James Phare


James Phare

Taking a career break after 6 years of working in the City to explore South America. The plan is to see as many places as I can over the next couple of months, learn some Spanish, improve my photography skills and hopefully 'find myself' (or something to that effect...!).

South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires » Buenos Aires March 10th 2013

The nightbus trip from Cordoba to Buenos Aires exceeded my expectations. Not only did the bus not break down this time but we were presented with possibly the biggest meat, cheese and cracker platters I've ever seen. No red meat for the rest of the year after Argentina I reckon now. When the bus arrived into Buenos Aires I thought it would be sensible to follow the majority who seemed to be getting off. Fortunately a friendly local called Luis told me I was getting off too early and should stay on the bus for the town centre. Turns out he works in museums and was involved in the Che Guevara museum I had visited so he provided some tips on places to see and museums to visit in Buenos Aires which was of great help. ... read more
Rosario - presidential palace
Puerto Madero bridge
Zoolander pose

South America » Argentina » Mendoza » Mendoza March 3rd 2013

Arriving into Mendoza on the worst bus in the world from Santiago (see previous post) I was relieved to find a warm, relaxed and actually quite trendy town surrounded by vineyards, bodegas and snow capped mountains. This was my first day in Argentina and so I didn't really know what to expect, the bus from Mendoza to the Bodegas in nearby Maipu however was a good indicator of how things would be. Presumably due to inflation here the buses often have fairly ridiculous payment methods – you pay using only coins or a topup card on a machine. The only problem was that the bus fare was 3.25 pesos which is about 45p. Given there are 5 and 2 peso notes here in Argentina you don't tend to receive in change many coins. Standing there like ... read more
Mucho Vino
Wine Cellars

South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago February 26th 2013

Due to the lack of trains the transport options from La Serena to Santiago are either an 8/9 hour bus ride or a 1 hour flight. Given the price wasn't a huge amount more for the plane I decided to fly and grab an extra night in La Serena, however this proved a completely false economy after my trusty steed from the Calama to Copiapo leg (Sky Air) let me down. 4 hours of delays for a 1 hour flight is no fun in a regional airport without screens and a very dodgy intercom system. I think the staff on the desk thought I was OCD given the number of times I asked what was happening. I have the worst luck with transportation here. Arriving late into central Santiago all of my transport woes quickly dissipated ... read more
Remains of earthquakes

South America » Chile » Atacama February 21st 2013

Arriving into Copiapo airport in the North of the atacama desert on the early morning flight from Calama was an interesting experience. The flight stops at Copiapo before picking up extra passengers and continuing on to Santiago. However upon landing it wasn't clear when you were supposed to get off the plane so when passengers started boarding the plane I panicked and asked a stewardess if it was time to get off. After giving me several puzzled looks and asking why I was not travelling to Santiago they eventually let me off the plane and into Copiapo airport. I was the only one getting off at Copiapo, and its clear to see why. There's nothing there but sand, heat, cactuses and heat. I decided to hire a car from Copiapo as the places I'd been recommended ... read more
PanAm Highway
Whale's tail
Choros Islands

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni February 19th 2013

I'm seriously behind on my blogging due to a frantic few days of travelling in mostly remote areas with limited access to the tinterweb so I'll try and keep this post brief so that I can catchup. After returning to La Paz I flew into Uyuni the following morning to see the Salar de Uyuni Salt flats before heading South for Chile. The approach to the airport is well worth the cost of flying alone I think, the scenery here is amazing – a strange lunar desert mix of whites, reds, blues, greens and other colours. Its very surreal. The tour I booked involved a 1.5 day drive around the local area in a 4x4 before a very long and bumpy ride along dirt roads for the transfer to the Bolivia-Chile border. The Uyuni tour started ... read more

South America » Bolivia » Beni Department » Rurrenabaque February 15th 2013

Following a crazy day at the Oruro Carneval (will blog about this later – great day) I decided that I couldn't pass up the opportunity of taking a short flight from La Paz to Rurrenabaque to spend a few days in the Bolivian Amazon. Its easy to get to, much cheaper to see in Bolivia than Brazil and also unlike Peru and Brazil its malaria free (just as well given the number of mosquito bites I received). Departing late from El Alto airport in La Paz we jumped in the small propeller-driven Amaszonas plane for the 40 minute trip to the small airstrip in the jungle outside Rurrenabaque. The 3 day Pampas excursion didn't get off to the smoothest start, arriving at the airport our driver for the 3 hour transfer to the Pampas hadn't turned ... read more
Croc closeup
Narrow Boat
The Crocodile and the dodgy handrail

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz February 9th 2013

I'm currently in the World's highest capital city, La Paz, nestled in a bowl surrounded by snowcapped mountains at 3650 meters its a somewhat crazy place. Someone in Cuzco that I met described it as a city with no rules which I think in many ways is a fair description. The traffic here is insane, there seems to be some kind of outside celebration every 100 yards, the streets are constantly full of people and half the central streets seem to be markets selling all kinds of things. Generally the place just has a real buzz about it. My first full day here I tried to tick as many of the tourist boxes as I could. I started by visiting the museums on Calle Jaen (a famous old road here), before taking a look at the ... read more
La Paz Parque Urbano
Calle Juan
Red Peril

South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca » Uros Island February 6th 2013

After spending a few days recovering in Arequipa I embarked upon a journey that even a logistics manager would probably be proud of. For Air Europa's incompetent luggage service it was the stuff of dreams. Over 25 hours and 850 miles of bus riding in three days, plus a plane ride. It was going to be tiring! Leaving Arequipa at 10.00pm I took a very comfortable Cruz Del Sur bus to Nazca which arrived at 7.00am the next morning. The Ultorsa & Cruz del Sur buses to be honest make the night travelling quite easy in Peru – they have lounges in the bus stations, onboard catering and entertainment and reclining chairs which are very similar to business class on a plane. I seem to be getting into quite a good routine with these – sleeping ... read more
Floating Islands
Rowing double decker reed boat

South America » Peru » Arequipa » Arequipa February 2nd 2013

I arrived in Arequipa at 6.30am via an Olturso night bus from Cusco and immediately started to feel ill with sickness and stomach pains. Unfortunately this put paid to doing too much here and certainly put the idea of treking up to Colca Canyon to see the Condors (large birds) on hold. In 36 hours all I really managed to achieve was briefly wander around town to take in some of the colonial architecture, visit the Santa Catalina Monastery and find a nice hotel room to hole up in for 24 hours of watching subtitled American TV, movies and sleeping. The Monastery was really impressive and is unsurprisingly referred to as a City within a City given its size and number of buildings. The bright red and blue walled complex features Squares, Streets, Orchards / Orange ... read more
Blue Washed Walls
The most glamourous entrants to male toilets I've ever seen
Red washed walls

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu February 1st 2013

Day 3 of Team Norway's Machu Picchu trek dawned with a cloudless sky and glorious sunshine leading to an earlier than normal thermal breeze gusting through the Rio Urubamba valley. Normally this would not have been a problem but today was different, today was zip lining day. When the Norwegians asked me if I was interested in zip lining on the Inca Jungle trek “sure” I replied, “I do it all the time in London”. To be honest I had in mind a long, leisurely, controlled descent over jungle trees and vegetation perhaps 30 meters above the ground. I was wrong, as this was set to be a truly terrifying experience. After putting on our harnesses and getting a bus to the top of the mountain it suddenly dawned that whilst trees were involved they were ... read more
Powerful waters at the Pueblo
Team MP

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