Saturday 23 June 2018

Day 66 Away from Abancayo

June 5th, 2018

Heavy rain overnight, dry and cool day

Ollantaytambo, a small village from which I intend to walk to that most famous World Heritage site, Machu Picchu, is one hundred and thirty miles away. This morning I start in that direction. Today is Tuesday. I want to be there by Saturday and then do the long thirty mile walk to the village at the foot of Machu Picchu, called Aguas Calientes, hot water, on Sunday.

Leaving Abancay starts with a long push up the steep and very busy main road. Whereas when I walked to Ampay nature reserve two days ago I could go the direct route and take the side roads that go straight up the hill, albeit much steeper. Now, with heavy laden bike, I have to take the long and winding road, which adds miles to the route. The first four miles seem interminable. I shouldn't be doing this. I am sweaty and feverish. Mind you, look at the bright side. My little problem downstairs seems to have stopped!

The road, once out of the city, is a mass of switchbacks, hairpin bends and long, ever rising stretches within tall Eucalyptus trees. A coach stops, one of the many travelling this route between Lima and Cusco. The driver, Juan Carlos, waves and shouts me over and offers me a lift to the top of the hill. Curtains are pulled back as paying customers with Peruvian faces peer out to see why the coach has stopped. I explain the usual thing about my adventure being totally without the use of a motorised vehicle and Juan Carlos passes me a glass bottle of Aloe water. The man behind him gives me a two litre bottle of mineral water. Two very friendly men giving gifts to a feverish Englishman. The kindness of strangers. They drive off. I continue my push. Well I do after I drink the aloe water.

It never ceases to amaze me how, despite the slow pace, soon one gets elevated views of the place one has started from. Views of the city down in the valley makes me feel that I making good progress despite the sweat. I look down and think was I really on that road just an hour ago. The road from the city seems miles away. I go past an entrance with a large display showing various Peruvian animals; Puma, parrots, monkeys and a Spectacled Bear. There is a zoo down the dirt track that I am never going to visit. I don;t like zoos in any country and to see the pathetic sized cages and enclosures in a Peruvian one would leave me irritated and angry.
A few birds keep me hopeful of a year tick, a new bird for the Green Year list, or two. One dark hummingbird, that I stop for to identify, is rapidly going from one twig to another and refuses to give any prolonged views. It has a bright chestnut breast band and otherwise almost blackish brown plumage. I can't see any white on it and think that it must be a juvenile Gould's Jewelfront. Yet they aren't supposed to be amongst roadside flowers at this elevation. The only other bird that is similar, that has a similar chest band, is a sub-species of Collared Inca, omisa. That has a bright white undertail. This bird's tail is as the rest of the bird, very dark as almost to be black. Whatever, it is a new bird for the list and appreciated both for that and it's beauty. I need new birds as I feel I am lagging behind. The average new birds a day figure (see below) may not look that much below Dorian Anderson's figure of 3.39 but each day that passes without seeing new birds makes The Manu and the Manu Road so desperately important.

The road continues as an amazing series of switchbacks and long uphill stretches that go through Eucalyptus woodland and past the occasional mudbrick building and village. Late afternoon I start to think about where to pitch the tent and find a spot where the tall yellow flowered bushes hide the tent away from the road. Immediately on placing the repair metal tube over the broken pole and fixing it with strong insulation tape, so the other side of the pole snaps! Half an hour later with guide ropes attached to bush branches and both breaks in the longest pole fixed, the tent is up to a fashion and I crawl inside and have a very long sleep. I am shattered from the day's efforts.

Green Year list : 212 birds average new birds to list per day : 3.21 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 18.01 miles

elevation : up 6,651 feet, down 2,439 feet

altitude : 12,018 feet

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