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Pip and Rich's South American adventure

Diary Entries

Sunday, 01 October 2006

Location: Argentina

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....

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Location: Cordoba, Argentina

Well we are almost at the end of our trip. We feel we could stay here for so much longer 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 here we are!

We leave tomorrow for Mendoza where it is wine country. Rich is licking his lips 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)

Thursday, 14 September 2006

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......

Thursday, 07 September 2006

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 amazing arrival - the city is in a huge canyon, and you drive down the side into the city.

Sunday, 03 September 2006

Location: Peru

Hi All,

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!

Monday, 28 August 2006

Location: Peru

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.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Location: Cusco, Peru

Hi All

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........

Thursday, 17 August 2006

Location: Peru

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.

Sunday, 13 August 2006

Location: Peru

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.

Monday, 07 August 2006

Location: Brazil

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.

Wednesday, 02 August 2006

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, 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?

Friday, 14 July 2006

Location: England

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!

Photos - Click Below

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Recent Messages

From Claire and crew
Gidday guys. Neat site. Off to Napier to hockey reps for the week...all very home and family compared to your great adventures. See you in Melbourne (or NZ?) soon.
Love the photos. Would love to hit SA. Have Paralympic contacts in Brazil very keen to have a NZ team visit!
Response: Hi
We will be sad to leave but excited to see Debs again....Good luck for hockey and hopefully see ya soon...
From Diane
Hi Pip and Rich
What an awesome site! Looks like you are having a great look at South America. Talked to your Mum today Pip and she told me to take a look. Have returned from another stint in Indonesia and trying to settle down in Christchurch. Not easy after all that travelling! Love Diane
Response: Hi Diane
Good to hear from you..We are almost at the end of our travelling stint too now although I see there are cheap flights to Fiji from Aus (teehee) I hope you have a great birthday party....will be watching the Melbourne Cup about then...Love Pip x
From Graham Anstee
I was interested to see the fantastic, sepia-tinted photograph of the locomotive graveyard. I recently read a bit about it in a book by a Dutch author named Midas Dekkers. The book is titled 'The Way of All Flesh – A celebration of Decay'. To quote: “Tropical lianas were fighting to strangle axles, saplings shot up out of funnels, one tender seemed to be transporting flowers instead of coal ... streaks of oil evoked traces of blood. ... The experience was both oppressive and liberating at once.”

I would love to visit it myself!
Response: Yeah, that was a weird place. It was a different backdrop for a place to have lunch! You cant see it in the photos, but there was a lot of interesting graffiti as well...didnt realise it was a ´famous´ place! Thanks..
From Stefan
your reports and photos are great! But now you know what it's like losing a camera, too...
And look, there's an upside down mountain top!!! ;-)
Saludos, Stefan.
Response: Very funny! We are having camera problems as we type.....and the upside down photo..well, it was early in the morning.....we are trying to make you a cd of Rio, but no internet cafes have cd drives!! We will get there though.
From Jo
Hi Guys,
finally got to see the web site, fab photo's and great times. Its all good here in CHCH, we move into our new place in 4 days, pretty excited! I bet Matt and Yo will be pleased to get rid of us ha ha. Snow boarding was great, and work is going sweet. Cant wait to see you in about 6 weeks, Yippy.
Take care, big hugs
Jo and Jon
Response: Yah we cant wait to see you too. We are living with Debs when we get back and will just have moved into a new house when you get over.....Cant wait!!
From Andrew & Lou

awesome photos, good to hear from you, will see you soon!
Response: Was good to speak with you....keep well!!!
From Graham Anstee
Wow! Amazing pictures, it looks stunning. Sounds like you are having a great time. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Response: Cheers Graham. Its been tough work the last couple of weeks getting up early in the morning - just not used to it!!
From joanna
Great to see your photos . Will keep in touch .
Lots of Love
Response: Hi Jo
We are in crazy La Paz now and a bit of a culture shock after tranquillo Copacabana. Have been getting up early most mornings for trips and the altitude is a bit of a hard deal, makes cleaning your teeth tiring!! Having such fun, and made the Inca TRIAL. Worth it in the end.
Say hi to everyone
Love Pip
From Vickie Swanson
hi Richard and Pip,
Stacey hooked me up with this excellent website, looks like your having a riot!! We leave good ole Blitty to fly into Recife on the 11th for our 3 months in S. America - Not sure if we will be able to catch you up but would be great if we could!!! Although, it looks like it's quite hard going with the trekking and all...better get in those extra sessions done the gym!! Hope your well and taking good care of yourselves. Oh, and i'm gonna pack those extra sweaters now i've seen your pics- brrrrrr. love and sunshine, Vix ( old GHC)
Response: Hi Vicky...
Yeah you have to pack for all weathers. It is beautiful in Brazil and getting warmer all the time now. Even in Peru is quite warm just not in the mountains and at night. Any questions please feel free to email It is amazing!!!!
From Rach
Hi kids
Great to hear you are having a ball, despite bug fight and jungle tummy! Summer's gone in London already so live it up. Safe travels, see ya again in sunny Melbs, R
Response: yeah, we have seen that we took the weather with us! Pips tummy is better already (one night stand) and raring to go walking up hills!! Maybe...
From Mum
Hope you are back from the jungle with all parts of your anatomy intact soon. Looking forward to hearing from you or seeing some more photos
Response: Hi Mum
Am back safe and sound. Sore belly but will save the gory details for email.....
From j9
goodstuff guys!
sorry but using your webiste ..... Jaron!!! your in nz, how about flicking us an email!! be great to catch up.
pip & rich, have fun, and keep cool! arohanui J9
Response: Hi Janine
Am having such a great time. Yeah not sure what happened with Jaron....but good he is home. Hugs to the family...
From Stefan
I tried to send an email but I always got that failure notice. So could you leave your address here please? Thanks and have fun!
Response: Hi Stefan
try or
Hope you made it back to Buenos Aires safely. We miss the beach in Rio! Ended up leaving in a rush because we found an apartment in Copacabana for cheaper than at the hostel, with cable TV and a FRIDGE. Some guy off the street offered it to us.
From lee
hi richard
you lucky lucky lucky LUCKY B@STARD. have a great time keep in touch.

lee from ghc
Response: haha...thanks Lee. We ARE having a great time, but we are up at high altitude now and feeling knackered all the time. Or maybe its the lunchtime beers. Regards to all at the GHC.
From Karen
Hi Pip and Tricky,
what a great website. Sooo jealous of you guys being in sth america...never made it there....perhaps the honeymoon??
The photos are awesome.
Keep having lots of fun kids!!

km xx (soon to be kd)
Response: Is great place and why not for the honeymoon. Am gutted another wedding I miss out on but I will be sure to see you in the not to distant future. All the best.
From jaron
hey thats a great way of seeing ya travels, is looks like your having amazing time, hope everything is rolling the way you planned, im back in nz, had enough of england, place is boring so back home to snowboard and save some money for oz after xmas! miss you both loads see ya soon in the land of the dingo, be safe and enjoy love ya jt xxx
Response: What the Fu##. Where did that come from. Hows NZ anyway?
From Monique
Hi Pip and Rich,
Just been admiring your great photo's, and reading about your awesome trip!! good times huh! V.jelous!
Premo website.
All well here with us, moving to bigger house on Fri - yay.
keep having fun!! Look forward to seeing you both in Aus soon. Love Mon, Rog and Addison xxx
Response: Hi Good luck with the move..... No more on the beach? or a bigger, better house on the beach. Is this a hint for more kids to come?
From yo
Hello travellers, whos the great photographer? Some real money shots amoung them i reckon. Not sure if you got pics but we had a girl on 24/4. Ana-Hera Eve, currently sporting thighs the size of jesus' arm. When are you in NZ? roos schmoos, looked amazing thou.
keep em coming. Yo, Matt and the brood xx
Response: Yes got the photos. I thought I had replied. I think maybe sometimes I send it to the wrong address. I have about three addresses for you and they are all really similar like info@donquest and yo@donquest. So I will just make sure I reply to your email then I cant go wrong. But congratulations anyway and hey there is nothing wrong with big thighs. She will be a great rugby player! Hopefully will be able to visit all your family in the not to distant future. Love to all.....
From Michelle
Hey you two little rascals. looks like your having an awesome time. Makes me a little envious to say the least! Have fun and take care. See you guys sometime soon. x
Response: We are having fun and haven´t met any dodgy people yet.....except for the tourists. Bit windburnt today. Went to see Condors in the Colca Canyon. Fun but dusty!!
From kara
Hi Guys,
your photos you have posted are wonderful! My favourite is the shadow of the statue of Christ in Brasil - you have to enter it in a competition! It looks like you guys are having a great time, please take more photos and cant wait to see the ones of the macchu pichu.
lots of luv and hugs, Kara, Pierre + Pearl
Response: Hi Kara Wendy
Hows the packing going? I miss Pearl´s cute little face (oh and yours too) teehee. Have met some very strange, well to be honest crazy French people over here it is lucky for Pierre because I keep reminding myself that there are good, fun, lovely French people around. Phew. Will send many photos of Machu Picchu I am sure but first have to get some practise walking in or there may just be photos of me exhausted at the bottom of the mountains!! Miss Ya
From debs
Love you guys lots,
Response: Hi Debs
Cool to get a message. Havent heard from Mum. Is all OK there? Love Pip
From Sue
Hopeall is well and you have got off and there safely.
Still shifting rubbish in the tower but a syou can see I get bored.
Love Sue
Response: Oh well. It is the holidays anyway. We are having loads of fun in the sun. Keeping out of mischief so far. It is good to get a message from you. I miss you but not school yet!!!
Love Pip x
From chris van der lit
hey mate look like a hoot! Catch you Oct!!
Response: Sorry mate..missed your message here! All is good and great beer weather at the moment in Rio.
See you in sunny Melbourne!