Highlights of South America in a quick 2 weeks.
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Hola mi amigos.
My apologies for this coming at the tail end of the trip but it´s really been nonstop. Let me cast back to Buenos Aires and give you some of the highlights though (with a few lowlights thrown in for fun!)
The flight over was pretty good. Dim and I managed to get a few hours sleep and the guys managed to keep their alcohol levels up - so we were all happy :) Landing in Buenos Aires in the morning gave us a chance to head to the guys hotel room while Dim, Neil W and I headed to the hostel we´d booked. All staying in Recoleta, it was awesome place to camp for the next two nights. The highlights here were undoubtedly seeing the cemetary which I missed last time I was here.
Off to Rio! The picture I had in my head of Rio was of this awesome city dropped on the edge of the rainforest, resting against the side of the ocean. Images of the old movie ¨Blame It On Rio¨ with Michael Caine immediately came to mind also. I wasn´t far off. I would have to rank this as one of the most amazing cities I´ve seen for sheer beauty.
To squeeze in some culture, Dim and I escaped up to Santa Teresa which is an old part of town set up on one of the many mountains dotting Rio. It was an artist colony where the Portugese settled. So think European architecture, bohemian cafes and shops and breath taking views. We loved it!! Had lunch in an awesome little cafe on the edge of a cliff and met an amazing couple from the Blue Mountains who travel so much that I hunted through my bag looking for a business card. No joy. We walked with them until we stumbled over another street parade (they were everywhere) and got a taxi back to the roof top bar where we caught up the guys.
The next day Dim and I set off to do a speedboat trip to the archipelago of Rio. I was totally unaware that there are so many islands that dot the coast, filled with birds, trees, beaches and not much more. I wonder how long it will take before we see enormous condo´s hanging off the side of these islands.
After Rio, we over nighted in Lima on our way to Puerta Maldonado. This is a small town on the Amazon in the middle of the jungle. We landed in a tiny airport on a way-too-cracked runway and were picked up by our guide, Willian. We then boarded the bus for a 45 mins ride down to the port (ok, this was called a port but really were some basic wooden steps leading down to the river) We boarded these large canoe type boats, put on our life jackets and headed off 40 mins down the river to our lodge. Lunch on the way was an amazing vegetarian kind of Peruvian fried rice. The guide announced that they had accidentally forgotten the forks. That´s ok, we ate with our fingers out of the banana leaves that the rice was wrapped in.
Arriving at the lodge was fantastic!!! No electricity except in the bar and restaurant between the hours of 5 and 9pm. The rooms were like nothing I´ve stayed in before. Three walls and a jungle. Yep, one wall wasnt there!! It opened out onto the jungle so when you woke up, it was right there....nothing but trees and monkeys and bugs. The rooms each had a private bathroom and the beds had mosquito nets so it wasn´t as primative as it sounds. Although, no hot water!!!! And we all know how much I love that! Humidity was about 98% so I struggled through cold showers 2 or 3 times a day. Going to sleep to the sounds of the jungle (and the sounds of the boys in the room next door, with just a bamboo screen dividing us, was like nothing I´d experienced before.
The two nights we spent here were filled with walking expeditions to do some bird watching, jungle walks, piranha fishing and so much more. Only 3 of us on our fishing excursion caught a piranha and I was one of them !!! Made my day, and the piranhas as we let them back (no Rex Hunt kiss from me though) It was almost non stop from our 5am wake up calls till we collapsed in bed, exhausted but loving it. Luckily the bar at the lodge was 24 hrs and also served JD so the guys were in their happy place, too :) Dinner was via candlelight and to the soundtrack of the jungle, oohing monkeys and crickets and more. I will be happy if I never have to smell insect repellant ever again though, having to smother every inch of our bodies in it immediately after every shower and even sleeping in it.
Two nights just about did it though. Little princess that I am, I struggle with the cold showers, insect repellant, endless bugs springing up in all places and flies the size of small birds flying into me. With terential rains often hitting in the afternoon, everything I owned was either covered in sweat or mud or a lovely smelling concoction of both! At one point Dim and I had a laughing breakdown when we looked at each other in our haggered, wild state and dreamed of a hot shower, hair dryer and clean clothes!
What a contrast awaited us!!! We flew from the Amazon into Cusco.
In the Sacred Valley, we visited Ollantaytambo, Pisaq, Urubamba, Chinchera and Moray. Stunning Inca towns set in the most difficult cliff faces of the Andes. Getting there by bus and walking a few steps to the ruins had us out of breath. It´s mind boggling to imagine these people living here, building complete towns out of rock and running up and down the mountains to maintain their crops. Nothing but admiration from me!!
I suffered a little from Peruvian belly for the day here. Not pleasant but I recovered really quickly. Travelling in a group really has its advantages - there was a pact made that if I needed a banos stop urgently we would all hound the driver until he found one. Also, the boys (who had the energy to make it up to the top of the ruins in Pisaq) took my camera so I got to see it too :) And I didn´t even have to promise them JD´s!!!
But now we are in transit at Santiago.