Grim + Sophie

The Bus Diaries

Grim + Sophie

In 1952, Ernesto Guevara and Alberto Granado left Buenos Aires, Argentina to explore South America that they only knew from books. Their travel is captured in the "The Motorcycle Diaries". Now Grim and I will follow their lead and travel through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. Our travel will be entirely dependent on the goodwill of public transportation though...

South America » Colombia » Popayan February 18th 2012

The border crossing from Ecuador to Colombia was the most strenuous, long and annoying on our trip. We left Otavalo in the morning to catch a bus to the border town of Tulcán. This was the first time we actually had to stand in a long-distance bus but most of the local passengers got off after a while so we could sit and "enjoy" the rest of the most ridiculous film that we saw on our bus trips: "The good, the bad and the weird". It was some sort of a Korean fantasy western and it sucked big time. Anyway, when we got to Tulcán after three hours, we were greeted by rain and a huge queue in front of customs where we had to get our exit stamps. The queue barely moved which was mainly ... read more
The cute Parklife Hostel
Grim on the small "Puente de la Custodia"

South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo January 22nd 2012

We should have finished this blog already while we were still on the road but better late then never. So here we go: As we mentioned before, after we returned from our amazing jungle trip, we stayed a couple more days in Quito before we headed further north towards Colombia. Our last stop in Ecuador was Otavalo, a small town famous for its market and bird rescue park. The market was HUGE, we have seen plenty of markets during our trip but this one was exceptional. The stalls spread all over the main square and into the adjacent streets and the street vendors offered all kinds of goods: crafts, jewelery, clothes, fabrics, wooden instruments, food, souvenirs. Everything. We did spend some money on souvenirs there but my heart still aches that I couldn't buy a hand-woven, ... read more
Baked goods
So many scarves
Maracuja-Meringue-Pie from heaven

South America » Ecuador » East » Cuyabeno Reserve December 26th 2011

We booked a 4-day-trip to the Amazon basin at the Samona Lodge (, an ecofriendly and community based tour operator. The lodge is in the Cuyabeno Reserve which is considered one of the most biodiverse sites in the world. Naturally, we were excited! From Quito, we took an 8-hour-nightbus to Lago Agrio, the town which serves as the gateway to the rainforest reserve. On the bus, we spotted mainly tourists and we were quite sure that some of them would head to the same spot as us but when we arrived at a café where we got breakfast and which functioned as a meeting point, ALL of them showed up as well. In total, we were 24 people heading to the lodge, that was even more than what the staff expected and they had to organize ... read more
Getting into the boats
Monkey that looks like a fat cat

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito December 23rd 2011

We arrived in the Ecuadorian capital after a nice and short bus ride which was a welcome change from the usual. Quito is after La Paz the second highest capital of the world at about 2800m and luckily we were still used to the high altitude and could enjoy the city a little bit more than La Paz. The main parts of the city are the historical center with lots of churches and museums and "new town" which is less touristy and more comercial with lots of restaurants and bars. Our hostel was at the edge of the historical center and we were quite in the middle of things. Our first goal in Quito was to book our trip to the Amazon and we will write all about that in the next blog post. After the ... read more
Street in the historical center and "El Panecillo"
At the butterfly house

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Baños December 20th 2011

On the way back from the coast into the inner part of the country, we ignored the city of Guayaquil yet again and only stopped at the bus terminal for about an hour before boarding a bus to Baños. The bus ride that followed was one of the worst we had, it does not deserve to be descripted here in all gruesomeness but it started off with us sitting in a windtunnel for a couple of hours because all windows and the bus door were wide open due to the warm and humid weather, it continued to be a blind ride because the higher we drove into the mountains the mistier it got and we could witness first hand that the fog was so thick that the busdriver could not see the road which was obviously ... read more
Baños covered under a cloud of ash
The Tungurahua volcano
We dressed up as Michael Jackson

South America » Ecuador » West » Montañita December 16th 2011

Back in the mountain town of Cuenca, we missed the sweet life of being beach bums and decided to head back to the coast and see what the Ecuadorian beaches have to offer. We picked out the small village of Montañita along the "Ruta del Sol", the route of the sun. Sounds pretty promising, doesn't it? We could not do the whole distance between Cuenca and Montañita in one day, so we stayed in Ecuador's biggest city, Guayaquil, for a night. Even though the city sounded really nice from the travel guide, we did not see anything of it besides what we saw from the taxi to the hostel and on the short walk to a restaurant. Next time. The next morning, we were on our way to the coast and Montañita turned out to be ... read more
Busy streets
Hippies everywhere
Beach at sunset

South America » Ecuador » South » Cuenca December 9th 2011

Leaving our slacking days in Máncora behind, we booked a bus to go the Ecuadorian city Cuenca. We were told to go to the "Cifa International Terminal" in town to catch the bus and being in Peru, the so-called terminal turned out to be someone's house. We sat with a couple people in the hallway, while the rest of the passengers had to wait outside. There was nobody around to give us any information so when the bus didn't show up, this became more and more of a joke. After an hour, the bus finally arrived and we were on our way to the border after all. We went to the bordertown Aguas Verdes and got our exit stamps in Peru without any problems despite the temporary passports, changed our remaining soles into US dollars, the ... read more
The hallway
Río Tomebamba
A glimpse of the cathedral

South America » Peru » Piura » Máncora December 3rd 2011

We are heading further north along the coast and our last stop in Peru was Máncora, another fishing village turned surfer paradise. When we arrived in town after a shaky night-busride, we were picked up by the owner of our hostel in an old, white VW beetle. Our hostel "Kon Tiki Bungalows" sits enthroned on a hill over the city and we had a great view of all of Máncora and the surroundings. Máncora is the prime vacation spot in Peru, not only for sunburnt backpackers but also for locals, so it is not surprising that the main street, "Avenida Piura", was packed with restaurants, hostels, bars, kiosks, surf shops, fruit-stands and craft-stalls where you can literally buy everything. The beachfront is lined with bars and restaurants that offer cocktails and fresh seafood. In high season, ... read more
Breakfast with a view

South America » Peru » La Libertad » Huanchaco December 1st 2011

From Lima, we are heading up the coast north towards Ecuador and our first stop was Huanchaco, a small fishing village turned surfer paradise. We boarded a "semi cama" nightbus in Lima to go to Trujillo and arrived in the early morning and caught a bus to Huancaco which is 12km away. The word "bus" is maybe a bit of an overstatement, the vehicle looked a little welted together, was shaking and ratteling during the ride and hardly stopped on the way, the passengers mostly got on and off at half-speed. Huanchaco is quite small and life definately takes place at the promenade along the beach. Fishermen paddle out with funky looking reed boats and fish for crabs, locals sell touristy souvenirs, ice cream and snacks, everyone watches the surfers and couples take a stroll on ... read more
The patio at the hostel

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Lima November 28th 2011

After our Machu Picchu adventure we spent another 1,5 days in Cusco before boarding a bus to Lima. This was our longest busride so far: 21 hours. If you look at a map, Cusco and Lima are not that far apart from each other but they are divided by mountains, so most of the trip was just up- and downhill zigzaging through the mountains. Pretty boring. We strongly recommend the Norwegian approach to overcome mountains: bridge, tunnel, bridge, tunnel, etc. For the long travel, we booked a very nice "cama suit" bus with comfy seats, blankets, pillows, dinner, breakfast and onboard entertainment. It felt like being on a business class flight or what we imagine a business class flight feels like. The movies that they showed however ranged from mediocre to really really bad and scored ... read more
Inside the cathedral

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