A Travellerspoint blog

My Travel Dream Come True - The Galapagos Islands

After a horrendous journey to Guayaquil in Ecuador (26 hours, numerous buses, closed border etc) we booked into our hotel and quickly began to book our flights to the Galapagos the following day. It may seem very last minute and indeed it was but the flight prices don’t change much so we decided to wait until we were sure we were going. The flights to the Galapagos are not cheap. They are about $900 for two and you have to pay a $100 dollar tax when you arrive in the airport on the other side. We were hoping to use our frequent flyer points with LAN to get cheaper flights but after 3 hours in their office, trying to book through a faulty LAN points system we only got one for cheaper and paid full price for the other. LAN flights are usually ok but their frequent flyer system is beyond ridiculous it is so inefficient. Between the journey and the ordeal over the flights, I sat in the LAN office in tears wondering if I’d ever get to my dream destination of the Galapagos. Thankfully we got our flights the next morning and I don’t think I was ever so relieved.

We finished watching our David Attenborough ‘Galapagos’ series on the plane over - which is really brilliant - and we were super excited when the plane landed. As soon as the plane door opened, I felt like a child waiting for Santa in anticipation of what we would see. I wasn’t’ disappointed.

The Galapagos is made up of a series of islands, four of which are inhabited, but most are not. Tourists who visit can wither take a cruise or island hop themselves. The advantages of the cruise is that if you pay enough money you get to places that you couldn’t visit otherwise. The disadvantage is that it is really expensive. We tried for a last minute deal but it was still expensive so we decided to travel around ourselves and see what happened. The are lots of day trips to other islands that you can do so you can still see some of the uninhabited Islands too. While these are expensive, most of them are really worth the money.

So what is so special about the Galapagos? Well in part the volcanic nature of the islands but most people visit for the spectacular wildlife. The wildlife is completely unique to other parts of the world. One of the reasons being is that creatures here don’t have many predators so they have evolved differently then their mainland relations. For that same reason, they are very tame. Even the birds don’t fly away on approaching them. The islands may be stunningly beautiful but they are made up of volcanic rock and are harsh environments to live in so the much of the wildlife had adapted to suit its environment. This is one of the reasons why Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’ uses the Galapagos finches to demonstrate natural selection. Darwin noticed that the finches had different beak sizes depending on which island in the Galapagos they came from. It is also very obvious with the giant tortoises. Their shells are noticeably different as you move from island to island.

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Trying to spot the different creatures is what makes this place so special. When you first sight a marine iguana, it is something to behold and the same can be said for most of the creatures. I had seen the mating dance of the blue footed boobies in documentaries but actually seen it in the wild was amazing. Birds with ‘blue feet’, its class.

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Aside from what you see on land there is so much to see in the water too and this is another major attraction for the Galapagos. The snorkeling here is spectacular. In one snorkelling trip, we saw manta rays, sharks, giant sea turtles, sea lions etc. Diving here is also very special although you need to be quite experienced for some of the more interesting dive sites such as Gordon Rocks where you can spot hammerhead sharks. The most spectacular diving takes place near the uninhabited islands of Wolf and Darwin but these are very far out and you need to go with a liveaboard dive boat for maybe 7 days and its not cheap, as you can imagine. Here is a link to one of the videos we took snorkelling

I could probably write about the Galapagos for days on end. It is an expensive trip what with flights, taxes, accommodation and trips/cruises but it is worth every penny. It is unique and every day is exciting there. You get to see so much interesting wildlife and it also great fun snorkeling when the sea lions come to play with you. They are super playful and curious. Ger in particular had a soft spot for the sea lions!!! Here are just a few pics to give an idea of what you might see there.

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My best advice for anyone interested in going or finding out more about the Galapagos is to watch the recent David Attenborough documentaries (produced by Sky) on it. They are brilliant and are an excellent guide to it. It was my ulitmate travel dream to visit there and I’m so glad we did. I really hope to return but might have to save a few pennies first.

Dodging Mosquito Status: There is nothing that unique about the mossies here. They are the same biting nuisances as ever. Unfortunately they were quite plentiful especially on Santa Cruz. Maybe over time, they will evolve not to bite tourists!!!

Posted by ofenelon 16:25 Archived in Ecuador Tagged galapagos Comments (0)

A dash through Peru

From Bolivia we crossed over into the Peruvian border to the town of Puno. It situated on the banks of lake Titicaca and as such is quite touristy. We just spent one night there and done the tour of the ‘Floating Islands’. These man-made Islands consist of small villages and there are lots of Islands. They are very impressively made but the trip was a little too touristy for us as even though you paid for it, you still were asked for money at various times and to buy gifts etc. It sort of took the good out of it. Puno itself is a nice town with some good restaurants etc. It has a great view of lake titicaca and is a very convenient entry point to Peru from Bolivia. Our visit was very rushed.

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Onward from Puno we headed for Cusco. Cusco was the former capital of the Incas and as such is a really impressive city with winding narrow streets and walls with big stones that perfectly fit together without the need for clay etc. a hallmark of the Inca buildings. There are also some very impressive colonial style buildings from the Spanish influence.

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Being the centre of the Inca empire menas that there are lots of very important villages near Cusco that contain wonderful Inca ruins. A lot of these ruins are close together and make up what is known as the Sacred Valley. There are days trips from Cusco that do all the important sites in the sacred valley. It’s a very good tour if your short on time and the various sites are fascinating. The Incas were truly a remarkable culture. I think was impresses me the most about them was their foresight. At many of the big sites its possible to see lots of terraces which all together was like one big lab. The individual terraces had micro climates where the Inca’s grew different verities of crops. They would then spread the knowledge they learnt from these ‘experiments’ across the Inca culture. Also the architecture is remarkable. The Inca’s built with such precision that they didn’t even need clay to stick the blocks together. They also put in anti earthquake measures in the foundations and over hundreds of years many Inca buildings survived numerous earthquakes. It really made us wonder that if the Incas were still alive today, what would they have achieved? One of my favourite sites was ollantaytambo. Its a very pretty village with an amazing ruin. We didn't get a chance but I would highly recommend staying in this village if you had time. The ruins themselves are interesting with the trademark terraces and on the mountain opposite you can see another ruin. Its a bit strange as the mountain itself looks like a mans face. These type of features were very important to the incas. When they built thier cities, they often resemble different shapes. Macchu Picchu is shaped like a condor.

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Of course the most famous of the Inca ruins is Macchu Picchu. It’s also probably the most asked thing you’ll hear in Peru ‘did you go to macchu picchu?’ In fact I had heard so much about it that I nearly didn’t want to go just out of protest. That would have been a bit foolish though as it is an unbelievable sight. The one issue with it though is how to get there. There are so many companies offering tours and it’s very expensive, especially if your on a budget. We chose to go by car to one village and then to trek 3 hours to the nearest town of aqua caliente where you can reach macchu picchu. It was a bit cheaper than by train but was a disastrous day of travel. The tyres in our van blew twice, we missed one of the road deadlines so had to wait 2.5 hours. As a result we ended up trekking in the dark and arrived at our hotel after midnight. We only got 3.5 hours sleep and had to get up so we could make sunrise. Basically we chose an bad agency although its hard to know which is a really good one. The one thing about Cusco is that while it is beautiful, its very touristy and I did feel like a walking bank machine at times. However, it was all worth if when we entered Macchu Picchu just in time for sunrise. We had 2 hour guide and then we spent several hours wondering around. It was stunningly scenic and the whole place is fascinating. We were meant to trek the mountain of macchu picchu but unfortunately we didn’t make it to the top. It’s a tough hike to the top and on 3.5 hours sleep we just didn’t have the energy. We didn’t mind though as we had a lovely day walking around.

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With the Macchu Picchu box ticked, it was time for us to hurry up and get across the country. We needed to make up some time so a few long bus journeys were called for. We first went to Lima and spent the night there. We only had one night there but it did seem like a cool city to explore if we had time. From Lima we went to Huarez. The town itself is not overly impressive but it is at the foothills of the Cordilla Blanca mountain range and the place to organise the famous Santa Cruz trek. This is a 4-day high altitude trek through the country side passing by various mountains & lakes over the 4 days. I was a little bit nervous about it as its high altitude trekking. The highest pass goes up to 4,700m and I was afraid I’d suffer from altitude sickness. The trek however was amazing. I did find it tough at times, especially at the pass but we had spectacular weather, a great group of people, a good guide etc so we were very lucky. It was also not quite high season so it meant we almost had the trail to ourselves.

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From Huarez we continued our rush to get from Peru to Ecuador by getting a series of buses. We made a stop in Trujillo and stayed near the beach for 1 night. After that we had to get to Guayaquil to book flights to the Galapagos. We booked the bus but unfortunately the border was closed so we had to go to Cuenca in Ecuador and then onto Guayaquil. The whole thing took us about 26 hours. Thankfully that was end of long arduous bus journeys. While our stay in Peru was short, its an amazing place and we really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend trekking in that Huarez region. There are lots of treks to do and the Santa Cruz one was beautiful. There is of course lots more to do in Peru but like elsewhere in South America you need time. One other great thing about Peru is that there are some really good bus companies so its a bit more comfortable than those in Bolivia. It was nice treat!

Dodging Mosquito Status: Thankfully with the high altitude once again saved us from our enemies. We did get swarmed by horrible black flies at one location on the santa cruz trek but at least they didn't bite!

Posted by ofenelon 15:11 Archived in Peru Tagged cusco puno huarez Comments (0)

Living life on the edge

In general I’m not a big fan of big cities so I wasn’t overly looking forward to La Paz. Arriving in on the bus left me feeling a little bit more uncertain of how much time I wanted to spend there. The first site of La Paz from the bus is both impressive and daunting. La Paz is located in a valley but t the city extends all the way up the valley and on one side -where there’s no mountains- it overflows on the plateau. It spills over so much there is now an entirely new city called El Alto.

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We picked a hotel in the centre of the city and after settling in I realised that La Paz had a lot to offer. It felt like a real city unlike Sucre . We signed up for a walking tour and it was a great idea. Our guide was excellent and the tour was a lot more than just learning about history dates of buildings. He brought us up to El Alto (considered a no go area in the guidebooks) and it was really interesting. It was colourful, full of street vendors and also contained a much more authentic witches market than the one in central La Paz. The witches market is cool. Within Bolivia there are lots of Catholics but there is also the traditional beliefs from Inca time and before of worshiping mother earth or Pachamama. The ‘witches market’ sells all of the products necessary to worship pachamama. For example, if someone buys a new house they might bury a llama foetus in the garden for good luck or give someone a charm to wish them good luck etc. I don’t know all the details of this belief system too much but its v important to a lot of people and in El Alto you can see the Shamans work. The Shamans are similar to priests, they seem to provide guidance, help and perform rituals for the people who go to them. We went to one and had our coca leaves read. He was lovely man, he seemed very intelligent and seemed interested in our cultures. We will find out if his reading comes true!!!

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There is a good bit to see in La Paz, and a walking tour is s good idea to get your bearings. One of the plus sides to a big city is that there are lots food choices and its very easy to book tours from La Paz. One of the downsides is that I found the air quite polluted. It’s also worth mentioning that its at 3, 700m which is no joke if you haven’t acclimatized. I wouldn’t recommend flying into La Paz from a flat country for that reason as it really increase the risk of altitude sickness. It would be better to fly somewhere lower and gradually make your way to La Paz.

As previously mentioned it easy to book tours from the city and one of the most popular is the famous Death Road tour. Its starts not far from La Paz and continues downhill for over 3,000m to near Coroico in the jungle area. Ger decided he wanted to do it so we booked him in and I went in the van behind him. It was really lovely views although a bit heartbreaking on the way as you could see lots of crosses along he road marking all the deaths. Most of the deaths were from bus/car crashes but there were a number of cyclists. If you went too fast and lost control unfortunately there is no coming back if you went over the edge. The drops are staggeringly steep. However, the tours that go down it now are quite safe as they make about 15 stops on the way down and explain the road to the cyclists. The road itself is not really used by vehicles now either so there are very little accidents anymore. Ger loved it, he found it a bit difficult in places but overall it was fine. I had a lovely journey in the van!!! When we reached the bottom, it was time for Ger to rest and for me to test out my daredevil side by having a go on the zipine that crosses over valley at the end of the death road. I’m not sure why I thought this would be less scary than the death road but my fear of edges/heights has no rational. I was right. I wasn’t scared. Well initially I was but once I was strapped in and zooming across the valley, I loved it. There were 3 zip lines in total each one getting a bit lower until you are eventually at the bottom again. It was brilliant and what’s more is that it’s a community project so the locals earn money from it. I am now a firm believer that zip lining should be brought into every city as a means of commuting to work!!!

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After all this excitement we got to relax in the animal sanctuary of La Senda Verde. As it was my birthday, Ger thought it would be nice to spend it here as I love animals so much and he booked us into the tree house so we could watch the monkeys from our balcony. It was a really lovely weekend. The place itself is home to lots of animals that have been previously neglected and now they have a home in La Senda Verde. In Bolivian law, they cannot be re-released so they will remain in La Senda Verde for the rest of their days. As a tourist, you can help by staying in the lodges, donating money and also volunteering.

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After a lovely weekend, we were nearly finished our trip in Bolivia. We headed back to La Paz for one night and then caught a but to Puno in Peru. In our 5 weeks in Bolivia, we really enjoyed it. Its very cheap and its easy to do Spanish lessons and tours etc. The culture is fascinating and is still very much alive which I think is one of the big attractions for tourists. The diversity of the landscape is spectacular from the salt flats to the mountains down to the jungle. It is worth mentioning though that the altitude can be tough at times if your in the higher regions. Also, while transport is very cheap, its not necessarily that comfortable and journeys can be arduous off the main roads. Unfortunately one of the other sides its that we found hygiene not to be great when it came to food and we both suffered a bit with stomach problems. It seems to be developing well though so I think these issues should improve in the future. In the meantime, its definitely worth visiting if your in South America.

Posted by ofenelon 05:03 Archived in Bolivia Tagged death la road paz verde senda Comments (1)

The dizzy heights of Bolivia

As the title suggests, we began our journey in the Altoplana side of Bolivia where everything is well, high up. We crossed the border from Argentina to the town of Tupiza. The border crossing was extremely painless, we walked across and it took all of 5 minutes. From here we got a shared taxi to Tupiza. The difference in the two countries was at once, very obvious. All of the local older people -some young- were wearing traditional dress. There was a lot of colour on the streets, food etc was noticeably cheaper but poverty was noticeably more too.

The town of Tupiza is very quaint and was a great first stop to get prepared for our 4 day trip across the famous salt flats or the Salar de Uyuni. This is probably the most popular tour in Bolivia and its not really hard to see why. It is unbelievably spectacular. The tour itself can be approached from different places in the region. We started our tour in Tupiza which meant we spent our last day on the salt flats and finally Uyuni. To go on the tour, it's very easy to organise. We were recommended an agency so we went to them and they organise the lot for you. You basically go in a land rover along with two other guests, a driver and a cook. Each day, you drive across various landscapes stopping at the important sights. The chef cooks everything for you and you spend the night in basic accommodation in villages along the way. What is so special about it? The landscape. It is indescribable. You travel over so many different types of landscape passing volcanoes, mountainous areas at 5, 000m, past lakes of all shapes and colours, across desert type areas (the famous Dali desert picture) and finally across miles of salt flats. Each day we were driving for 8-12 hours and I was never once bored. Aside from the landscape, there is amazing wildlife to see such as llamas, condors, vicunas, sunrise and flamencos.

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The trip itself is fantastic although one of the downsides is the altitude. For some, it is not even an issue, unfortunately for me I did suffer from Mild altitude symptoms for two of the days. Ger was fine. Altitude sickness can be mild or very serious. At very high altitude, mild sickness is quite common. I was getting very bad headaches and I also didn't feel like eating. We were a little bit worried about it because the tour was going to up even higher after I starting getting symptoms. This wouldn't be advised but we didn't really have a choice and thankfully the next night the driver brought us down lower to sleep and my symptoms eased. It is something though that you have to be aware of on that side of Bolivia, its very high. There is a medicine to help you acclimatise and also a lot of Bolivians eat coca leaves which helps the symptoms too.

Coca leaves are very interesting and important to Bolivians. Many people, especially at altitude, take them all the time. The leaves have properties which helps to relieve symptoms of altitude sickness and go back to Inca times. They are from the same plant as which cocaine is made from but are just a herb when taken as leaves and its not illegal. Just like any drug, there is a lot of chemistry involved in converting the leaves to cocaine! We had some leaves on the trip and they are just like have tea leaves in your mouth. You can also make tea with them which is very popular and I think it works well. The leaves are also given as offerings in some religious ceremonies. There was an issue with some UN countries (you can probably guess which) trying to ban Bolivians on chewing coca because they didn't want an increase in the production of the plant that might lead to cocaine production, however many of the coca plants are not grown for this but for their leaves in their natural state to be sold to Bolivian locals. It has been a tradition for centuries and at present the UN hasn't succeeded on banning it yet. I hope that Bolivia continues to fight for this right to have their coca leaf as it is a very important part of their culture.

After the salt flats we made want to the city of Sucre. It is the actual capital of Bolivia. Well, its the administrative capital now. The working capital is La Paz. Its called the white city as in the centre of the city all of the buildings are whitewashed (legally they have to be) and the result is effective. The white colonial buildings and lovely squares make this a very pretty city albeit a little bit 'fake' as the suburbs are not white and are quite rundown in places. However, we found a really nice B&B and we stayed here for two weeks as we decided to learn Spanish again. The course was good, any new bit of Spanish learnt helps and by the time the course finished, Easter weekend was approaching so we decided to stay for that

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Being in a South American country for Easter was an interesting experience as the people are very catholic, as such, Easter and the surrounding times are great celebrations. On holy Thursday in Sucre, the locals all climb up the local hill. Well it’s more of a big hill, mini mountain. The walk can start from 8pm and continue throughout the night with thousands of people making their way up stopping at the stations on the way. Ger and I decided to head up as well. It was interesting and a good walk, especially at altitude. When we made it to the top, they were setting up for a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar presumably to be held later on. It was cool to see and on our way back down, the amount of people coming up was impressive. The proceedings continued on good Friday when there was a large procession down the street. The procession was really nice with bands and they even had people carrying a casket with a statue of Christ in it. I’m not exactly into religious ceremonies but you could tell that it was a really important to the locals.

On Easter Sunday, we decided to do a trek outside the city which was lovely as it involved a 5km walk on the Inca trail. It never fails to amaze me how the INCAs managed to create such an impressive network of trails throughout south America. Its not just Peru as I originally thought, the trails stretch though many countries and its had such a great influence on the cultures in the different countries from the Inca trails to the textiles, jewellery, customs etc. As part of the trip, we visited a weaver. Weavings are really important in boliva, especially to the indigineous people and can take months to make. I really wanted to get one but they are realatively expensive and i didnt want to trust the post in sending it home!!

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After Easter we were well rested and so it was time to continue our journey upward to the next town of Cochabamba. We had heard great about this city and when we arrived we were really surprised at how modern it was. We stayed near the centre of the city and it was really nice. Its a very stylish city full of cool cafes, bars and shops. They also have the biggest Christ statue in the world. We went up for a look and its quite impressive.

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Also out of Cochabamba you can get the bus to a national park called Toro Toro. It's not that touristy and is really worth the visit. The bus journey there is uncomfortable though- 6 hours on bumpy roads with no leg room on a squashed bus. The journey is worth it though as the park is really scenic and there are lots of things to see. Basically when you arrive, you organise a guide to take you to the different attractions. We joined up with a group of Bolivians and a few others and we spent two days seeing/doing different things. The main attraction is probably the dinosaur footprints, they have an impressive amount of them. There are also some really cool waterfalls, canyons and we went caving which was quite the experience. I didn't actually know we were going caving, I just thought that we were going to see a cave. How wrong I was!!! Two hours later, my cream shorts were now brown, I was exhausted tired and was pretty relieved to be still in one piece. It was really great fun but lets just say that the safety in parts wouldn't have been the best.

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The bus journey back was just as painful as the one down but we had a great weekend in ToroToro, it was great fun and we spent little money as its very cheap. We spent the night back in Cochabamba before catching the bus to the mad city of La Paz but that’s another blog!

Dodging Mosquito Status: Excellent! while we have acclimatised to the altitude, our little biting friends haven't. They are all nestled way below us in the jungle. It may be harder to breathe but up here but we are spared from our enemy for another week at least!

Posted by ofenelon 04:07 Archived in Bolivia Tagged de uyuni salar sucre torotoro Comments (1)

Scenery, steak and seriously tasty wines.

I realise that i got a bit excited about Patagonia but there is much more to Argentina than just the amazing south. In fact Argentina is massive, it would takes months to see all the major sites and unfortunately we will miss a few of the major ones (iguazu falls, mendoza) but choices have to be made when your on limited time and a budget. Argentina isn't that cheap, yes its cheaper than Ireland but its one of the more expensive south american countries. It is also one of the more complicated ones when it comes to the currency. The currency itself isn't difficult to understand. It is approx 1 US dollar = 5 peso. The stressful thing about the currency is that you get a lot more than 5 peso for your dollar if you exchange it on the 'blue' or 'black' market. Basically, Argentina's economy declined and when that happened people wanted to buy US dollars as a means of saving. So, the government put a ban on argentinians buying US dollars/foreign currency. The result is that if you come to argentina, you can exchange your dollars for around 7.5/8 pesos on what is called the 'blue market' as dollars are wanted. Its not strictly legal but its not a dodgey as it sounds. Its great for the tourist in that you can get 1.5 times more than the official rate that you'd get from the bank. The downside is that it's a bit stressful as you have to find the right seller and hope that they are not giving you fake peso notes. You have to check the notes, then hope your not being followed etc - the usual streetwise security. It also means you need to bring US dollars with you. The best rates are in Buenos Aires, elsewhere in the country its mostly the offical rate or some shops will offer more.

Buenos Aires itself is as expected, a very busy and vibrant city with plenty to see and do. Altogether we spent 7 nights in it (before and after Pategonia) its definitely a city that you could fall in love with but unfortunately for us, we were (particularly me) just too exhausted to fully appreciate it. That said we did our fair share of sightseeing. Maire, Ger and I went for a lovely evening in a restaurant a little out from the main center. It was a real treat as it was a tasting evening done by a collaboration of two chefs (one from a restaurant in Mendoza). We were treated to about 6 courses and had different wines to taste with each. Needless to say, we throroughly enjoyed ourselves. That is one thing about Argentina, the wine and the meat is outstanding. I always thought it was a bit of a myth when people 'went on' about argentinian steaks but no it isn't. If you love red meat and beef in particular then book your ticket to Argentina!!!

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There are lots of cool cafes/restaurants around Buenos Aires especilly in the palermo region. It's full of local designers, tea shops etc. There are also lots of tango bars and shows. We went to one local place where you could get lessons and later on they had some professionals to show us how it is done. We didn't do lessons but we went along to watch. It was cool and I was tempted to get lessons at some stage but time didn't really allow it. We did also get to a music festival when we got back from Patagonia. It was really cool. It was very similar to festivals in spain and we were chuffed to just to hear anything. We hadn't been to a festival/concert in so long that it was a bit of a treat. We had gone hoping to see on DJ in particular (jeff mills) but unfortunatley he didn't show up. Never the less we enjoyed it until about 2am when the heavens open and we were soaked to the skin. There wasn't much shelter at it so we ended up leaving but were happy enough as by that stage we had seen some cool acts.

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After Buenos Aires, we took an overnight bus (22 hrs) to Salta, a city in the North of the country. Luckily the bus we got was quite luxurious so the trip wasnt that bad. The long distance buses in Argentina & South America are completly different to anything I had seen before. They are big double deckers usually and have super comfy reclining seats. On long journeys you are served meals etc. It was quite the novelty for us.

Salta itself is a lovely city. Its busier (traffic wise) than I thought it would be. We signed up for a 1 week spanish course there in a homestay. The course itself was good but a little outdated in material. The homestay was fine but unfortunately our host ended up in hosptial for 2 nights the day we arrived. The course definitely helped us to pick up some basics and we can at least order in a restaurant now and understand a bit.

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Out of Salta you can visit various towns/wine regions all of which have spectacular landscapes and are only about 3-4 hours away. We done a day trip to Cachi which was about 3 hours west of Salta and much much higher. That day we hit 3, 400m and got our first taste of high altitudes in South America. In Cachi, the landscape has lots and lots of Cacti. They are class. I don't think I'll ever get sick of looking at them.

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We also spent a weekend in the wine region of cafayate. Here they make superb argentinian wines and specialise in one particular white wine made using the torrontes grape which is really yummy. Cafayate is stunning and the 2nd half of the journey from Salta is really spectacular. Unfortunately for me the journey was a little bit of a 'non event'. I ended up with a stomach bug and spent the time there in bed. Luckily we had booked into a really lovely guesthouse "Casa Arbol"and the owners were a young family who were so nice. Oh well, these things happen and at least I got to see the scenery and ger got to taste a few of the wines.

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From Cafayate it was time to say begin our goodbyes to Argentina. We headed north of Salta to the village of Tilcara which was the last stop before Bolivia. As we entered Tilcara, its not hard to see why so many people stop here for a few days. It really is a very picturesque little village. there is also a noticable difference in the culture wiith more people wearing traditional clothes. It is a bit touristy but the upside of this is that are some really lovely restaurants, interesting shops and lots of things to do in the area such as a visit to the Pucará de Tilcara, the partially reconstructed ruins of a pre-Inca "pucará".

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Tilcara was our last stop in Argentina. Argentina is an amazing country, full of specualar scenery, wildlife and very friendly people. It is a big country though. I think we would have needed about 4 months to see it properly. We really enjoyed our time there with Patagonia being the ultimate highlight. Sadly, my time there was tainted a little with sickness. Argentina is not a great place for someone with IBS. While the steaks, parillas (grills) are amazing, the food is very rich and is bread heavy. This is always an issue though when your not really cooking for yourself and travelling so I cant blame Argentina.

Next stop Bolivia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dodding Mosquito Status: Buenos Aires was fine but the battle began as soon as we entered our homestay in Salta. I am not sure why but this homestay seemed to be habouring lots of our enemies. The garden outside our room was like an army camp of mossies and we were stuck in the middle. Well after several hours of battle and the use of chemical warfare (ie: a plug in spray) we managed to sleep reasonably comfortably. We did have serveral run ins though throughout the week and this particular army loved Ger. He has since had to upskill his killing techniques!!!!

Posted by ofenelon 07:17 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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