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Pete and Elaine's Travels

Hello all,
Welcome to our Travel page.
This is where we will try to keep a record of our travels beginning in 2011
-we will update it as often as we have time! Of course we are not continuously travelling, we come home after each journey!!!

Our first itinerary ;-
20th January to 23rd January, San Francisco
23rd January to 19th February, touring north and south islands of New Zealand
19th February fly to Sydney, Australia where we will be staying until 25th February,
26th February, land at Heathrow airport

Second journey;-
We took the caravan through Belgium, Switzerland and Italy, when we did lots of walking, sight seeing, painting and reading.

Third itinerary;-
To celebrate our Ruby wedding anniversary, on Wednesday September 7th 2011, we fly direct to China, with a short stopover in Dubai. On arrival in Beijing, we join the tour with Wendy Wu, spending the next month travelling the length and breadth of China.
We finish off the holiday with a couple of days in Dubai, returning home on October 7th.

Fourth journey;-
29th January to 16th February, South Africa
16th February to 20th February, Zambia

fifth journey:-
USA, September 4th to October 7th 2012

sixth journey:-
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flying January 19th 2013

Seventh journey:-
India and Nepal, flying November 21st and returning December 5th

Eighth journey
Chile, flying January 22nd and returning 4th February

Ninth journey
Namibia, flying on July 24th and returning on August 11th

10th journey
would you believe it, the 10th and off to Western Australia on July 6th finishing off in Singapore on the way back

And so to the 11th adventure, Secret Lapland, January 20th to Monday 25th January 2016

Well unbelievably the twelfth journey, we fly 18th March to Myanmar via Bangkok, and cruise on the Irrawaddy until April 3rd

And onto journey 13, from October 7th to October 18th, the Silk Road in Uzbekistan.

Journey 14 begins on Monday 6th March, 2017 when we travel to Southern India.

Now Journey 15, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,
May 14th to May 22nd 2017

Journey 16, Copenhagen and Stockholm, September 6th to September 14 th 2017

Journey 17. Peru and the Amazon

Journey 18. Russia, September 29th to October 14th 2018

Diary Entries

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Location: Bahia Paracas, Peru

Today' s trip was to the Ballestas Islands known as the Peruvian Galapagos. A speedboat took us out to the islands; we were surprised at how far they were away from the coast.

But what a visit, birdlife swarmed around us like flies.

This bird and wild life sanctuary is like nothing else we have ever seen. South American Seals lions swimming around us in chilly waters and basking on rocky ledges; starfish and red crabs clinging to the slippery edges; all sorts of bird including migratory birds. Thousands of boobies, Inca terns, Humboldt penguins, cormorants, perching and nesting in every nook and cranny. An exciting place indeed.
The Humboldt penguin is an endangered species that breeds here. They nest on rocky coasts by burrowing into guano, the pooh left by the has a bit of a pungent smell and it looks like splashes of white on the red rocks, caves and arches which provide shelter for more than a hundred and sixty species of marine birds.

The Humboldt current, 62 miles off the coast, brings in shoals of anchovies which provides an incredible feeding ground, bringing cold nutrient rich is water up to the surface. This phenomenon has created one of the most productive marine systems in the world. It is a very protected place.

You can still see the remains of an old factory which are a throwback to when guano ( mineral rich bird droppings) was an important fertiliser and a vital source of revenue.

The visit seemed to fly by and before we knew it we were on our way back to shore passing once again what is known as the Candelabra a geoglyph visible to passing boats. Some say it is a navigational tool, others say it is a pirate's sign.

And so after lunch, we have time to sit and relax in this beautiful hotel and pack for the necessary evil of the long flight home, with time to reminisce on this
fascinating blend of cultures, extraordinary landscapes and wildlife of the country .....Peru is located in the heart of the richest and most diverse region in the world and each area has its own appeal.

Surely, there are very few countries that can rival the immense diversity of these magnificent eco regions.

It has been an extremely exciting place to visit.....a just fabulous holiday.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Location: Bahia Paracas, Peru

Paracas means windy which comes up every afternoon!
The mornings have sea fret but the afternoons are clear blue sky.

We took a bus to Pisco up the coast to catch our small plane flight to the Nazca lines. We expected a little dusty airfield, not the big plush brand new international airport that was nestled amongst the downtrodden streets. Only one of the checkin desks was open, the others were still wrapped in polythene. We had to show passports, get a boarding pass and go to security, yet only flights to the Nazca lines were operational, a bit bizaare.

The whole visit took two hours, flying across the Atacama, with about 45 minutes diving and swooping over the Nazca lines. It never rains on this coast although the moisture from the morning sea frets are why they have survived.

The Nazca people created mysterious giant drawings in the desert some 2000 years ago. No one knows what they mean or why they were done. Large geometrical drawings are dispersed over a high desert plateau and can really only be seen from the air. There are more than seventy human figures and stylised animals and lots of lines, first noticed from the air in 1927 etched between 500 BC and 500 AD. It today a WHS.
Some think it was originally a giant calendar, some, a ceremonial centre, some an alien landing; it remains one of the world's archaeological mysteries in such a sun baked place.

A unique place in the world.

Lateri in the afternoon, we went to the pristine National Reserve of Paracas, and were wind blown in this haven and sanctuary for birdlife.
This is a place where the desert meets the sea in a dramatic fashion. It is the largest protected stretch of coastline in Peru with towering cliffs and clear blue waters. We drove to the cliff lookouts before making our way to the red sands of the Lagunillas beach.

Wandering around such places makes you aware of how small we are in this glorious world away from a world spoiled by man!

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Location: Paracas, Peru

It was a little disconcerting to hear that representatives of the army had been wandering round the hotel last night. This morning, the square and the kerb outside the hotel was full of rapid response police and there in the lobby sat the minister of justice!!!!!

A bit of excitement short lived!

We took the plane from Arequipa to Lima, flight lasting an hour and a half, And then the bus took us four hours done the coast to the lovely Hotel La Hacienda, supposedly voted the best luxury resort in the world by Trip Adviser. We were glad to have left, another bigger strike in Arequipa today, and this is a more militant area so maybe we would not have been so lucky. The journey was not what we expected, the south coast is a strange mix of barren desert and teeming sea. It is a parched landscape but with the icy air of the Humboldt current is richly endowed with an opulent supply of marine life. Much of this is protected in coastal reserves. We took the Pan American highway through smallish fishing ports, which were smelt of fish leaving the coast a bit of a dump on the outskirts of Lima. Plenty of shanty towns.
Then despite the aridity of the land, agriculture thrives thanks to centuries old systems of irrigation underground water suppliesthe landscape panned out into fertile fields of crops with chicken farming, plenty of irrigation needed here as the fields were in amongst the arid desert dunes.

The hotel really is la lovely resort style place, a nice place to stay.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Location: Arequipa, Peru

The roads into the city yesterday took us through some of the most depressing areas we have ever seen. We thought that India was full of squalor and poverty but there there was a buzz and colour and vibrancy. Here the slums are brown and seems downtrodden.
So we arrived at our hotel thinking that maybe we should have bypassed this city.

Today's visits have dispelled any doubts we get have had. We have had another fabulous day starting with breakfast on the hotel balcony on yet another glorious day, overlooking the main plaza.

The historic centre was a real joy to explore.

First stop was to the Jesuit church in one corner of the square. The decor was lavish with lots of gold leaf ....but the real gem was to La Compania, what is known as the Sistine chapel of Peru. It certainly deserved its nickname. It was built to house the Jesuits, who had served as missionaries to the rainforest, and to provide them with a spiritual centre.

Next stop....The Cathedral on the opposite side of the square.It was badly damaged in an earthquake and much has been rebuilt. It offered a simple elegance in comparison.

Arequipa is know as the white city as many of the buildings were built mainly by the Spanish with anti seismic construction in sillar, the white volcanic stone prevalent in this area.

We picked up our bus to go to another church, that of John the Baptist in Yuanhuara which was on a hilltop with a good view of the city.
A better panoramic view was from the Mirador De Carmen, which we reached by driving through an ex colonial residential area, some very posh multicoloured houses, the homes of the rich!!!!
We had a terrific view of the city basking in the shadow of the snow capped Misti, (an active volcano), Chachani, and Picchu Picchu.

And then came the highlight of the day, a visit to the exceptional Monasterie de Santa Catalina founded in 1580 by a rich widow who became a nun. The convent was a city within the city. In addition to being a convent, it was originally also a boarding school for the very young children of the rich, taking children as young as three.

The first novices to join the Order were poor creoles of pure Spanish blood in addition to the wealthy upper class Spaniards. So there was a hierarchy in the convent amongst the novices and nuns who were kept separate. They were not allowed to talk to each other in case the novices were put off by something that was said!

It was a far cry from austerity. The second daughter of the wealthy Spaniards was expected to go into the convent to ensure that the family all went off to heaven.
Of course a dowry was paid. Novices and nuns were allowed to bring with them articles from home, favourite couches, wedgewood dinner services, delft pottery, all those home comforts. They were allowed to bring with them up to four servants. Each nun had their own cell and servants ' quarters, some with a greater dowry had their own house within the complex.
They were allowed visitors speaking through a grill Iike a jail but only the servants were allowed outside to fetch supplies. On their return they had to have a bath to disinfect themselves.
Not many servants left, who would, to live outside in poverty, rebellions and out breaks of malaria and other diseases.

Originally there were 195 nuns but today there are only 21 who are social nuns preferring to wear modern dress complete with wifi and mobile phones.

The nuns continued in this luxurious life until the pope in about 1871 decided that enough was enough and put a stop to the good life, enforcing a high degree of austerity and got rid of the houses and servants.
Numbers dropped dramatically.

On another note, if anyone is coming here, try out the the restaurant Zigzag, a fab place with a spiral staircase designed by Gustav Eiffel.
The food was great with the meat served on hot stones so that it could carry on cooking as we ate. So that our clothes didn't get splattered, we all had large paper bibs which caused great hilarity.

Another great day.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Location: Colca Canyon, Peru

The days have got better and better as the holiday with today being another highlight.

A few of us are struggling with the high altitudes which is making the visit challenging but we have been managing to hold it at bay to date, which is good for us.

We have been exploring the most spectacular of places, the Colca Canyon. The Canyon itself reaches a depth of 3400 feet and is 62 miles long. It is one of the deepest in the world.

Two thousand years ago the Canyon was home to the Cabana and the Collagua people who built a series of terraces that trap melting water from the nearby snow capped volcanoes. Some of these terraces are over 1500 years old.
Some of the surrounding volcanoes have been constantly erupting for over two years and they make a stunning setting for the Valley. All along the edge of the Canyon are ancient settlements. Each has its own church, school and medical centre no matter how small it is. Each also has a general practitioner nurse plus a nurse for pregnant women and a doctor carrying out a one year compulsory practice paid for by the state. If people are very poor, treatment is free, but if they have wealthier relatives, the bill for care is passed to them.
By the look of these towns and farms, people here are living hand to mouth, housing is again very basic. ...50% of the population of Peru is very poor, with the wealthier being of Spanish descent. What ever their status, the ladies all wear brightly coloured traditional costume. The Collagua still embellish their clothing with colourful embroidery wearing two or three skirts and beribboned or brightly stitched hats.

First stop was at Yanque to visit the richly decorated Iglesia de la Immaculata Concepsion where real hair is used on the statues. In front of the church were male dancers performing a traditional dance where the men dress up as women. All very noisy.

We drove on throught the edge of the Canyon, stopping when there were viewpoints. This is now cattle and as well as crop farming country.
We stopped at the town of Maca where we could have missed lunch to be honest, not a very good one. This town has been rebuilt because it completely sank in 1991 because of a geological fault.
When it was rebuilt, sea urchins were found bearing testimony that this area was once a lake.
We made our way through the most stunning of scenery until we climbed up to La Cruz Del Condor, a busy but lovely viewpoint where we were treated to an amazing display of the flights of the condor. Condors lay 1 egg every two years which is nested by male and female for 16 weeks until it is hatched. They mate for life and can stay together for up to 70 years.... a life sentence some might say.

We stopped further down the road to take a short trek along cactus lined paths
to a viewpoint where we overlooked the terraces leading down to the Canyon floor. Great to be put and about in this clearest of air. We were treated to an amazing display of condors swooping overhead as we walked. This largest of flying birds can fly for hours without using its wings, simply riding the thermals.
What an incredible experience!

And so by late afternoon, we were leaving this wonderful place and driving down from the high plateau of the Andes, very tired but buzzing from the day, once again marvelling at the scenery, until we arrived at the WHS of Arequipa, Peru's second largest city.

It was quite a shock to arrive in this city. It sprawls under a range of volcanoes so with its location it should have been picturesque. Not so. We first met the squalor of the garbage by the side of the road long before we came to the shanty towns which have sprung up all round the outskirts of the city. Lorry drivers mind you are as much of a culprit as the residents! This slum area houses incredibly 66,000 people, mostly Andeans who have come down from the mountains over the last thirty years causing major problems. The migration came about because of crop and harvest failure as a result of the climate changing. The squatters claimed the land where they built one roomed dwellings with no electricity or running water. Water is delivered by lorry twice a week. There is no sanitation. Last year the situation became so desperate that a law was passed prohibiting any one from claiming squatters' rights with new arrivals being booted off the land.

.....our hotel is a far cry from this and is situated in the Plaza de Armas which looks lovely and is in the centre of the historic centre, so a good place to explore should we wish to venture out.

So we will reserve judgment on this city until after we have explored it with our guide tomorrow.

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Recent Messages

From Little babbie
Hello Parents,

Have you tried guinea pig yet. They were displayed on all the market stalls when I went. Usually with a red pepper or apple stuffed in their mouths. Sounds like you’re having a great time.

Have emailed several times but they are all bouncing back xx
Response: Hello babbie, we have seen several roasted and live guinea pigs, we plan to taste one before we leave, we have had alpaca, found that a bit tough!
From Sister
Glad you are safely there and look forward to reading your blog. XX
Response: A week gone already!!
From Your sister
Enjoying the vicarious travel, as usual. XX
Response: From inside of your dry home we presume
From Mike and Anne
Hi glad your holiday is going well. Enjoying reading your blog interesting as ever. Looking on the bright side a 'dry' March will help with the medication xx
Response: Dry and searing heat, but much better than rain although there was a terrific downpour in the night. Hope all,is well
From Sister
Maybe it is really me, accompanying you surreptitiously to keep an eye on you. I have never been called 'scary' before, even by students. X
Response: Mmm, how do you know that!!
From sister
Looking forward, as always, to accompanying you on your journey. XX
Response: We have an Aunty Dotty look alike with us in the group, mannerisms the lot! How scary is that!!!!!!
From Sister
Delighted to be back on my vicarious travels. Sounds fascinating already. XX
Response: It all seems a bit surreal to be standing in these historic places dating back to the first century BC!
From Kathy & Ken
So jealous - looks like you had another amazing adventure x
Response: Keep stashing away the money whilst you work!!!!!
From Angela and Gilbert
What an experience, can't wait to view the pictures
Response: It was indeed! Now waiting at Bangkok airport for the flight home
From KB
Hola parents,

You look like are having a fab time. Just catching up on your blog. Keep safe xx
Response: Hello babbie
Am trying to get blog up to date, wifi very iffy, hope you had a good easter
From Sue Brockwell
Happy Easter. Sounds a fascinating hol. Now in Isle of Man. House with lovely views out to sea. Drive across island and lunch out next plan. X
Response: Ooh, we liked the Isle of Man, it was like going back in timehope the sun shines for you. It has been forty plus degrees here and feels hotter!
From Sister
Fascinating. Look forward to seeing the photographs. I think I would have been annoyed at being kept back because I was a girl, though. That would have gone against the grain. However, we have to respect cultural differences if we are visitors! XX
Response: Fascinating is the right word to use. Something to see at every turn
From Sue and Les
We are having a BBQ tonight a bit nearer home in the illustrious Padstow. We now have full family complement so not a dull moment. Glad you are having a great time. We are enjoying reading the updates.
Response: I hope it's Aussie style BBQ with plenty of steak and fish. Hope the weather is staying kind for you all, you must be well into the school holidays by now, looking forward to seeing you when we get home.
From JB
Brilliant story on 29th July Mother; did Nana never teach you not to get in cars with strangers (particularly naked ones)!
Response: Nan never knew any naked men I am sure!! I can just imaging her comment!!!! And
Well, I wouldn't have minded but he was over seventy and every inch of skin was a chocolate brown colour! When he got out of the car when we got to dad, his comment' I hope you don't mind your wife travelling in a car with a naked man' Father's comment..'No'
You will be pleased to know that your father has tried to outdo you with the hobo look, as he refused to shave, except he didn't look suave, just a slim version of Santa Claus in the making. Once it got hot, it started to itch and it all came off!!!!'no staying power
From Sandra/Dave
Pleased to read you are enjoying yourselves. Nipped round to yours, everything fine, lawn green and neatly trimmed. Weather here not good at the moment, rained most of yesterday, slightly better today. X
Response: Ouch, rain not good, we are now in the heat, 35 degrees, this has been quite an adventure with lots of stories to tell!!! Off,East tomorrow, we are finding that Australia doen't like yahoo so we are finding it difficult to get and send emails. Thank you so much for popping round to the house.
From Anne & Mike
Enjoying your blog. Glad your having a good time xx
Response: Hello both, tried to ring you before we came away but I guess you had not returned from your travels..hope you had a great time. We are now in Exmouth, wifi very difficult, am sitting in the visitors centre with 30 mins free wifi, will try to update blog when I can, all good here, have had a problem with a broken windscreen, stone from a road train didn't like us, all taped up, trying to get to Broome to sort it out...britz tried to send us to the nearest repair place which was 500 miles from here in the other direction! Just going to book a glass bottomed boat trip over the reef, they are trying to get us to go snorkelling but we wouldn't look cool with the woggle under our arms as we are not that confident swimmers
From Lynne
Looks like you are having a great time. It all sounds amazing. We look forward to reading some more! Continue to enjoy x it was lovely to see Christine and Charles We had a good catch up xx
Response: Are your jaws aching then???
You would also like it here! Just finished the first leg of the holiday, now for the northern bit and the heat. Ironic to be away in the British heatwave!
From Sister
Sounds fascinating. Interesting that Elaine's ancestors may have been among the earliest emigrants-albeit compulsory ones. XX
Response: I think compulsory might have been right, dodgy stock as Pete says!!
From Clare & Mart
Enjoy!! xx
Response: A fab place, you would both love this lifestyle. We'll let you know what the Motorhome holds in store for us!
From Sister
Sounds fascinating! Hope you find a woolly jumper shop! XX
Response: Yep, entrance to fish river canyon sold a fleece, weather now much warmer!!!!!!
From sister
Was there no room in your luggage allowance for me to curl up in a suitcase? Lovely to follow your travels again, anyway. XX
Response: Sorry, no room. It looks as if we shall have some splendid places to visit in the coming days.
From Mollie and Lindsay
Congratulations Elaine and Pete.
What a marvellous account of our wonderful holiday in India and Nepal. Greatly appreciated.
Tummy back to normal at last.
Many thanks for your hard work.
Mollie and Lindsay
Response: Nice to know that it brought back memories, mostly good ones I hope
From Doris
Glad to be back to my vicarious travelling-always fascinating and instructive. XX
Response: Vicarious might be the right word, this is a fascinating place...and tomorrow we leave India and are off to Nepal
From Barbara Keen
Hi Elaine& Pete

Read your log today, and it is a very good reminder of all we did and what we saw during our adventure.

Best Wishes Barbara&Reg Keen.xx
hope I got it right then!
From Sister
Hope the Cambodians are celebrating Pete's birthday in a traditional manner-whatever that may be. Happy Birthday! XXX
Response: Nope they do not celebrate birthdays, but the group have remembered him, very kind of them!