Where Heaven Meets Earth

After leaving Peru, the last couple of weeks have taken me through Bolivia and into the Atacama desert in Chile… and I’ve had the time of my life with an amazing group of people!

We started off in La Paz, a very unique city with hustle and bustle, people everywhere, car horns constantly beeping and dead llama foetuses hanging outside stores in the Witches’ Market. I haven’t seen another place like it… a few days there were enough for me but it was definitely a place I had to experience (together with all its roast chicken)! We then moved on to Sucre for dinosaur footprints, salsa dancing and partying Bolivian style!

La Paz

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Llama foetus hanging in Witches’ Market

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The highlight of my trip was the three day  journey in 4 wheel drives starting from Uyuni and ending up at the Chilean border. Visiting the Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) was an incredible experience… with the clouds so low it sometimes felt like they were touching the ground… an absolutely breathtaking place! Taking funny photos in the Salar was quite entertaining!

Salar de Uyuni

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Funny photos in the Salar de UyuniSaltFlatsElephants

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It’s difficult to describe the sheer amount of natural beauty I’ve seen over the past few weeks. Natural wonders such as volcanoes, lagunas and geysers were mesmerizing as was the wildlife along the way. Some of the memories I’ll take away with me forever are watching the sunset in the freezing cold with volcanoes, lakes and flamingoes in the foreground, walking through Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) in the Atacama desert, and above all, sitting in a natural hot springs looking out at the horizon with volcanoes and natural geysers in the distance.

Sunset on Salar de Uyuni tripSaltFlatsSunset

Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de AtacamaMoonValleyAtacama

Laguna Colarada

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Hot Springs in the Bolivian AltiplanoHotSprings

It wasn’t always fun and games… it was painfully cold during the night, no light in the ‘hotels’ in the Salar… no hot showers in some places… stale bread at times for breakfast… and altitude sickness… but all that was worth it for the amazing places I got to see!

Having arrived in Santiago and saying goodbye to my tour group, my next stop is Argentina and the vineyards of Mendoza! This is the one country in South America I most wanted to visit… I can’t wait!

The Lost City of the Incas

So far I’m loving life on the road… once you get used to cold showers, paper thin pillows and bread/butter (sometimes cheese!) for breakfast on an almost daily basis.

Over the past week I’ve seen so many breathtaking mountain vistas and Inca ruins across Peru. From Pachacamac (in Lima), to Pisaq (in the Sacred Valley) and the town of Ollantaytambo, the highlight for me was definitely Machu Picchu… sometimes referred to as the lost city of the Incas. The view of these mysterious Inca ruins and the Huayna Picchu mountain towering over them was truly spectacular and took my breath away… I don’t think any photos can really do it justice! Visiting Machu Picchu has always been a dream of mine (and on my bucket list!) so I’m glad I finally made it there… the short hike up to sun gate while the sun was rising, although challenging, definitely made it all that more special!

Machu Picchu an Huayna Picchu

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View of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu from Sun GateSunGateView

Pisaq Ruins

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Woman Dyeing Alpaca Wool at Planeterra Women’s Weaving Project

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It hasn’t been all history lessons, ruins and photography though… there has been a lot of fun and adventure too. Travelling with a group for the past week has been a blast and it’s been interesting meeting people from all around the world. Together we’ve had a lot of fun… from walking for hours along railway tracks and through dark tunnels in search of waterfalls, chilling out in thermal hot springs, quad biking along dirt roads surrounded by wild animals and snow capped mountain peaks, drinking pisco sours and sometimes simply playing cards over a cold Cusqueña beer. I’m just soaking it up and enjoying every moment of it!

Quad Biking

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Salineras (Salt Mines) de Maras

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Next stop… Puno and Lake Titicaca. Then it’s time to say adiós to Peru and hola to Bolivia.

Sand Dunes, Sunsets and Seals

Following the volcanoes of Arequipa and Colca, I took off on a trip to Ica and the desert oasis Huacachina. My journey to Ica was my first bus trip in Peru, in fact my first in South America, so I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I received a lot of advice from friends and family: ‘hold on to your luggage as tightly as possible for the entire trip‘, ‘sleep with one eye open‘, ‘hide some money in your socks in case you get mugged or the bus is hijacked!‘, etc etc… it’s no wonder I was a little apprehensive. I still don’t fully comprehend the bus system in Peru but I managed to get  to the right destination and made it there with all my luggage intact and without being robbed… I’d consider that a successful trip!

Huacachina was a very serene and beautiful place… a small oasis surrounded by desert sand dunes as far as the eye can see. I spent a relaxing and fun couple of days there, riding up the sand dunes and sandboarding down (with a few minor mishaps!). Watching the sun set behind the dunes was a breathtaking experience!

Sunset in the Desert

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Huacachina Oasis

HuacachinaOasis

I also managed to squeeze in a little visit to the town of Paracas with a boat trip around the Ballestas Islands, where I spotted my first penguins (from afar) as well as Peruvian boobies, pelicans and seals. After the boat broke down near the Islands, we were lucky enough to even see dolphins!

Wildlife on the Ballestas Islands

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BallestasIslandsPelicanFlying

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Bienvenido a Perù

My first few days in Peru have been great. I’ve stopped several times and thought to myself, “I can’t believe I’m actually here and doing this!” and then a big grin appears on my face.

Over the last several days I’ve wandered the streets of Lima and Arequipa, soaked in a lot of Inca history and also managed to visit the spectacular Colca Canyon – I was even lucky enough to see some cute Vicuñas, Alpacas and Llamas and the mighty Condor birds in the canyon! It’s been a pretty amazing time so far aside from a small bout of altitude sickness when I reached around 4900m. From watching colourful sunsets, being surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, bathing in thermal hot springs and sampling delicious Peruvian food… it’s been an eventful and fun few days.

Below are some pics from the last few days:

Lakes in Tocra

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Alpaca

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Pata Pampa

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Mirador Wayra Punku

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Colca Canyon

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Condors in the Canyon

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