Bianca & Hylke

biancaandhylke

Bianca & Hylke




South America » Ecuador » North » Quito June 6th 2015

Before we went on our trip we were warned by others who have travel experience that the transition back to work is tough. When they heard we are landing in Zurich on Sunday and start work on Monday they especially thought we were crazy. So, following their advice we decided to make the last two weeks of our travels a vacation. Traveling is loads of fun but can also be tiring: lots of new impressions different people, different places. Hiking, heavy backpacks, long bus rides with short nights. In these last weeks we decided to go for sun, beach and relaxation. After some deliberation we picked the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico: the weather is good this time of the year, great food and enough things to do. The first contrast that we noticed is the amount ... read more
Diving in cenote Dreamworld
Main pyramid in Chichen Itza
Enjoying Quito

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos May 21st 2015

When flying to the Galapagos, the excitement already starts at the airport. Before boarding all luggage goes through an agricultural inspection to make sure you don't bring fruits, seeds or animals that can upset the islands' fragile ecosystem. It is a constant struggle to preserve the island in the way it has been for thousands of years. Most of the damage to the ecosystem was probably done in the period after the first discovery in the 16thcentury. At the time, ships introduced dogs, cats, rats and horses which all posed a threat to endemic species. A few hundred years later most islands in the Archipelago have now been restored to a more original balance. The Galapagos Islands have a lot to offer in the skies, on land as well as under water; and we were determined ... read more
A very dramatic heron
Beautiful beach on Floreana
Darwin's arch - awesome diving!

South America » Ecuador » West » Puerto López May 2nd 2015

After the Inca Trail we were extremely satisfied, but also somewhat “done” with the mountains. Having traveled north during our trip, we were now also closer to pleasant climates and the warmer part of the pacific coast. So we decided to leave exploring the rest of Peru for future travels, and move into Ecuador. In a travel tour-de-force we went from Cusco, via Lima and Guayaquil to Puerto Lopez on the sunny Ecuadorian coast. With the help of some flights we covered this long distance in only one and a half day. When the bus from Guayaquil arrived in Puerto Lopez, it was dark already and we didn't have a hotel. We luckily have no trouble finding a place to stay close to the beach. After arriving in the dark, seeing a city in the morning ... read more
Masked nazca boobie
Courting male frigate bird
Cacao fruit

South America » Peru » Cusco » Inca Trail April 27th 2015

Before we went on our trip, there were a few things we knew we definitely wanted to do. Of those, there were only two we had to book in advance: the Inca Trail and diving in the Galapagos. We are about to start on the second tomorrow, but this post will be about the first. To be honest, we didn't really know what to expect from the Inca trail. We knew it is a guided four day hike to Machu Picchu, and that it would be in a group, but that was about it. On arrival in Cusco we went to the office of the tour operator (Peru Treks) to pay for the trip and get the briefing. Our group would be 16 people in total. Also, it turned out that due to heavy rains we ... read more
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South America » Peru » Arequipa » Colca Canyon April 24th 2015

After seeing the floating islands, we left Puno the same day we arrived. There was not much else to do there and we wanted to spend some time near Arequipa before we had to be in Cusco for the Inca Trail. Arequipa is quite a nice town, with a beautiful main square (often called Plaza de Armas in South American cities). Most sights in the city itself are museums and churches and you get some views of the surrounding volcanoes. Arequipa is at a relatively “low” altitude of 2400m. For most backpackers, including ourselves, Arequipa is not a place to spend much time, but as a transit point to Colca Canyon. Though some people and guidebooks make comparisons to the Grand Canyon, we found it to be quite different and beautiful in its own way. We ... read more
Condor about to land
What a view!
Flower fields

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz April 21st 2015

After a period of not great internet and no patience to write posts, its time to catch up again. We arrived in La Paz on the 16th of April, landing at El Alto airport at an altitude of 4000m. When building the airport they needed to make the tarmac significantly longer than most airports to give planes enough space to gain speed for take-off. All due to the high altitude. La Paz itself is in a small bowl-shaped valley at around 3600m. We spent 2 days here, most of the time we just walked around the city allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the business, all the markets and people in colorful clothing. Except for the small center, the houses in the city are only a few stories high and don't look like they will last ... read more
View of Copacabana
On Isla del Sol
Crossing

South America » Bolivia » Beni Department » Rurrenabaque April 16th 2015

The amount of life in the jungle is overwhelming. Where the salt flats and highlands of Bolivia have very little life for kilometers around, the jungle has large amounts of life in every square meter. What a display of the beauty of this planet! Layer upon layer of plants, with animals interleaving with the foliage at every level. Decomposing leaves on the floor, with ants and bugs crawling around. Fungi recycling the fallen trees and leaves. A bit higher some shrubs, bushes and small trees. Birds hopping from branch to branch looking around for insects and fruits. Larger trees with the occasional dead leaf falling down to add to the compost heap. The animals at these layers are harder to see, as they are so far away. Tucans, monkeys swinging between the trees. And above it ... read more
Wow
Tarantula on our night walk
The lake at the lodge

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni April 7th 2015

The most obvious way to Bolivia from San Pedro de Atacama is via the salt flats of Uyuni. In San Pedro plenty of operators compete to take travelers through the southern Bolivian highland desert and across the salt flats to Uyuni. We quickly found out that this intense competition has lead to low prices, some times even too low as safety was comprised for the sake of lower prices. In 2008 this led to some accidents with fatalities. According to rumors there are also operators that use this tour to smuggle drugs across the border, and as a result don't care about the income from the actual tour but in turn the drivers aren't always sober and careful. Regardless of whether this was necessary or not, these things made us a bit concerned and led us ... read more
Many flamingos in the lake
And of course fooling around a bit :)
Altiplano lakes


After a pleasant flight and nice few hours around the main square of Salta, we departed on an overnight bus to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. The bus was comfortable enough for a decent nights sleep, and we woke up somewhat short of breath at the Chilean border. We already got our first taste of high altitude there, since the border was at 4600m, and later crossed a pass at 4800. San Pedro lies in the Atacama desert, in the north of Chile. Normally the driest place on earth, the Atacama desert had 2 weeks of rain till a few days before our arrival. As you may have seen in the news this has lead to massive floods in parts of the desert close to San Pedro. Luckily for the people in San Pedro, as ... read more
Sandboarding
View of Lascar
Church in Salta

South America » Argentina » Misiones » Puerto Iguazú April 1st 2015

We decided to leave Punta del Este one day earlier than planned. Since there was not much to do there in bad weather, we rather had an extra day in the Thermal Baths in Salto. After some very fortunate and seamless bus connections we arrived in Salto after 8.5 hours. Salto is the second biggest city in Uruguay with population of about 150 thousand. Like most other parts in Uruguay we encountered very few non South American travelers. It comes over as a practical city (simply a place to live) with just outside of it various thermal springs with 'resorts' built around them. Resort is probably not the best word, as they are relatively low-key swimming pool areas and aquatic parks. We spent two and a half days here enjoying warm and hot pools as well ... read more
Tucan in Parque de Aves
Iguazu falls seen from Brazil
On the Argentinian side




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