A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: In Cahoots

David Attenbourough ain't got nothing on us (i wish...)

Spotting wildlife all over Ecuador

After two full days on buses, we finally arrived to Riobamba, Ecuador. We met up with the Austrians Hansi, Lukas, and Alex for our last hurrah. We had plans to climb Mt. Chimborazo and do some other trekking, but due to bad weather none of it worked out.
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Instead, we headed to Tena in the Amazon. One day we hiked trough the jungle then spent the afternoon climbing into, squeezing through and leveraging ourselves between a canyon with bats flying around our heads. That was a lot of fun and just scary enough. We spent a day in a community, and spent a full day white water rafting on class 3 rapids. Our guide was an Ecuadorian version of a California surfer dude, and really made sure we had an awesome time on the river. So much fun that both Hansi and I (T) got tossed out at different points and even our guide fell out at one point. It got us a little addicted to the idea of more rafting...
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After that we headed to the capital, Quito for a few days. We took the cable car up to a super high beautiful viewpoint over Quito and did a 4hr gorgeous hike up to near the summit and back. Then it was time to say our final farewell to our new friends.
We did some more sightseeing around Quito then headed to Colombia for a month.
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We headed to the coast, and hit Canoa first. It was an interesting experience trying to understand the Ecuadorian idea of a beach holiday. Tiny cocktail shacks on the beach with enormous speakers blasting reggaeton, all competing with each other for who can play the most obnoxious loud music.
Surprisingly it was still nice to enjoy the beach at the quiet end (you had to walk far down the beach) but 2 days was enough and we headed to Puerto Lopez. We found a nice place to stay and hung out for a few days enjoying a more pleasant beach town and home cooked meals by the lovely couple running the hostel. One day we took a boat trip to La Isla de la Plata, what some call a poor mans Galapagos. A lot of the animals, especially birds that live in the Galapagos migrate to a few islands down the west coast of South America including this one.
On the trip we saw 3 pods of humpback whales. It was magic, they were playing, flapping their flippers, and even doing amazing breaches. On the island we saw sea lions and huge colonies of birds including the famous blue footed boobies. It was nesting season so we got to see them in every stage of life from egg to adult. An amazing surprise was seeing manta rays jumping and flipping on the ocean's surface. I had no idea they could even do that. We were watching the thousands of frigate birds and I noticed a splash near the cliff side. We looked down and there was a manta ray jumping!
We felt like we had witnessed more than a couple scenes out of "Planet Earth".
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After P.L. we headed to Montañita a party beach town. It was low season so not much of a party happening but still nice to enjoy the beach one last time before heading to Lima to meet up with our friends Josh and Caitlyn.

Posted by In Cahoots 08:58 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

At last, the Pacific Ocean! plus Canyons and Pre Incan Ruins


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Our trip through Peru was a quick one. We have plans to return and do Machu Pichu in October with some friends from Australia, and will visit more of the country when we return. So we picked a few places to visit on our way up north to Ecuador.
Our first stop in Peru from Bolivia was Arequipa and we really enjoyed this beautiful city and its surrounds. We arrived on the anniversary of the formation of Peru as a country and were immediately amongst the celebrations. Peru and Bolivia love their marching bands and its rare a weekend will go buy in a city like La Paz where you won't hear or see extravagant and brightly dressed bands and dancers stopping the traffic as they perform their way around the city. The night we arrived the streets were full of these bands and dancers together with huge crowds celebrating and at we first we watched from our taxi as we sat motionless in the traffic and then abandoned the taxi to try and make it on foot, enjoying the festivities on the way.
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Arequipa was a beautiful city with great food and perfect weather, we enjoyed exploring the city on foot and hanging out in what was up until then our favourite square/plaza.
From Arequipa we went north to Lima. While only spending a few days here, with plans to return in October we really fell in love with the place. Maybe it was the fact it was the first time we saw the Pacific Ocean in what seemed like forever, or the fact we found a place that made good coffee or maybe it was the fact that cars would stop and let you cross the street. Whatever it was we spent a couple of days drinking coffee, walking along the coast walk, shopping and of coarse sampling the new range of beers Peru had to offer.

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We hiked into, across, and out of the world's second deepest canyon. The Colca Canyon, where we saw two Andean condors and visited 3 tiny villages nestled in the canyon. Even the bus ride to the main part of the canyon is beautiful.
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Not wanting to leave the ocean we then took off further north to a beach town called Huanchaco. This small little fishing village had been somewhat turned into a small surf town, with surf lessons and surfboard rentals a common fixture up and down the malecon (the waterfront). We booked into a nice little hostel room with a balcony overlooking the water and relaxed for a few days trying to eat our fill of Ceviche, a Peruvian coastal standard.
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After a few relaxing days on the beach, including celebrating our 7th anniversary, we decided to take in some local history and went to the charming inland town, Chachapoyas. From Chachapoyas, you can take a tour to the ancient ruins, Kuelap. Kuelap is considered second only to Machu Pichu of Peru's ruins. It was really interesting and barely any tourists. The next day we did a hike to the world's third highest waterfall. Chachapoyas was a really nice surprise. The town itself was lovely with friendly people and cute cafes, and plenty of interesting sights and activities to keep you entertained.
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Now we're at the point in our trip where, really up until now we were playing it by ear. Knowing we needed to meet up with our friends, Josh and Caitlyn in Lima to journey through the rest of Peru, we knew we needed to start moving and doing some forward planning...

Posted by In Cahoots 07:41 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Bolivia... Part 2


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After the salt flats we made our way to the highest city in the world, La Paz. It's a hectic city with super steep streets in every direction. Everything is sold on the street in la Paz from electronics, clothes, food, livestock. It's all there. We met up with the Austrian boys again and saw the sights of la Paz while T managed (badly) to overcome altitude sickness. The witches market was a favourite, minus the revolting dried llama foetus'. At the witches market you can buy all manner of good luck charms, potions and offerings. T liked asking all the ladies about the different meanings of pendants and sugar sculpture offerings.
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We decided we wanted to go to an eco friendly lodge/camp, which meant spending more money than the usual backpacker jungle tour costs, but in the end it was worth every penny.
After lots of research and asking practically every agency in town we decided to book 4 days in the jungle with Berraco Del Maddidi. Berraco is owned and run by Pedro a native of a community 3hrs past the Eco camp, which is 6 hrs upriver from Rurre, (the furthest camp in the national park).
On the boat ride to camp we saw a capybara (largest rodent in the world and a good swimmer), kingfisher birds, red and blue macaws, and many other birds.
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At the camp there is only 4 cabañas for guests which means a max of 8 tourists plus the staff. Each cabaña was about 50 meters apart from each other, so you really feel like you're on your own in the jungle.
We spent our days trekking through the jungle looking out for animals, tracks, and learning about medicinal plants. A couple days we paddled down river and fished for giant piranha and giant catfish.
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It was an amazing experience, so good in fact we decided to extend our stay to a week. We saw so many different animals and their tracks, we drank water from vines, made medicinal tea from tree bark, had honey from a comb, went on mad dashes through the jungle to spot monkeys.
We could go on for days talking about our time in the Amazon, it was that good, but we don't want to take all your time.
We went back to La Paz for a few days, via a notoriously horrendous 18-25 hour bus ride. We had a big night out with an Australian couple we met at the Eco camp, and the next day they suggested we all go to a Lucha libre match. We didn't need convincing. It was hilarious, the most fake, most ridiculous wrestling match you can imagine. And the local crowd was actually better to watch than the wrestlers themselves. They were so into the plots, booing and cheering at the wrestlers. T had bought some weird snacks before heading in to the hall, which turned out to be gross... But they came in handy, (the man we had bought tickets from had mentioned something about, you can throw popcorn at the wrestlers or spray water etc, just nothing that will hurt them). T had way too much fun throwing the crunchy snacks at the wrestlers.

Posted by In Cahoots 07:25 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

6 weeks in Bolivia from the Andes to the Amazon, Part 1

Santa Cruz, Samaipata, La ruta del Che, and the Salt Flats


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Unfortunately our updates seem to be spanning increasing distances and periods. If we keep going at this rate we may cover entire continents in one post, but we will try and be more diligent and stop that from happening.

We met up with our Austrian friend Johanes in Santa Cruz, with plans to wait for his friend Lukas who was on his way from Vienna. We took it easy in Santa Cruz, walking around town and enjoying the little oasis in the city the hostel provided. We took advantage of the fresh juices; there were men selling freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice all over town from little carts on the street.
Juice Man

Juice Man


The Bastard that bit me

The Bastard that bit me


When Lukas arrived, the four of us would take a bit of a trip on the tour del Che, thinking we could experience a little bit of Che Guevara history while we are in his neck of the woods. Bolivia was where Che's grand plan for la revolucion of south America started and ended. So we journeyed to some very small Bolivian villages to see such sites as where his body was displayed and where he was first buried in secret. Much of the adventure was finding these sites on our own and not taking a tour, which is often takes more time, but creates a bit more fun. We took a day off from Che and took a very old broken down taxi (with the dashboard on the wrong side) whats wrong with this picture?

whats wrong with this picture?

to a tiny village with a beautiful dam to swim in. We spent the day in the middle of nowhere listening to music and doing impromptu yoga sessions on the tables.Impromptu Yoga Session at the Dam

Impromptu Yoga Session at the Dam


Probably our favorite stop, and one of our favourites in all of South America so far, was Samaipata.
Playground in Samaipata

Playground in Samaipata

Vallegrande Urban Flora

Vallegrande Urban Flora

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This small village set in a beautiful green valley was our first stop in the Che tour, but we returned later and continually found excuses to extend our time there. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery,  the nice bar run by an Australian couple and walking in the surrounding hills in the afternoon. On one afternoon trip we stumbled across a wildlife refuge in one of the surrounding hills and were met by a monkey who wandered alone onto the road to greet us, and then proceed to use me for climbing practice. What to do today in Samaipata?

What to do today in Samaipata?

Samaipata

Samaipata

Walking in the hills of Samaipata and stealing fruit...

Walking in the hills of Samaipata and stealing fruit...

Sam has a new Friend?

Sam has a new Friend?

Street in Samaipata

Street in Samaipata

Amboro National Park

Amboro National Park

Our next stop, after a horror overnight bus ride, was Sucre. A much larger city that we had heard many great things about. But instead of visiting the many museums and churches the city is known for we seemed to spend most of of time eating, drinking red wine, playing cards and doing yoga in our hostel's garden. Not bad alternatives really. (we did get out and see the city despite ourselves)
From Sucre, we went to visit the salt flats of Uyuni.
Cactus Island in the Middle of Salt Flats

Cactus Island in the Middle of Salt Flats

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Salt Crystals

Salt Crystals


The worlds highest and largest salt flats. We took a three day 2 night tour which spent the first day driving around the flats visiting various 'cactus islands' and villages followed by a night in a hotel pretty much made entirely of salt. The second day we visited many high altitude lakes of various colors filled with flamingoes.
Volcano in the background

Volcano in the background

relaxing in red rock

relaxing in red rock

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Altiplano Lake

Altiplano Lake


On the third, we visited the volcanic region of the area, with geysers and thermal baths, and few active and dormant volcanoes in view. The area was amazing, it seemed like something from another planet and despite the freezing temperatures and effects of being at such a high altitude, we really enjoyed the experience. The pictures really cannot do such a strange landscape justice but we tried.
High Altitude Flamingos

High Altitude Flamingos

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Los Arboles de Piedra (Rock Trees)

Los Arboles de Piedra (Rock Trees)

El Lago Colorado (Red Lake)

El Lago Colorado (Red Lake)

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Posted by In Cahoots 09:52 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Buenos Aires to Bolivia

Buenos Aires, Mendoza and cruising around Salta

-50 °C
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Sorry for the delay but we finally found a decent computer.... wrote this quite a while ago, but hopefully it wont take so long for the next update

BA

BA

some more fun street art

some more fun street art


All up we spent 2 weeks in BA. The week we arrived we took it easy acclimatising and walking around the city all day long. First impressions of BA were, "it's very European" which is not what I expected at all. It's a big city with big statues, parks, tons of cafes, bars, and restaruants to entertain long into the night. We met some people and had a argentinian night out, dinner at about 11 then the bar until the wee hours. It was fun but I prefer to go out a bit earlier. The first week we mainly walked around and had a few good meals around town. Nothing too exciting. Then we took off to Uruguay and had a great time and were re-energised for a fresh take on BA. We rented a little apartment in a cool part of the city really cheap for the week (cheaper than a dorm bed in a hostel) and set out to find ourselves a Spanish tutor capable of teaching Sam the basics and helping me improve my skills. Well, we found a tutor but he wasn't exactly capable. We signed up for 20 hours over 5 days. So that took up a fair bit of time.
and some more

and some more


new haircut in Buenos Aires

new haircut in Buenos Aires


We visited the fine arts museum, which was fantastic. There was a Van Gogh, and Monet, manet, and so many more.
One downside to BA was the ridiculous amount of dog poo everywhere. It was difficult to sight see when you are constantly looking out for landmines. And the thing is you don't actually see so many dogs, so where is all the poo coming from?! While walking around, we spotted a man walking about 15 dogs at once! A ha there they are! There are professional dog walkers all over walking at least 10 dogs at once. Pretty amazing, I wonder what the dog whisperer would say.
the Dog Walker in BA

the Dog Walker in BA


We bought tickets to a party for the saturday night. It was pretty cool, you had to email the organisers, then they would tell you where and when to buy tickets from a house in BA, then on the day they would let you know where the party was. It was kinda of a like a house party with bars set up. We met some Argentinians who turned out to be a lot of fun.
A night out in Buenos Aires with some Argentinian boys we met

A night out in Buenos Aires with some Argentinian boys we met


After BA we took a very long 16 hour bus ride to Mendoza, wine country of Argentina. Our choice for accommodation was maybe the best part of Mendoza. Our host was a Tibetan named Karma who was quite the character. He was born in Tibet grew up in India then moved to England and has lived in Mendoza for about 10 years. He was in the movie 7 years in Tibet with Brad Pitt and a protector of the Dalai Lama. Needless to say he had some pretty crazy stories for us. As we were the only ones in the hostel, he had some spare time. When we asked him about having a good Argentinian steak, which restaurant should we go to, he told us, "look I'm a chef by trade, I'll take you to the markets to a great butcher, if you buy the meat I'll cook it" .
enjoying a home cooked steak, Parilla style in Mendoza

enjoying a home cooked steak, Parilla style in Mendoza


We did, and it was so delicious and accompanied by a wine Karma had made himself. Is there anything this man can't do. The next day he took us in his car on a tour of the wineries. We had a really nice day tasting and going on wine tours in Spanish, I got some good translating practice in and learned some new wine vocab.
Mendoza, a day at the wineries

Mendoza, a day at the wineries

Mendoza

Mendoza


After Mendoza, we took another very long 18 hour bus ride north to Salta. A city in the northwest of Argentina. Here we met some really great people that we traveled with for a few days. We took some time to see the city and to relax. Around Salta, there are some really beautiful natural wonders to see. The quebradas are gorgeous multicoloured red mountains with different manners of erosion. We organised a guide/driver and car to take 5 of us down south to the Quebrada de las Conchas.
Quebradas

Quebradas

Las Quebradas

Las Quebradas

Las Quebradas de Las Conchas

Las Quebradas de Las Conchas


It was gorgeous with La Garganta del Diablo(devil's throat) an amazing example of how gorgeous the process of erosion can be.
La Garganta Del Diablo

La Garganta Del Diablo

La Garganta Del Diablo

La Garganta Del Diablo

La Garganta Del Diablo (the Devil's Throat)

La Garganta Del Diablo (the Devil's Throat)

Llama

Llama

Quebradas

Quebradas


One of the girls, Lisa, a German travelling on her own, Sam and I stayed in the town of Cafayate at the the end of the quebradas for 2 nights. We went to a few more wineries (better and cheaper than Mendoza), and had a relaxing time in this tiny mountain surrounded village. Lisa managed to convince a lovely Canadian couple with a car to take us with them to the nearby ruins, Quilmes which was really interesting.
On the road to the ruins, Quilmes

On the road to the ruins, Quilmes

at Quilmes ruins

at Quilmes ruins

enormous cactus

enormous cactus

During a gorgeous morning walk with Lisa and Argentinian Victor, a dog we named wuffy followed us from the hills down to town and spent the day with us. That evening, the three of us took a bus to another gorgeous village, Tafi de Valle, a few hours away and spent the night and next day there exploring. Then we had to say goodbye to our new friend who was making her way back to BA. We headed back to Salta to explore the villages in the north.
Wuffi, the dog to adopt us for the day and Victor from Argentina

Wuffi, the dog to adopt us for the day and Victor from Argentina

our new German friend Lisa

our new German friend Lisa

hitching to some more wineries with Lisa in Cafayate

hitching to some more wineries with Lisa in Cafayate

Cafayate

Cafayate

at the mirador in Tafi de Valle

at the mirador in Tafi de Valle

Cafayate

Cafayate

the ruins Quilmes

the ruins Quilmes


Tilcara and Humahuaca were cool tiny towns surrounded by mountains with a slightly different look to down south. We ate some good food continuing the search for even better empanadas. In Humahuaca, we went on an unexpected hike into the cactus covered red rock for a gorgeous view of the town.
In the coutryard of our hostel in Humahuaca

In the coutryard of our hostel in Humahuaca

Hand Painted Masks

Hand Painted Masks

Bridge to the ruins in Tilcara

Bridge to the ruins in Tilcara

Humahuaca

Humahuaca


We kept in touch with our Austrian friend Johannis that we met in Salta and organised to meet up with him in Bolivia to do the che guevarra trail from Santa Cruz. So after what is normally a 3.5 hour bus ride that took 6.5 we got back to Salta to catch an early bus the next morning up to the border and into Bolivia. The hold up with the bus we took was delayed by military checking for drugs I think, because that road is one of the main drug routes and ways to import goods bought cheaply in Bolivia to sell in Argentina. Either way we got back, and were ready to head out for a new country. The Bolivian border was chaotic with no real signs pointing you into the right waiting line or any order whatsoever but eventually we got through, and found a cab to the bus station. After bargaining for our bus tickets (something you dont have to do in Argentina, as all the bus fares are regulated) we needed to fill our bellies for the bus ride. After eating in the restarant recommened by the lady we bought our bus tickets from, we once again jumped on another bus up to Santa Cruz to meet up with Johannis. Needless to say we have been taking it easy after so many buses. Walking around town, trying new things, planning, and waiting for Johannis´friend Lukas to join us etc.

Posted by In Cahoots 18:31 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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