Saturday 23 June 2018

Day 69 Towards Ollantaytambo . . . Laguna Huaypo

June 8th, 2018

The now regular . . . very cold overnight, sunny and warm once sun up

Off early morning, just as the sun is rising, the air is very cold and I continue wishing I had more than two jerseys. Reaching a village a few miles down the road there is chaos as a large agricultural fair is taking place. I stop to watch as masses of people mill around stalls and animal pens and arrive en masse on the back of lorries, in cars, buses and minibuses.

Through Izcacucha, I turn off the main road that heads towards Cusco and instead take a dirt road that goes up a small rise through a woodland of Eucalyptus trees. Sitting having a drink at a place where I can see over the ridge and over the trees, a White-throated Hawk circles around giving fabulous views.

Over the ridge there is a village that sits beside a large lake and I spend a couple of hours birding, counting each bird specie to be seen. These include Black-necked Stilts and a couple of Lesser yellowlegs as well as, surprisingly, a Little Blue Heron. Some White-tufted Grebes dive through small gaps in the floating vegetation to catch fish. At the east end of the lake I am delighted when a young pig, which I hadn't noticed because it was sleeping in a shallow ditch, comes up behind me and gives me a knock. I presume it wants to be scratched and am doing so when the owner, an old Inca looking lady comes out and joins me in scratching the contented animal.

A few miles further and I come across a lake that makes the last one look like a puddle, Laguna Huaypo. In the first reed bed there are some Yellow-winged Blackbirds, doubling my day's Green Birding Year ticks. I continue around the fabulous lake with it's magnificent views of massive and magnificent mountains that fringe the Sacred Valley south of Urubamba. I meet a young couple who are sitting in the grass and the girl is from Huddersfield originally but now lives in Barcelona. Not much of a difference I suppose!

Onto the main road between Cusco and Urubamba, I head towards the latter and enjoy ten miles or so of downhill plummeting. The views of the surrounding mountains are wonderful.

There is still an hour or so of light on reaching the large town and so I continue towards Ollantaytambo. I stop after five miles on seeing a nice looking hostel beside the road. The cost is a little steep, eighty Soles, around £20 but it will be fine for one night. I go off in search of some food along a nearby side road and am bitten by a small dog on the back of my calf. It isn't too bad and doesn't draw blood but the little thing has left his mark with a ring of little bruises. What is it with dogs in Peru?

Green Year list : 216 birds average new birds to list per day : 3.13 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 33.30 miles

elevation : up 1,739 feet, down 3,538 feet

altitude : 9,493 feet

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