A Travellerspoint blog

Chile - Santiago

sunny 20 °C
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Our flight to Chile, Santiago was grand only 2-3 hours and we had booked into a hostel already so we were all settled by dinner time and had skiing booked for the next day seeing we were only there for 3 days!
We had booked to go to Valle Nevado and we were well excited... even just seeing out first glimpse of the Andes would be enough for anyone to want to go skiing/snowboarding!

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We were up early again the following morning amd it was damn chilly in Chile! The journey up to the slopes was going to take about 2 hours and our driver then told us that this was made up of 42 curves in the mountains! It was pure icy and snow was everywhere and our guy hadnt even put on his snowchains yet... so i had the white knuckles showing already!

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We made it to the top and it was fab Ger was learning to ski so we booked a guy called Nelson for 2hours straght off the bat to get Ger up and down the slopes..But his initial fears were soon gone and we had renamed him Eddie the Eagle!

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It was a great day and the weather was fab as well, not even the saga of how to get off a ski lift gracefully could annoy us..as all around the scenery was amazing.

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So after a full day on the piste we headed back down the 42 curves for a well earned bottle of Chilean red and thai dinner!

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The following day we chilled out, it being sunday and all and also the fact that the dubs were playing the semi final against Kerry we didnt venture too far away from the internet or the mobiles! Sad day for the dubs though!
We did go back to our tourist duties though the next day and had a great day chilled out walking around the city, very surreal though as every time you looked around you got another great back drop of the Andes.

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Evven though we had extremely rosy snowburnt cheeks and noses it had been a great few days and skiing in the Andes was definitely a highlight!

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Posted by geranddebs 07:02 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Puno and Lake Titicaca

sunny 24 °C
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We took the 7 hour bus north to Puno from where we were headed to lake Titicaca. I had had a completely different inage in my head of how it would look but i didnt think it was as big..
We were going to spend a night out on the lake with a family so first things first we had to go and get some groceries and presents for the kids to bring with us. We thought it was hilarious that a tin of tuna was named after a womans bodily part so off course we had to give it a go.. haha

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The boat took us all out and the first island we got to was called Tequile, it took 2 hours to get to so i thought i would check mobile signals on lake titicaca and sure enough .... technology is great so i called Paula jane in London! which Ger thought was unbelievable..lol

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We stopped off at Tequile for a walk about and lunch and from here you can get the best views of the lake, it was stunning and the traditional dress was amazing as well, all the loacls were so colourful... little did we know that we would have the same outfits on later!

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From here we went to Alamanta island to meet our families for the night, it was like the price is right come on down you´ve won 2 irish folk for the night... the mums were all waiting at the port in the hope that their family got picked... quite embarrassing really, but we ended up with a mum called Juana and she was lovely...i actually think she had gotten in contact with my mum judging by the choice of pictures on the bedroom wall that myself and Ger were to share that night!!

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After getting settled in Juana was making dinner and we decided on a game of football with the locals before going to see the sunset, the lads lost 2-3 but not bad when you factor in the altitude and not being able to breathe! At least they all looked good which is the main thing!

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That night after dinner Juana dressed us up to join the others for a traditional night ut and titicaca disco... it was hilarious not to mention boiling as the girls had to put on about 5 layers to get the look....but i still managed to get the dubs socks on as a wee surprise for Ger!! haha We danced and drank all night and it was great craic..

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The following morning after fab pancakes for brekkie we said goodbye to our island mums and headed to the islands of Uros - the floating reed islands.. These were mad as you thought you would sink when you tried to walk on them but nope loads of families lived on these every day there were even schools, nurseries, doctors and clinics on top of them..very cool!

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We even got to go out out on one of the reed boats and chill out, which Ger took full advantage of! lol

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Even though a lot of these have been made for the tourists they were still fab and it had been a great few days away..

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Posted by geranddebs 06:25 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Bolivia , La Paz

sunny 22 °C
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On our way to Bolivia and final stop La Paz we stopped off in Copacabana first , this place was lovely - a bit of a Knock holy place for the locals of south America, and very quaint, the only Copacabana we knew was the beach in Rio, however the guys here were partying away themselves when we got there already!

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Some of the outfits would have went down a treat at Halloween back in Chez McParland house...lol We left here though and got a boat then across the water to our bus again and got ready to cross the bolivian border... we had to disown our tour leader Thad here as well for corruption reasons otherwise the cops would have made a fortune in bribes out of our group! It was all a bit funny really as we had to get off the bus and walk across the border and then get back on the bus, all on in case we we trying to smuggle stuff into the country! Even though there were locals wheeling crates of beer over the border in full view... a lot of back handers and brown envelopes!!

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But it was all cool and it wasnt long before we were in La Paz or rather trying to pose for photos at the viewpoint with the sun in our eyes!

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We were staying in Hotel Rosario in La Paz and it was gorgeous, very old style quaint and quite romantic too, the place though was mad, constant noise and traffic and the locals, who were lovely,dressed in full traditional robes every day with the women wearing black bowler hats.. how they balanced them was pretty amazing. But it was the witches market that we went out to see..( that and football jerseys!)
The ladies were selling ointments and potions for any ailment and also had on offer llama foetuses, which apparently when buried under your house will bless it and bring good luck! We give them a miss and decided to risk it..

Seeing it was our last day though as a group we were all headed out that night for a right knees up before we all went our separate ways again..It is so cheap in Bolivia that its practically rude not to get drunk! We went to a local place called Mungos and the food was fab but the local beers and shots were even better, or at least they were that night, hangovers were pretty nasty come morning time! This however didnt stop the lads trying nearly every one on the menu including one called Taratula!

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It was a great night and we had one day left before myself and Ger were flying to Chile so we headed off sightseeing to check out the San Pedro Prison... we had read a book called Marching Powder ( extremely good book) by Rusty Young based on life inside this prison and where up until recently you could take a tour as women and kids live in there with their bold other halves! It was pretty cool to go and see but a few undesirables hanging around so we didnt stay long! And even though we didnt get in we did get some shots of the clothes drying on the roof and walked around the outside as its quite small and right in the middle of a main square! very bizarre really..

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We said our goodbyes that day and away then the following morning back to just the 2 of us and heading for some skiing in Chile!

Posted by geranddebs 11:53 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Amazon Jungle

sunny 26 °C
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We had to get up early again the morning after our machu picchu celebrations so the heads were extremely sore... i think we were still drunk but they let us onto the flight anyhow to the jungle and we arrived in 90 degree heat at about 10am!
We were met by our jungle guide Jonny who was well cool and from here we went by bus to the port to get our boat into the jungle depths...
First though we got to stop off at the local markets to check our all the medicinal jungle potions and remedies..apparently the dragon blood cures all ailments.. but i was more mesmerised by the size of all the fruits and vegetables, they looked as though they had been grown on steroids everything was massive!

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We got onto our wee canoe boat thing and were sailing down the river for about 2 hours, it was fab the noises alone all around us were mad, however come night time they increased and you would swear the jungle was having an animal rave.. there were macau´s everywhere beautiful big birds...and when we reached our lodge it really was gorgeous and we no longer cared about our hangovers when we seen the hammocks and the wildlife all around us, we even had resident agouti´s ( like huge hamsters) that lived next door to our cabin! Not to mention the cute wee ducks that rocked about the place.

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We got to relax for a bit and then went out for jungle walks at night to see the nocturnal dudes.. Ger became Dr Dolittle and wanted to hold and touch everything incuding this baby boa snake!

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The only thing i held was the erotic root tree member... so called for its shape...i´ll let you work that one out yourselves!

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The following morning we went out jungle trekking and in true rain forest style we got drenched! This didnt stop Ger though and away he went with Jonny piranha fishing this time....

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It was great even though i found a huge spider in my pants when i dared to go to the jungle loo! That night we got taken out to look for caymens.... small alligators! And when they dont want to come to you jonny and henry our giudes didnt let that stop them, so they went into the water and got them for us! And yes Ger got to hold them!

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It had been a fab few days but we flew back to Cusco to join the rest of the group to head to Puno and Lake Titicaca...

And just so you know there is plenty of money to be made in the jungle as we found that gold digging is a huge industry out there as well...!

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Posted by geranddebs 11:52 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Cusco - Machu Picchu Inca Trail

sunny 25 °C
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We got an early morning flight to Cusco further south in Peru the view in the morning was gorgeous but it didnt help with the 3am earliness....

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Although we still managed a few hours sightseeing in Cusco before we headed off...

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We were scheduled for our prep meetings for our 4 day inca trail. We joined a group of about 15 other young people mostly from England and Ireland again so we were of to a great start as the banter and excitement was rife.. We went from Cusco to a place called Ollantaytambo to start our trail and stopped along the way at a community weaving community where yes ger kicked off a game of football in respect for the dubs as this was also the day of the dubs quarter final win, so ger was well dressed for the occasion!...and we also got our first glimpses of inca ruins, they were well cool.

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We were to get picked up the following morning to start walking and had to pack a duffel bag of no more than 7kg, which one of the 16 porters would carry for us! It was a huge operation as there was us lot in the group of hikers and then our entourage bumped the numbers up to near 40...
The day before starting everyone was taking it easy and trying to chill out as much as possible before the 4 days of toughness started, so yes we had a celebratory pint in the square at Ollantaytambo before we went!

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We got picked up at 8 the next morning and off we went. The sky was blue and it was roasting weather so we were off to a good start...

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The scenery was amazing and the smaller daypacks that we all had ourselves for water and that was grand to carry, but we had been warned that day one was known as the "easy day", it was crazy though watching the porters running past us with 25kg each on their backs - tents, tables, our luggage, food everything, they had to get to camp and set up and cook lunch before we got there, they would put you to shame, but as soon as we started myself ger and 2 friends from england - trainee doctors ( very handy!) hung out at the back of the pack and adopted the tortoise strategy as opposed to the rest of the hares that thought it was a race... we knew burn out wouldnt take too long so we had a right laugh at the back! And besides the scenery was too good too miss...

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We stopped for lunch half way up the first mountain and headed off again and actually got to camp for the night at the same time as the porters god love them... we were all too eager but that would change come day 2 though.. the campsite was well cool and the dinner and food was fab, 3 courses and our tents and mattresses and sleeping bags all set up for us, we had been expecting a lot harsher conditions...... Oh and we even had a incan shopping centre beside our first campsite...but not too welcoming though was the trantulla in our tent with us that night!

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Day 2 - the "hardest day" started early as usual as this was the day i wasnt looking forward to... we had to climb dead womans pass mountain all 4215metres of her.. with altitude it was gonna be tough.
We all started with enthusiam but very quickly everyone was quiet and all you could hear was heavy breathing.. we stayed at the back of the pack as usual but not out of choice this time haha i was finding it particularly difficult with the altitude and my chest and breathing and god love Ger he stayed behind me every step of the way with water and encouraging words. we stopped for lunch after having walked up constantly for 4 hours, but we only got to rest for about an hour and then off we went again as not only did we have to get to the top but we had to then make our way down from the top on the other side to the camp for the night! Someone was obviously having a laugh but oh no on we went....
It took a further 3 hours to get to the top and when i got there i got so emotional and cried, it just felt like a great achievement and we hadnt even got to the main event yet!

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Going down the 1000metres to camp then was a breeze as we were delighted with ourselves for having mad it to the top with our 2 lungs still intact, and we got an applause from all the porters for having made it as well...and as it turns out the tortoises won the day making it down to camp first as the burn outs arrived 45 minutes later!!

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Day 3 the " unforgettable day" started with sore legs from previous day, everyone was as stiff as a board and we were all waddling like ducks to try to get going again. We were lined up to pass by 4 inca ruins today before arriving at campsite that night, where i might add there would be running hot showers and a pub!! Until now we had been getting woken up at 630 each morning by the porters with a cup of tea and a basin with water and soap to have a wee wash in, or as my mum would call it a "quick lick"...

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We had such a good day and the views were amazing, not to mention going through an incan tunnel of love that me and Ger decided to go to long way home by ourselves to see more ruins one of which was known as forever young, before getting to the showers and the pub..oh yes and to show my support of the dubs i wore my socks...

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The 4th and final day we were up at 4am in the morning as we had to walk a few hours to reach the sun gate and be on time for sunrise. Even though our legs ached everyone was in great form and excited to get to the finish point - Machu Picchu.
Myself and Ger headed off and when we walked though the sungate and got our first glimpse of Machu Picchu is was just breathtaking, it had been worth every minute! Even though we all looked exhausted we felt fab! Even the Alpacas were up early to welcome us...

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Team Rueben - the slow tortoises at the back pulled through in the end and we were the first ones to arrive at site!

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Myself and Ger stayed at Machu Picchu for a few hours then just walking around the ruins and taking it all in, we just had such a feeling of achievement that we didnt want to leave the place, i even got mobile signal from the top and was able to call my mum!

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Our train was leaving at 230 so we left Machu Picchu at about 1130 and headed to the hot springs to meet the rest of the group and start the celebrations. The train back to Cusco would take about 4 hours but we didnt mind as the scenery along the way was great.

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Even though others...namely our tour guide opted for sleep instead!

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We got to Cusco at about 630 and had all arranged to meet up at 9 to had a good few pints, starting may i add in paddy o´flahertys irish pub in the main square! This was also the night that the earthquake hit Peru and we all felt the tremors, it was very worrying but we were all grand and it didnt stop us celebrating in the wee small hours for having completed our 4 day trek.. i even treated the peruvians to some famous ´dry the back´, ´floss the teeth´and ´do the shopping´dance moves on the bar!!

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Unfortunately the following morning we were scheduled to fly to the amazon jungle so as you can imagine the hangovers were not goodat 7am having only got to bed!!

Posted by geranddebs 11:50 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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