Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So with a tear in my eye, I write my last blog entry (phew!)

The day after the jungle, we headed up to risk our lives on Death Road! Not actually as scary as I had imagined (no cars drive on it anymore), but really good fun! Got to see some amazing views, dice with death on thin, windy, gravel roads with sheer drops, (the road)
and even get soaked going through some waterfalls, what more could u want! We also rounded it off with a fab meal and a swim in a pool.

We then headed back to La Paz, and went on the piss with our irish friends (big mistake!) we had to be up at 6am to catch the bus to Copacabana (not the brazilian one, the bolivian one), and drinking games was definately a bad choice. But we made the bus and arrived by Lake Titicaca in a severely hungover state. We hoped straight on the bus to Isla del Sol, making another silly mistake by not leaving our huge backpacks at Copacabana, as we had to climb about 100 inca stpes up the hillside: in the boiling heat with a hangover, I wanted to die! But we made it, and it was beautiful.
We watched the sunset, and the next day headed on a boat to Isla del Luna to check out the ruins: and then to the north of Isla del Sol to see more ruins and walk the beautiful hill top treck back to our hostel.

We then headed back to Copacabana, and on to our final country, Peru!!(The view of Lake Titicaca from the peruvian side)

We arrived in Puno, and headed straight out to the floating Islands. As everyone had said, they were really touristy, but still kinda cute, and I got to dress up in the traditional garb:
We didn`t stay long in Puno, as the town is pretty drab, so headed straight up to Cusco the next day and we loved Cusco. So beautiful, and lots of clever kids ready to recite all the capital cities and presidents (or prime ministers) as well as sell useless finger-puppets! Me and pete ended up with a few!!

We rested for a couple of days, chilling with some Irish again, and yes, drinking again. Also managed to win a pub quiz (with the help of the bar staff!!)

We then headed on the big journey to Maccu Picchu. We had decided to do an alternative trip, where you do rafting on the first day, then bike on the second, followed by 3 days of trecking. It was really awesome, and well worth it.

The first day rafting was an easy warm up (or cool down!). The rapids were only grade 3, but our guide was a lunatic, and it was good fun. He managed to convince me to ride one of the rapids in the water, and i stupidly jumped in robot fashion when he yelled "jump" (no one else jumped, clever!) but it was actually the best bit, pretty scary, I almost went under a few times, but managed to come up ok, just very cold!

But we eventually arrived in Ollantaytambo, where we chilled out, bought the coolest walking sticks ever, and spent the night. The next day we headed up to the ruins in Ollayntaytambo: and then met up with the bike people to begin our descent from 4000m to 1000m, on a road v. similar to death road! again we saw some beautiful scenery, this road had more cars on it, but luckily we didn´t have to ride against the cliff edge. Altho we did have to ride over a few landslides!

We all made it though (with only the English girl Stephanie falling over, luckily well away from the edge!) and ended up in the small town of Santa Maria, where we spent the night.
(a cute little girl that pete impressed with his juggling skills)

The next day we started our trecking,

(our group)

and joined the real Inca trail (well technically one of many!) for an arduous day of up, down, up down, on very uneven steps. Was hard work, but the views were amazing, and luckily the weather was glorious!

After about 8 long hours of walking, wtih a guide who didn`t believe in the words rest or slow, we arrived at another small town called Santa Theresa. Luckily this town had natural hot springs, which we blissfully rested in!

The next day we walked another gruelling day to Aguas Calientes. This was not such a rewarding day, as it rained, and the fog hid the views. But at least we got to make use of our awesome poncho`s, and we did get to appreciate a few dry spots:

We arrived in Agues Calientes that afternoon, and headed straight up the Mountain opposite Machu picchu, Pukutussi! Yes, an odd decision, as it was bloody hard work, and required climbing slippery wooden ladders, but we got to see Machu Picchu from another perspective, and the ugly Agues Calientes in the beautiful valleys.

We then collapsed that night, and got up rediculously early in the morning to climb up Machu Picchu and be one of the first people there when it opened. It was fantastic! As we got up there, the sun arose, and Machu Picchu was covered in mystical low clouds. As the sun came over the mountains the fog lifted and uncovered the ruins, it was truly magical.

We then decided to voluntarily do more climbing, up Wayna Picchu (young mountain). This wasn`t as hard work as Pukutussi, and well worth it. You were so high up and had another beautiful view over Machu Picchu. We spent a long time up there, just sitting on a rock at the top of the world, chiling out. But then we had to head back down and catch our tour of the ruins. This was pretty interesting, seeing all the main places, the temples, sun dials etc. They were pretty clever those incas.

We then spent some more time just sitting overlooking the famous view, taking it all in. By this time it was mid-day, and altho it was low season, it started getting filled with tourists, so we decided to leave and head into town for lunch before catching the train back to Cusco. I was sad to leave, altho absolutely shattered!

When we reaced Cusco that evening, we literally just died, heading straight to bed and sleeping for 14 hours straight!!

We spent a few days in Cusco, just relaxing, getting massages, and checking out the local ruins around Cusco, not quite as impressive as M.P, but interesting none the less.
We then headed on to Arequipa, south of Cusco, just for the day, to see the Ice Maiden Juanita (a virgin sacrifice to the volcano, preserved for 500 years in the frozen conditions). Was pretty cool. We then headed straight off to Nazca to see the famous lines in the desert: The plane ride was horrible, and we all felt so sick afterwards, but it was worth it to see the lines as they should be appreciated.
We then headed off for a few days of relaxation in an oasis in the desert. We lazed by the pool, topped off our tans, and managed to fit in a bit of sand buggying, and sand-boarding. Awesome fun, we didn`t even bother trying standing, coz u go soooo fast lying down, it was pretty scary!
We then headed to our final destination of Lima! We stayed in the bohemian district by the sea, which was a bit more tranquil than central Lima and whilled away our last 2 days, with drink good food, and some good company.
And now I bid u adue, for in an hours time we head to the airport, and the rest is history!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So the north of Chile, the desert, was where we headed next. Pretty hot during the day and yet freezing at night, go figure! So we headed to death valley:

and moon valley, where me and pete attempted moon walking (to no avail) and then watched the sun set on the sand dunes.
(Cat, Tori & Pete)

The next day we went to Laguna Caja, the floating lakes, and did a lot of pissing about!!
(Me and Cat)

We then headed for the real travelling of Bolivia on a 3 day tour to Uyuni.

The first day we went from 2,300m (san pedro) to 4,700m!! The ausie girl we were travelling with (Cat) had pretty bad altitutude sickness, but luckily the rest of us were ok. Drinking coca tea, and chewing on coca leaves definately helped.

We saw some pretty beautiful stuff tho, some geysers (which stank):
a green lake: a white lake: and a red lake:
and swam in some hot springs:

We stayed at a real shit hole tho, and were really glad to get moving and see the flamingo´s:

(my flamingo impression!)
Unfortunately, the other jeep in our convoy run out of petrol on the second day, and we didn´t have enough for both of us, so we had to go back to a small village, and from there we caught a bus straight to uyuni, missing out the salt hotel. But as luck would have it, the bus got a flat tire, and the spare wasn´t pumped up enough! so after it started getting dark, cold, and scary and about 20 jeeps drove past us without stopping we managed to stop a truck which happened to have an air compressor, and luckily they didn´t want to murder a bunch of tourists! They kindly pumped up the spare tire, and we were finally on our way again to uyuni.

The next morning we did get to go to the salt flats, which were pretty awesome! and we took all the usual photo´s:

We also went to the Cactus Island (called fish Island in spanish, I have no idea why!)

and we popped into the train cemetary on our way back to uyuni again!!

We were worried we would never get out of Uyuni, as our bus the next morning was delayed because of political reasons (road blocks not letting them thru) but we finally headed off to Potosi leaving in the late afternoon, i´ve never been so keen to leave a place! Even though the local women did wear the coolest outfits:

We arrived late at night in Potosi, but managed to tag along with some guys on our bus that were on an organised tour. They had a hostel waiting for them, with space for us, and a tour to the mines the next day which we were welcome to join, all sounded pretty sweet, even tho the guide was a bit of a dick. The people on the tour were really cool tho, a great english couple that we got on swimmingly with.

So the next morning we joined them on their tour of the mines, and got to blow up some dynamite and had an awesome experience going into the mines, i´m definately glad I don´t have to do that 10 yours a day!!! Some of the holes we had to climb in were tiny!

We then headed on to Sucre (technically the capital of Bolivia) and a really beautiful city. Here we met up with a couple of finnish girls on our uyuni trip, and mostly just chilled out, enjoying the good weather, great views, and really good food!!(Pete, Lotta and Jenny)
The view of Sucre from a great little cafe.

We then caught a flight on the military airline (really fucking cool, no passport necessary, and no luggage checks either!!) to Santa Cruz, altho we got straight in a taxi to Samaipata, a beautiful sleepy town in the middle of a lush green valley. It´s famous for it´s waterfalls and Inca ruins:

We stayed in a really cool hostel, with some other great English guys, and decided to go swimming in the waterfalls. Unfortunately that day it decided to piss it down, so after hiding in a cave under the waterfall, until it got too wet and so deep we almost had to swim out, we managed to find another cave (this one dry) and played cards until it finally stopped raining (and hailing!!) so we could explore a little! A really great day tho, besides the rain!!! (Pete,Claire and Muzza)

We then headed back to Santa Cruz, braved the scarriest, biggest, mother fucking confusing bus station I have ever seen, survived the hottest bus ever, and ended up in Cochabamba. Unfortuantely it was still raining here, worse than England! So we didn´t stay long. We checked out the Cristo de Concordia statue, that´s supposedly bigger than Rio (i´m not sure i belive it!) and then caught a bus on to La Paz.

La Paz is a pretty cool city, with great markets, including the witches market (kinda scary, u can get llama foetus´ here!). We chilled out for a bit, then headed on a 12 hour jeep ride to the jungle, the hotest bumpiest and scariest ride so far. Our driver was a dude, but certainly had a death wish, overtaking lorries on the tiniest dirt road with a 800m drop! But we finally made it to Rurrenbaque and headed on a 3 day jungle tour.

We saw lots of monkeys: alligators: and lots of birds, even a relation of a guinea pig (that was huge).
We went fishing for pirana´s, Pete managed to catch about 10, but I only caught 2!We went swimming with dolphins (pink river dolphins, which were really ugly!), in the same river as we had seen alligators and caught pirana´s! went hunting for anaconda´s, but unfortunately (or maybe thankfully) we didn´t see any.

We also saw some pretty amazing sunsets over the jungle:

and one night our guide caught some baby gators for us to hold:

Was a really great trip (even managed not to get too many mozzie bites!), and met some great people, especially 2 irish guys, one of which pete got on a little too well with:

When we got back to Rurrenbaque, we were meant to catch a plane back to La Paz the next day, but unfortunately it rained all night (the runway is grass, so planes can´t land when its wet!! stupid huh!!) So we had to wait till the next day, when there was a strike in the whole of Bolivia, every restaurant and shop was closed, well at least they all looked closed, but if you went to the side door and knocked, some were actually open, just pretending to be on strike. It was crazy, rurrenbaque was like a ghost town. But luckily the airline weren´t on strike so we did eventually make it back to La Paz, ready for death road the next day and then on to Lake Titcaca.