Travel Page by Planet Ranger
Home search About Advice

Travel Page

Andy & Steph's South American Adventure.

So we're in out last country in South America, though we've saved some of the best for last. We're in Peru, shortly headed to Cusco, Manu National Park then the Big Apple!

Please keep leaving messages for us, on this site. If we like you enough we´ll even reply.

Diary Entries

Friday, 11 May 2007

Location: Cusco, Peru

We left the smoldering volcanoes of Arequipa, for the tourist capital of Peru.

Arrived really early in the morning, after very little sleep, and checked in to our dorm room. Only the second time we've stayed in a dorm the whole time we've been away, and we realized why. Listening to other people snore is a surefire way to even more bad kip.

So we hit the town, sampled some of Cusco’s nightlife and got taken under the wing of some friendly locals. Stumbled back to our dorm in the early hours, and then checked out a few hours later so we could stay somewhere decent.

Explored the Sacred Valley with main Inca ruins and picked up a few little souvenirs. Got the train towards Machu Piccu today, tried to climb up to a view point before realizing it was way too dodgy. Go to the famous site tomorrow, picture to follow in a couple of days.

Monday, 07 May 2007

Location: Colca Canyon, Peru

Accourding to a new study this is the deepest canyon in the world, (previously thought to be the second deepest)

We completed a three day trek, climbing in and out of the canyon staying in the back end of nowhere, meeting proper locals. Getting really close to Condors, and partying in tiny towns, beautiful place with cool people.

Monday, 30 April 2007

Location: Copacabana, Bolivia

Is a small enchanting town on the edge of Lake Titicaca southern shore. Its also a place of high altitude set at 3800m. It was a pleasant little town where we had the famous Trucha (trout) which is court fresh out of the Lake and served on your plate.

We did a one day tour of the Isle del Sul (island of the sun) which, is the legendary Inca creation site and is the birthplace of the sun in Inca mythology. It was here the bearded white god Viracocha and the first Incas, Manco Capac and his sister-wife Mama Huaca made their mystical appearances. We took the boat over to the island in the morning and from there we walked the 6k of the island to the southern tip along the way we saw the Inca ruins of Pilko Kaina and Chincana which, is where the Inca creation legend began.

From here were getting a bus into Peru and into Ardequipa.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Location: La Paz, Bolivia

We got a luxury tourist bus to La Paz which, was so much better than the bus we got over the border which was an experience I did not want to repeat.

Apparently, one of the worlds highest capitals except its not the captial of Bolivia, Sucre is?? Anyway, its plopped in a chasm at a height of 3660m and is something words cannot describe. The whole city seems to be clinging to cliff edges and the amount of houses in such a small space is something else all together. On arrival we could see the triple peak of Illimani (6402m) and sits in the background. Probably the best thing about La Paz was the 100% fake English Pub which, actually served beans on toast and real tea. We spent most of our time in La Paz in bars and in the markets. Andy, did the worlds most dangerous road (he'll put a diary entry on for this at a later date).

Friday, 20 April 2007

Location: Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni

We made it across the Chilean border and into Bolivia after much waiting around and long bus journeys. We got our first taste of Buses Bolviian style which, generally means cramming as many people as possible into the tinist buses imaginable.

Salar de Uuyni, are the worlds largest salts flats they sit at 3653m and blankets an amazing 12,000sq km. It was part of a prehistoric salt lake, Lago Minchin, which covered the southwest Bolivia. When it dried up it left a couple of seasonal puddles and several salt pans, including Salar de Uyuni and Salar de Coipasa. On the first day we visited Isla de los Pescadores bears amazing stands of giant cactus and a marooned colony of Vizcachas (long tailed rodents realted to the chinchillas). Our lodings for the first night there were at Palacio de Sal, which is literally a hotel made entirley of salt (see pictures).

The second day we got up early to watch the sunrise over the salt flats and then we headed off to see several startlingly beautiful sights. The surreal landscape is nearly treeless, punctuated by gentle hills and volcanoes. There were also loads of Flamingos including the rare James specicies. We headed to see several Lagunas the most notable been the Laguna Colorada which is a bright red lake fringed with white minerals. We spent the night by the lake in a less comfortable hotel but neverless it was still good.

We had an early morning start (5.00am!!!) so that we could get to the gyser basin for sunrise. The gysers are located at 4950m high and it was pretty spectacular with its boiling mud pots and sulfurous fumaroles. We then headed for the Termas de Polques hot springs which spout a comfortable 30deg cel sulfurous water and provided a nice morning dip at 4200m. Our final stop was at Laguna Verde, an aquamarine lake, which is tucked intoBolivias Southwest corner at 5000m. Behind the lake rises the dramatic 5930m cone of Volcan Licancabur.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Location: Santiago, Chile

Mendoza has wide shady sidewalks and beautiful plazas it has good restaurants as well but some give you food poisoning! The region produces 70% of the country's wine and the whole place is just wine crazy. Apart from wine there isn't much to keep you there for more than a few days. So we left here to go to Santiago.

Santiago has a strong European and US feel to it; it has a lot of sidewalk cafes and streets are lined with glassy skyscrapersérs that overpower the smaller original buildings. The area we stayed in was Bellavista which has loads of nice restaurants and night clubs. Although, full potential wasn't reached on this as I had food poisoning from Mendoza (rubbish).

At 870m Cerro San Cristobal towers above Santiago and is the site of the Parque Metropolitano the capitals largest open space. We took the easy option and got a cable car up there's instead of the long winding walk. At the top is a statue of Saint (not sure which one there's so many here). It was most definitely a Jessy Cressy place they had music playing which you would expect a stone henge and lots of candles and stuff. It gave a great view over the city however, the Andes weren't very clear due to all the smog.

The best news to come out of our trip, was for those that know about the paintings, we've actually managed to send them home (yeah!). We took them into the post office and like Argentina they told us, in Argentina, we need a certificate but unlike Argentina they told us where to get it from. So we had to take the paintings to the Arts Museum and they authorize them and say basically there legal for export. So with certificate in hand we take them to the post office and it only costs us 25quid to send them home instead of $430 which DHL wanted.

We left Santiago yesterday and today we are now in a place called Calama there's not much here but were just using it as a quick stop over before we get a bus to Bolivia this evening. We're now heading to Uyuni this is where all the tours start for going to the Bolivian salt flats.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Location: Bariloche, Argentina

To one of the most famous view points in the world. We've been in and around Bariloche for ages now and we nearly missed this place.

Short bus ride out of town, then the lazy mans way up a hill (chair lift) to fantastic views over Bariloche and it's surrounding lakes and mountains. We'll let the photos speak for themselves.

We then took a bike ride around the lakes, to sucluded beaches, beautiful Miradors, while eyeing up some of the most stunning houses in Argentina. Great way to end our time in Bariloche. A big thanks to Ian for such a great day.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Location: Tronador, Argentina

We decided to see a bit more scenery around Bariloche before we left, and get to summit while high Andes. Mount Tronador was our target which stands at its highest 3440m high, after two previously failed summit attempts our fingers were all crossed for decent weather this time around.

The weather was perfect, for our first days climbing though the trees, we rose over the tree line to fantastic views of the near mountians and glaciers. But our mouths really dropped when a huge male Condor (3m+ wingspan) passed only 5m above our heads, even after watching them for nearly a month we`d never been that close to one in flight, truely astounding.

We climbed to just over 2000m upto the Refugio; now lets get one thing straight Refugio's are usually just mountain huts that have basic facilities i.e. a roof and a floor. We get to this one at 4:30pm and it looks like a basic mountain hut corrugated iron etc. However, we get inside there are flushing toilets (this was the most amazing thing that won't be appreciated at home), a real fire, tables, sofas, a kitchen with two huge bran-new stainless steel ovens and a dog. On a first night here we had the chef cook us a lomo steak in a fresh mushroom sauce and if we wished a bottle of red wine! All in all a top class refugio come hotel!

Our attempt on Tronador would see us have to get up at 4:30am to get breakfast and all our technical gear sorted. We were all ready to leave at 5:30am. The initial walking in crampons is always difficult you have to get used to the fact your feet way a hell of a lot more and therefore to walk is more like to stomp and therefore a lot more effort.

The walk was beautiful we were walking under a full moon under clear skies and therefore head torches weren't needed. There was something peaceful about walking under moon light with no one else around. You could see all the outlines of the mountains and when sunrise started around 7:30 the colours light up the sky as they gradually fall onto the Andes and onto the glacier we were walking on. The route we walked took us across two glaciers to get to the Argentine peak.

The last 20minutes of the trek to the summit were the most technical and thank god we had done ice climbing before, if you hadn't you would have been so scared. The summit was breath taking we were the highest thing for miles and in the far distant you could see the far Andes of Chile and in the other direction the lonely Volcan Lanin. After 6hours of ascent to the top it only took us 2.30hr to descend, which was more like crampon skiing than walking (great fun). We got back to the refugio and 3.30pm and decided to stay one more night before our descent down to the valley the next day., mountain concurred

Friday, 06 April 2007

Location: Argentina

First of all we would like to apologise for been completely lame on our update page, since only having a total of 8days out of three months in any kind of civilisation we didn’t get the time to update anything. However, this expedition has now finished and therefore we have lots of time to waste again and make everyone jealous at home.

Lanin Nacional Parque

At 3776m, snow-capped Volcan Lanin is the dominating centrepiece of tranquil Parque Nacional Lanin, where extensive stands of lenga (souther beech) and the curious monkey puzzle tree flourish. The area used to be dominated in the not to distant past with glaciers as these have now almost disappeared it leaves behind blue finger shaped lakes which look a bit like the mirrored lakes famous in New Zealand. Lanin is a dormant volcano, the whole area used to be hugely active with one volcano per 5km2.

Lago Tromen where we were based is a forested area on the northern approach to Volcan Lanin, did we happen to mention that this lake was great for sunbathing on its small volcanic beach and swimming in its cristal clear water! (Are we back into the swing of things for making people jealous).

From Lago Tromen we went further South into the park to a place called Ruca Choroy, we spent around four days here doing various different jobs with the Monkey Puzzle tree known over here as the Araucaria. We spent time collecting species samples for the park biologist, Javar wanted samples of different height trees. So we went off and dug this 50cm tree up not thinking much of it but because of the way it had grown it was over 80years old and only 50cm high. The trees grow depending on the light condition so they may grow a stem for 20years decide that its not in a good position and grown another one etc etc and so can end up with 5different off shoots be only 50cm high but 80years old (sad really) especially when there’s a 40ft tree next to it which may only be 50years old. On the last day here Andy choose to do a trek option to the next camp site and I choose to lay on a beach with a temperature of 30deg cel and an ice cold swim in a glacial lake (heaven). While Andy went off on a day trek, found a super cool ice cave and had a snowball fight.

Our last section of the park was spent in Cana Plantada which possibly takes the award for the most beautiful sun sets and sun rises seen on the whole trip. This camp was also famous for a less desirable reason because running right through the middle of our camp one day was a baby creature, in its self not to scary but where there’s a baby there’s usual more babies and a mum!!! (see photo page for pic, Arachnophobia anyone?).

The best thing about the park was scenery and I can’t describe most of it so have look at photos. Finally, note in terms of weather this place is amazing, one day we were sunbathing on the beach in bikinis, the next day we have torrential rain in the morning and 2inches of snow in the afternoon. Only one day where it was cloudy, unfortunately that was the day we tried to climb the volcano

Condors

We spent the first week of our month at condor’s chilling out in La Butera which is the name given to the Estancia its located on. We stayed in a small log cabin which came equipped with a real fire burning stove, Bailey’s, Whisky and lots of food. The time spent here was probably the most chilled out you could imagine. Out of the 7nights that we were here we saw a max of 16 condors on the rock at the same time. The size of these birds is huge its on par with the Albatros (if that makes it any clearer) if not then take my word for it, its bloody huge, wingspan is 3m+.

From La Butera we went onto Fragua which is like base camp its used to be an old school house which has since become redundant and GVI have taken it over. Our time here was spent doing bird transects so we would go out and walk for 4km and say what you see! Its truly amazing we saw Cinereous Harriers, Condors, Crested Carcara (approx same size as an Osprey), Black Cheasted Buzzard Eagles, American Kestrels, Turkey Vultures, Pygmy Owls, Great Horned Owls, King Fishers etc basically lots and all of them come so close its amazing.

Our final part of Condors was spent in a place called Chaquinita, which is located on a private estancia belonging to the Benton family. The family own ridiculous amounts of land in Patagonia, they have sheep on the lands which they use the wool from to make Benton T-Shirts and stuff. The place is really remote, less than 10 people knew it existed before we turned up to watch Condors. Anyway, we were lucky to have the best fisherman out of the whole expedition with us for our time here. Steffan court us fresh brown and rainbow trout everyday and it tasted wonderful it took approx one hour from been caught to been on our plates (who could ask for more).

On the whole trip we’ve calculated we’ve had less than a weeks rain over three months, who ever said Patagonia has bad weather lied lol.


Previous Diary Entries

Choose a date from the menu below to view older diary entries in a new window.

Photos - Click Below

Leave a Message

Name:

Email (optional):

Message:

Travelling Soon?

Get Your own Planet Ranger Travel Page. Click Here


Recent Messages

From Mum and Dad
Hi
Enjoy Big Apple.
Good place to buy theatre tickets is the box office on Times Square (usually half price)
Mum and Dad
Response: Just waiting in our hostel for our flight this evening. Will text you tomorrow when we arrive. Thanks for the tip.
From Mom C
Hi Steph
Nice to chat today (Sun) what we spoke about NYC Accom - I've done what I said - pl check - should be OK.
Mom. xxx
Response: Thank you :0)
From Mom
Hi Steph & Andy - Hope you're both OK, it's not been very nice here lately - raining and really raining hard. We've got the weekend together, Claire is coming over and we're going to get our feet done. We go to Crete on Tue 22nd and back the following Tues 29th - longing to see you both.
Hope you've had a good time in the jungle - Lots of love - Mom xx
From Mum and dad
Photos look great great. La Gomera is extremely hilly but not as high as Bolivia. Weather is good and so is the food and drink. Mums spanish is getting better even ordered two tickets for over 60´s on a boat bus.
Keep enjoying yourselves

Asta Luego

Madre y Padre

M
From mum & dad
La Gomera is nice and hot. Temperature about 25C. Lots to drink and eat. Always sunny
From Mel
Hi guys
although I've been quiet I have been reading your website avidly! The photos are amazing and I can't wait to see you and catch up when you are back. We often think about you both. Chris and I are off to canada again which we are really looking forward to. Its a way of celebrating our second wedding annivesary! can you believe its 2 years?!
love mel x (and chris!)x
From Alex
ummm. have been following your adventures and now goddam it i really want to go on a massive expedition in south america! looking forward to catching up with you guys soon.
Response: We´ll see you in Leeds on the 8th June! We´ll be staying at Gaz's for the weekend, attendance is compulsary.
From nana
Looked at photos etc very good. Looking forward to my holiday. Enjoy the rest of your trip
From gaz
oh yeah, dont forget that bar called olivers travels. it should be in your guide book. if you`ve been missing full englsih breakfasts or pies (help you put some weight back on andy!!) then thats the place. also, like i said you can book the bike trip from there. also, in la paz, check out the market where they sell llama foetuses. apparently they bury them in their gardens for good luck. have you noticed that lots of the indiginous women are wearing bowler hats? apparently a couple of hundred or so years ago some english dude came over with a boat full and sold them to the posh women by telling them that all the posh women in europe were wearing them. the locals soon copied and it became part of their tradition. random.
Response: The fish and Chips, at Olivers, was excellent and surprisingly even the mussy peas were good. Almost like being back home, esp with beans on toast, which Steph as craved ever since leaving UK.

Those llamas were horrid, tho at least we know what they're for now.
From mum & dad
the pictures are great. bet the views are even better in real life. if only I were a few years younger!! looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks. Glad Steph is feeling better. look after yourselves love mum
Response: Is that the chandlers? Don't say it's a few weeks, time really feels like it's running out now.
From dr gaz
hi you too. hope you have a great time in bolivia. uyuni itself is pretty charmless, although there is a cool travellers cafe near the clock that has a big chill out room that you can watch dvds on a projection screen. dont forget minute man pizza. oh by the way, the food in bolivia is pretty rubbish. however, when you get to la paz, if you walk up the street to the left of the cathedral, there are a couple of nice restaurants that sell amazing llama and alpaca steaks. decent red wine too. two courses for two people with a bottle of wine for about 8 quid. nice
Response: Cheers for the advice mate. Anything else you think of will nodoubt prove useful. Now go do some work you lazy sod.
From Mum & Dad
Jealous, jealous, jealous.

Until we get to La Gomera for two weeks
From Clare
Steph and Andy!
Its been so long! Cannot wait to catch up with you guys on your return! The photos are amazing and you both look so well and obviously having a great time! Now I know how you felt when I kept sending you e-mails on my year out when I was having the time of my life! I can't believe I'm stuck in an office right now! Oh well, its 5pm so I'm about to leave and for once we're having lush weather in England! roll on the post-work drinking sesh! Miss you both! take care, lots of love, ducky xx
From SK
Yes, apologise!
From Mom
Hi Steph & Andy
Love the pics - looking fwd to seeing all the others you've taken. What a wonderful landscape it is out there - I love it where there are no people. Hope you're both OK and keep enjoying the trip.
Lots of love Mom & Dad xx
Response: Not sure we`re going to get time to upload the Lanin photos. We will try and stay on top of the New photos though.
From Mum & Dad
Great to hear from you. Look forward to reading more about your adventures on the web site
Response: We´re getting there slowly, couple of days and everything should be up to date.
From Stef
Hey,

Wll you two hurry up and come back? we're missing you over here and you are continuing to make me jealous! good news is that Anna and I are off to Peru BA etc in July so not all bad!
Response: Only a couple of months left, sure it´ll go too fast. Looking forward to seeing you all back home.
From Mom
Hi Steph & Andy - hope you're both OK and perhaps having a bit of respite from your trek, love the pictures. Re-read your journal and just to say that we also saw the comet - it's the best we've ever seen. Took Barbara to view - she was knocked out how clear it was. Tell Jaya your Kiwi guide that wilst we were in SI NZ there was a massive fall of ice from the Fox Glacier (we were not there but it was all over the news) just shows how dangerous these beasts are. Lots of Love always, to both - take are
Mom & Dad.xx
From Alex H
Hey guys,
just read your expedition summary - sounds awesome... really jealous. would love to have been there with you guys. the rock - ankle incident sounds scary - but also quite comedy.. hehe. leeds and uk is still as normal. looking for new job and dreaming of summer holiday.. fingers crossed.

Alex
Response: That is the aim of this website to make you all jealous (glad its working lol).
From Nat
Lovely Steph and Andy!

Thanks for your email. I thought I'd check out the site (awesome - particularly the photos of us!). Buenos Aires feels like a world away. Missing the meat, tango, vodka bottles for $5 and the gorgeous bronze-legged people.

Janine and I have returned to Sydney and have ceremoniously been slapped in the face by reality. Back at work to face a deluge of tasks and needy clients after a brilliant time through Brazil and the coast of Chile. The Amazon, especially, was a peak experience - swimming with the pink freshwater dolphins, monkeys playing on our heads etc etc.

We met some exceptional people. Indeed, I think we might have met everyone who came within our 5 metre radius. Janine, as you know, would talk to the leg of a chair if she thought it might talk back. You guys were the best though!

Your experiences sound amazing, but dangerous! Especially the Phil Collins/80's mega mix marathon. I am glad that you got out of that one alive.

Have some photos of the tango night I need to send you. Basically a lot of Janine, Steph and I laughing our heads off in the bus on the way home. And a couple of "illegal" tango shots we took, upon which we nearly got thrown out of the establishment. I know how Steph loved the moustached lead singer with the hairy chest. Thus, it was worth the risk in the end.

Take care you guys. Swing by Aus on your way home to say hello!

Much love

Nat from BA
Response: That guy was supper cute I'll have you know! Glad you had a good time in Brazil. Its along way to swing by but we will do it hopefully sooner rather than later. If you send me the pics we'll put them up on the website. Love ya xxx
From Mum @ Dad
We are now home. It was great to hear from you on the Sat phone. It's a pity it was under such sad circumstances.
Have given web site details to the family from Belgium so if you hear from Nancy you know who it is.
Pics look great not that we are jealous or anything.
Keep enjoying yourselves.


From Woody
The Gibbon,

I'm not jealous at all you git!

Woody
Response: Cheers Woody. Hopefully more cool stuff to come with our trip to Lanin national park
From Mom
Hi Steph & Andy hope you're both OK we're back on UK soil. Have had a fab holiday but glad to be home. It's the first wk of the rest of my life I suppose - enjoying looking after the house. We've had a tree blow down in the back garden whilst away the one in the corner at the back of the old pond, missed the patio window and your square box that we've still got on a stand (rabbit being the cause) she's gone back to D&A now.
David tells us Amy is expecting again - due in Sept - so we'll have 2 grandchildren - pleased about that. Spk to you soon.Miss you both, sorry to hear about Andy's grandad - have spk to Ken/Viv - catch up with them properly when they're home nxt Wed.
Lots of love to both, always
Mom & Dad xxxxx
Response: Glad to here you enjoyed your holiday, great to here about Dave and Amy bun in the oven, we thought their might be another one on the way once they got their own place. Please wish them the best.
From dr gaz
yo yo yo hippy mutha huggaz!! whats new? love your photos and very happy to hear andy got electrocuted. i sent you a new year email by the way. hope you`re both well and enjoying yourself. except andy who i hope has the shits.
Response: Cheers Gaz, got your email. Hope your hair is falling out even quicker than normal.
From Mom
Hi Steph & Andy
At Barbara & Marks it's Sunday 21 Jan - took camper back, having last few days in and around Blenheim area. We fly to San Fran on Thur 25th and back home on Sun 29th.
Had a look at your web site from Barbara's pc - apparently we've had storms at home and Mel tells me one of the confiers in the back garden has fallen over towards the house, missed it but its down no problem really they've got to come out.
Happy New Year hope to spk to you soon.
Lots of love Mom & Dad x x
Response: Happy new year to you to.