Page 4 of barrygahan Travel Blog Posts

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu April 26th 2008

An important pile of stones As tourist attractions go, Machu Picchu has everything: the location is spectacular, on a ridge high above the Apurimac river, with beautiful mountains in view in all directions; the ruins are incredible with fine examples of famous Inca stonework; there's also the sense of mystery: despite all the excavations and studies, no one still knows for sure the exact purpose of Machu Picchu. Was it a ceremonial site? Or a summer retreat for the Inca Emperor Pachcutec? Or, as Hiram Bingham thought, the legendary lost city of the Incas? And why did it remain unknown to the Spanish? Had it been already abandoned? Machu Picchu seems to absorb and invite questions, without offering any definite answers! We had little time to rest after the 4 day Salkantay trek from Mollepata to ... read more
Group pose at Machu Picchu
Morning Clouds over Machu Picchu
It's 6am but we're still smiling!

South America » Peru » Cusco » Salkantay Trail April 24th 2008

Day 0 - Cusco, preparing for the trip We arrived in Cusco bright and early at 6am following an overnight bus from Arequipa. It had been difficult to sleep so it was something of a relief that there were people there waiting at the Cruz del Sur station to offer us a cheap hostel. We, along, with two other backpackers, Nick, from Canada, and Kirilee, from New Zealand (whom we'd get to know well over the next few days), set off for Hostal Apu Wasi in San Blas. Our driver took the scenic route via Plaza de Armas, which looked magical in the early morning light (for the rest of our time in Cusco I would never see the square so devoid of people). We spent the next three days getting to know this beautiful city, ... read more
Denilson & Son
Anyone for Centipede?
Mollepata Main Square

South America » Peru » Arequipa » Arequipa April 15th 2008

One of those crazy days A long and somewhat crazy day began in Puno with an early wake up call to catch the 8.30 bus to Arequipa. Arequipa, Peru's second biggest city, lies north west of Puno, a long six hour trip, with with good views of mountains such as Misti and Chachani along the way. No sooner had we arrived and found a hotel in Arequipa than we were booked on a climb to Cerro Chachani, a 6075 metre peak - leaving in 8 hours time at midnight! So with 6 hours sleep the previous night followed by a six hour bus journey, we were clearly well prepared for a first attempt at 6000! The reason we booked the trip for that evening was that the company had a tour leaving that night and they ... read more
Sunrise on Cerro Chachani
Cerro Chachani
Views of Colca Canyon

South America » Peru » Puno » Puno April 10th 2008

Titi for Peru and Caca for Bolivia Another border crossing, another passport stamp, another country and yet another currency to get our heads around! Like Copacabana, Puno lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca. But there the similarities end. Puno is a far bigger city, which doesn't depend so much on the tourist dollar, yet, perhaps paradoxically feels like more of a tourist trap. During the bus trip from Copacabana a representative from the company started trying to entice us and everyone else to stay in a company owned hostel in Puno. They offered a free transfer from the bus terminal so we thought why not. About 10 passengers got off in Puno while the rest continued to Cusco. Nearly all 10 of us went to this hostel, where we negotiated a room for 35 Soles ... read more
And on the menu tonight....
Alpacas of Puno
The lady with the llama

Copa...Copacabana Copacabana was the perfect place to end our travels in Bolivia. Situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca, at a breathtaking altitude of 3841 metres above sea level, Copacabana is the type of place you plan to visit for a day and end up staying a week. It's just one of the many towns in South America that live off tourism, but nevertheless it's a very pleasant place to visit. The trip from La Paz to Copacabana is memorable. First you climb our of La Paz, onto the bleak Altiplano, with the high peaks of the Cordillera Real to the east providing a fantastic backdrop. Soon you approach Lake Titicaca, and at one of the narrowest points, you cross the Strait of Tiquina from the hamlet of San Pablo to the slightly larger hamlet of ... read more
Guinea-Pig for lunch anyone?
Spot the Gringo
Native Altar on Isla del Sol

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz April 5th 2008

Nuestra Señora de La Paz As I mentioned in my last blog, Sucre might well be the constitutional capital of Bolivia, but all the action seems to be in La Paz. While Sucre has it's colonial buildings, La Paz has an incredible street life: there's a real vibe on the streets, with constant noise from the thousands of taxis and cars, the numerous markets and the huge number of people. Shops as you know them in Europe don't seem to exist in La Paz; instead everything you need can be found in markets or kiosks lining the streets. These are often run by indigenous women, who, with their huge, bright dresses and bowler hats, add a touch of colour to this crazy city. After a short flight with AeroSur from Sucre we arrived at La Paz's ... read more
La Paz Lady
And Her Stall
Framed La Paz

South America » Bolivia » Chuquisaca Department » Sucre April 1st 2008

A tale of two capitals Ask anyone in Sucre which city is the capital of Bolivia and you'll most likely be told Sucre. Ask the same question in La Paz and they'll tell you it's La Paz. Ask anyone else in Bolivia and they'll probably tell you it's rather complicated but there are two capitals. Following independence in 1825, Sucre soon became capital of the new Republic of Bolivia. In 1959 the seat of government moved to La Paz. However, no one bothered to change the constitution so Sucre remains the constitutional capital and is also home to the judiciary. Sucre is a beautiful city, the perfect place to stop for a few days, take it easy and recharge your batteries. It felt very different from everywhere else we had seen thus far in Bolivia. With ... read more
Sucre University
Ruth in Joyride Cafe

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Potosi March 29th 2008

Getting high in Bolivia If you're the type of traveller who likes statistics or ticking things off a list then Bolivia is the perfect country for you. Amongst other world's highests, Bolivia contains the highest capital city, the highest salt flats, the highest navigable lake, the highest ski resort and in Potosi, subject of this blog, the world's highest city. There are probably many more highests that we don't know about in Bolivia but I'm sure we'll find more of them as we explore the country. Potosi is situated at a breathtaking 4000m above sea level. The city was founded in 1546 to exploit the silver veins in Cerro Potosi (later called Cerro Rico), the mountain overlooking in the city. Potosi's growth was phenomenal: just over a century later it was one of the largest cities ... read more
On the summit of Cerro Rico
Bacchus & the Fountain
Ruth climbs the scree

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni March 25th 2008

More bus travel woe We planned to travel from Tupiza to Uyuni by train but we got so tired of waiting for the ticket office in the station to open that we gave up and booked a bus instead. This meant we left Tupiza at a better time of day but we did sacrifice comfort for timing and price! The trip to Uyuni took about 6.5 hours by bus, a difficult journey along unpaved roads, leaving me bruised and battered, a trip that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I think we'd been spoiled by all our nice bus journeys in Argentina! But we got there in the end, it was still daylight and despite it being Easter weekend, everything in Uyuni was open and we had no problem finding a hotel or booking a ... read more
Ruth Balancing
Uyuni Train Cemetery
Sprite Dance

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Tupiza March 22nd 2008

Farewell Chile When we left Argentina on December 26th I thought it might be the last time we'd see this great country (on this trip), but since then we've returned three times from Chile. We just can't get enough of it! This latest visit was very much a last minute decision: Bolivia was our next planned destination and the best route in from San Pedro de Atacama seemed to be via Argentina. So we left San Pedro at 10.30am, and all was going fine until close to the border at the Jama Pass. Then, the bus engine started overheating, as it apparently didn't like the altitude! We stopped a couple of times, then struggled onto the border, where there was a 5 hour wait for a replacement bus from Calama. The border pass is at a ... read more
San Francisco Statue
Last views of Argentina

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