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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
The area surrounding the town of Chachapoyas, high in the mountains, was inhabited from around 880 AD until the 1470s when the Chachapoyas were defeated by the Incans. As a result, the surrounding countryside is dotted with evidence of a very large civilization, ready for exploration. Completely randomly I bump into a chill couple who stayed at The Secret Garden a few weeks ago, so we team up to explore the surrounding area, starting with the local bars.
We more than succeed in sampling the Peruvian beer, and are up early, though not so bright the following morning. Our first adventure has us winding through tiny villages high in the mountains, a few hours of driving then half an hour hiking down into a deserted valley. At this burial site, called Karajia, six painted tombs stand high on the cliff face, watching over the beautiful valley below. It’s extremely peaceful and we hangout in the morning sunshine, happy to have the entire place to ourselves.
Not entirely sure where to go next, we detour though a few other small towns and stumble across a little museum and tourist office, exactly the place we need to be. The friendly staff provide directions and a key so we can gain access to Pueblo De Los Muertes or, The Village Of The Dead. Again we drive out into the wilderness before hiking down into a beautiful valley to find a crumbling village perched on the side of a mountain.
It’s dark by the time we make it back to town, and after a big meal for about US$1.25 in the local market I fall straight asleep.
The following morning we head off in search of more adventure, this time provided by the Gocta Waterfall, (apparently not) the third highest in the world at 771 meters. After another friendly information office and small entry fee, we set out hiking, barely able to see the falls in the distance. We walk intermittently through dense forest then break out into clearings where we catch glimpses of the falls growing as we get closer and closer. After a couple of hours, the beautiful forest parts and we find ourselves at the base of the falls, hardly able to believe our eyes. From where we stand it’s not even possible to see the very top, and it’s still absolutely enormous. We sit around chatting, still not believing our eyes and soaking in the peace and quiet.
By the time we wander back to the Jeep and drive back into town, dusk is fast approaching and so I decide to stay “just one more night”. The enormous plate of chicken and chips we’ve been talking about all day has absolute nothing to do with my decision.
It looks like Peru will mostly be gentle to my budget, things being quite cheap. A hotel room is about USD$3.50-$5, lunch at the market just over $1, and a big beer at a bar about $1.75.
Gasoline appears to be the huge exception. 84 Octane is about $4/gal ($1.05/liter), 90 Octane is $4.80/gal and there are two grades of Diesel that are about the same ($4.80/gal). It does seem to vary wildly, even when two stations are literally across the road from each other. My plan is to avoid any back-and-forth driving, essentially sticking to the straight and narrow to try and keep expenses down.
Let’s see how well that works out.