The Epic Adventure: Month 14 (January 2017)
My second last month of this adventure is over! And as I write this, just over two weeks late, I’m facing the last couple of weeks before I go home. It’s bittersweet- I’m beyond excited to see everyone and eat at all my favourite restaurants. But at the same time I’m so not ready to adapt to real life again. Backpacking life is so much better!
I’m viewing my return as more of a four month break from travel rather than the end of something. Since I’ll most likely be off to Asia in July for some new adventures.
Words can’t describe how much I’ve absolutely loved exploring South America. It’s a very different vibe to Europe. The travellers are older here- and you are less likely to run into the dickheads you run into in Europe. South American travellers tend to be more experienced, slightly older and friendlier. That’s not to say I haven’t met some dickheads here too.
Most importantly, in the last 7 weeks I’ve thrown off the solo travel hat and instead had a travel buddy. I met Sarah at a bus station in Ecuador and we have been travelling together ever since. I love solo travelling but it has been a breath of fresh air to be able to have the ease of travelling with other people.
1-3 January- Tambopata Research Centre, Peruvian Amazon
3-12 January- Cusco, Peru
13-15 January- Arequipa, Peru
15-17 January-Puno, Peru
18-22 January- La Paz, Bolivia
23-25 January- Salt Flats and Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
25-28 January- Iquique, Chile
28-30 January- Santiago, Chile
30-31 January- Valparaiso, Chile
Some Interesting Statistics
Countries Visited- 3 (Peru, Bolivia and Chile)
Flights- 1 (Calama-Santiago)
Tours/Organised Activities- 5
Things lost- 2 credit cards and $300 AUD in Peruvian Sol! UHHH
Machu Picchu- Machu Picchu isn’t one of the 7 new wonders of the world for nothing. Despite it being the most touristy place in South America, nothing can take away from how amazing it is. You can’t help but think how a civilisation managed to build such a city on the top of a mountain without modern machinery. I’ve seen lots of things on my trip that have blown my mind, but I’m not sure Machu Picchu will be beaten by anything. I only wish I could have done a trek to the top (I’ll explain why I couldn’t later).
The Wild Rover Hostels- These been a few hostels on my trip that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with and the chain of Wild Rover Hostels is one of them. There are three of them (in Cusco, Arequipa and La Paz) and we stayed at all of them. Every time we arrived on an overnight bus at around 6-7am and they let us check in and head straight back to head. The beds were super comfortable and the facilities were great. But the best part of the Wild Rovers were the nightlife- at any of the hostels going to bed early was going to bed at 2am. Most nights we didn’t arrive home until 6am and the first 48 hours I was there I didn’t even sleep. It’s a crazy place and I’m still not sure my liver has forgiven me.
Homestay on Lake Titicaca- We did an overnight homestay on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca from Puno. We got to journey around the islands of the Lake and stay on one of them with a local family. We even got to dress up in their traditional dress and go dancing with them. Sure its touristy but it didn’t take away from the experience for me.
The Salt Flat Tour- The three day tour we did through the Salt Flats and Bolivian desert is one of the clear highlights of my whole time in South America. You couldn’t afford to nap while driving- there was just too many things to see. Every single time I looked out the window there was something beautiful to see. It was also made extra special by the fact that we had an awesome jeep full of people we had met along the way in South America and one random German backpacker who was awesome.
Valparaiso- We spent just over a week in Chile and Valparaiso was the best place we visited. I absolutely loved the streets that were colourful with street arts, and the little cafes and bars that we visited. We also had an awesome night out with some locals at a gay bar!
Favourite Food Moments
Arequipa- To be perfectly honest we didn’t do very much in Arequipa other than eat. And boy did we eat good! We went to a restaurant that only served peruvian potatoes with a bunch of toppings on them, we had awesome ceviche and we even found an Indian restaurant with the best curry I’ve had since I left the UK. So delicious!
Guinea Pig and Alpaca in Cusco- This is one of my favourite food moments just because of how adventurous it was rather than how tasty it was. Guinea Pig is a local delicacy in Peru so we had to try it before leaving. I wasn’t a fan- it was just a bit fatty and stringy for me. But Alpaca was delicious if cooked correctly. It actually reminded both Sarah and I of Kangaroo.
Cooking in Valparaiso- Finally being able to have a fully equipped kitchen to cook in was amazing. Especially after months of travelling through Peru and Bolivia, where the norm is to have a restaurant attached rather than a kitchen. And I made good use of the kitchen in our hostel in Valparaiso- spending three hours in it cooking homemade gnocchi with homemade tomato pasta sauce.
Altitude Sickness- I spent the majority of January at a minimum of 2000m above sea level. Most places averaged 3500m above sea level, although I hit a top of 5000m above sea level while in the Bolivian desert. Before arriving in Cusco I absolutely knew I was going to suffer from altitude sickness. And I did- I spent the first day in bed with a pounding headache and a crazy heartbeat. But I also thought I’d assimilate like everyone told me I would. It was true that my heartrate lessened and I didn’t get the headache everyday, but I never adjusted. Even walking up a flight of stairs was difficult for me and attempting a hike made me see stars. I also blacked out on the climb up to Machu Picchu. It sucked because it meant that I had to say no to lots of activities I had planned to do; like hiking Colca Canyon or the Rainbow Mountain. I just wasn’t able to with the altitude.
Money Spent- $2375
One of my cheapest months of the whole trip. South America is relatively cheap, especially when you aren’t doing expensive activities like cruises in the Galapagos or Amazon Lodges. Whilst I cut my spending this month, I definitely could have done it cheaper. I spent way too much money partying all over Peru and Bolivia. But I wouldn’t swap those nights for anything!
As always you can see a full run down here.
Only one! Sorry guys! I have one ready to go for tomorrow.
A Much Needed Recharge in Berlin
Instagram Top Five
I woke up at 4.30am this morning with a terrible cold and a stomach ache for the 1.5 hour vertical climb to Machu Picchu. If that wasn’t bad enough I managed to lose $200 and two of my bank cards. But despite the series of errors nothing can really ruin a trip to the wonder that is Machu Picchu. I still can’t believe how they managed to create this city all the way up in the mountains, and I can’t help but lament the lost Inca civilisation!
Just arrived back after six days in the Amazon jungle without internet capable of uploading a photo! The Amazon is a hard place for a photographer- all of the exciting wildlife is usually too far away, up in the trees, for you to take a great shot without a massive tripod and extra big lens. Two things this backpacker is not carrying around! So for the most part I just enjoyed everything without the need to snap constant photos. But I did manage a few gems like this one of the macaws at the clay lick. The Macaws were the major reason I chose this part of the rainforest and I was not disappointed!
February is going to be devoted to the last two countries I’ll be visiting in South America and on this 15 month trip; Argentina and Brazil. Clearly the thing I’m most excited for is Carnivale in Rio!!!