How hard can it be to get to Peru?

The answer was: “Harder than you would think”, and would we ever get to the pre-Inca cemetery Sillustani in Peru?

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We already knew, that it would be almost impossible to drive across the border from Chile into Peru, due to the Chilean law. In Chile the law is, that you can’t leave from Chile and into Peru with a Chilean vehicle as a foreigner without a Chilean resident identification card. Well, for several years the Chilean Aduana hasn’t been very strict about it, so we drove to the border to give it a try. Well, we were not allowed to drive out of Chile, and had to turn around. We drove back to Arica, and shopped some food. As a dietician I also go shopping for local fruit and vegetables, but I guest the locals have other priorities. I have never seen, the use of a baby lift in that way, well it protects the beers as it protects the babies.

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We know that the same law apply between Chile and Bolivia, but that we can cross from Chile into Argentina with a Declaration Jurada. Still when being in Arica it is a very long drive south and east to cross from Chile into Argentina, so we decided to take our change at the border between Chile and Bolivia, where we had driven into Chile. Also the Chilean Aduana at the Chile-Peru border advised the same thing. It is a 200 km drive, with an ascent of 4500 meters in altitude. As we left Arica we stopped, at the worlds largest Coco Cola sign made out of old glass bottles.

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We drove all the way to the border, but the Chilean Aduana told us, that they could not let us pass. Since we had just  come from Bolivia one week ago, we explained that we just wanted to go back to Bolivia after renewing all our papers on the vehicle in Arica. The employee told us, that only his boss could give us a special permission to cross from Chile into Bolivia. Well it turned out, that the boss for the Chilean Aduana was at work, at the border going from Bolivia into Chile, so we had to drive the 10 km black to talk with him. We drove back, waited 30 minutes and got to talk with the boss. We explained him everything, and at the end he made a special permit (an exception), that we could leave Chile and drive into Bolivia on our Declaration Jurada. With the special permission we drove the 10 km to the border crossing into Bolivia and the Chilean Aduana would let us out of Chile. We could finally get a temporary vehicle permit at the Bolivian Aduana, which took forever since we had to get copies of the title, passport and the Declaration Jurada and the copy machine was not working. After spending more than 4 hours at the border we could drive into Bolivia. It was not like the employees were getting stressed out.

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Finally we were in Bolivia where we would drive north towards Lake Titikaka and cross from Bolivia into Peru. We were tired after the long border crossing, and we quickly found a place to wild camp just outside Sajama National Park (Bolivia).

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We got up the next day back tracking to Oruro, passing it for the fourth time during our trip. Oruro is the city, which we has ranked as the dirtiest city in Bolivia. This day we passed it without stopping and headed towards the border. We did make one stop, at some of the funeral towers a long the way. Here they are called chullpas.

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The Chullpas are old traditional Carangas tombs made of solid mud bricks (wallin or adobe) or stones.  They served as ceremonial sites, and was built between 1200-1550 A.D. They are located in the Bolivia highlands, where the Carangos Lordship were governed by Mallku, the Carangas Chief. The “window” were pointed towards east due to the sun rise, and I stuck my head in to see what was left.

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During the afternoon we cross into Peru without any problem. It was just a relief. As the sun was setting we found a wild camp spot at the shore of Lake Titikaka. A very relaxed spot, where the locals came to water their cattle and horses.

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We celebrated our arrived in Peru by making Danish meatballs “Frikadeller”

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The “frikadeller” taste amazing in toasted ryebread/“rugbrød”, which we had found in the big supermarket, Lider in Arica back in Chile. Dinning in Peru: “frikadeller” on toasted ryebread with mustard and pickled red cabbage. The taste of home wlEmoticon-redheart How hard can it be to get to Peru?.

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Finally in Peru we made it to Sillustani located on the shores of Lake Umayo near Puno in Peru – love the landscape wlEmoticon-redheart How hard can it be to get to Peru?

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The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpas, are the vestiges of the Qulla people, who are Aymara conquered by the Inca Empire in the 15th century. We had already seen chullpas in Bolivia, but these chullpas where different in construction, and much more impressive (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sillustani). We are talking BIG rocks.

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The structures housed the remains of complete family groups. They were to house the Aymara elite of the immediate pre-Inca and Inca period. Unfortunately more of the structures have been damage by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished. In the left picture you see a “chullpa-ramp” used for building the chullpas. When the had reached the right height and was finished, the ramp was removed.

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Many of the chullpas at Sillustani show pre-Inca characteristics that were later redressed with Inca stone blocks 

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Chullpas from the Tiwanaku epoch

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The only openings to the buildings face east (like the ones we visited in Bolivia), where it was believed the Sun was reborn by Mother Earth each day. Corpses were not intentionally mummified, but in the dry environment created by the closed tomb, they survived for centuries. Most mummy bundles indicate burial in a fetal position.

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While chullpas are not unique to Sillustani and are found across the Altiplano, this site is considered the best and most preserved example of them. The site is impressive.

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Sunset at Sillustani, where we could stay on the parking lot for free during the night

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Next stop the floating islands of Uro’s. How can islands float? Find the answer in the next post wlEmoticon-winkingsmile How hard can it be to get to Peru?.

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