In January of 1997, the Batts, the Browns, the Hopkins, the Orrs and Linda Richards had traveled to Chili and Argentina. Originally we had wanted to include Peru’s famed lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, on our itinerary, but we were dissuaded by a friend of Lana and Joe’s who worked for the CIA. “Too dangerous at this time,” she said.
In late 2000, Randy’s sister Robin, who is a travel agent in Tulsa, Oklahoma, started to put together the itinerary for the trip. Also joining us would be Charlie and Percilla, also of Joplin, Missouri. Robin had a difficult job. We wanted to:
See not only Machu Picchu in Peru but also visit Lake Titicaca and the Nazca Lines;
Stay in small hotels that had charm, local flavor, and atmosphere;
Include the Galapagos Island, 600 miles west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean;
Sail among the Galapagos islands on a boat in which we would be the only passengers; and
Do it in 14 days.
In the end, we had to drop the visit to the Nasca Lines and Lake Titicaca because of time constraints, but promised to return another time.
Machu Picchu from aboveBut our trip to Machu Picchu couldn’t be put off. According to an article in Arizona Daily Star, March 17, 2001, Machu Picchu is in imminent danger of being destroyed by landslides. A Japanese geologist who placed ground-movement sensors at the site found that the back slope of the ancient Inca fortress is moving downhill at a rate of almost 0.4 inches a month. “This is quite fast, and it’s a precursor stage of a rock fall or a rockslide,” said the researcher.
We also didn’t want to delay our trip to the Galapagos Islands. In early January, a tanker ship ran aground refueling a large cruise ship. The discharge threatened many of the marine animals and birds. Luckily the favorable tides washed it out to the open ocean and environmentalists from both the United States and Brazil descended upon the islands to wash the birds.
A Peruvian familyPacking for this trip took more planning than usual. First, we had to figure out what to take without going over the 40-pound limit. Even though Machu Picchu is near the equator, it is at an elevation of 7,500 feet, deep in the Andes. Because it was early fall in the Southern Hemisphere, we expected that it would be in the 60-70L in the day and cooler at night. Adventure Life , the tour company, recommended that we bring sturdy hiking boots. Yet the temperature in the Galapagos on the equator was expected to be closer to 90L, and it was recommended that we bring sandals and bathing suits. In essence, we were planning for two entirely different trips. We also had to pack the camera equipment, lenses, and two sets of binoculars as well as about seven pounds a bird books . Finally, we were told to leave plenty of room for the souvenirs. We had a good laugh at Adventure Life’s suggestion that we could get by with only two pairs of shorts, two pairs of pants, one long sleeve shirt and three short sleeve shirts, one sweater, one light water resistance jackets, and three pair of socks.
Brown seal on a rocky beachWe also had to take more immunization shots than most overseas travel. The advanced material from the tour company recommended Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio, Diphtheria, and Tetanus. Some guidebooks even recommended malaria. However, the Northern Virginia Infectious Disease Physicians clinic advised us that because we were no going into the Amazon jungle, we could forgo the malaria shots/pills. But Lana packed a medical kit that would make any EMT proud - aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, ace bandages, cough syrup, throat lozenges, motion sickness pills, Pepto-Bismol, anti-itch cream for mosquitoes, and antibiotics for travelers diarrhea. You get the picture.
The US State Department also issued a “travelers advisory” for June and July 2001 because of potential street demonstrations during the Presidential election and inauguration.
In Southeastern Peru, Lake Titicaca is inhabited by Amantai Indians who fled to the lake on reed “islands” to escape being captured by the Incas. The Nazca Lines are puzzling drawings in a desert discovered 70 years ago that can only be seen from the air. Speculation abounds that “aliens” drew them.
http://www.adventure-life.com located in Missoula, Montana
After much debate, we opted not to bring the spotting scope and tripod. Too heavy and unyielding. In the end the weight limit didn’t seem to matter. Most of us ended up buying an additional suitcase to take home our souvenirs. The best solutions seemed to be duffle bags on rollers and backpacks on rollers.