Peru 2005 Day Eight: Urubamba River

by Kara on July 29, 2005

Urubamba River

A van picked us up at 9:30 a.m. for our river rafting excursion on the Urubamba River. Our host was Willy from Apumayo Expediciones. There was one other couple (from Peru) and another woman (AmErican) – the perfect size group, and they were all really nice. The river was kind of calm that time of year, so there wasn’t much white water on our white water rafting trip, but I really enjoyed it because the scenery was so gorgeous – snow covered mountains, Inca terraces, various llamas and alpacas, etc. The trip was about 3-4 hours, and then we went on shore for lunch. Somehow we got into a big discussion about coca tea, and how it’s illegal to bring it into the U.S. Julie from our group had just one little packet of tea she wanted to take home and the others in the group told her it would be confiscated if customs found it. Apparently, the U.S. government does not want any coca products to come into the country. Somebody at lunch said it takes 100 kilos of coca leaves to make 1 kilo of cocaine, so I am not sure how a bag of tea could make you a drug smuggler. Humorously, the process of making cocaine apparently requires sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is not manufactured in Peru, so the drug producers import it from the US, and then they export the drugs out of Peru (probably to the US).

Coca tea is extremely popular in the Andes. The locals swear it helps people cope with the altitude. It is a nice mild tea and we drank a lot of it while in the Andes simply because it was offered so often.

After lunch, we headed back to Cusco and the Hotel Tikawasi. We basically just had time for dinner, and dined at the Inka Grill at Elmer’s suggestion.

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of Peru.

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