We thought we’d try something different for a journey in South America. Beginning in Lima, we wandered the Cordillera Blanca of northern Peru, stopping along the way at two seldom visited but important ancient pre-Inca sites. From the high Andes we dropped down into the Amazon basin to the end of the road at Yurimaguas. There we took local river boats down Rio Huallaga, Rio Maranon and Rio Amazonas to Manaus, where we traveled north out of the Amazon basin to the Caribbean/Atlantic coast at Georgetown Guyana.
One of the sites we visited, and documented for a magazine article, is as old as the pyramids of Egypt. A great deal is known about the Incas, and the sites have been refurbished as tourist sites. However, the great societies leading up to the Incas are possibly even more interesting, and certainly much older. These sites are in the early stages of stabilization, but archaeologists are very excited about their potential. The first site we visited, Caral is near the coast, a few days by bicycle north of Lima. From there we rode directly up into the Andes where we sort of wandered for about three weeks, visited a second site, had some physical and health challenges (nothing new) and descended, and climbed, precipitous foothills into the Amazon Basin. There the high cool/cold dry air of the Andes gave way to heat and humidity. We gave away our extra clothes and bought hammocks for the Amazon portion of our journey.
The rivers of the Amazon Basin gave us a good overview of the world’s greatest river system and introduced us to some very interesting people, food and views. We had many vaccinations, carried a kilo of antibiotics (it seemed) and managed to avoid the worst gastro-intestinal diseases and parasites. Bob suffered with inflamed lungs the entire trip, but managed. We traded our tent and sleeping bag for the hammocks, mosquito net and bug juice.
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