Sunday, July 29, 2007


On the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It´s damned hot!

Off on a jungle trek tomorrow to Ciudad Perdido (The Lost City). Six days in the jungle!

Will post some photos when I get back to civilisation...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mirraflores 250th Anniversary

Before leaving Lima for Colombia we got to watch the parade celebrating 250 years since the founding of Miraflores (a district of Lima).

Good fun. Especially the fireworks at the end.

The whole thing was sponsered by WONG supermarkets so the parade had a slightly oriental feel to it.

And a very strange military feel.

This guy is from a float that represented soldiers from cavemen all the way through to the soldier of the future:

The navy also put on a bit of show, they chose to play the song "In the navy..." weird.

We also got to see a few beauty queens.

There were also a bunch of topless dancers representing the peoples of the jungle, sadly no photos, we were all too shocked to do anything.

It was all pretty spectactular and went on for quite a while, once it got dark all the people and floats were lit up with lights. Here´s another sponser of the parade:

Some nice young ladies:

And a fish.

There wer huge crowds and we got a bit stuck in the hostel.

But luckily we were right next to the firework display so it was all good.

The following day we went down to mall built into the cliff face.

Nice place. We got to see the Transformers film. Fantastic!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bogota, Colombia

Flew in this afternoon. Planning to leave tomorrow for Santa Marta which is a bit of a shame as Bogota seems to have a few attractions that would be worth looking at. Bit short of time here though as I want to be in French Guana for the 14th August.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back in Lima

Back in Lima again! Got a flight from here to Bogota on the 25th to Bogota Colombia.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sand Boarding and dune buggying in Huachina

We must be mad.

Booked ourselves onto a dune bugger/sandboarding adventure yesterday afternoon.

The dune buggy driver was insane. And the sandboarding was down some completely nuts dunes.

Still alive!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Huachachina - arrival and wine tour

After the Nasca lines flight we grabbed a quick bit to eat (stomach was definitely feeling a bit dodge after it) and jumped on a bus to Ica followed by a quick taxi ride to the oasis Huachachina.

First thing you notice in the taxi ride are the huge sanddunes.

First step of the afternoon was to get a hostel, sadly the recommended was fully booked, but we managed to find an equally nice one:

Haven´t been in the pool yet, but we´ve got plenty of time here. Huachachina is very nice place, about a kilometer out of town and based around an oasis in the desert.

First night in the hostal was a big bbq with all you can drink Pisco Sours. Weirdly we were surrounded by French speaking people again (for the past couple of months it seems that the only people I have been meeting have been from places that speak French).

The following morning (feeling slightly rougher than usual) we signed up for a wine and pico tour (gluttons for punishment I think). For some reason the first stop was at a chocolate shop...

Second stop was at a local vineyard/winery. Here are the vats that the wine is fermented in:

Here´s the pisco making distilling machines:

I´ve never seen so much drink in one place!

After a quick sampling of the produce we jumped back in the car (thankfully the hostal had provided a driver!) and went to another more rustic winery place where we got down to some serious sampling:

For some reason on the way back we decided to jump out of the car 10 minutes early and climb a sanddune back to the hostel. Very nice views of the desert.

Nasca Lines

So, as mentioned before, we escaped from Arequipa and caught the night bus to Nasca. Arriving at about 5am we were picked up by a tour guide at the bus station and taken to the airport for a flight over the Nasca lines.

First attempt at getting up over the lines was at about 7am.

Sadly it was far too misty and we came back into land after about 5 minutes.

There then followed an interminable wait as a bunch of people who had prebooked their flights or been unable to fly arrived.

Around 11 we finally got to go up.

The pilots really throw the planes around to give everyone a good look at the lines. Makes for quite an exciting stomach churning flight. The lines themselves are pretty hard to spot, and are actually quite small (from up in the air anyway). But I got a couple of good shots.

Nice views over the desert as well.

There´s a whole lot of photos here. If you spot anything in them let me know...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Escape from Arequipa

Wahey, managed to catch a bus out of town to Nascar to fly over the lines and then onto Ica and Huachachina.

Huachachina is an oasis a couple of k´s from Ica and is fantastic. Will post photos when I find a machine that reads my memory card.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back from Cola Canyon to Arequipa

Photos here.

We knew that there had been protests going on (which was why we had had to get up stupid o´clock for our Canyon trek), and our guide had been a bit worried in the morning about whether or not the buses would be running. But we´d managed to find a bus and all had been going well, until the bus stopped and we all had to get out.

We joined a string of people looking very much like the refugees you always see on television and started the long walk back into town.

Initially it was hoped that we would just have to get past the roadblock and then pick up a bus on the other side.

Unfortunately it turns out that they block roads properly in this country. About 10km of the road was covered in rocks, burning tires and roadblocks.

There were a couple of hairy moments at the start, with big mobs of people marching down the road towards police lines, but we managed to walk around any trouble and crossed the police lines to relative tranquility, still lots of roadblocks and burning tires, but less angry protesters.

The people are currently quite upset with the current president and want to force an election (their spelling is worse then mine...).

Most people seemed to be just trying to get home, only methods of transport that the protesters allow through the roadblocks are bicycles and pedestrians. Attempting to go through by car is not a good idea...

We did get one life along the way, but only between two roadblocks - a couple of hundred meters or so.

Finally after about 2 hours walking, luckily almost all downhill, we made to the end of the roadblocks. This got a cheer from the locals who all seemed to be quite impressed that a bunch of gringos had made it all the way through.

Unfortunately when we got to the hostel we were supposed to be staying in, we found that there was no room and that our reservation had been cancelled as no one had been able to leave. Pretty disappointing, especially as they have free pancakes for breakfast...

It now looks like we´ll be in Arequipa until Tuesday when the protests are scheduled to be finished - no idea how long it´s going to take to clear the roads, hopefully they´ll tidy up after themselves.

Monday will apparently be the worst day, the protesters will be coming into the town so apparently we´ll be holed up in the hostel and unable to leave. Today will be spent purchasing supplies.

Colca Canyon

Photos here.

Just as I´m writing this, the owner of the Internet cafe has pulled down the shutters... The protesters are marching down this street...

So, as mentioned in the previous post, we had quite an early start to this trip. Got a couple of hours sleep before getting out of bed at 12:30am to be picked up by our guide (who looked more tired than we did...). We then spend 30 minutes or so picking up the rest of the gang before heading to the bus station for our 6 hour journey out to Cabanaconde where we stopped for a bit of breakfast and for our guide to pick up supplies for lunch and dinner.

Hooray, a condor, let´s go home...

It´s very traditional and very isolated up here.

After a quick breakfast we were off and walking to the edge of the canyon.

We passed quite a few locals going about there daily business.

and eventually reached the edge of the canyon:

This gives you an idea of the kind of path we were about to walk down.. Only 1000 meters to descend...

We stopped for plenty of breaks on the way down. Here you can see our guide almost falling asleep. Poor guy has only just returned to Arequipa after taking another group on a tour.

After about 3-4 hours of walking we reached the bottom of the canyon, crossed over the river,

and a brief climb took us to our lodgings for the night.

A late lunch and the afternoon was ours to collapse on the floor and try to recover. Good views of the path we had just walked down made the afternoon complete.

Nice flowers in the garden.

After a bit of negotiation with the guide we agreed to get up the following day at 8 am to walk to a place called La Oasis (the tourist name, not the real name). Everyone went to bed pretty early as it had been a bit of hard day so we were all up bright an early.

Today was a fairly easy walk along the side of the valley to what we were promised would be "thermal" baths.

Along the way we passed the communal irrigation channels which are used to provide water for the terraces.

And after a couple of hours walk

We stopped off at a small village to take a look at a museum of indigenous life which was run by a sweet lady called Victoria.

Here she is showing us some candles made out of llama fat. Life must have been a bit stinky back in the olden days...

After a quick rest it was time to continue walking and to La Oasis, which we go site of pretty quickly:

and a quick descent took us to our pool (room temperature - better than cold!)

and our lodgings for the night.

A nice relaxing afternoon. The next day we were up at 1am to climb back out of the canyon and see the condors. We stirred up the fire and warmed up, had a quick cup of coca tea and bit of bread and were off!

We were all equipped with fantastic headlamps (mine seems to be particularly bright). Our guide carried... a candle. I think he was showing off.

After a 3 or 4 hour climb, the sun was starting to come up over the mountains and we were at the top.

Some lovely colours from the sunrise.

and some well deserved breakfast!

After breakfast, we all jumped on a bus to finally see the condors. They are big birds!

Lots of photos of condors here.

Then it was time to head down to the real hot baths at Chivay. Absolutely awesome, like taking a bath. I got a massage as well. What a great day.

The journey back to Arequipa gets it´s own blog post. It was quite an adventure...