Saturday, December 23, 2006


Arrived in Cuzco at 6am and went to 4 hostels before we found one in our budget price range. Got ourselves sorted and booked a day trip rafting! On the bus to the river, we made friends with some nice australian boys and a canadian girl who ended up being our team. They decked us out in some seriously sexy old school rafting gear and we hired ancient tevas for our feet. During the short 10 min safety brief at the rivers edge typical us we spent most of the time in excited silly laughter. We got on the river and went through some of the commands and then before we could comprehend the guide had said "now we will practise what happens when we flip" we were upside down in the river. Megan and Emily both got stuck under the boat.. not fun. After we scrambled back into the raft our team dominated the river! We made it up to some 4+ grade rapids. All of us had permanent smiles on our faces the entire 3 hours. It was rad.

That night we had dinner at a restaurant called 'Jack's' with one of the auzzie boys. It was absolutely delicious and got through mucho cerveza (beer) and cocktails. We met the guides at a bar to watch the video they took of us. By the time we got there they were all pretty wasted and we witnessed some seriously sleezy dancing from some incredibly sleezy guys, mullets included. The head guide kindly enlightened us that the reason we were the only group to get purposely flipped because us girls were not paying attention to the safetly talk and he wanted to freak us out! It certainly worked, Emily got stuck under for ages and when she finally made it out the guide flipped the boat back and it landed straight on her head again.

The next day took us on a 10 hour tour to the famous sacred valley of the incas, a long day when you feel seedy, but luckily it was very sunny day. We saw lots of ruins, a massive face carved into the mountain side, beautiful scenary, amazing colonial church, enjoyed a bit of market shopping.

We though all our shopping was done when we left Bolivia but Cuzco changed that pretty quick smart. The day before the inca trail was our 'rest day' = an entire day shopping. In 3days we spent about 4 hours in a pottery shop and bought rediculous amounts of mugs and bowls and more BREAKABLES! We got home and all couldnt believe how much stuff we had accumulated and how much we had spent! We're obviously not 'true' backpackers! All working with about 3bags each!

The Inca Trail is going to be a hard one to write about because it was such an incredible experiance and one that has to be experianced to understand the magic of it all. It started at 6am when we got picked up by our guide 'Gonzalez' and met Mark and Junka a british couple. The first day didn't involve a lot of walking, about 3hours on the flat in our hot brightly coloured plastic rain ponchos, and with our bambo walking sticks which in the days to come we couldn't live without! For our group of 5 there were 9 porters and the guide. The porters is what makes some of this trip so weird, they each carry about 30kg each on their backs in a big sheet bundle. The Run the track in crappy sandels made of old tires and get to the camp site hours before you even get close to set up the sleeping tents, food tent and have hot drinks and a gormet 4 course meal waiting for you in the middle of no where! its maddness. The food was incredible. We put on weight doing this tramp.

The second day we had heard was the hardest.. started at 6am and it was straight up all day moving from 3000m altitude to 4000m. It was pretty much a walk in the park until we got to 3700m where we slowed down considerably due to the altitude and the rain, but we made it to the top all in one piece. We were so excited about achieving it so fast that we practically ran down the other side, making it to our campsite by 12pm where the porters greated us clapping and cheering as if they hadnt just done it with all that weight and in half the time! it was almost embarrasing.

Day 3 was the longest and the wettest, everything not covered by our ponchos was saturated. The walk was amazing, along the edge of mountains above the clouds and in the clouds. The camp site was beside a big lodge which had a bar so before dinner we bought 9 beers, one each for the porters! We couldn't communicate with them at all but when we gave them the beer it lit their faces up so much! It was silly, we felt so generous but it was nothing in compared to what they had done for us the last few days.

Day 4, 4am start and walking by 5 to catch the sunrise at the sungate, 6km from the campsite.. we didnt quite make it but stopped to watch it show itself from behind the impressive mountains.

When we arrived at the sungate we were still all checking out the mountains in the east and when we finally turned around we realised that there was machu picchu way below us! incredible.

We did a quick tour with Gonzales of all the temples and ruins and then before the clouds moved over Emily and Sarah did the walk up Wainupicchu, the mountain in all the classic photos. It was straight up a narrow track made of stairs with chiff wall on one side and cliff drop on the other. From the top we got a fantastic view of all the mountains and machu picchu, it was the highlight of the day.

Back down in reality we went to some hot springs in the jungle before catching the train back to cuzco. The train was horridly slow, it took 4hours and was very wobbly.

The next few day we relaxed in preparation for Rio.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Isle Del Sol

Went on a day tour of Isle Del Sol (Island of the Sun) out in Lake Titicaca. Was a cold trip out, but very sunny once we got there. Did an hour´s trek to the ruins where the Adam and Eve of the Inca´s happened. Emily is pictured in front of them - you can see the Islands rising out of the Lake.

Then we headed to the South of the island and walked up hundreds of stairs to the very top to get some amazing views of the Lake. Lago Titicaca is one of the largest and highest lakes in the World, over 8000 squre kms. We learnt the importance of sunscreen at altitude - all of us got very burnt faces and heads, we´re still feeling the effects a week later!

Next day we said Chao Bolivia, Hola Peru! and got on a bus and headed to Puno, Peru, also on Lake Titicaca. We went on a morning´s boat tour to the Floating Islands, where in the shallow part of the lake, people live on islands made entirely of the reeds that grow in the Lake. They´re anchored by rocks attached with string and all the families that live on them sleep in huts also made of reeds. It was incredible to see them and learn about how they live - the Islands only last 20 years before they disintergrate and it takes 5 months to make a new one. They get around the islands on these amazing boats (also made of reeds!) that we took a ride on, see picture.

Next stop was an addition to the itinery, due to the extra time created by not going to the jungle. We headed to Arequipa, in Southern Peru. It is surrounded by volcanoes and is made almost exclusively of white limestone. We visited the Santa Cantalina Convent, made in 1540´s, it was closed to the public for over 400 years and the nuns lived in total seclusion in this huge monastry, over 2 hectares in the middle of the city. It was opened in 1970 and now the nuns live in a little portion in a corner, still in total seclusion. Then we went to the Museo Santuarios Andinos, where the frozen Inca mummies are held. We went on a guided tour where we learnt about the Inca ritual of child sacrifice to appease the mountain gods. Juanita is the most famous mummy found because she is perfectly preserved from being frozen (others have been damaged by lightening). We saw artifacts that have been found by archeologists, adn then at the end, actually got to see Juanita herself, in a special glass case that has been made to keep her at the perfect temperature and humidity for preservation.

Next day headed on a 2 day tour of the Colca Canyon - the 2nd deepest canyon in the world (twice as deep as the Grand Canyon). We stopped in little villages along the way and visited some hot pools. In the evening, there was a massive festival going on in the town, everyone wearing tradional dress and dancing around the Plaza de Armas to bands playing a little repetitive song. It was awsome to watch for awhile, but got kind of tedious after a few times around the Plaza! It was their annual celebration of the different buildings in the town, and families put on free food and alcohol and the whole town parties for 3 days.

Next morning, we headed into the canyon for a spot of condor watching. We saw 2. Unfortunately they weren´t too keen on putting on a massive show for us, but we did get to see how majestic they look in flight.

We arrived this morning in Cusco on the overnight bus (our last long bus trip!), it´s a cool city, but very touristy. Been busy organising things to do ... more soon!

Chao for now.

ps, Happy Birthday Bruno! love emily.

Photo catch up 2

Potosi Mine tour - Megan and Emily before we go in, and then us with an aussie girl we met struggling to breath inside! Em´s putting a brave face, but she´s just as bad as the rest of us!

In La Paz, view from our window - hundreds of powerlines within arms reach. Policia presence was huge in the city.

Photo catch up!

ones of us on salt lakes, in Uyuni, Bolivia. and one of em in the train grave yard, also in Uyuni.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Lago Titicaca

well amigos, after flights got cancelled again yesterday, we regrettfully decided to flag the jungle trip (we´ve been trying to get there since thursday). The forecast for the rest of the week wasn´t looking good, and so it was unlikely we were going to make it up to Rurrenabaque to do the tour. We were going to be running out of time, and couldn´t stand to be in La Paz any longer, so we got on a bus and headed to Copacabana on Lago Titicaca, on the Bolovian/Peruvian border. Bus trip was funny, took over an hour to get out of La Paz, the outskirts just go on forever. Got a look at some of rural Bolivia - very basic as you can imagine. Copacabana is a sleepy little town, nice temperature, and good markets with hippies selling interesting jewellery, so we´re happy. Its nice to be away from the smog, exhaust fumes and honking of horns too! Last night we went to a bar to see some live blues, they were amazing - so so good. just a couple of guys, one on soprano sax and another singing and on guitar. they were very lively and it made for a great night. we had some very strong vodka and oranges, talked smack about religion and then slept like babies! Went to check out the Cathedral today, was a monstrous thing, very beautiful and elaborate. Heading out for a day tour and a night staying on Isle de la Sol (island of the sun) tomorrow, will be a good excursion so will fill you in next time... Adios!

Friday, December 1, 2006

Stuck in La Paz

hola amigos, writing from La Paz, because we`re stuck here for the second extra day now. We were meant to catch a little 12 seater plane to Rurrenbaque yesterday, from which we could do our Pampas tour in the Jungle, but alas, the weather prevented the flight from going. We were put on a flight this morning, but then it turns out the 6 of the 9 Bolivian states are on strike today, so no flights into Rurrenbaque! we`ve been put on one tomorrow arvo, so here`s hoping! we`ve pretty much exhausted everything La Paz has on offer, so we`ve just been chilling out and checking out the markets some more - can`t get enough of those! but we`re definitely ready to move on, the ridiculously over the top horn happy drivers are starting to get on our nerves!
will check in again soon, chao!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Uyuni was a litttle hole, so we decided to get out asap, hence took the bus at6 pm, meant to take 6 hours, ended up getting into Potosi at 3.30am. The bus was tiny, and crammed full of stinking Bolivians. In the seats in front of us, there were families of 4 sharing 2 seats. It was so hot that condensation was dripping from the roof of the bus! The road wasn´t paved any of the way, so it was like gravel roads. it was disgusting, we would have got off if we weren´t in the middle of nowhere! Definitely a once in a lifetime experience! in potosi we did a mine tour where we dressed up in protective gears and then went in the mine to see them working. was amazing to see, we were struggling to breath really hard and it was stiffling hot, and these guys do it at least 10 hours a day. the youngest ones we talked to were 16 and had been working since they were 14, thats what struck me the most, it was so sad. that and the bus trip was really one of those"we don´t know how lucky we are" moments.

We left Potosi on teh overnight bus (but paid top dollar this time and got a flash one!) and once we had navugated the crazy bus terminal, made our way to La Paz, where we are now. Amazing market shopping, where you can buy dirt cheap Bolivian goods, and crazy stuff like dehydrated llama foetuses (apparently for good luck and prosperity), magic potions, and heaps of herby kinda stuff. last night we went into the city centre and it was ridiculously busy, people everywhere. it took us ages just to get the courage up to cross the road! it´s only meant to be 2 lanes each way, but last night ended up 4 or 5 on each side. they hjave policia in the middle of the street directing traffic and the traffic lights are manually operated. we had our tastiest mean from a boy in a street stall, we all ate dinner for under 2 US dollars.

Today in town there was some kind riot in the city, policia everywhere with shields etc, what sounded like gunshots all the time, but we couldn´t see anything and no one seemed to be worried, so it was fine. ha ha ha

ok, must dash, adios!

ps, attached photos of us on teh salt lakes, they´re pretty sweet!