Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Onwards to Peru to Cuzco and into the Urubamba valley

ALLIE: DAY 78: Wednesday, 2nd of May

Farewell Bolivia, here we come Peru!
Onward to Peru via Lima. A scenic drive from Cuzco into the Urubamba valley

I am half alive again after at least some hours of sleep tonight. At 8.15 we check out and get a taxi to the airport. The views of the mountains this morning are stunning. Our flight to Lima with Lan leaves 30 minutes early and the plane is half empty.
over the Andes on approach to Cuzco
How nice. Great scenery during the flight crossing more mountains and deep valleys. Two hours of transit in Lima Airport give us the chance to send 30 emails and to have a decent coffee.
By 13.40 we take off again to fly back towards Cuzco. This is scary! We are right in the middle of huge mountains and the approach to the valley of Cuzco makes me freeze.
aerial view of Cuzco and the runway in the centre!
We are so lucky though that the weather is fine – in fog or cloud this would be murder!
Jeff Hall and his driver await us at the airport. Jeff is another ballooning contact of Phil (it’s really incredible how many people Phil knows around the world!).
He is a ca. 50 years old American from New Hampshire, aircraft mechanic and balloon pilot and he has been living out here for 8 years. His ballooning operation is the only one in Peru and of course we are eager to fly with him.

The drive from Cuzco to the small town of Urubamba takes around 90minutes with a couple of scenic photo stops on the way. The snow peaks of the sacred mountain Nevada Chicon (5530m) rise in front of purple blue fields and green pastures. “This is the area where he fly”, Jeff points out to us, “and you have to respect the spirits and the mountain Gods or something bad will happen!”

our little B&B in the Urubamba valley
We arrive at our little bed & breakfast pension in Urubamba at 16.30 pm. It’s called ‘Quinta Patavasi‘ and run by Jeff, an American Peruvian and his wife. He has got 7 rooms around a lovely little courtyard and from the balcony there are great views to the mountains. A place to relax and chill out.

For dinner Jeff takes us to a wonderful restaurant called ‘El Huacatay‘ which is run by the German girl Iris and her Peruvian husband. The food is absolutely excellent and nicely presented.
dinner at a very nice restaurant with  Jeff
Phil tries the lama dish and I the local trusca (trout). Phil and Jeff talk lots about ballooning and aircraft friends and find that they know a lot of similar people. Small world!

Day 78/2 May

The flight to Cuzco via Lima involves some very spectacular mountain scenery – and we even identify the tiny village of B……..where we flew the balloon yesterday.
The approach into Cuzco is a particularly hair-raising procedural approach curving round the mountains.
what stunning scenery!
Jeff Hall, the only balloonist in Peru, is there to meet us in his Land Rover Defender which he swears is the only vehicle for real off-road work – a sentiment I fully support but find surprising coming from an American mechanical engineer.

Another remarkable coincidence is revealed when Jeff describes his father as having once owned a US commuter airline, Chatauqua, and I realise that during my time at Shorts I was involved in selling aircraft to him. We also have a close mutual acquaintance with Maurice Averay who was Shorts’ chief technical salesman in the 1970s.

spectacular mountain views
The journey to Urubamba over sunlit passes reveals more spectacular mountain scenery with snowfields and glaciers.
All the while Jeff tells tales of enviable balloon flights he has made in Nazca, the Peruvian historic site, and on the Equator in Ecuador.
The evening meal at an eclectic adobe restaurant run by a young Peruvian and his German wife includes Alpaca steaks and excellent Argentinian red. The style is described as Peru Nouveau.


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