Toni and James Parkes

Toni and James

Toni and James Parkes

Always looking for what's around the next corner, country, continent..

Wander where no one else dares to wonder

Europe » France » Rhône-Alpes » Grenoble February 16th 2014

Our train trip down to Grenoble was wet and cloudy, but we managed to get a couple of glimpses of the French Alps peaking through every now and then. This beautiful little town is surrounded by snowy peaks at every turn and is the perfect launch pad for wintery activities. And how fortunate that we have some great friends, Megan and Jason, living there, allowing us to crash on their living room floor for a few days! First activity on the adventure agenda was skiing and snowboarding on the Saturday morning. Grenoble, being surrounded by three mountain ranges, offers numerous choices for skiing. From the humble small village ski slopes with their one or two button lift but cheap ski passes to the large resorts of Alpe d’Huez and Chamrousse. After analyzing all the weather forecasts ... read more
French Alps
Looking like pro's
James and Jason

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Barnes February 11th 2014

The flight from Cape Town to London was pretty painless (no lost cameras!), even with Ms Fidgety Mc Fidgety and her lack of personal space next to Toni. Passport control was an exciting experience as we did our ‘own’ immigration control and the automatic biometric scanners. Yay for British passports. Toni's cousins met us at Heathrow and guided us through the Underground and busses to their place in Barnes in south London. It was quite fortuitous arriving in London on a Sunday, as we then headed straight out to one of their local pubs for a scrumptious Sunday roast lunch. The pictures tell a thousand words but look at those yorkshire puddings!!! A stroll along the river and another pint of local brew finished off our first day in London. Pam played tour guide for us ... read more
Eiffel Tower
Paris by night
Cruising over London

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Cape Town January 24th 2014

This trip to Europe has really snuck up on us! We’ve only just come out of the Christmas summer holidays and with everyone returning to work and the normal daily routines, feels a bit strange getting things together to go away for a month now! But, boy oh boy, are we excited! Especially me (Toni), who has never been to Europe. Or even London. Or, actually, never crossed the equator! And, to top it off, this will be the first (well, sort of*) trip to a '1st world' destination. That means that ‘normal’ clothes can be packed along with ‘normal’ accessories (such as hairdryers), and not just hiking, bundu bashing gear! Ahh, the small things in life ;-) The shock of walking through Buenos Aires (a very fashionable city I might add) with my Michelin man ... read more

South America » Chile » Valparaíso Region » Valparaíso September 30th 2012

After our snowboarding adventure, we stayed in Santiago for a few days before heading down to the coastal town of Valparaiso. The city has quite the history to tell, peaking at the time of the Californian Gold Rush as it was an important port for ships going around Cape Horn. The town unfortunately saw its demise when the Panama Canal was opened in 1914, and the majority of ships were no longer passing through, but still left behind a melting pot of immigrant cultures and their architectural influences. The town is built on numerous hills in a natural amphitheatre overlooking the ocean. It has the most gorgeous cobbled streets and brightly coloured corrugated iron buildings, all packed together literally on top of each other. Some of the hills are pretty steep, and once again the building ... read more
Chicken by the nightstand
Tiene Problems
Steps of Fire

South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Valle Nevado September 21st 2012

Skiing in Chile was always on the agenda, since learning that Santiago has very accessible ski resorts, AND we would be around for the end of the snow season (SCORE! low season prices!). Having never skied or snowboarded, I was naturally apprehensive about injuries and broken bones, and didn’t want to have to nurse anything that serious, whilst on South America...all in Spanish! So it would all work out, as it would be the last adventure we did before heading home. It turns out that this year’s snow season wasn’t all that great in Chile, and the ski resorts and slopes would be closing a lot earlier than usual. As soon as we arrived in Santiago from San Pedro, we quickly got our A’s into gear and headed up into the mountains and saw for ... read more
Chilextremo Hostal
Winter has gone, its now Spring!
Toni Carving

Crossing into Chile, our last country of our epic trip, and arriving at the small town of San Pedro de Atacama was very surreal experience. Leaving the tiny one-roomed Bolivian border post and then driving 40 minutes into San Pedro to then be stamped into Chile, was something we have never encountered. It was like an optional activity whether to visit the immigration office or not! Plus, it’s the only land border crossing we’ve ever done, where all our bags are put through an x-ray machine! Sheesh, we’re in the desert, in the middle of nowhere, for goodness sake! Anyway, San Pedro was a lovely town and we thoroughly enjoyed our couple of days relaxing in the warmer weather. It is a notable tourist destination (as we realized from the price shock we received for a ... read more
Wifi zone
San Pedro de Atacama Church
Snowboarding rentals

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni September 6th 2012

After our recharging trip down to the Amazon (warmth and low altitude) we were ready to head back up into the cold, high altitude corner of South Western Bolivia. From La Paz, we had booked an 11hr bus to Uyuni , but unfortunately (or fortunately!!) the bus was cancelled and there are no other busses running that day. Our travel agent then suggested a flight that was only slightly more expensive than the bus. SCORE, a 1h40min flight instead of an 11hr bus trip on dodgy dirt roads! Or, so we thought. It was only after we had paid, that the lady told us to make sure we go to the military airport and not the International airport. GREAT, we had just booked and paid for a Bolivian Military flight, which didn’t sound all too exciting ... read more
Train Cemetary
Huge Cacti
Isla Incahuasi Pano

South America » Bolivia » Beni Department » Madidi September 3rd 2012

Heading into the jungle wasn’t part of our original plans as James was quite adamant from the beginning, that we would not go anywhere, where it was hot, humid and required large amounts of insect repellant. However, after chatting to a few people and hearing some good things about the Bolivian side of the Amazon, we adjusted our plans and squeezed a week in. It would also be a welcome treat after the high altitude mountains and cold temperatures! So last Monday we found ourselves at La Paz airport, booked onto the morning flight to Rurrenabaque, the small jungle town in northern Bolivia. The bus trip was a resounding no after hearing a few horror stories of the horrific 21 hour trip, along a few very scary mountain passes! After walking onto the runway and seeing ... read more
Arrival in Rurre
Vultures and Forest Condors
Our river transport

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz August 25th 2012

The mountaineering expedition was the first thing we booked for our trip, almost 6 months before heading off. It has been James’ dream for quite some time to be in high mountains and climb ‘some big snowy peaks’. With us not being able to journey down to Patagonia (due to their very frosty weather this time of year, oh well, next time!), James was particularly excited about seizing the opportunity to hike some of the high mountains in Bolivia. And especially since the mountains were fairly accessible (max 2 hours from La Paz), and ‘good enough’ for beginners, it seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. Honestly, my enthusiasm was not on the same level, but I had accepted it and thought of it as a challenge I was willing to pursue. I had also ... read more
PA base camp
Condoriri Mountains
Condoriri & base camp in background

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz August 13th 2012

Our arrival in the highest capital city in the world (alt. 3400m), La Paz was fascinating. The city is set in a massive valley and is chockablock to the rim and can only be described as a gigantic bowl of buildings! The first thing that struck us was the general chaos and busyness of the streets. Traffic was manic as busses, cars and trucks were trying to get through already jam-packed roads full of people. And of course, road rules and traffic lights are optional extras to be followed. La Paz is unlike any city we’ve seen so far. The valley makes it feel like the city is going to swallow you at any minute. Like walking the streets near our hotel and rounding the corner and finding ourselves in one of La Paz’s most popular ... read more
Illamani looming over La Paz
Saffa's in La Paz
The local La Paz busses

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