Rachael and Dan

RaeDan

Rachael and Dan





We woke up at 4:30am to get ready to leave around 5. We saw the lights of many other vehicles driving in the same direction as us taking their passengers to see the same sights as well. It looked like a pilgrimage of Landcruisers all heading in the same direction through the desert. Our first stop was to see geysers. Dan, Ralph and Chica all went for a walk through the steam sprayed air, whilst Tina, Nat and I made the decision to stay warm and out of the strong wind inside the vehicle. The sun was rising, but was not high enough to supply any heat at the time. We continued on to the hot springs, and were advised by our guide to have breakfast before entering the water to ensure that we got a ... read more
Dan freezing whilst visiting the geysers.
Hot spring
Salvador Dali desert


Dan woke up with a strong pain on his lower left side of his body at 4am this morning. Panadol Forte didn't help much as the pain kept coming in waves. So it was decided that after breakfast, our group would stop at the medical centre at San Juan de Rosario to get Dan some help. After our dramas of yesterday with the tour company, we lost another friend this morning by deciding not to take the cook with us in our vehicle. When we were sold the tour, we were told that there would only be 6 passengers with a guide in the car and that all of the cooks were located at the hostals that we were to stay. We were happy with that news, because it meant a less squashed ride throughout our ... read more
Flamingoes on a lagoon
Flamingoes
Water in the desert


Glad to finally been able to have a sleep in, we rocked up to the office of Andys Salt Expeditions with great expectations for the tour that we had finally been able to book, since the strike in Uyuni ended at 6pm on the previous evening. We were glad to see that we had a 80 series Landcruiser, as it would be more comfortable than the older vehicles that the company uses, but were disappointed to find out that our guide could not speak any English. Having an English speaking guide with only 6 passengers max in the vehicle were the 2 main criteria for our selection process and we found out that both of these requirements were not to be met, as we were loading up our luggage. They wanted to fit a cook in ... read more
Salt pyramids
Having fun on the salt flats
Eating Llama for lunch outside a salt hotel

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz September 28th 2009

At 3660m above sea level, La Paz is the highest capital city in the world with its buildings clinging to the sides of the canyon and downwards. There are many alleys and markets in the centre of the city, with many of the indigenous women walking around with their long black plaits hanging from under their bowler hats selling all types of wares from food to magical goods. The women wear the hat on the side of their head if they are single and on top if they are married. The streets are full with traffic, mostly public transport collectivos or mini vans that have a person hanging out of the window or sliding door yelling out the destination and price. It was easier to follow a local to cross the road, otherwise it seemedlike the ... read more
Street in La Paz
Traditional dress
Llama foetuses

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu September 20th 2009

We had an extra early start this morning, as we had to eat breakfast and leave the campsite early enough for the porters to be able to pack everything up and run it all down the hill to get to the local public train by 6am. If they missed that train, they would be stuck with having to use an expensive tourist train instead. We also wanted to get to the Winay Wayna guard post to line up to get into the Machu Picchu reserve early. We walked in the dark with many layers of clothes on due to the very cold temperature, using our tourches to lead the way to the guard post. We had to wait 30 mins before the gate would open and process our paperwork for entry, but it was good to ... read more
Us admiring the view
Ruins at Machu Picchu
Housing

South America » Peru » Cusco » Urubamba September 16th 2009

Our Inca trail tour group visited a village within walking distance from Urubamba, a main town in the Sacred valley. We reached the town by foot from the Urubamba bus terminal within 45 minutes finding a few houses on either side of the one main dirt street. We went around the back of the first house that we visited to see how the occupants of the house made chocolate. Cacao is grown locally and the women demonstrating put some roasted cacao with some sugar into a manual grinder (that looked like the manual meat grinder that I bought Dan years ago), where the 2 ingredients were mixed and grounded together. The grinded output was then hand pressed into a metal mould which would be put into the sun to sit for a few hours to solidify. ... read more
Corn used to make Chicha
Dan with his big glass of chicha
The lady who brewed the chicha

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco » Cusco September 15th 2009

Originally named Cosco, meaning the "navel or centre of the world", by the Incas when the city was their capital, the city of Cusco today contains a combination of Inca and Spanish architecture. The empire of the Incas extended north to Colombia and south to Chile and Argentina before the Spainards arrived in 1533. The Spanish built on the Inca walls and they followed the lines of the original Inca streets, when they continued to develop the city. The main square of Plaza de Armas was where Francisco Pizzaro claimed the conquest of Cusco and the Spanish added stone arches and other constructions during that period. It is now the tourist centre of town with many hotels, travel clothing stores and agencies nearby. We visited the main markets, where food was the main focus with sections ... read more
Coca Shop
Coca items
Lady selling photos in town

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Chugchilan September 7th 2009

We left Quito after only one day when we checked out the Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world monument that marks where the equator crosses through Ecuador), wash some laundry and catch up on some internet time. We were heading to the Black Sheep Inn, an ecolodge that we had read about that had great reviews with regards to its sustainable living, recycling and permaculture setup. The lodge is located in a more remote area of Ecuador, near a village called Chugchilan, which is nestled within the Andean Ranges. We were picked up at our hotel by the flying Dutchman - a Dutch expat, who thought that he was a professional rally driver - who owns a 4WD and runs a taxi service to the ecolodge when required, at a cost of US$100. We ... read more
Two seats for rotational use
The bunkhouse
Shower room built using bottles

South America » Colombia » San Gil » Barichara September 3rd 2009

Dan and I found that we only had limited time to spend in Colombia and after staying in Cartagena for a few days we only had time to visit one other location in the country, as the buses take a long time to travel through the mountainous regions south of Cartagena. We chose to stay in San Gil, where we were hoping to go rafting or horse riding, as well as to use as a base to visit Barichara and Guane, two small colonial style towns that have white washed buildings and cobbled roads. To our surprise the bus to Barichara was a nice new coaster van and not a chicken bus, but then we hadn't seen many chicken buses in this part of Colombia. We walked around the main square of Barichara, when we first ... read more
Barichara
Barichara
Barichara

South America » Colombia » Cartagena August 31st 2009

For today, we decided to go volcano dipping in El Totumo, the highest mud volcano in Colombia, which is a 15 metre mound that looks like a minature volcano. Instead of spewing lava and ashes it spews mud, which is a phenomenon caused by the pressure of gases emitted by decaying organic matter underground. We travelled for an hour with a tour group out to the location of the mini volcano 50 km NE of Cartagena. We stripped down to our swim wear and climbed the specially built stairs up to the crater to have a bath in the mud that is said to have therapeutic properties (don't all places of mud claim this?!). The mud was lukewarm/cool depending on where you moved inside the crater and it had a consistency of cream. Upon entering the ... read more
People inside the volcano
Us in the volcano
When we got out




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