51 Photos

Rafting on the Vilacanota River
My Dream Trip to Machu Picchu

Streets of OllantaytamboStreets of Ollantaytambo (Sandra Woerner)
Our two river guides, Gilber and Eduardo, along with our driver, Jose picked us up about 9 AM at our hotel and drove us for two hours to our starting place on the river. We stopped at a small store in a village where our guides bought snacks and the lady owner unlocked a rest room for us. (In Cusco, everyone is asked to put toilet paper in the trash can and not in the toilet as the plumbing system is not very good). Zed helped the guides manually pump up the raft and pontoon as their battery powered pump was out. While they did that, I shut myself in the back seat of the van and changed into my swimsuit and wetsuit. I had never worn a wetsuit before and it was a little difficult to pull it on in that small space. Finally, after much tugging, I was presentable and stepped outside the van to do some adjusting. We proceeded to get our helmet and vest on and started our trip on the Vilacanota River. Eduardo was in the raft with us and Gilber was our safety guide in his pontoon. The rafting was mostly Class II—a few Class III rapids. It was way too tame for Zed and I could have handled a littler rougher waters, but I think they were concerned about grandma. After rafting a distance, we had to get out for safety reasons (apparently, there is one really rough rapid) and we walked over slippery rocks to meet up with our guide and raft. It was quite fun. As we got to the end of our trip, we climbed out of the raft and Jose had driven ahead and was heating our meal. While the guys set up the canopy, I peeled off my wetsuit which was much harder than getting it on in the first place. We sat down under a canopy to eat. One other rafting group was there also. Actually, it was a good meal, although not very hot. We had chicken stuffed with cheese from Cusco and bell pepper and mashed potatoes. For dessert, we ate canned peaches and drank sodas. After eating, we all helped clean up and the guys packed everything and Gilber placed it to perfection on the rooftop of the van. When we got back to the hotel (making the same stop on the way back for the rest room), Zed and I cleaned up and walked to the plaza to eat. We were tired and went back to the hotel and watched TV and I repacked my suitcase for the trip home as we were to leave Cusco the next day. Zed waited until morning to repack, but he did not have as much to shuffle around as did I.

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