helps us too with the guide who has only been speaking English for 5 months.
The island is beautiful with its stunning view over a placid lake to Bolivia beyond and with a sun drenched Greek feel to it.
There is another climbing challenge for Chloe and Sophie with an ascent up to the top of the island at 4280m to see the sunset, which is magical.
We met a nice German couple who hearing we have to return early to Puno in the morning at 8am say they will join us.
We get back for dinner with our family with the news from our guide we have to sail to another town on the Island at 06.30 in the morning and then pick up the direct connection to Puno.
Frustratingly it means yet another 5am start and with the girls exhausted we feel we have no option but to elect for an early night and miss the “Amantani Party” which we had wanted to see.
We made sure the guide would pass on the changed travelling plan to the German couple thanks to Kaspar’s translation as we headed for bed.
So very much a frustrating day with all the uncertainty of our travel arrangements and a third lost evening in a row.

DAY 13,An Unnecessary early struggle back to Puno.
We need a break from these 5am starts but everyone is positive again in making sure we are ready for the off, without a drink or breakfast as we are too early for our family.
Typically we have a long wait at the harbour checking whether each boat is ours until the crew of our boat yesterday turn up at 06.45 and say they are sailing us to Pueblo.
Unfortunately we do not see the German couple and worry they have not received the message.
The Boat rolls all over the place and the engine fails twice but we make it to Pueblo in an hour and are pointed in the direction of the Puno boat. We manage to buy water and bananas before boarding and realise we are on a local boat.
The captain insists on being paid and we settle down amongst a very interesting group returning to Puno-the lady with three young chickens in a box, talking and playing with them as we sail. The elderly Peruvian lady who sits on the floor of the boat eating leaves throughout. The family group with one little boy quite uncomfortable but cheered up when Chloe and Sophie give him a colouring book and pencils.
 It is fun “people watching” but less fun watching the crew taking turns to pee over the side of the boat at frequent intervals as there is no loo on board!
We determine not to eat the fresh water trout back in town!
We eventually get back to Puno at mid-day after a marathon journey and expect to see Anna but she is nowhere to be seen.
Grumbling, we drag our heavy bags up to the taxi rank and are about to get into cars when the bus driver from yesterday approaches us and takes us back to the hotel.
We still have no idea what is going on-Lima today or tomorrow-and spend a very troubled hour talking to Anna on the phone who insists on a very high speed Spanish delivery from which we work out we are indeed overnighting in Puno and taking a rearranged early morning flight back to Lima in the morning.
We are all very annoyed not to have received this message which would have meant we could have travelled to Tequile today, enjoyed a leisurely lunch and returned to Puno late afternoon.
We contact Maria’s office in Lima and agreed to speak with her at 4pm.
So, with no breakfast and having travelled on a boat with no loo we are desperate to freshen up and decided to visit the sights of Puno in the afternoon.
Walking around the town in the afternoon we run into the German couple we had met on Amantani who say they had wondered where we were in the morning as they HAD sailed directly to Puno at 8am as was originally proposed and reached the town at 11am!!
We definitely see mischief on Anna’s part at this juncture but never get to the bottom of this in our conversation later with Maria or with the mysterious “Key 34” which Jill insists was the key to a lovely room on Tequile Island with that part of the programme too sabotaged unnecessarily by the monstrous Anna.
In the event we settle to a pleasant afternoon buying some nice gifts for the family at home.
Just before the call with Maria which I made on the teams behalf we all listen spellbound as a young Peruvian gives a faultless briefing in English to a newly arrived group of visitors and realise all the mistakes we were led into about the requirements for Amantani.Jo takes a copy of his business card to pass on to Walks Worldwide for future reference but in the guide’s general remarks it seems clear Inca Explorers, Anna’s group are not well respected in Puno and their reputation is one of always going for the mass as opposed to tailored option.
We agree with Maria we will need somewhere to wait comfortably in Lima with 10 hours now to wait before our flight home and with an option for a museum tour or something similar to occupy us.
 With the uncertainty resolved we are at last able to relax into the short time left in Puno and Alison, Chloe, Sophie and I enjoy the rest of the day before a monster pack and preparations for home.

DAYS 14 and 15,Lima and a long journey home.
 Yet another 5am start but again everyone is well organised and ready for the off.
Anna looks thunderous but as we English do we all try to behave with her despite lots of aggressive feelings towards her. She continues to cause problems right to the end pushing and shoving us in front of a group of irate Italians at the check-in and insisting the ladies stay out of the way for some reason jostling them at every opportunity. She begs us to fill in a questionnaire as we leave her, which is very undignified.
What a disaster of a representative!
The flight to Lima is uneventful and we are pleased to be met and taken to our 5 star, sorry 0.5 star hotel near the airport where we are met not by Maria but by the hotel representative.
She at least is very pleasant and we are given day rooms, which we appreciated later.
We are told we are too far away from the city sights but do venture out as a group to a local mall with its modern brands and wonder what the Incas would have made of it. We all hated it!
We have a pleasant team lunch before some free time and our 16.45 pickup.
Luckily there is no repeat of the outward journey problems and everything works to time on the return journey.
We say our farewells to our excellent travelling companions, Jo, Christine and Jill with whom we have shared some wonderful experiences, which we will remember forever.
Hit the M25 at 18.00 Wednesday evening and are home in a long two hour journey for our traditional beans on toast.
What a trip!!

McCallum Family, London, England. 30th August 2005

 

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