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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

Archive for June, 2011


29 June 2011

Calama-ty

29th June 2011 Would somebody like to leave some comments here in defense of South America? I explain… Our journey to San Pedro de Atacama was in two parts; an overnight bus to the nowhere town of Calama, then a one hour bus to San Pedro. Calama is actually quite unique – I’ve never seen » » »



29 June 2011

Wild north Chile

The north of Chile has some wild landscapes – the desolate Atacama desert coast, then up into the dry Precordillera mountains with all their cactus, and then the incredibly high Altiplano surrounded by snowy peaks and yet the environment most full of life.



28 June 2011

Eating Chile

27th June 2011 Well that was a grim dinner. It turns out that on a holiday Monday about the only restaurants open for dinner are Chinese, although rather unexpectedly this one is staffed entirely by Chileans. And they are gloriously crap at producing Chinese food. Although our set menu boasts “Special Chapsui” and “Mongolian chicken” » » »



28 June 2011

Defying expectations

26th June 2011 Please be careful when you set expectations for people, in whatever you do. I’ve probably rattled on about this a few times, but one of the surest ways to cause disappointment is by setting the wrong expectation. If we had known that the alternative route back to Arica took seven hours, we » » »



28 June 2011

Salty

25th June 2011 Today we dared to brave the road to the Salar de Surire. The guidebook suggests you only try this with a high-clearance vehicle. The lady at the car hire place shook her head vigorously when we asked if it was sensible to do. But Flavio said that if we took it carefully, » » »



26 June 2011

Peruvian wildlife

We didn’t particularly expect to see much wildlife on our tour of Peru, since our travels were mainly organised into tours and the focus was Inca ruins and towns. But our Colca Canyon excursion at the end was an exception, and we managed to find a few things on the way besides.



26 June 2011

Santa Catalina

I’m very happy we went to the trouble of extending our stay in Arequipa by a day, despite the rebooking of buses, car hire and hotels required. Not only because we badly needed a day of (mostly) rest, but because we visited the magical Convent of Santa Catalina, one of the most delightful places I’ve » » »



26 June 2011

Amiable viscachas

24th June 2011 Today we drove higher still, up onto the altiplano above Putre which is mostly over 4,500m. Like being back in Tibet, although instead of the distant white Himalayas we were overlooked by the vast bulk of the volcano Parinacota. As far as I’m aware it has no plans to erupt this week. » » »



26 June 2011

Up high again

23rd June 2011 Grr… stupid Hertz. That’s definitely the last time I ever use them. For definite. This time they had our reservation wrong. We went on-line a few days ago, following our Puno delays, and changed the rental dates. But something is obviously squiffy in their systems, because the Arica office only had the » » »



23 June 2011

Blasted Atacama

22nd June 2011 Today was another transit day, south from Arequipa across the border to Arica. It was a journey of nearly seven hours across the most blasted and desolate landscape I have seen anywhere. I mean, we’ve been to some deserts. I’ve seen the red sands of the Australian outback, but most of that » » »



23 June 2011

Arequipa day

21st June 2011 We phoned up the local agent Joel who handled our Peru itinerary and twisted his arm to get us an additional night in Arequipa and to defer our bus back to Chile for another day. Good man, he came through for us and so we had today at leisure instead of jumping » » »



23 June 2011

Incan Peru

In Cusco, Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu we found the legacy of the Incas. Both in the ruins and remains of their splendid architecture and in the Quechua people who are their descendants. And if you’re wondering about the inclusion of any photos of colonial buildings – well of course the Spanish recycled Inca stones » » »



22 June 2011

Toured out

20th June 2011 It’s actually the 21st as I’m writing, because we curled up for a nap at 7pm last night and didn’t get up again until 7am this morning. Discounting five minutes at 11pm to actually undress. We’ve been to the Colca Canyon and now we’re back in Arequipa and have had our first » » »



22 June 2011

Premature condors

19th June 2011 Dinner at 10:30, bed by 12:30 and then up in the morning at 5:30 can’t be healthy. But our tour bus was picking us up at 7:15 and we still had to pack; the notes from the company said that we needed to only take small bags for the two day trip. » » »



22 June 2011

Senor de Choquekillka

The Senor de Choquekillka festival is celebrated every June in the Cusco province of Peru, and we were lucky enough to drop into Ollantaytambo for a couple of days in the middle of it. There seem to be about six different traditional masked dances, but each troupe tries their damnest to include new and funny » » »



20 June 2011

Birthday irony

18th June 2011 Why ironic? Because a week ago I was cursing the protests in Puno for making us miss Lake Titicaca and fly from La Paz to Cusco. And here I am today looking out over Lake Titicaca because the same protests have stopped our bus going all the way to Arequipa. Why birthday? » » »



20 June 2011

Cusco moochin’

16th June 2011 Free day in Cusco, and with our legs still feeling the burn from Wayna Picchu we weren’t going to be doing anything strenuous. In fact, we really had no plans at all. So we mooched. To try and make the most out of our tourist tickets we stopped at three different museums » » »



16 June 2011

Was it worth it?

15th June 2011 Yes. It was definitely worth getting up at 4:30 in the morning to wait in line for one of the first coaches to take visitors up the mountain, because only that way do you get to look out over the ruins before they are scattered with roving tour groups. It was worth » » »



16 June 2011

Tourist milking parlour

14th June 2011 That’s what Aguas Calientes is, the town in the valley that is the gateway to Machu Picchu. The local government clearly issued an ordinance stating that all buildings must be high-rise and made of concrete or cheap brick, and that no attempt must be made to cover the raw construction materials with » » »



16 June 2011

Ollantaytambo

13th June 2011 I was awoken by the sound of the Dance of the Drunken Men, being played by a brass band as they passed by our hotel. It made me smile (despite the hour). It was just as the hotel owner had said: this festival goes on all day and all night for an » » »



16 June 2011

MAP

At the same time as the Greeks were scratching satyrs on the sides of their elegant but uninteresting pots, in the Andean region of South America there were ancient cultures producing ceramics that owed a lot more to aesthetics and artistic expression than to religious or ritual symbolism. Up to three thousand years old, and » » »



14 June 2011

Sacred valley day

12th June 2011 Well today didn’t start too promisingly. Another group tour, although this one is part of our Peru itinerary and the main purpose is to get us from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Nevertheless, I had been looking forward to being given some context into the Inca sites along the way. So imagine my joy » » »



14 June 2011

Bad trip

11th June 2011 Sorry, this blog includes expletives Today we went on a guided tour of the main sites around Cusco and I was able to reinforce all my prejudices against group guided tours. The tour included the Cathedral, the Temple of the Sun (which we had already visited), and three Inca sites near Cusco » » »



11 June 2011

Inca art, old and new

10th June 2011 I am so impressed with the works in the Museum of Precolumbian Art (MAP). It’s a great museum in the first place, in a beautiful building with all the works superbly presented. Each piece has information in Spanish, English and French although I have to admit the wording sometimes resembles the incredulously » » »



11 June 2011

The new Peru

9th June 2011 And so via the rather un-travellery approach of hopping a short plane flight, we have arrived in Cusco. Tourist capital of the Andes by anyone’s account. So we’ve missed Lake Titicaca, which is a shame, although it was visible out of the window of our 737. Cusco is very different from La » » »



9 June 2011

Bolivia in brief

We only stayed four days in La Paz, with one excursion out to see Tiwanaku on the high plateau. Even with this brief glance there’s lots to find fascinating about Bolivia.



9 June 2011

Chiloe moods

Chiloe was a beautiful place, notable for its churches, its sea views, and its wildlife. But above all notable for its weather. Look at how it adds mood to some of the pictures in this gallery.



9 June 2011

Pear-shaped day

8th June 2011 Oh look, we’re back in La Paz again. Our bus headed off as planned this morning, but simply got snarled in the protest or whatever happening in a town on the route. They’ve piled rubble on the road and no-one is getting through. Determined drivers are taking various alarming dirt roads to » » »



9 June 2011

Cunning artificers

7th June 2011 Everyone has heard of the Incas, right? Yet their civilisation only started in the 13th century and lasted two hundred years or so before the Spanish dropped on them from a great height in the 16th. The Tiwanaku civilisation pre-dates the Incas and managed to last over 2000 years before failing in » » »



7 June 2011

La Paz

6th June 2011 Hurray for the little old women in the tiny bowler hats! They look splendid and lend yet more idiosyncrasy to this unexpected city. Llama foetuses, blue potatoes and bowler hats. The predictable headache, shortness of breath and racing heartbeat resulted in a complete failure to sleep so we just decided to mooch » » »



6 June 2011

Up in the air

5th June 2011 Don’t worry, we were nowhere near the volcanic eruptions in Chile. We could have been, if we had stuck with an earlier plan and stayed a few more days in the south to visit the Chilean Lake District; these volcanoes are in that area. Either an opportunity missed or a danger avoided, » » »



6 June 2011

Australasia Budget Update

“A descent into budget anarchy” or “How not to budget” Written by Maureen, ex-Financial Director of M&M Disclaimer: This budget post-mortem contains explicit despair. So… what went wrong? A: Australia is expensive. B: The exchange rate is lousy. C: It’s a whole continent and we only had a few weeks D: A complete failure in » » »



5 June 2011

Chiloe, farewell

4th June 2011 Apparently it rains all the time on Chiloe, but until today we would never have guessed. Even then, the rain held off until after lunch. We took a roundabout route back to the ferry at Cachao so we could visit the church at Tenaun and stop at a recommended place for lunch » » »



5 June 2011

Chepu otters

We came to Chiloe looking for otters, and at Chepu we weren’t disappointed. It also happens to be a stunningly beautiful place (if you are lucky enough to get sun!) which just shows that otters have very good taste. Look at where else they live: the Isle of Skye, Monterey Bay, Okavango Delta, Yellowstone, need » » »



5 June 2011

Islands in the fog

3rd June 2011 Yesterday we drove down to Quellon to meet up with a wildlife guide called Jorge Oyarce who might be able to help us find some of the local dolphins and other animals we haven’t seen. Quellon isn’t a very stunning town. Jorge was really helpful, although it turned out that any boat » » »



3 June 2011

Success!

1st June 2011 Did I mention that the flooded river valley at Chepu is beautiful? It really is. Honestly, it’s so beautiful it makes you want to cry. Even living here you couldn’t get used to it, I swear. And we also saw the Southern River Otter, woo-hoo! We went out again in the boat » » »



3 June 2011

Fernando and Amory

31st May 2011 We went out kayaking first thing in the morning, an alternative attempt to find the rare Southern River Otter. The river was just as eye-achingly beautiful as yesterday, and just as quiet. No otters at all, but a lovely kayak trip nonetheless. We dedicated the rest of the day to relaxing around » » »



3 June 2011

Otter or not?

30th May 2011 Wow I’m tired. We were ready for breakfast at 7:30, just before dawn. The whole world was sparkling with frost and despite wearing almost every item of clothing we had, it was freezing. Breakfast at least was in the warm, porridge and hot rolls to store up some energy. At 8am down » » »



3 June 2011

Chepu on Chiloe

29th May 2011 Chiloe is a singularly beautiful place. Or at least it is when the sun is shining, which we have been blessed with today. Perhaps that’s why it reminds me a little of Scotland. The first town on the island you find after the ferry crossing is Ancud, and here we stopped for » » »