Apologies for not keeping the blog up to date. We thought we would run into trouble with internet availability in Peru and Bolivia; turns out it was pretty easy over there. We’ve been camping for free almost every night in Chile and Argentina, so there hasn’t been much internet for us. Also, just too many cool things to see and do. But back to Peru.
We continued through Peru on our mountain route, even though we weren’t quite sure whether all places could be passable during the rainy season. From Huaraz we passed over the Cordillera Blanca to Chavin de Huantar, where we saw some of the most impressive ruins of the trip. Unassuming from the outside, there were underground tunnels which were really fun to explore. We were the only ones there, which made the day more enjoyable.
At Charlie’s place we had heard about a scenic mountain road that wasn’t marked on the maps, and after some asking around we found ourselves on a one lane dirt road winding up to the Antamina mining complex. We got some amazing views of the Cordillera Blanca, and then crossed through the mining area where a whole mountain is essentially being ground away.
The road continued further south, but it was slow going. Roads in Peru are usually very narrow, windy, but not very steep. That means that you can’t drive fast, and that you’ll be snaking up and down mountains forever, only gaining or losing a few meters at each switchback. The scenery in the mountains, however, is simply stunning and the roads mostly paved. That really surprised us. One other surprise was how many mudslides we came across on the roads! A lot of the time the perfectly new roads that had just been built a few years ago were turned into sections of one lane mud tracks. Whether it’s just force of nature or faulty construction, who knows.
Via Huanuco, Cerro de Pasco (world’s highest city at 4,300m, an ugly mining town), Jauja and Huancayo, we spent a lot of days driving through the beautiful scenery. The weather only cooperated in parts, with lots of cloudy skies.
A really pleasant surprise was the town of Huancavelica. The town had a really relaxed atmosphere, with lots of young people walking in the streets, and no other tourists. We went to an overlook of the city at a church up the hill. The next day we continued to Ayacucho, passing over 4,800m on a paved road. Its crazy how our bodies were used to these altitudes at this point.
Ayacucho was insanely busy compared to the past few days, and had a more touristy feel in the colonial style center. For the first time in a while, it was fairly easy to get on the internet! But already, we were missing the tranquility of the last few days and hightailed it out of the city as soon as we could.
One of the things we had been looking forward to since Colombia was a visit to the small town of Curahuasi. Back when we were staying at Finca Venezia near Manizales, we met Verena and Chris with their two daughters. They are a German family living in Curahuasi, Peru, where they run a school that is solely funded by donations. It is amazing what they have achieved in so little time.
We spent a few days in Curahuasi. The daughters, Maryse and Lisanne, were really excited to see Leika again (and hopefully us as well!). We took them on a hike nearby – what a stunning setting to live in! Chris gave us tour of the school that reminded me of my school days in Germany with many of the same equipment and materials. The school focuses on delivering the highest level of education, but at a price that the people can afford thanks to donations. Chris, Verena and the girls made us feel at home and it was difficult to say goodbye after a few wonderful days with the family. As we left, Verena sent us off with some of her wonderful homemade jam and we know that we will see them again – whether it’ll be in South America, Europe or maybe Africa one day…