Highlights of South America in a quick 2 weeks.

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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Eva Peron's tomb

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.

My tango lesson
  We found Eva Peron´s tomb and walked the aisles of this amazing place of rest clicking away at the gothic-like beauty that we found round every corner.  Afterwards, we headed to La Boca which I loved last time and was not disappointed with again.  I think we all enjoyed it ... the market, tango in the street, bright coloured paint splashed everywhere and we even managed to squeeze in a bar stop for the boys.

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.

Dreams come true! Neil always wanted to dance. And I always wanted....a flower in my hair :)
  The view from Corcovado Mt where Christ the Redeemer enjoys the best view on earth really did it for me.  Stunning isn´t enough here.  I really dont think we saw the best of it though with Carnival dominating this bustling city.  Roads were blocked as crowds flowed off the beach, onto the streets and samba parades took over.  It was a magical vibe but I´d love to come back one day to see this city less populated with tourists.  At one point, Dim and I went down to Ipanema beach to see some action.  That we did.  Caught up in a crowd that had 8 different people pressed up against us and unable to move in any direction we soon passed each other ´the look´. . . the ´get me the hell out of here now´ look.  I am way too old for this, I decided.
Dim's tango lesson
  Luckily the boys loved Rio too . . . the hotel had a bar and there were bikini clad girls EVERYWHERE. 

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.

Christ the Redeemer
  This had a small pool, amazing views, great rum cocktails which I couldn´t pronounce and luckily for the boys...JD.  With the Carnival that night, we were in for a treat.  Tickets here were costing USD1000!!!!  Luckily we had prebooked.  This is a massive parade of Samba schools and their floats starting at 9pm and going till about 5am.  Think Moomba x 1,000,000 - more people, more sparkle, bigger floats and a squillion sequins!!!!

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.

Preparation for a photo opp
  The speedboat was a small 12 seater, Dim and I getting onboard after the French group and sitting at the back of the boat.  As we absolutely hummed it across the bay viewing Ipanema beach and Copacabana from a totally different perspective we hung on tight crashing over waves.  Rio is really quite a polluted bay but the Brazialians are spending millions to clean it up.  Unfortunately, the harbour where we left from didn´t show any signs of this...floating garbage and a distinct smell of off mango´s.  We swore to keep our mouths closed to bay water.  This went out the window though as we shot across the water and got absolutely drenched.  We were in the worst two seats of the boat and copped an absolute soaking.  Think.
Copacabana Beach
...someone standing in front of you with a fire hose on full for 2 hours.  We laughed so hard that bay water flowed into our mouths.  Laughing madly at the situation, I yelled to Dim...¨I cant see¨ as salt water flooded into my eyes.  Nor could she.  We sat there, blinded under the flow of constant water, laughing crazily as french tourists laughed along and commented in french.  I´m sure it was something along the lines of....¨I cant believe those girls took those seats!  Man, they´re drenched.  So glad that´s not us.  Etc, etc¨ We got out of the boat, removed our clothes, rang them out, dried them in about 5 mins in the sun (it was 40 degrees that day, thank god) and went back to the hotel for the best shower.
On the Cable Car going up Sugar Loaf Mountain

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.

Rio
  Hey, we were in the jungle!!!  This was just the start of the true experience. 

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.

Sugar Loaf
 

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.

Copacabana beach from above
..just incase.  We all loved this part of the trip.  I got to see bugs larger than I thought possible.  A snail that would give the one out of Dr Dolittle a run for it´s money, a cluster of about 100 caterpillars huddling together and a real, live tarantula (whose abode was about 2 metres from a Peruvian family´s house!!)  Amazing stuff!!!

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.

Monkey in the forest on top of Sugar Loaf
  We all loved Cusco!!!!  Even though Machu Picchu was now off the menu, this is a stunning town.  At 3,300 metres Dim suffered a little with altitude sickness.  This is just like having a constant hangover, we decided.  A mild headache, slight feeling of nausea and feeling a bit off balance.  She was trooper though and powered through it as we shopped, ate, drank (and wouldn´t you know it, JD here too, thank goodness!!!) and toured like good little tourists.  Our hotel was one block from the main square, Plaza de Armas, which is full of shops, restaurants and bars......and therefore backpackers.  It has a real vibe about it.  Loved it and couldn´t help but think that I really should´ve been here 5 years ago when I missed my flight to Cusco and missed out on MP also.
Crowds at the beach in Copacabana
  Ah well....

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.

Yes, thats a penis on his nose. Hey - it's Carnival!
  Waiting for our 17 hour journey via Auckland home.  It´s been a real whirlwind trip.  It feels like a month ago that we set out on this awesome trip, not just 2 weeks.  I´m hanging for a warm & pressured shower, clean clothes and some veggies!  Hope you guys like the pics....

Cheers, Shell.

debbiej says:
looks and sounds fantastic shell what an awesome trip i love the sound of the roughing it part. love to hear more when you get home say hi to dim for me love deb
Posted on: Feb 25, 2010
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Eva Perons tomb
Eva Peron's tomb
My tango lesson
My tango lesson
Dreams come true!  Neil always wan…
Dreams come true! Neil always wa…
Dims tango lesson
Dim's tango lesson
Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer
Preparation for a photo opp
Preparation for a photo opp
Copacabana Beach
Copacabana Beach
On the Cable Car going up Sugar Lo…
On the Cable Car going up Sugar L…
Rio
Rio
Sugar Loaf
Sugar Loaf
Copacabana beach from above
Copacabana beach from above
Monkey in the forest on top of Sug…
Monkey in the forest on top of Su…
Crowds at the beach in Copacabana
Crowds at the beach in Copacabana
Yes, thats a penis on his nose.  H…
Yes, thats a penis on his nose. …
Carnival parade
Carnival parade
ARchipelago off the coast of Rio
ARchipelago off the coast of Rio
The Andes sticking through the clo…
The Andes sticking through the cl…
Lunch on the Amazon
Lunch on the Amazon
Centipede or Millepede???  Lots-of…
Centipede or Millepede??? Lots-o…
The fishing expedition
The fishing expedition
My piranha!
My piranha!
Still waters over the fishing lake.
Still waters over the fishing lake.
Sea otters
Sea otters
Ants carrying leaves
Ants carrying leaves
The Ritz!
The Ritz!
Cold, cold, cold shower.
Cold, cold, cold shower.
The bar
The bar
Tarantula skin in Robs hand
Tarantula skin in Rob's hand
Cluster of caterpillars
Cluster of caterpillars
Romantic beach sunset shot
Romantic beach sunset shot
Cusco
Cusco
Peruvian family in Cusco
Peruvian family in Cusco
The highest irish pub in the world
The highest irish pub in the world
Moray
Moray
Stairs at Moray
Stairs at Moray
On the road...
On the road...
Salt mines
Salt mines
Cusco Cathedral
Cusco Cathedral
Outside of Nortans pub
Wayne, me…
Outside of Nortan's pub Wayne, m…
Girl at the market near Pisaq
Girl at the market near Pisaq
Mountainside near Pisaq
Mountainside near Pisaq
Pisaq
Pisaq
Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo market
Ollantaytambo market
Walking sticks
Walking sticks
Wayne & Rob
Wayne & Rob
In the taxi back to Cusco
In the taxi back to Cusco
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