Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

Food and Ruins

March 30, 2010

Although we loved every minute of our jungle adventure, the oppressive mugginess and the constant battle against a gajillion bugs proved to be a little exhausting for our fragile city-slicker nerves, and we both breathed a sigh of relief when our plane touched down in Cusco for some much needed R&R.

Cusco from the rooftops

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Welcome to the Jungle

March 20, 2010

It’s a pitch black night. We are sitting in a wooden canoe in the middle of Lago Sandoval deep in the Peruvian Amazon jungle. We are searching for Cayman crocodiles.

Joining us in the boat are Victor, our jungle guide, and a crazy 60-year old Italian named Giovanni with his 30-year old Venezuelan girlfriend.

Victor has already caught a baby Cayman with his bare hands, passed it to each of us to hold and thrown it back into the lake.

Cradling, not strangling, a baby cayman

But now we are looking for its rather larger relatives. (more…)

Conquering Colca Canyon

March 19, 2010

Following five days of frolicking among penguins, sand dunes and swimming pools, we decided to get serious and finally tackle the altiplano Peru is so well known for. According to our new route devised in Lima, this took us south through Nasca and up to Arequipa on the night bus that would limit our sleep to the rare flat stretches of an otherwise very bumpy and windy road. After nine hours of fitful sleep, we finally pulled into the Arequipa bus terminal at 6am.

Main square in Arequipa

Arequipa, a beautiful city sitting at 2300m above sea level, would serve us as the entry-point into the Colca Canyon, the deepest in the world at 3400m, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. In our newfound quest to become “more outdoorsy”, Marc and I decided to go on a three-day trek in the Colca Canyon along with Lars, our new friend from Paracas/Huacachina. We booked our tour and went on a laid-back walk around town to the principal sites, nothing too strenuous, as we had been informed by our guide that we would be picked up at our hostel at 3:00am (!!!) that same night to bus it to Cabanaconde, where we would start our trek. An extremely early dinner at 6pm, and we were in bed by 8.

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Picturesque Peru

March 13, 2010

From Lima we headed to Paracas where we took a speedboat to the Ballestas Islands, which were awash with sea-lions and sea birds of many kinds. This was followed by a tour of the spectacular Paracas National Reserve, where the desert meets the ocean. We then headed onto Huacachina, an oasis in the desert, where we spent our time dune buggy riding, sandboarding, wine tasting and lazing by the pool. The pictures perhaps say it best:

On a boat at the Ballestos Islands.

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Learning to Love Lima

March 9, 2010

“Get out of Lima as soon as you can”. That was the advice given to us by all the travellers we met who had been to Peru. But our experience was different.

Much of the reason for this was our new friends Yann and Mabel, who we had been put in touch with by a mutual mate in Paris. A year and a half ago, Yann left his job as an electrical engineer at a Paris airport and along with his Peruvian girlfriend Mabel embarked on a plan to become a tour guide and hostel owner in Lima.

When we met them, they had just opened up their second hostel and they both seemed rather pleased with their move. We were rather pleased too as not only did we have a great place to stay but also two extremely knowledgeable and fun hosts to show us around.

Mabel (centre) and friends hosted a bbq at the new hostel

Lima can be hot, hectic, and horrible at times but if you know where to go and how to get there it can also be a cool, cosmopolitan and even chic city. We stayed in Miraflores, which is full of shops, bars, and restaurants and awash with young Limeños snogging on sidewalks and dancing in parks.

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It Aint All Good

March 2, 2010

We’ve only been travelling for 2-3 weeks but already we’ve been bitten by bugs, burnt on the beach, and bored by countless planes, trains and automobiles, buses, boats and bikes. We’ve been besieged by bothered bellies, suffering variously from Rio-rrhoea, Sao Bowell-o and Poo-no (ok, we’ve not been to Puno yet but I like that last pun). And we’ve blown our budgets at every available opportunity.

But these are all manageable bi-products of the traveller’s life. The biggest issue is that disaster seems to be following us everywhere (or are we following it?).

It started with the flooding at Machu Picchu, which has resulted with the whole site including the entire Inca Trail being closed down for two months. This was due to be one of the highlights of our trip and we’re sad not to be able to go. Then there were the landslides at Ilha Grande which did not stop us from going there but were a worry nonetheless.

The Machu Picchu problem led to us changing our route round Peru and we were looking forward to visiting the ancient and mysterious Nasca Lines, which can only be viewed from the sky. But on the same day we arrived in the country the front pages of the newspapers were reporting that one of the many tourist planes had crashed and there were no survivors. No more Nasca for us!

Then we were due to go surfing in Lima. Of course, that’s when there was an earthquake in Chile sending tsunamis across the western coast of South America. Adventurous we may be but tackling giant waves on our first surfing experience would perhaps be one adventure too far.
We are now fully expecting the Amazon to dry up and the Patagonian glaciers to melt, and we apologies in advance if your country is on our route!

But despite all of this we are doing well and still enjoying our adventure. We won’t be taking unnecessary risks anywhere (so there’s no need to worry about any of this mum!). And our new route round Peru and Bolivia is one we are excited about. We’re particularly looking forward to trekking in Colca Canyon (the deepest canyon in the world) and going further into the Amazon than we originally had time for. A few earthquakes, tsunamis and floods are not going to stop us yet.