Category Archives: south america

Isla Del Sol

Too many words to describe this beautiful island but a picture says 1000! So here we are.

We stayed in the South of the island which is the least popular choice but in my opinion ended up belong the most beautiful.

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A huge trek up the hill to reach the accommodation, we thought we had really stitched ourselves up but although it was an hour with 20kg packs, it was beautiful.

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A walk from South to North will take approximately 1.5-2 hours and you can either go over the top or follow the coastal route around the island. I suggest you do one there and the other back as you will virtually see the entire island.

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A simple way of life, a quiet place, and a peaceful paradise.

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Food was interesting = hawaiian pizza with glacier cherries.

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The views were endlessly spectacular.

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Food with a grain of salt in South America

When ordering food, you will not only need to have a pinch of salt, but you need to take the understanding and interpretation of what you have ordered with a grain of salt.

alpaca meat

alpaca meat

Spaghetti can be with Napolitano sauce and onions and capsicum in a sort of sweet sauce in one place, and be traditional spag bol in another. Pointing at a picture of fried crumbed fish may lead to you receiving grilled fish with a rich tomato sauce. A Hawaiian Pizza may come with not only ham and pineapple, but also peaches and glacier cherries.

Nutritious meals with Amazonas Explorer whilst hiking

Nutritious meals with Amazonas Explorer whilst hiking

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Lomo

Be as specific as possible when ordering and if there is a picture go for that – but just be aware that you have a 60% chance of getting not only the correct item but also the English interpretation of the food.

Fresca Salas, nachos,limonada

Fresca Salas, nachos,limonada

This being said, we have enjoyed pretty much all of our meals and the misinterpretations or variations on menus have provided us with amusement.

Alpaca meat!

charcoal chicken


I really do love Hiking

It’s only been in recent years that I have taken up the hobby of hiking and I am now a keen participant. I always loved bushwalking but really put hiking into a whole new category…but to be honest, they are rather similar… hiking just takes longer.

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I’ve been fortunate to trek in two of the most beautiful and famous routes in the world, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley in Peru as well as Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. I would really like to take up more hikinh in Australia and my more local surrounds-  and with all the equipment now in my position, this is certainly possible.

climbing in Machu Picchu

climbing in Machu Picchu

The gear and equipment is one of the biggest hurdles to starting trekking and hiking, so my advice is slow and steady wins the race. Buy your boots first and well and truly break them in before attempting an overnight hike. You will then need appropriate clothing, backpack and supplioes such as emergency and first aid kits, snacks, water bladders and more. For overnight you will need sleeping bags, large backpacks, sleeping mats and walking poles. Buy these things gradually as you progress with your trips and walking – buying it in one hit will hurt your pocket big time!

Whether it’s a local mountain or the famous Andes of South America, I love walking and seeing things that you can only experience by foot.

Keep walking!


La Paz – You interest me

La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia, not sure I love you but I definitely don’t loathe you. I’m not sure like my new friends at Loki Hostal I could move in for weeks or months but I definitely need some more time there to explore.

 

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I was in La Paz for 2 separate days. We wanted 2 whole days there but our plans got somewhat changed and altered due to terrible buses fro Copacabana (That’s another story!!! See “Bus Dramas in La Paz). It would have been better to have 2 consecutive days in order to experience more such as horse riding and treks to the devils tooth or cycling along “Death road”. When I got to La Paz, after much bus travel and adventure, I wanted to just chill and relax. The Loki Hostal instills this in you as well so allow 4 days here if you want to do extra activities.

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The city I know little about really, except that it’s populations is over 1 million, the houses in and around the city are rather closely compacted and spotted around the hillsides. The snow capped mountains can be viewed in the distance, and the temperature is warm to hot during the day. There are few parks though it seems there is a concerted effort to change this and have a more green and art filled la Paz. I loved the Museo de Art with amazing graffiti painted directly onto the walls. The colours and vibrancy of this art really bring life to this part of the city.

 

Enjoying Local Beverages

Enjoying Local Beverages

Walking around I a little scary at times as it is known for crime and theft, but I think this is more of a placebo then anything as I really was quite safe. There are cafes and restaurants speckled around though I also noticed a lot of varieties of fast food. Our favourite was actually an Indian place, The Star of India. It was very true to Indian food and so nice to have a change as you do tend to tire of pasta, dry breads, BBQ chicken, rice and thousands of potato fries!!

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Nights out were spent with the Loki crew and then kicking on to another hostel bar Oliver’s Travels. Drinks are cheap and the entertainment is ever flowing. There is also Wild Rover, another well known hostel. These are safe and fun for young travelers. Meet some locals at these bars and then you can explore the other local bars and clubs.

 

I’d definitely go back to La Paz. It’s extremely cheap for food, accommodation and even most entertainment. The ways of Bolivia are somewhat backwards but here are also some fun and inspiring new things!

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For example the “Zebra crossings” really they take this literally. People dressed as Zebras help you to cross the roads in the evenings and mornings. They dance around and have great fun with passers by. This is largely due to the fact that the traffic is very dangerous and crossing the road at times seems next to impossible!

 

Zebra crossings... literally

Zebra crossings… literally

Enjoy La Paz, Bolivia.

Love to hear your thoughts and experiences.


Mexico – Please take me as your own!

Mexico es en mi Corazon!

 

The Zocalo and Cathedral

The Zocalo and Cathedral

Mexico is in my heart.

 

Whenever I meet Latinos, this is one of the first things I say to people. It really is so special to me after living there for 4 months when I was studying at University in 2009. I lived in the north in Monterrey and studied at El Tec De Monterrey. A truly special time in my life – full of crazy memories.

Reuniting with friends from Monterrey

Reuniting with friends from Monterrey

 

I’m now back and I want to be accepted as one of this countries own.

I say – Soy Mexicana “ I’m Mexican!”

 

Dancing Salsa

Dancing Salsa

I dance salsa and want to move to the rhythm of the heart of this country.

 

Introducing Emily to my love of Mexico

Introducing Emily to my love of Mexico

I speak Spanish but I want to know more, to express myself in many ways and to converse with people of all ages and places.

 

The Beautiful Bellas Artes

The Beautiful Bellas Artes

I want to learn! I want to know the history, the cultures, the foods, the clothes – I want to see every inch of this country.

 

enchiladas

enchiladas

If a job opportunity or business opportunity comes up in Mexico – you know I’ll be on the next plane there!

 

VIVA Mexico!


I’m home – VIVA mexico

It’s taken 3.5 years but  I’m home.  To my adopted country, Mexico.

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I studied in the north of Mexico, Monterrey in 2009 for a semester. I spent 4 months here and was blessed to travel to many places including Zacatecas, Mexico City, Huasteca Potosi, Xilitla, Mazatlan, Vera Cruz, Cuatro Cienegas, Los Casas de San Cristobal, Tulum, Cancun. Isla Mujeres, Palenque, Peurto Escondito, Oaxaca, Play Del Carmen and more!

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The people, the music, the food, the land, the beaches, the language and so much more of this country touches me in a way I can’t describe. My heart beats faster when I hear Mexico and the smile doesn’t leave my face when I’m here. I love to dance Salsa, eat tacos, say “”Que chido guey” and watch the Sunsets.

 

My dear friend Jorge!

My dear friend Jorge!

I nearly cried when we landed in the airport and the full 23 hours of Travel from La Paz in South America to Cancun, Mexico – I couldn’t get the butterflies out of my stomach –TOO EXCITED!

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If you have not yet visited the wonder that is Mexico then you are loco!!

 

I hope to provide some more interesting and detailed information about this country here on this blog so stay tuned.

 

Bienvenido a Mexico – Welcome to Mexico.


Loki Loves You

Loki does love you, though I feel it’s a love hate relationship. She’ll fill you with booze til your down and out and your screaming for mercy, then nurture you back to health with love and enormous breakfasts.

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loki loves you

loki loves you

Loki Hostal is located in a number of places yet I had the privilege of not once but twice staying in the La Paz hostal. We were lucky my friend had stayed at the Lima one because we arrived very late to La Paz on a bus and had no idea what to do with ourselves for 24 hours until we could get our bus the next day (That’s another story!!! See “Bus Dramas in La Paz).

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It’s about a 3 story building located pretty centrally in La Paz and once inside you have a place to escape the madness of the city. We had a 6 bed dorm for girls which had large comfortable beds, 2 pillows, a bathroom in the room and it was quite and clean!!

 

There is a quiet zone with a beautiful fountain, books to borrow or buy and tiles that are straight out of a Morrocan princes home. There is also an atrium so you can as my friend did, nap under the sun.

the quiet zone

the quiet zone

 

Then you have the bar!! Oh the bar! Dancing on the bar is not only accepted but welcomed, Blood bombs are the house drink ( grenadine red syrup, vodka shots, dropped into red bull and drank quickly) and tattoo artists come every Sunday for those loco enough to mark their experience with a permanent picture on their body.

 

the friendly bar staff

the friendly bar staff

 

Activities! So many funtivities!! Horse riding or bike rides to death road. These are organized through the house tour company. Then there is the crazy entertainment manager Mick who has 2-3 activities per day on offer. Most involve drinking to be fair, but all are fun and available to all. I went tin pin bowling – Bolivian style where the pins have to be manually picked up and placed and the ball is rolled back. And then We had Karaoke on my last night. My ears will never forgive me for putting them through that but we had so much fun.

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Kicking on to other bars is quite the norm – We made it to Olivers Travels and again danced on the bar, danced like crazy and the rum and beer was flowing.

 

The resident tattoo artist, Gabrielle

The resident tattoo artist, Gabrielle

I managed to get 30 minutes sleep before I had to head to the airport to leave La Paz, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

Loki Loves you – And I Love Loki.

 

Thank you Mick, Jamie (Scotsman part owner), Sam, Jeremy, Sean and so many others for your fun and crazy attitudes that made this place great. And to the local Bolivians who work there and put up with you, thank you!!!


Travelling with Whiskers is just so much fun

No I have not decided to grow a beard on my ttravels as this is 1. Near impossible and 2. Would not look very attractive on moi. I am travelling with my gorgeous girl Jessica “Whiskers” Picton. Named such since our NZ ski trip in 2010 when we chose wolfpack names and she decided a ferocious, fierce and strong name was … Whiskers.

 

Jess on Lake Titikaka Bolivia

Jess on Lake Titikaka Bolivia

Whiskers is the best travel companion a girl could ask for. She’s fun loving, open to new experiences, posictive, intelligent and acvtive. We talk for hours on end and are never lost for words. We can’t remember the last  time we saw each other properly but it doesn’t matter- it feels like only yesterday we were laughing together in her apartment or surfing the waves of Cronulla.

 

besties for life on Isla Del Sol, Bolivia

besties for life on Isla Del Sol, Bolivia

I’ve known Jess for 9 years since we worked together at a Tex Mex restaurant near our hometown. She was the brightest, sweetest and most fun person there from the get go. I would never have thought that this far on we would be travelling through South America together and still laughing til we cry.

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Jess did a Summer Camp in the USA for 2 months and kicked on down to South America where she is travelling and will do a 1 month volunteer program in the Amazon for energy and conservation. She’s a smarty!

 

jess kicking it to me in the Salt Flats of UYuni, BOLIVIA

jess kicking it to me in the Salt Flats of UYuni, BOLIVIA

We reunited in Cusco and it was hugs and squeals all round, Our days have been filled with laughs, to the point of hysterics, fun conversations with guides and waiters, purchasing crazy wigs and dancing the night away on Halloween and deep talks about our past, present and future.

 

Jumping for joy in the Salt Flats of UYuni

Jumping for joy in the Salt Flats of UYuni

Blessed to have such a darling girl in my life and to share this incredible experience in Peru and South America. Those who cross her path should know they’ve met a truly special creature. Love ya Whiskers.


Peru to Bolivia Visa Troubles

Travelling from Bolivia to Peru and vice versa may not be as easy as one thinks. In theory, getting on a bus, getting off for your visa and then continuing on your journey seems simple…. It isn’t so!

 

Walking over the border from Peru to Bolivia

Walking over the border from Peru to Bolivia

Please let me provide you with some info and tips that could simplify things greatly for you!

  • Keep your piece of white paper!! When they give you your immigration card at the airport in Peru or Bolivia, you must keep this, You cannot leave the country without
  • When travelling by bus you will stop on either the Bolivian or Peruvian side and need to get out of the bus for visa
  • Listen to the guy on your bus as best as possible but note that despite there being limited English speakers, he’ll say it in Spanish, and quickly.
  • Follow the crowd! If in doubt, ask, ask and ask again!
  • Go first to the immigration office, there you get one stamp to get out of the country.

 

Leaving Peru

Leaving Peru

 

  • GO TO THE OFFICE NEXT DOOR!! This is the police office and this is where you get your second stamp. Neither person in either office will tell you to go to the other office. If in doubt, ask!!
  • Walk over the border. Yes your bus will be standing there, ridiculous I know, but in a way fun to walk to another country.
  • Go to the immigration office of the second country (in this case Bolivia) – get your new card and present your card from Peru, or other country, which they will keep.
  • If you do not have both stamps (I know from personal experience) they will make you walk back to the respective country to receive the other stamp!! Make sure to get all the paperwork the first time.
  • Once you have your new visa, again, guard it with your life. You cannot leave without this
  • Another note from experience… don’t write your birth year as 2012.. or respective year, the officer will tap you on the head with your own passport! Note – experienced by moi!!

 

The bus at the Peru/ Bolivia border crossing

The bus at the Peru/ Bolivia border crossing

 

  • So I hope this helps. Follow other passengers. Ask 1000 times and make sure to guard your passport and white paper with your life.

Enjoy South America and crossing many a border!


Peru Trek to Machu Pichu

Here are just a few photos of the epic adventure that was Machu Picchu and the trek leading up to it!

Instagram has been amazing for documenting my trip and sharing info along the way.

Trekking in the lares valley, Peru

Finished the trek at Ollantaytambo, almost at Machu Picchu

 

The view of Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu

 

 

Enjoy!!

 

Please support www.blackdoginstiture.org.au who I did this amazing adventure for!


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