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Archive for January, 2010

llegamos a Lima!

We have arrived in Peru! Well 2 days ago actually. We’re staying in the Miraflores district about 15km outside the centre. Most of the bars and restaurants etc are located in the suburbs rather than the administrative centre.

First impressions of Peru:- The first thing that hit us is Peru or at least Lima is much more developed than anywhere we saw in Ecuador. You notice the people living in nicer accommodation, driving nicer cars. This is also reflected in the prices, things appear to be around 30% more expensive than in Ecuador. The other thing that hit us was the heat, the temperatures here are a few degrees warmer and the humidity is high.

On our first day we explored the Miraflores area which is right by the coast. There are a number of beaches which the Limenoes love to spend time on. There’s a ton of surfers and surf schools all along the beaches…the water doesn’t look to great though and government warnings ask people not to bathe in the ocean.

We decided to try a local delicacy “cerbiche” on our first night. It’s a dish made from fresh cuts of raw fish marinated in lime juice with chilli and herbs. The idea being the acid from the marinade will “cook” the fish. However after setting out without a map and walking for 45mins we realised that we where lost! Not to worry though we’d spotted a busy Japanese Sushi restaurant on route called Edo. We headed back there and had some of the best Sushi of our lives! Not to mention the apple Martini’s that Gem was knocking back 😉 It turned out to be a bit of a budget blower but we decided a treat night was in order!

The next day we headed down into Lima centre to explore. The centre was nothing to right home about…so why am I writing…anyhow’s we did the main sites like the Plaza Mayor (see pics below) and headed back. There’s a number of museums and churches but we skipped over these.

Plaza Mayor Lima

The transport around Lima is made up of regular buses, taxis and a host of combi vans. These combi vans are the most popular method of travel the journeys are quite interesting shall we say!

Combi Van

After getting lost once more we eventually found our restaurant for lunch, El-Kapallaq. This place specializes in Cerbiche, the dish that evaded us the night before. The restaurant is only open 12:00-17:00 Monday to Friday, apparently the time to eat Cerbiche is during the day. Anyway we ordered 2 different types of Cerbiche for starters, a classico and a mixto. Both were delicious but the portions were slightly larger than anticipated!

Cerbiche Mixto


Cerbiche Classico

Luckily the main courses we ordered were quite light but no less delicious!

Pecado del dia para mi y Chupe de pescado para mi esposa.

Pescado Del Dia


Chupe De Pescado

We just made it back from lunch in time to see Man Utd spank the City! What a great end to a day!

Hasta Luego Amigos!

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Ecuador – the final day!

So we have just 1 night more in Ecuador. We’re back in Quito now and will fly off to Peru early tomorrow morning. We’re staying in a nice hostel (l’Auberge Inn) located a bit closer to the new town than our previous hostel. The new town is a bit more lively in the evenings and we fancied a change.

Well we made the trek up to the Glacier at Cotopaxi. The trek itself wasn’t very difficult compared to the previous 2 days, we were expecting it to be much harder so it was a welcome relief for the legs! We met a nice couple, Will and Katie both from England, in fact Katie was from Rochdale, small world!

Anyway here’s a few snaps from the last few days of trekking, we’re off for a well earned cerveza now! See you in Peru.

Views from Cotopaxi


Quilotoa Crater


Cotopaxi Glacier


Into Thin Air


Andean Workers


Road to Chigchilan

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Ecuador – The final week

After the Galapagos Islands we headed straight to Banos. It’s a small town in the Central Sierra – famous for it’s natural hot springs.
We stayed in a really nice hostel called Plantos y Blanco. They gave us the breakfast yet! Double pancakes with laden with fruit, yoghurt and sugar cane syrup! We spent a couple of days there – hiking and enjoying the hot springs.
We then headed to Latacunga – known as the gateway to the Quilotoa Circuit… or “Avenue of Volcanoes.”
We are staying in another cute hostel called Tiana. There are zero restaurants and a zillion barbers in Latacunga. The locals clearly don’t like to eat but like to get their hair cut! But Neil is still insisting on staying far away from a razor!
We took a bus to Quilotoa. On route we attempted banter with this young Spanish teenager, Marcos. He recognised our pigeon spanish and wanted to improve his English! He was far better in our lingo than we were in his!
We arrived at Quilotoa and were met by an indigenous woman offering us a bed for the night! It felt a bit ‘pushy’ – but the woman turned out to be the owner of the hostel we intended to stay in.
We had a lovely little cabin with a log fire.
We set off on our first hike to see the famous Quilotoa crater lake. It’s a beautiful emerald green lake… and the hike down is stunning. The hike up is hideous… in that we hadn’t experience thigh-burn like it! We could have taken a donkey back up but figured the exercise was good for us.
The stay in the hostel was our most random yet. We were the only ones there. It appeared to be the family home of about 15 indigenous people. The owner cooked us a traditional dish for dinner and the rest of the evening was spent trying out our pigeon spanish once more (as they didn’t speak a word of English) whilst chucking logs on their fire. The temperature really drops a night in Quilotoa – so our thermals and base layers came in very handy!
The next morning we were up and out at the crack of dawn ready for the big hike of the day. We were to hike along the volcano ridge and down through the valleys to Chugchilan. It was an 8 mile hike… made a bit longer by us losing our way from the awful directions we’d been given. But the trek was amazing and the views breath-taking. It took us about 4.5hours to complete the trek.
We arrived in Chugchilan and hunted for a nice place to recoup. Again our pigeon spanish had to be used…. and the bad news was that we had been given some incorrect info about the buses back to Latacunga. When planning our trip we were told that the buses left Chugchilan at 3&4pm. The reality was that the buses left at 3&4am so we were faced with the prospect of staying a night in this little town and missing out planned Cotopaxi trek the day after. But all was not lost… after some local banter we discovered we could flag down a pick-up truck and request a lift to Zumbahua. So that’s what we did… and it cost us $30 and was the most dangerous road we’ve ever experienced travelling on.
We arrived in Zumbahua and waited for the bus to take us back to Latacunga. The rain started to pour – and then we noticed locals jumping in pick-up truck come taxies sharing lifts back to Latacunga. So we decided to follow their lead and shared a taxi back to Latacunga. It’s about a two hour journey and cost $1 more than the bus! So we got back to Latacunga at a decent time and able to get some well needed rest before the Cotopaxi trek.

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Galapagos Part 2

As promised a few more notes from the Galapagos…

On day 2 we visited Isla Floreana. Here we saw many colonies of sea lions whilst visiting Post Office Bay. This is a funny little place where tourist leave postcards with a message and their address. The idea is the next tourists on the island look through all the postcards and try to find someone who lives near by or on their travel route. When you find someone you should take the postcard and deliver it by hand! Luckily we didn’t find anyone too nearby so we left empty handed.

Post Office Bay

In the afternoon we went snorkelling, here I was able to swim with the sea turtles which was pretty amazing.

Sea Turtle


Sea Lions

On day 3 we sailed overnight to Espanola island here we saw a variety of wildlife including iguanas, Nazca boobies, blue footed boobies, Galapagos hawks and of course sea lions!

We witnessed some amazing moments between the animals, even seeing them nurturing their eggs and new borns.

Here’s a few more pics, if you want to see the full set then
Click Here

Nazca Boobie with young chick


Flamingos at sunset


Blue footed boobie with egg

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Volvemos de Galapagos

So we have returned from the Galapagos! What an amazing place, it´s really like a lost world and def a highlight of our trip so far. From the minute we landed on Baltra island we began to have a special feeling about this place. Our guide for the trip Alberro met us at the airport along with the other people on our boat. It was a really good mix of people on our boat and everyone got along great, which helps because there´s not too much room on these boats!

We spent the first afternoon crossing the island by bus to reach our boat. Before getting to our boat we stopped off to look at huge craters and tunnels formed by lava flow. The highlight though was a visit to see the giant tortoises, these creatures are immense! To see them roaming around in the wild like this just blows your mind. What you quickly realise is these animals have no fear of man whatsoever. Man has never hunted on these islands and this simple fact makes them so unique and allows you to get really close to the action.

The whole of the galapagos is a national park and much of it is restricted access but there are many islands and more than enough to see in the areas you can access.

When we did eventually arrive at our boat things began to go south for me…I quickly remembered how much I hate boats and sea sickness! Luckily a few tablets later and 24 hours aboard I adapted and was ok for the rest of the trip, lucky because we had 5 days on this boat! For Gem it was something of a sanctuary because there are no mozzies on the islands!

During the trip we saw so many different animals and amazing things, too much to write about in one blog post so we might have to split this one up.

Anyway here´s a few pictures to wet your appetite, many more to follow! I also made some video footage so we´ll try to get some of that uploaded too.

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Goodbye Otavalo

Yesterday we had our last day in Otavalo and probably our best. We took a hike up to the Mojanda lakes and from there to the summit of Fuya Fuya. The climb was pretty tough going, neither of us had experienced hiking at altitude before, gee’s is it tough!
We’d only gone about 200 meters of the 2km climb and already we were panting like old tired dogs! Our guide made sure we had plenty of breaks
though, it took us around 1.5hrs to do the climb. The summit is around 4300 meters so you really feel it up there. There are 2 peaks on the
volcano, one is much more technical than the other and involves a bit of rock climbing. Our guide said the majority of people don’t
tackle the harder of the 2 peaks…of course that was like a red rag to a bull so off we set! Coming down was probably the tricky part,
it would be graded around a 4C in rock climbing so pretty damn easy but with no ropes and a sheer drop each side things look a little different at 4300 meters! Anyhow we made it no issues, I even got the tripod up there!

Here’s some pics of the views

Today we headed back to Quito for one more night before we head to the galapagos tomorrow. We set sail on the Angelique for 5 days, it
should be a fantastic trip.

Hasta Luego Amigos! (Spanish is getting better 😉 )

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More Pictures from Otavalo





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