Page 4 of MikeandHelen Travel Blog Posts

South America » Peru » Ancash » Huaraz March 15th 2008

Pisac After getting back from Machu Picchu, i had one day free in Cusco, which i spent going to see yet more Incan ruins. This time in Pisac, around an hour North of Cusco, in the Sacred Valley. The ruins at Pisac are actually larger than those located at Machu Picchu and they are spread across a hillside in another spectacular location. Most of them are made up of agricultural terracing. Above are 3 separate sets of building ruins - a military complex, a temple area and a small collection of houses. I spent a couple of hours wandering around the ruins, which i was really impressed with. Particularly the temple area which is much larger than that seen at Machu Picchu. The stonework in this area is really perfectly finished. Also, the views down the ... read more
Laguna Llaca in Cordillera Blanca
Laguna Churup after a tough scramble to get there
The clouds clear briefly to give a view of the mountains above Laguna Churup

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu March 8th 2008

Machu Picchu After waking up at yet another ridiculous hour (Not for the first time on this trip it has to be said!), our group excitedly set off for the walk up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Hoping for a great clear morning to see the famous sunrise over the ruins, we awoke to mist and drizzle, not the most promising start! Its a 500m vertical height gain up a path from the town of Aguas Calientes, which takes around an hour and a quarter. As we walked up the path, we moved actually into the cloud, getting wetter, and at the same time sweatier as we climbed. It wasn´t looking great for the picture postcard photograph over the ruins! At 6am exactly, the gates to the site opened and we moved in. The thick ... read more
As the cloud clears....
The whole Machu Picchu site
Terracing on agricultural side of Machu Picchu

South America » Peru » Cusco » Salkantay Trail March 7th 2008

I arrived in Cusco on a very rainy morning, off the night bus from Arequipa. I was pretty excited to have finally made it to the centre of the gringo world in South America. Surely every backpacker on this continent comes through this city at some point, and most them move on to trek to Machu Picchu. Cusco is a really nice city with loads of colonial buildings throughout the city, and particularly around another huge Plaza de Armas. However, there is also evidence everywhere of the remains of the Incan empire, with some bits of stonework, walls and archways remaining throughout the city that weren´t destroyed after the arrival of the Spanish. Cusco, pre Spanish arrival, was the capital, for around 500 years, of the Inca empire. At it´s maximum, the empire stretched from Northern ... read more
Luxury transport to start the Salkantay trek
Still Smiling - Sjirk (Dutchy) and Kai (Aussie)
High altitude transition down to the jungle

South America » Peru » Arequipa » Colca Canyon March 4th 2008

Rather than following the traditional backpacker route North from La Paz, to Peru via Lake Titicaca, i decided to go West and explore the very North of Chile first. So i hopped on a bus in La Paz and travelled over to Arica in extreme Northern Chile. Arriving in Arica is a really nice change after the high altitude, cold nights of Bolivia. Its situated right on the coast, with a lovely warm climate. The Pacific also crashes into the beaches located both North and South of the town. The town has a really nice feel about it, with a lot fewer other tourists than i had been used to seeing in the other places i have visited. On the day i arrived, i spent a very relaxing afternoon wandering around town, having a late ... read more
Fishing boat heading out at sunset
Main volcano in Lauca
Colca canyon, on the edge

South America » Bolivia » Beni Department » Rurrenabaque February 25th 2008

Bolivia is just such a country of contrasts. One day you will be gasping for breath in the high altitude of La Paz, the next down into the tropical, humid air of the jungle. This was how it was when i finally arrived in Rurrenabaque, coming off the 19.5 hour bus journey feeling, well not that fresh really. Rurre is a totally different feeling town to anywhere else i have been in Bolivia. Even more laid back, if thats even possible! I got picked up by motorbike taxi from the bus station. Me and 2 rucksacs on the back of the motorbike, and i didn´t even fall off! The town is a small place in the middle of the jungle,on the edge of a big river. It has a real kind of Apocolypse Now feel to ... read more
The friendly next door neighbour
Squirrel monkey
Turtle Power

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » Coroico February 22nd 2008

Much to the probable disappointment and worry of my mother, after climbing Huayna Potosi, i had a renewed sense of adventure which had to be filled in Bolivia. How to keep the adrenaline flowing? Well, when you have reached 6,000m, the only alternative is to go down.....quickly. Enter, the world´s most dangerous road. To the North of La Paz, the high levels of the altiplano drop off rapidly to the low level pampas, continuing into the amazon jungle beyond. On the way out of La Paz, the road climbs up to a point at 4,660m altitude. In this area, you are surrounded by snow capped mountains all around, and the wind and snow blow through like an Aberdonian winter day. From this point, the road drops, quickly, to the low level pampas area of Coroico. Over ... read more
The long and winding road!
One of the many crosses lining the death road
Wheelie´s on the side?

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » Huayna Potosí February 18th 2008

Call it a sense of adventure, call it stupidity, whatever, it has been a goal on this trip to climb a 6,000m mountain. So my first opportunity arose near to La Paz where Huayna (Pronounced Why-na) Potosi stands, 6,088m (19,974 ft) high. (Warning - this blog contains lots of geeky figures and measurments that may impress some, but will probably bore most!). Its said that this is one of the easier 6,000m + mountains to climb in the world, but i can say now, if this is an easy one i never want to attempt a challenging one! Off i set then for a 3 day expedition to attempt to summit with my guide, Felizandro, and a fellow adventurer from Argentina, Nicolas. The three day trip is partially to help with aclimatization, as well as giving ... read more
Huayna Potosi summit from advance base camp
Home, sweet home.
From the slopes of Huayna Potosi, looking towards La Paz

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz February 13th 2008

Potosi From the water bombing, carnaval related madness of Uyuni, i moved on to the water bombing, carnaval related madness of Potosi. Different town, but the same activities of spraying water and foam at everything that moved for another couple of days. Except in Potosi, they had moved on to the cunning tactic of the drive-by attack, spraying water and foam from the windows of passing cars. Its just not cricket really! However, after a couple of days, the town was returning to normality, with only the occassional sporadic attack. Back to the business of sight-seeing then. Potosi is located around 7 hours drive East of Uyuni, reached after a very uncomfortable all day bus journey. And accompanied by the Bolivian version of Euro-pop. Quite catchy after the 5th time of listening! The town is located ... read more
No Light at the end of this tunnel!
Sucre from above
Main Plaza in Sucre

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni February 5th 2008

From San Pedro de Atacama in Northern Chile, the easiest way to head north is on a 3 day journey across the high altitude altiplano of Bolivia to arrive in Uyuni, Bolivia, on the edge of the Salar de Uyuni, the largest and highest salt flats in the world. Day 1: Crossing into Bolivia and the Multi-Coloured Lakes After leaving San Pedro at 8am on Friday morning, we quickly arrived at the Chilean exit border post for the obligatory stand around for a while before being let out of the country. Following a further 30 min drive then through no mans land (With signs along the edge of the road warning not to stray off the road, as there are still land mines around, dating from the Pinochet regime!), we arrived at the Bolivian border post. ... read more
Welcome to Bolivia
Our Chelsea Tractors
Now line up nice and straight while i take your picture

Santiago de Chile After Pucon, Helen and I arrived in Santiago de Chile for a couple of days. Santiago is a fairly huge city, located about half way up Chile, with the high Andes located to its West, and the Pacific located about an hour and a half drive to the East. Its the usual big and intimidating city feeling, with a scattering of nice building to look at and streets to walk along. Some of the nicest views of the city are from the top of the San Cristobal hill, complete with obligatory Virgin Mary on top looking down over the city. However, the views of the Andes are often obscured by the smog that accumulates over the city, trapped by the high Andes. And of course, this was the case the day i visited! ... read more
Geysers at sunrise
Geysers at El Tatio
Swimming in the thermal hot waters

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