Joel Bowen


Joel Bowen

"It's not about the places you have travelled to but the stories you bring back."
- Dr. Herman Samson

South America » Peru » Ica » Nazca » Nazca Lines January 29th 2012

They may be just lines in the sand, but lines that are believed to be 1,500 Years old and completely mystifying. The Nazca Lines are more than drawings that you need to fly over at 2,500ft to make them out. They are enigmatic art using the desert floor as a canvas creating one of the largest art gallery in the world high on the Nazca Plateau. They end up leaving you with more questions than answers. After leaving Cusco, it was the mad dash to the finish of my travels. I took a 14hr overnight bus ride from Cusco, Peru to Nazca Peru to see the mysterious Nazca Lines. I have to say this overnight bus ride was luxury compared to my other experiences. It had Wi-Fi and I actually slept. Although the fact that I ... read more

South America » Peru » Cusco » Inca Trail January 27th 2012

Wow! I just just finished the famed Inka Trail to Machu Pichu. But I think it should be renamed the Inka Steps and be sponsored by Step Master. :) Four days of up steps and down steps. Some big, some small, some wide and some narrow. At times I thought the Incas must have been giants and other times I thought they were surely midgets. :) Up and down mountains and valleys, over passes, through tunnels, visiting ancient Inca sites along the way. The Inka Trail is the actual trail that the Inkas used centuries ago. It is amazing how they built it and the over 40,000km of trails that stretch from Ecuador to Chile. Most of the trail is made of stone which is even more impressive, in some cases on the side of a ... read more
Getting ready to take my first step on the Inka Trail
At the start of the trail
Inka ruins along the Trail

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz January 18th 2012

I spent four days in La Paz, Bolivia after taking an overnight bus from Uyuni that had to be the worse bus ride of my life, and I have had a couple in my short lifetime.:) We were literally bouncing out of our seats for the first 6hrs of the 12hr trip. A bruised tail bone was my gift from that ride. Arriving in La Paz you realize it is built on the side of a mountain that forms a large bowl with the city centre at the bottom. At over 3,700m it is pretty high up! It is a bustling city that at its centre is one big street market where you can buy anything. One highlight is roaming through the markets (even if you are not a shopper), including the Witch's Market were you ... read more
Great retro buses
I love these buses!
The market in La Paz

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz January 15th 2012

It's just riding a bike, you never forget. Right? That's what I was telling myself on the way to the starting point to the 64km mountain bike ride down the World's Deadliest Road, just outside La Paz, Bolivia. However, remembering to ride a bike in your driveway is a little different than trying to remember on your way down a road that is at its narrowest is only 10ft wide with 800 Ft drop offs! Oh, and did I mention is called the World's Deadliest Road!! It is not that I don't know how to ride a bike, it's just that I never really rode one after a I got my license, 20 yrs ago! I did ride about a week ago around San Pedro which helped me remember how to use the brakes, shift the ... read more

Spectacular, awe inspiring, incredible, beautiful; these are just a few words that come to mind after just finishing a three day drive through the Andes for a second time. This time it was from San Pedro de Atacama, northern Chile to Uyuni, Bolivia by 4x4. No pavement, just dirt roads only fit for a 4x4. Specifically Toyota Landcruisers; looks like Toyota has wrapped up Bolivia from what I saw. To try describe the trip would not do it justice, so I'll let the pics paint most of the thousand words. But I know that even they can't capture what I saw and felt There were six of us and a driver in a Toyota landcruiser and we literally went up and over the Andes. Two great young Chilean couples, an Irishman and an excellent driver who ... read more
At the Bolivian border
I love these border outposts
Laguna Verde

I wasn´t sure whether I took a wrong flight or not, but when I arrived in San Pedro de Atacama the landscape outside the town looked more like I had arrived on Mars or the moon. I spent three nights here as it was the starting point for my trip across the Andes. That time gave me an opportunity to experience the charm of a small oases and the out of this world sights of the desert. San Pedro is a small oases in the Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world. It is located in northeast Chile at the foothills of the Andes only about 30-40kms from the Bolivian border. San Pedro is just a small town with a handful of adobe streets and a centre plaza. The main street is lined with restaurants, ... read more
Atacama Desert
San Pedro de Atacama with the Licancábur Volcano dominating the horizon to the east.
Lunar Rock formtions

South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago January 8th 2012

Sometimes even I don't know how I get to where I am going. I left beautiful little Mendoza on the January 6th after a change of plans to where I was originally planning to head to next. I really had wanted to fly to Northern Patagonia to raft a whitewater river called Futaleufu. Erin, who climbed with me, was also going to come; however, after missing a bus to get us to Santiago where we would have flown there, and then finding out the only real alternative was to stay another day in Mendoza and take a bus that would have taken 25+hrs, I figured it was time to reassess. It also made me look at how far behind I was in my travel schedule - about 5 days. The trip to Futaleufu would have taken ... read more
Switchbacks to go down the mountain side
Switchbacks to go down the mountain side
View going through the Andes.

South America » Argentina » Mendoza » Mendoza January 5th 2012

Is there a better way to live life. At the foothills of the Andes, the mountain range makes an impressive backdrop to the beautiful little city of Mendoza. I stayed in a great hostel called Hostel Independencie. It was right next to the main square in the city called Plaza Independencie. Built on a desert, water is a precious commodity here and irrigation ditches run throughout the city. I call them tourist traps; you fall in one of these and you are definitely breaking something. However, because rain is a rarity (it only rains for about 5 times per year) they are needed to water the thousand of beautiful trees that line the streets. As it is their summer, it has been very hot here, 30+ degrees. Wondering through the city for the last six days ... read more
Mendozian Streetscape
Mendozian Streetscape
Mendozian Characters

South America » Argentina » Mendoza » Mendoza December 31st 2011

How cool is that? Actually it is more than cool, it was #*+@ cold. Some say "Joel why do you want to climb a mountain?" Well as the famous mountaineer Greorge Mallory, who tried to be the first to summit Everest in the 1920s (and died trying to do so), when he was asked "why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?", his reply was simply "because it is there". So part of my answer is just that simple. The other part deals with challenging yourself to see how you handle things and hopefully succeed in achieving them. Regardless, you hope you will learn things about yourself from those experiences. Many people face incredible challenges everyday not by choice but by necessity. They win some of those challenges and they lose some, either way they have ... read more
The Weigh In
The Team at the gate to the Aconcagua Park.
Mules and Gachos

South America » Argentina » Mendoza » Mendoza December 10th 2011

Well, I hadn't planned on writing another blog before I started the mountain expedition. But I should know you can never write the future before it happens. The plan today was to arrive in Buenos Aires and then transfer to the domestic airport to fly to Mendoza, that I thought left at 12:25 (that was my fatal flaw which you will see later). I arrived in Buenos Aires a little behind schedule and the customs check, bag pickup and getting though security all didn't help my cause. It was about 11:30 when I got out of the airport. After finding out the other airport was about 50kms away, I realized neither bus nor taxi was going to get me there in time for my 12:25 flight, so a booked a seat on a bus and hoped ... read more

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