Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland February 28th 2019

This March, I’m taking part in the Himalayan Trust Summit Challenge and walking 8,848 steps a day (1 step for each metre of the height of Everest - 8,848m) to raise funds for the people of Nepal. Ever since Sir Edmund Hillary built the first schools and hospitals in the Everest region in the 1960s, the Himalayan Trust has been transforming lives in remote mountain communities: opening up new opportunities for young people through quality education, providing life-saving medical care, building water systems to provide safe drinking water and increase income from farming; and rebuilding schools following the 2015 earthquakes. I’m taking part in the Summit Challenge because I have always admired Sir Ed, not just his physical achievements but his passion to help the people of Nepal. I visited Nepal many years ago and feel ... read more

South America » Chile » Easter Island September 27th 2018

Despite my high hopes, the weather has not cleared enough for us to explore Oranga so I do not get to see the volcano and the launch point for the Easter Island egg hunt. We have a last wander around town exploring as far as the cemetery in the drizzle. All through the town, along the shore line yiu can see moai and other remains. In some places these have been rebuilt and a couple seem to be new, presumably for the benefit of us tourists. The cemetery is quite large and very colourful. Many of the plots have quite unique headstones and things representing the person within. There are even some small Moai type statues. There are lots of flowers everywhere and I get the feeling that people visit often, not just once a year. ... read more
Replica of Moai
Hanga Roa streetart
Hanga Roa - Birdman?

South America » Chile » Easter Island September 26th 2018

We are the only ones on the minibus this morning as we set out for our half day tour of Orongo and the volcano Rano Kau which is close to Hanga Roa. It is pretty obvious why as we approach the summit. There is a total whiteout and the wind is fierce. We shuttle into the information centre and our guide gives us a really good run down on the site and it’s significance but there is no way we can go exploring. This southern tip of the island became the focal point for the Makemake or birdman culture that supreceded the building of the Moai. Every year in spring, the representatives of leaders of each ‘tribe’ would race from here across to the neighbouring small islands and the first to bring back an egg of ... read more
Hanga Roa cathedral
Red pukao at quarry
7 Moai at Ahu Akivi

South America » Chile » Easter Island September 25th 2018

Rapa Nui is nothing like the rest of South America, it is Pacifica. The people, language, plants, buildings, roads, food, weather - well, everything - are much more like being in Fiji, Vanuatu or even New Zealand than Chile or Peru. The weather is, unfortunatel, rather grey but the temperature is pleasant. We join our tour minibus at ‘about 9’ which is really 9:40 so we know we are on island time and head off the explore this amazing place and of course the renown statues. The countryside begind Hanga Roa rapidly becomes unpopulated except for cattle and horses. The coast is rocky and rugged, no golden beaches for sunbathing here. The road is a bit the same. This is not good farmland, just low grasses with few trees stretching from the coast to the distant, ... read more
Tongariki -with people for a sense of scale
Rano Rakaku - the quarry
Rano Raraku with Tongriki in background

South America » Chile » Easter Island September 24th 2018

I try to get a couple of photos of the prison this morning but it looks all quiet in the rising sun despite the very heavy police presence outside while we were having breakfast. Our taxi ride is much quicker than we expected, given it is rush hour on Monday morning and the whole checkin process is painless. The little lounge is really comfortable and even worth a photo. We hang out with ElShia and her Nanna, who we have all adopted. By coincidence we are all wearing our (almost) matching ‘baby’ lama cardigans that we bought in Puno on our way home from dinner. At 40 sol each (about 20NZD) I doubt they are the genuine article but they are soft and warm. We fly to Santiago and navigate customs, find the check-in, almost get ... read more
La Paz Airport
The llama girls at La Paz airport - with Elyse and Marion (Nanna)

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department September 23rd 2018

Off the the bus station again for another long trip on public transport. The bus is much the same, but a little less flash as the one to Puno a couple of days ago. This time there is no lunch stop so we stock up on biscuits to get us through the day. However we do have a border crossing and a farewell to Mike. The check out of Peru and check into Bolivia goes smoothly. We have to take our big bags with us but can leave our small bags in the bus. Perhaps they are only interested in really big quantities of drugs. We have hugs and tears all round as Mike leaves us and Erica takes control of our unruly group. The rural houses in Bolivia look a little more substantial than those ... read more
La Paz
Witches Market, La Paz
Street art, La Paz

South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca September 22nd 2018

We wake up early to the sounds of our donkey braying and Mama and PapI chatting about the day ahead. When we surface we meet PapI who had been away the day before. He is a lovely smiley man who ushers us into the main house - a single room where they appear to live with table and chairs, cooking facilities and a bed behind a curtain. He serves us breakfast of fresh sweet bread rolls, jam, boiled egg, potato and tea. Mama arrives and explains she is off to a wedding, we should have guessed as she is wearing here bowler hat rather than the triangular one of the previous day. She is apologetic that she has to leave before seeing us off but PapI will take us to the boat. Hugs and kisses and ... read more
Mama Alexandra and Papi
Bell tower, Taquile Island
Innovative gate hinges

South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca September 21st 2018

Some facts about Lake Titicaca 3,800m above sea level Over 8,300 sqm - 5 times bigger than Stewart island Highest navigable lake in the world Borders Peru and Bolivia We pack an overnight bag and head off in tricycle rickshaws to the port. It is an interesting was to navigate the traffic, including the speed bumps. We are going to be staying the night with local villagers so we buy some supplies for them - rice, noodles, vegetables, powdered milk and so forth. Then we get on our launch to start exploring the lake. At approximately 8,300 square km and seems more like a sea than a lake. In many places large reeds grow in a marshy area. This is what is used to make the floating islands that Uru people live on, as we discover ... read more
Uru floating islands
Family life on a floating island.
Our House

South America » Peru » Puno » Puno September 20th 2018

Today we take a public bus from Cusco to Puno, about a nine hour trip. However the bus exceeds expectations. It is a double decker bus with spacious seats that recline to ‘160 degrees’. We have seats up the top near the front so we get a good view of everything passing by. The countryside continues to be big, open and dry with many villages and farmlets along the way. It is warm on the bus so everyone is stripped back to singlets and shorts and a fair amount of napping takes place. There is a toilet on board which is simple but seems to keep fairly clean - perhaps due to a lack of holding tank. Lunch is at a roadside diner - Mike, our guide, knows the traps well enough to take our orders ... read more
Big landscapes on the way to Puno
 The seedy town of Juliaca
Big landscapes on the way to Puno

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco September 19th 2018

At last a day off but I still wake up by 5:30, with a snuffly nose and a bit of a cold. We spend the day cruising around this pretty city, going to the San Pedro market where the locals shop for for everything from pigs’ heads to flowers and clothes. It is colourful, clean and not too busy. We don’t try anything at the food court but head back to the chocolate museum for a hot chocolate and chocolate brownie for lunch. Needless to say we go through a few markets to get there. We also discover a museum (exhibition really) for a textile artist called Maximo Laura who does the most amazing weaving with wonderfully vibrant colours. These large wall hangings are about 1.5m by 3m and cost up to 20k USD. What a ... read more
San Pedro market - flower section
San Pedro Market - even the pigs look happy
San Pedro market - juice bar

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