Well it is over......Boo we are so sad to leave but also excited to see family (old and new). At the moment we are sitting in Buenos Aires airport for the fourth time this trip waiting for ANOTHER plane and just hoping it is on time for our connecting flight from Sydney to Melbourne. The chances aren´t great going by past experience.....
So what have we been doing? Mendoza was beautiful, chilled out with tree lined streets and loads of hip cafes. I got my hair cut in one of the flashest hairdressers for US$4. We ate steaks and bought wine (which we are now carting half way around the world)
Then it was my birthday and I thought it would be a bad one spending 7 hours in a bus from Mendoza to Santiago but we got to go over the Andes and the scenery was stunning. Huge mountains as far as we could see and there were even ski lifts over the road. I got another cool handbag (Argentina is the place to buy leather goods) so now I have two in my pack!!
Santiago was a pleasant surprise as we had heard that it was not that nice and really polluted but we stayed in a cool old hotel and ate in yummy restaurants. There were also loads of big, old colonial buildings around where we stayed. The backdrop to the city is the Andes which you can see peeking over the smog.
So we have five hours until our flight leaves at 1.20am....we will be shattered by the time we arrive in Sydney then have to catch another flight....
Here we go...
Photos from Aus from here on in....
Location: Cordoba, Argentina
Well we are almost at the end of our trip. We feel we could stay here for so much longer but...money is running out and I haven´t been shopping once yet!
We are back in Argentina again and happy to be in a more civilised place with supermarkets and people who look like they have showered! Also back to big, fat juicy steak for $1. We ended up at a restaurant and ordered a grill for 2. They bring out a small BBQ to your table and you just eat meat (no salad, nothing else..) it is just YUM.
Salta was beautiful, colourful churches and a nice atmosphere, no hassles from the locals to buy stuff. Rich even finally managed to make it to a Sth American football match where they climb up the fences and shout alot. He is happy now!! We then decided to make the journey to Iguazu Falls which involved a 24 hour bus ride across country. Lucky they serve good food on the bus (steak sandwiches for lunch, I love this place) We left the dust behind and arrived in the tropics, green jungle and all. We spent two days viewing the falls, they are quite impressive and just massive (I cant remember exact figures but they go for about 2km on one side) One day in Argentina then it is a short bus ride to Brazil on the next day. I thought I would get sick of water just falling but other than needing to go toilet alot (it is noisy) it was great and they have cool little trails and even some animals to see. We really wanted to see Toucans and had our twitcher goggles on but didnt see any until we were on the bus out and two flew past the bus...Yeah that counts!
Then on the bus again for another 22 hours to Cordoba where we are now and it is Sunday and everything is closed. They are pretty religious over here and I guess you should be in church on Sundays but stuff that....so here we are!
We leave tomorrow for Mendoza where it is wine country. Rich is licking his lips already.....wine tours by bike. Hmmm. More news then
Love to all........
PS We are famous now as our photo is on the front bit of planetranger (but I think it is a dumb photo and they must just randomly choose it)
Location: Tupiza, Bolivia
Wow! Bolivia has been an adventure. We have been blown away by its beauty.
We left La Paz about a week ago which seems like an age. After deliberation as to how we would spend our time here, we decided to get south quickly and take it from there. After getting to Tupiza, we spent a day on the "Triathlon" - where we went on a bike ride (with no brakes), a horseride (some horses only having 2 gears - neutral and first), got lost on a walk (instructions lost in translation), and also a ride on a jeep through the stunning countryside. The day after, we started our 4-day Salar de Uyuni tour, which we had heard lots about but didn´t quite know what to expect.
It was pretty intense. One broken camera (our good one), a heap of dust, lots of lagoons (red and blue), thousands of pink flamingos, tonnes of salt, and most of all - a lot of time spent in the jeep. Luckily we had a great crew which made it more than bearable...
Photos to come due to the technical problems...we have rescued our photos on the broken camera, have some more on the other camera and will post them soon when we catch up on some sleep. Computers are slow at uploading here, so we will see how we go. Up at 4am this morning.
This was meant to be a holiday......
Location: La Paz, Bolivia
We knew it wouldn´t be straightforward forever.
Our bus was to take us to Copacabana (not Brasil, but Lake Titicaca). We asked several times if it was direct. We got dumped off it at about 6am, then loaded onto a mini-van fit for 10 passangers, which squashed 16 people into it. This got us to the Bolivia border which wasn´t open yet. After finally getting through the border, it became apparent that there was no transport to get us to Copa.
So we set off on foot. The roads were strewn with rocks and trees to prevent traffic getting through. We walked about 5 or 6km with all of our gear before a taxi van drove past with some people in it, then he returned to pick us up and take us the remainder if the trip, maybe another 5km. Boy, were we happy to see him.
After talking to some other gringos, we discovered that there was actually a strike on - apparently it was only in the Copa region and it was the local farmers who were angry.
Anyway, we watched an amazing sunset over the lake, and had a great day out on Isla del Sol - where we went on another hike (longer than we thought it would be) and enjoyed the scenery. We met an American couple, Ingrid and David, and hung out with them and they were trying to plan an escape to La Paz as all the roads were blocked. This was also a bizarre place to learn that Steve Irwin had died.
After lots of deliberation, a bloke agreed to take a boatload of gringos to Tequina, then a bus to La Paz. And here we are!!
It is pretty mad here...an amazing arrival - the city is in a huge canyon, and you drive down the side into the city.
Well we made it. The Inca trail. It was way more difficult than we ever imagined but in the end there is no turning back and you just get yourself over those mountains.
Day One was the easiest day. I think they just ease you into a false sense of security and you think that it is not so hard. Beautiful views of snowcapped mountains but sunny weather makes for a nice hike. We didn`t hire an extra porter so Rich ended up carrying 12kg and I carried 6kg. Felt light at first and like about 100kg by the end of the day.
Day Two was hard. Straight up hill right from the start. We ended up climbing 1200m up altogether, at altitude which we describe as walking on a stairmaster for 6 hours with a cloth over your mouth so you can`t breathe properly. Rich was doing pretty well always at the front of the group. I was ready to pack it all in but managed in the end. We walked 12km, 8 heartpounding km uphill and 4 kneebreaking km downhill. There were many casualties along the way. Some people unable to handle the altitude which makes you dizzy and sick, and had to go back down but our group all made it. Yeah for us!!
Day Three started with a ridiculous climb uphill at 6am with a full breakfast tummy. Stitch galore! Then it was just amazing walking around the edge of mountain passes with stunning views and after the second day it seemed a walk in the park. Until the end when we began what the guides call the Gringo Killer. Two hours of downhill steps. The porters all run down and make it look so easy. Full respect to them they were amazing carrying up to 25kg of stuff on their backs, zooming ahead of us to set up camps and get our food ready for when we all arrive absolutely exhausted. Also had the most yummy meals which they managed to cook in the middle of nowhere.
Day four began at 3am. Up to beat the crowds to the Sungate to catch the first glimpses of Machu picchu......and it was so cloudy we couldn`t see anything. Then we made our final descent and....Wow. Machu Picchu really is a sight to behold. High in the mountains shrouded in cloud with the sun breaking through. We wandered around for a few hours getting the spiel then jumped on a bus for a windy ride back to civilisation. Arriving back in Cusco late that night.
Luckily for us we had a great group of Americans and some really cool guides which made the trip even more enjoyable.
So now off to Lake Titicaca and Bolivia........Keep safe!
After a long search to find the right tour company, we ventured into the jungle at Manu. Our group was big - a wedding party from New York and one other Aussie joined us. The bus trip in was an eye opener for everyone. Scary, scary roads - cutting across mountains, switchbacks all the way, huge drops below our windows. This was made worse when it started POURING down in the rainforest and the road turned into a river. It was pretty tense.
Day 2 was adventure day. We biked down the last part of the mountain for about 3 hours, then hopped in a raft to complete the journey to our next lodge. Our wrists were sore from the rocky road down, one girl fell off, face-planting into the road to avoid a car. We then topped it off by going on a 2 hour jungle walk in the dark, where Pip got a huge fire-fly stuck down her top. Not to be outdone, we had a major war with the local bug population that evening in the candlelight - cicada´s the size of your finger dive bombing us. Huge grasshoppers and moths as well. We were unable to sit down around a table without someone freaking out over bugs. It was funny.
Day 3 we did the canopy tour, where we walked up into the jungle to fly over the tree-tops on a flying fox type thing. Everyone was apprehensive to start with but it was exciting stuff to fly 120m through the trees. And the noise was deafening. Another walk followed where we had a short raft trip to see some birds, and then some of us braved the brown water on bodyboards.
Didnt end up seeing too many jungle animals, but we had a really great time! Arriving back in Cusco, Pip suffered ´jungle tummy´, gory details withheld. Off on the Inca Trail on Wed, 44km of walking up and down mountains, finishing at Machu Picchu.
Wish us luck!
Hope everyone is well.
Location: Cusco, Peru
We are now in Cusco, preparing for our jungle trip and the Inca Trail. Is a cool place but very touristy with lots of people wanting our money. We seem to be constantly saying "No Gracias". All the children are in on the act and walk around dressed up and leading Llamas and asking for money for photos. Rich has had about enough.
But there is lots to see and loads of cool souveneirs to buy and I have to restrain myself (or Rich does).
We have been to the Colca Canyon which was amazing. We were up at 4800m during the ride up and I couldnt breathe and felt really dizzy (more so than usual). Rich was OK. It was also freezing. We have bought some altitude sickness tablets (just in case). Views were stunning, we were almost in the clouds and the sky is so blue and at night the stars were so close. It is nice to see the Southern Cross again. Then we visited hot springs and relaxed to get up at 5.00 am for cold showers! Luckily we got to see 8 condors flying at one time, it was pretty cool. Then the long trip home over dusty, never seen a grader, roads.
On the overnight bus trip here we experienced the hardest security with people videoing us as we got on the bus then when we sat down. It was quite bizarre. And playing Bingo in Spanish on the bus......
Havent done much else since we got here, just relaxing. Cant really drink too much without getting the mother of all hangovers so have been in bed by 10 most nights.
Will write more when we get back from the jungle.
Wish everyone well........
Time seems to be flying by now! From Pisco we caught a short trip to Ica and Huacachina which was a cool oasis amongst sand dunes which was a bit different. Then an overnight bus ride to Arequipa where we arrived on the anniversary of the foundation of Arequipa and the place was going nuts. There was a massive parade that went through the city for about 12 hours. Both of us had an adventure - Pip got a sore tummy and Rich got a plate of food off the street vendor that looked dangerously like pigs ears and other items that couldn´t be identified.
Outside our hostel is what seems like a taxi rank (or cars that any clown can jump into) and the incessant tooting of horns sounds like a deafening game of Space Invaders. Nice. We have a roof terrace though, and the backdrop is stunning - 3 snowcapped volcanoes all about 6,000 m surround the city, which has lots of buildings made from the volcanic stone (sillar).
Next stop is even higher up the mountains to the Colca Canyon region where hopefully we will see some condors and huge canyons and other cool stuff.
We enjoyed our time in Lima, but after a couple of days the pollution became a bit too much (there was sun but we couldn´t see it for smog), so we headed south for some fresh air and the coast.
A tour took us to Paracas Nature Reserve to see lots of birds, expensive birdshit and some cool beaches....fancy coming to a nature reserve with hardly a blade of grass! Looks lots like NZ otherwise (same ocean, sand, animals) but no grass.
After yet another mishap by Aerolineas Argentinas, we made it to Rio where the weather has been around 30 degrees every day - much welcomed after chilly Bs As. The people are great, the scenery is stunning (on many levels) and it is hard not to have a good time.
We have spent a few nights in Lapa, which is near the centre of town, but today we moved to an apartment in Copacabana so we can spend more time relaxing.
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
After a nightmare journey which had us arriving 5 hours late in Bs As at 3am, we weren´t off to the best start. Taxi dropped us off at our hotel in the FREEZING cold (Pip had shorts on) we woke up the housekeeper, doing our best to convince her that we indeed had a reservation. It all worked out esta bien (OK), and all the people have been so helpful and welcoming. Rich even found out that Argentinians thought that the Roos were robo del siglo (robbed).
Been wandering the streets...here, there and everywhere.
A quick trip to Uruguay keeps Pip happy to fill the passport up (only 5 empty pages now), and tomorrow we are off to Rio. Hopefully it will be a bit warmer on the beach!! We miss London weather - who would have thought?
Kicking this off with only 2 weeks left of London life. We leave for South America on the 29th for 9 weeks, and that's the purpose of this site - to document our upcoming trip.
We will throw some photos on here for people to look at (if you want!) and seems like an easy place to stay in contact as well.
It's only really kicked in our the last couple of weeks or so that we are leaving for good...but now the excitement is building up!
Thought I would start off with some photos from the World Cup. My time in Germany was something special - that week will be hard to beat. The Germans did it so well - the matches were great - and the amount of Aussies there supporting the Roos was incredible. Bring on South Africa 2010!