A Travellerspoint blog

Ilha Grande - Brasil's Carribean =)

My last trip away from Rio before heading home

semi-overcast 28 °C

So I decided that as I had been static in Rio for over 4 months and STILL hadn't been to Ilha Grande or to any of the coast around Rio, which I was told is a must. So I decided to choose a place to visit, and Ilha Grande with its lack of cars, Atlantic Rainforest, white-sand beaches and hikes easily won. It was only a 3hr bus and then a ferry and I arrived at Villa do Abraão, the main village on the Island. The beauty of the place is apparent right from the moment that the ferry turns the corner and approaches the island village - white sand, colourful hosues and all surrounded by blue/green clear sea. You couldn't not smile and I was very glad that I hadn't missed this place. I wandered through the village on the way to the cheapest hostel I could find, nicely situated uphill in the rainforest. For the first time whilst travelling I was the one with the least luggage, just one small backpack as I had left all my other things in Rio. It felt great to be travelling light, well until the rain started a day later and my lack of warm clothes or a rain coat became a bit of an issue.

Arriving

Arriving

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Villa Abrãao - the main village on Ilha Grande

Villa Abrãao - the main village on Ilha Grande

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It was a beautifully sunny evening so as I sat speaking to Lee and everyone on skype for his birthday, my view was over a terracotta coloured house to the mountains covered with rainforest and a beautiful sunset - paradise! I met a couple that I had met previously in Rio for dinner. I hadn't eaten out in months, but it was very cheap and we arrived with no food and the shops had shut, so I was forced to pay 5pounds for a delicious meal of rice, beans, salad and aipim frita - my favourite mmmmmmmmmm!

Holandes Hostel

Holandes Hostel

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The next day was beautifully sunny so I headed straight for the boats for a trip to Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon). We snorkelled and walked on beautiful beaches, until the clouds came over and the rain started just as we arrived back. The boat driver took a shine to me out of the 40 people on the boat (again I think my smile got me into trouble!) and I had to politely turn down his offers to show me some other beaches or a trip in his boat the next day, lol. He was very sweet though and my friends joined me to one of the beaches he had offered to take me to.

The harbour

The harbour

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Snorkelling

Snorkelling

Me and Clede

Me and Clede

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Lets go snorkelling!

Lets go snorkelling!

Stop for a snorkel

Stop for a snorkel

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Chruch on Ilha Grande

Chruch on Ilha Grande

Stormy

Stormy

Getting off the snorkelling boat for lunch

Getting off the snorkelling boat for lunch

Unfortunately it rained all of the next day and we couldn't do anything as everything to do was outdoors. We all stayed on the sheltered deck of the hostel and read and played cards then cooked some hot food as we were all feeling the cold, even though it wasn't below 20 degrees!

The day after it was slightly overcast so I set off to walk to what is said to be the most beautiful beach in Brazil - Praia de Lopes Mendes (Lopes Mendez Beach)

Beach on the way to Lopes Mendes

Beach on the way to Lopes Mendes

View from the walk to Lopes Mendes Beach

View from the walk to Lopes Mendes Beach

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The restaurant in the sea on the way to Lopes Mendes!

The restaurant in the sea on the way to Lopes Mendes!

Praia de Lopes Mendez - supposedly the most beautiful beach in Brasil - hard to tell with all the clouds!

Praia de Lopes Mendez - supposedly the most beautiful beach in Brasil - hard to tell with all the clouds!

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Looks like Billy!

Looks like Billy!

The HUGE waves on stormy Lopes Mendez Beach

The HUGE waves on stormy Lopes Mendez Beach

The walk was up and down hill through the rainforest and all the smells reminded me of my 4 months spent in the rainforest volunteering last year, it was great to be back in this environment, although very hot and stuffy even without the sun. I met up with the couple again whom I had arrived with and been snorkelling with and we walked some of the way together. We relaxed on the beach in the cloudiness and were told not to enter the water as a guy from England had drowned in the water some days before :( the waves were huge so there was no danger of us even trying anyway. The couple left and I walked all the way along the 3km of beach and then did the 2 hour walk back. Most people take the boat back and so I was alone on the walk and didn't see one other person. I felt I was going uphill for hours and for a while was panicking that perhpas I had taken the path up the mountain instead, but eventually arrived back at Abrãao - sweaty and tired!

The next day the forecast was rain and more rain for the next few days and as much as I wanted to stay and explore more, I decided it wasn't worth it in the rain and to head back to see my friends in Rio for the bank holiday weekend.

Leaving Ilha Grande - cloudy!

Leaving Ilha Grande - cloudy!

Arriving at Jacarei to go back to Rio

Arriving at Jacarei to go back to Rio

The boat ride back was pretty rough and wet. I decided to take the cheaper and faster fisihing boat to Jacarei rather than return with the ferry to Angra, but I hadn't factored in the storm and the boat was moving rather a lot in the waves. Most people sat below deck to get out of the rain but sea sickness came over me and I had to sit in the rain by the edge of the boat, I must have been a hilarious sight to the men working on the fishing boat as I had no rain coat, was soaked through and apparently a yellow-ish colour - haha! I arrived safely though and was glad to be back on land. I was sad to be leaving this beautiful place after only a few days, but now I have an excuse to return in the future =)

Posted by BlondSuzie 14:06 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Cusco, Peru

6 weeks of volunteering, salsa, yoga and fried yukka - mmmmmmm!

sunny 16 °C

THE CITY OF CUSCO:
First view of Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral

First view of Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral

Dog that looks like Billy

Dog that looks like Billy

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Plaza de Armas by night

Plaza de Armas by night

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Another plaza

Another plaza

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Avenida do Sol

Avenida do Sol

View of Cusco from Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun)

View of Cusco from Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun)

Inca buildings in Qorikancha

Inca buildings in Qorikancha

Josh and hostel boys

Josh and hostel boys

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INCA SITES AROUND CUSCO: MORAY, THE INCA GREENHOUSE EXPERIMENT:
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Quinoa growing in Moray

Quinoa growing in Moray

Mountains around Cusco

Mountains around Cusco

MORE CUSCO:
View from Plaza de Armas

View from Plaza de Armas

Fountains near the Inca Museum

Fountains near the Inca Museum

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The famous 12 sided Inca stone

The famous 12 sided Inca stone

Llama in the streets of Cusco - strange!!

Llama in the streets of Cusco - strange!!

Corner dogs! They were always together on the corner near our hostel - i think they belonged to the lady that ran the paper kiosk, but they were always there. Josh made friends with them after I had left, they always seemed disinterested, but he eventually cracked through to them....guess he was lonely, lol

Corner dogs! They were always together on the corner near our hostel - i think they belonged to the lady that ran the paper kiosk, but they were always there. Josh made friends with them after I had left, they always seemed disinterested, but he eventually cracked through to them....guess he was lonely, lol

Countryside at the Temple of the Moon

Countryside at the Temple of the Moon

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Pablo doing crazy acrobatics on the hill

Pablo doing crazy acrobatics on the hill

Me at the Christ statue on the hill

Me at the Christ statue on the hill

View of Cusco from the Christ statue

View of Cusco from the Christ statue

Me and Pablo after his 'Cirque de Soleil like' show that Josh and I went to see

Me and Pablo after his 'Cirque de Soleil like' show that Josh and I went to see

SALSA LESSONS AND DANCING AT 'INKA TEAM' CLUB:
Frank my salsa teacher (right) and a pupil

Frank my salsa teacher (right) and a pupil

Me and Josh at Inka Team - my last night!

Me and Josh at Inka Team - my last night!

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THE SCHOOL WHERE JOSH VOLUNTEERED,AND I HELPED A BIT:
Olivia - the school puppy

Olivia - the school puppy

The school children

The school children

The frame for the greenhouse - good work Josh

The frame for the greenhouse - good work Josh

What do you think Josh??

What do you think Josh??

Josh and our door!!!

Josh and our door!!!

Josh actually went back and finished this greenhouse - see his blog for pics of that!

JOSH'S 25TH BIRTHDAY:
Picnic place for Josh's birthday near Saqsaywaman- beautiful!

Picnic place for Josh's birthday near Saqsaywaman- beautiful!

Then the 'All you can eat' curry house.........
Josh's birthday curry with hostel crew too

Josh's birthday curry with hostel crew too

Josh's first plate

Josh's first plate

Josh ready for 4 plates of curry!

Josh ready for 4 plates of curry!

Needless to say we were all to full for the cake I hade made (ok, i actually cheated and brought it for the first time ever because there was no equipment to make a cake in the hostel, but i did decorate it myself!!)

THE WEEKEND BEFORE 'INTI RAYMI' CELEBRATIONS:
Dancing for Inti Raymi

Dancing for Inti Raymi

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Josh and I with Sylvia and Richie

Josh and I with Sylvia and Richie

Cusco flag

Cusco flag

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MY LAST NIGHT IN CUSCO AND WITH JOSH :(
Josh doing an impression - but of who?

Josh doing an impression - but of who?

Arty! at the huge doors of the Cathedral! And a random dog too

Arty! at the huge doors of the Cathedral! And a random dog too

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I will miss Cusco A LOT!! The amazing yoga class, learning to dance salsa properly and almost well, the beauty, the places to eat, the hostel, talking Spanish and most of all...........JOSH :( Miss you lovely xxxxxx

Posted by BlondSuzie 08:32 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Arequipa, Peru

Possibly the most beautiful city we have been to.....

sunny 26 °C

AREQUIPA:

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

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Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

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The Cathedral by night

The Cathedral by night

Plaza de Armas by night

Plaza de Armas by night

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Churches

Churches

Beautiful alley in Convent ?? (i can't remeber the name!!)

Beautiful alley in Convent ?? (i can't remeber the name!!)

Transparent fountain in the Convent - you could actually see through the stone if you put your hand on the other side!

Transparent fountain in the Convent - you could actually see through the stone if you put your hand on the other side!

El Misti Mountain

El Misti Mountain

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Josh in the 'Poncho Bar'

Josh in the 'Poncho Bar'

Josh playing with my camera settings!

Josh playing with my camera settings!

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Josh feeding the pigeons - they were on his head at one point <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15'

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CHIVAY, COLCA CANYON AND CONDORS!!:

Plaza de Armas, Chivay

Plaza de Armas, Chivay

Cycling to the thermal baths

Cycling to the thermal baths

Thermal Baths at Chivay

Thermal Baths at Chivay

Colca Valley

Colca Valley

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Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Condors

Condors

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The Condors were amazing, we got to the canyon late because the wardens wouldn't let us go to the view point without paying a hefty entry price, which we had previously been told not to pay. We put up a fight and they eventually gave in and let us through just with a cheap 'Peruvian' ticket, which was a tenth of the price. Anyway, by now everyone else had left with thir tours and so the viewing platforms were empty. We had just come on the local bus so could stay as long as we wanted, but had heard the Condors were usually there in the morning or after 4pm, so we guessed we may have missed them after all the fuss.....but we hadn't!! We were taking in the size of the canyon, which is the second deepest in the world after another canyone nearby (deeper than the Grand Canyon!!), and all of a sudden up swooped 2 Condors! There was only Josh and I and an American lady we had met on the bus, so it felt very special to be the only ones there. They flew quit low above us and I couldn't believe how big they were - HUGE! Didn't manage to get a good photo though as I was too bus with my jaw open!

Alpaca babaies on the bus!

Alpaca babaies on the bus!

Us and Canae (Argentinians' pupps) again!

Us and Canae (Argentinians' pupps) again!

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Posted by BlondSuzie 08:03 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Machu Picchu

Has to be one of the most incredible places on earth!

sunny 26 °C

Dog at Ollantaytambo

Dog at Ollantaytambo

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The train from Piscupucho to Aguas Calientes

The train from Piscupucho to Aguas Calientes

So 3.40am and we wake up in a hostel in Aguas Calientes and get ready to walk up to Machu Pivcchu in the dark. We wanted to see the sunrise up there and book a walk up the other mountain, Wayna Picchu, and the bus seemed like a wussy option - WRONG! The walk was so hard, all steep step, which at that time in the morning after 4hrs sleep and no breakfast - was hard! But worth it. We were early in the queue and were ecstatic when we atrted our tour at 6.30 am and glanced the city and mountains for the first time. WOW!!!!!!!

Sunrise

Sunrise

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Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu city

Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu city

House of 3 windows

House of 3 windows

Josh and our Marks and Spencers CHRISTMAS PUDDING at Machu Picchu (don't ask!) - this must be a first!

Josh and our Marks and Spencers CHRISTMAS PUDDING at Machu Picchu (don't ask!) - this must be a first!

Windows - slanted to withstand earthquakes

Windows - slanted to withstand earthquakes

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Terraces for growing corn

Terraces for growing corn

Other mountains and Temple of the Sun

Other mountains and Temple of the Sun

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Machu Picchu (Old Mountain)

Machu Picchu (Old Mountain)

Terraces and houses

Terraces and houses

Rock that looks like mountain behind - used for worship of mountains

Rock that looks like mountain behind - used for worship of mountains

View of surrounding mountains

View of surrounding mountains

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Orchids on Machu Picchu

Orchids on Machu Picchu

Wayna Picchu walk entrance

Wayna Picchu walk entrance

Machu Picchu view from Wayna Picchu

Machu Picchu view from Wayna Picchu

At the top of Wayna Picchu

At the top of Wayna Picchu

The steep steps back down Wayna Picchu

The steep steps back down Wayna Picchu

Llama

Llama

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The Best pic!

The Best pic!

Posted by BlondSuzie 15:16 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Lake Titicaca and crossing into Peru

Copacabana, Isla del Sol and Puno

sunny 20 °C

Crossing the Lake on the way to Copacabana

Crossing the Lake on the way to Copacabana

Josh and beach dog

Josh and beach dog

The Basilica - very Moorish looking!

The Basilica - very Moorish looking!

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Josh and Macaw that spoke to us and offered us Doritos at the Basilica!

Josh and Macaw that spoke to us and offered us Doritos at the Basilica!

View from our hostel roof

View from our hostel roof

WALK UP CERRO CALVARIO FOR SUNSET:
The bay

The bay

Canae - Argentinian couples puppy

Canae - Argentinian couples puppy

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Sunset over Lake Titicaca

Sunset over Lake Titicaca

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Copacabana by night

Copacabana by night


ISLA DEL SOL:
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The boat trip and the island were beautiful. We walked around the island, met some donkeys and watched an enormous moon rise over the lake. On the day before we left, i experienced my first ever migraine though so spent the whole day in bed. I don't know how people cope with them, they are absolutely horrendous!!!!!!!
On the boat to Isla del Sol

On the boat to Isla del Sol

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The South of the island

The South of the island

Boats on Isla del Sol

Boats on Isla del Sol

P1030098.jpgWalking on the island

Walking on the island

The MOON rising!!!

The MOON rising!!!

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Secluded beach

Secluded beach

Cow on the beach

Cow on the beach

Reed Island

Reed Island


BACK TO COPACABANA AND BUS TO PUNO:

Fiesta in Copacabana

Fiesta in Copacabana

Crossing the border

Crossing the border

Puno was a bit of a nothing town, nicer than we were told but the lake was smelly and ugly here. We stayed in a hotel, which was cheap but we learnt that the lying happens in Peru too as they told us there would definitley 'siempre' (always) be hot water and there was NONE and also i got bitten by bed bugs in the bed. When i told them about this, they said I was lying!! Needless to say we didn't pay the full price!

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Next stop, Arequipa.........

Posted by BlondSuzie 13:13 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Rurrenabaque, Bolivia - An Amazon rainforest town!

An 18hr bumpy, dusty, rather upright bus ride along 'The Death Road' - not an experience I want to ever repeat! But Ruurenabaque was worth it thank goodness:)

sunny 40 °C

Me making friends with a Macaw on the bus - he took a shining to me and was ruffling his feathers, cooing and talking - he just bit Josh and Yoni, LOL!

Me making friends with a Macaw on the bus - he took a shining to me and was ruffling his feathers, cooing and talking - he just bit Josh and Yoni, LOL!

Rurrenabaque

Rurrenabaque

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A whole family of 4 on a motorbike!

A whole family of 4 on a motorbike!

River Beni

River Beni

The mirador pool

The mirador pool

View from the pool

View from the pool

Josh on the trampolines

Josh on the trampolines

Yoni on the trampolines

Yoni on the trampolines

Josh playing on a pink pony in the pool - this is for you B and Megs!

Josh playing on a pink pony in the pool - this is for you B and Megs!

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Me and a puppy on the street in Rurranabaque

Me and a puppy on the street in Rurranabaque

DOLPHIN TRAVEL 3 DAY PAMPAS TOUR!
Our boats

Our boats

Stork - good Zoologist eh!

Stork - good Zoologist eh!

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Turtles

Turtles

Crazy multicoloured lizard - for Lee!

Crazy multicoloured lizard - for Lee!

Caiman - not sure if a Black Caiman?

Caiman - not sure if a Black Caiman?

Yellow Squirrel Monkeys

Yellow Squirrel Monkeys

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This monkey came really close to me, I asked 'Why are you putting your ears back' and he started throwing himself up and down and screeching - i nearlly fell out of the boat!

This monkey came really close to me, I asked 'Why are you putting your ears back' and he started throwing himself up and down and screeching - i nearlly fell out of the boat!

Sunset at the mirador

Sunset at the mirador

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Us swimming with a baby dolphin - me on the right doing an impression of a bird we had seen a lot, Dave was doing it too - honest!

Us swimming with a baby dolphin - me on the right doing an impression of a bird we had seen a lot, Dave was doing it too - honest!

Josh and Dave with matching hats

Josh and Dave with matching hats

Sunrise on the Pampas tour

Sunrise on the Pampas tour

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Josh with cute little boy at the river 'lodge'

Josh with cute little boy at the river 'lodge'

HEADING TO TUMUPASA (A REMOTE JUNGLE VILLAGE)
Croosing The River Beni

Croosing The River Beni

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The dog that got on the boat with us and came across the river - he thought i was his owner apparently!

The dog that got on the boat with us and came across the river - he thought i was his owner apparently!

A logging lorry from a New York company!

A logging lorry from a New York company!

Logging lorries

Logging lorries

Sunset in Tumupasa and children playing

Sunset in Tumupasa and children playing

After the worst bus journey of South America on the way to Rurrenabaque, I cringed at the thought of another one of the same, but the only other option was to fly.........so bussing it we did, and it actually was ok - a huge improvement :) Now time for the dentist in La Paz!

Posted by BlondSuzie 13:46 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

La Paz, Bolivia

Me and Josh getting very ill and then exploring a city rich with people, smells and sights!

sunny 15 °C

View of La Paz

View of La Paz

La Paz from the bridge

La Paz from the bridge

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Calle Santa Cruz building

Calle Santa Cruz building

Iglesia San Francisco

Iglesia San Francisco

Plaza San Fransisco

Plaza San Fransisco

Witches market - you can buy anything from good luck charms to medicine for illnesses here, oh and of course llama foetuses

Witches market - you can buy anything from good luck charms to medicine for illnesses here, oh and of course llama foetuses

Ladies in traditional dress selling fruit - note the Bowler hats that are too small and just balance on their heads, Josh is fascinated by these!

Ladies in traditional dress selling fruit - note the Bowler hats that are too small and just balance on their heads, Josh is fascinated by these!

Plaza Murral - our hostel was close to here

Plaza Murral - our hostel was close to here

Protest in Plaza Murral

Protest in Plaza Murral

Plaza Murral at night

Plaza Murral at night

VALLE DE LA LUNA:
Valle de Luna (Moon Valley)

Valle de Luna (Moon Valley)

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Church near Moon Valley

Church near Moon Valley

Had to have a photo of a dog

Had to have a photo of a dog

TIAHUANACO:
Tiahuanaco

Tiahuanaco

Heads of priests carved into the wall of the temple

Heads of priests carved into the wall of the temple

Sun gate

Sun gate

Tiahuanaco Monolith

Tiahuanaco Monolith

Tiahuanaco carving

Tiahuanaco carving

Sun calendar - this huge sacred site has parts that line up with the sun at different parts of the year = an enormous calendar

Sun calendar - this huge sacred site has parts that line up with the sun at different parts of the year = an enormous calendar

The sky at Tiahuanaco

The sky at Tiahuanaco

Posted by BlondSuzie 17:34 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Samaipata, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

A beautiful little town in a jungle valley and an amazing hostel!

sunny 32 °C

On the bus to Samaipata

On the bus to Samaipata

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The amazing 'Posada del Sol' with amazing breakfasts, comfy rooms, our own kitchen, great view and lovely staff

The amazing 'Posada del Sol' with amazing breakfasts, comfy rooms, our own kitchen, great view and lovely staff

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Samaipata

Samaipata

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WALK 1: to El Fuerte (pre-Incan ruins!)
Museo de El Fuerte

Museo de El Fuerte

Starting to walk to El Fuerte

Starting to walk to El Fuerte

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Taking a swim on the long walk to El Fuerte

Taking a swim on the long walk to El Fuerte

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The valley near El Fuerte

The valley near El Fuerte

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El Fuerte

El Fuerte

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Josh doing a Stephen apparently! Really gettinjg a good look at the ruins, but where is the tape measure?! haha

Josh doing a Stephen apparently! Really gettinjg a good look at the ruins, but where is the tape measure?! haha

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WALK 2: To the meditation centre in the next valley
Track out of the village

Track out of the village

Walking to the meditation centre

Walking to the meditation centre

View of Samaipata

View of Samaipata

Sunrise at Posada del Sol

Sunrise at Posada del Sol

Las Cuevas - waterfalls near Samaipata

Las Cuevas - waterfalls near Samaipata

Posted by BlondSuzie 14:45 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Sucre, Bolivia

White houses with terracotta rooves and Pujllay fiesta

sunny

Plaza

Plaza

Cathedral

Cathedral

A dance group in the plaza

A dance group in the plaza

Around the plaza

Around the plaza

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Fiesta in Sucre

Fiesta in Sucre

More beautiful white buildings

More beautiful white buildings

Fresh veg at last!!

Fresh veg at last!!

Josh and Yoni in the food market

Josh and Yoni in the food market

LOTS of varieties of potatoes

LOTS of varieties of potatoes

Sucre street

Sucre street

In the HUGE cemetry

In the HUGE cemetry

Funny flag - no idea what this means in Spanish?

Funny flag - no idea what this means in Spanish?

Chruch with a view

Chruch with a view

View of Sucre

View of Sucre

View from church rooftop

View from church rooftop

Church bells view

Church bells view

Recoleta (Mirador)

Recoleta (Mirador)

Josh at Recoleta

Josh at Recoleta

View of Sucre from Recoleta

View of Sucre from Recoleta

Beautiful buildings

Beautiful buildings

Pujllay fiesta in Tarabuco - only once a year (good timing eh!)

Pujllay fiesta in Tarabuco - only once a year (good timing eh!)

Bolivian rug

Bolivian rug

Amigo's hostel (linked to La Casona)
Cemetry and park
dinner at veggie El Germen
Bus to Tarabuco fo Pujllay
Recoletta
Bus to Samaipata

Posted by BlondSuzie 14:36 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Potosí, Bolivia

Silver mines and the highest city in the world - and what a cute little city it is!

overcast 22 °C

We arrived and joined Yoni and Idan in La Casona Hostel, run by 2 rather rude men!! We were with Dan, Safo, Nico and Marie too (the guys from the salar tour) but unfortunately Saj had gone to meet her friends in La Paz :( She was a lovely open minded girl from London and we were all sad that she couldn't come with us.

The first night i cooked a big curry for everyone with carefully selected vegetables from the rather yukky market - the meat stands were quite close to the veggies and made us all feel rather sick with the lack of cleanliness and the smell.

The next day we wondered around the city a little, it was only small but rather likeable and everything within easy reach. We then found an awesome alternative cafe where a little old women was home cooking all the food. Unfortunately this meant that we waited almost 2 hours for our food, even though we were her only customers. I can't imagine what it was like when it was busy. Yoni and Idan then caught their bus to Sucre as they had already been in Potosí for 3 days, and we said we would catch them up there soon.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral

The main plaza

The main plaza

Art or a mistake?

Art or a mistake?

The six of us visited the thermal lake outside of the city the next day. It was nice to be in the sun and the very warm relaxing lake but way overly priced for us gringoes!
Dan, Safo, Nico, Marie and Josh on the way to the thermal lake

Dan, Safo, Nico, Marie and Josh on the way to the thermal lake

On the way to the Thermals

On the way to the Thermals

In the thermal lake

In the thermal lake

Ducks at the thermals - this one's for you mum

Ducks at the thermals - this one's for you mum

Me and Josh headed back from the thermals early to go to the view point on the rooftop of Iglesia (Church) San Fransisco that shut at 5pm.

View from the rooftops

View from the rooftops

Iglesia San Francisco and the Cathedral in the distance

Iglesia San Francisco and the Cathedral in the distance

Iglesia San Francisco

Iglesia San Francisco

View from Iglesia San Francisco

View from Iglesia San Francisco

Rooftops view

Rooftops view

After that the sunset in the city:
Sunset in Potosi

Sunset in Potosi

The main plaza - really beautiful

The main plaza - really beautiful

The main plaza2

The main plaza2

The next day Josh, Nico, Dan and I headed down the silver mines to see how it all was as it is still a huge industry here. The conditions were primitive and the 'health and safety' craze had definitely not hit here! As we walked thro the mines there were fumes emitting from broken pipes, the passages from above were held shut with bits of wood and the ladders were broken, slippy and very tall - needless to say my knuckles were white and my eyes wide for the whole of the tour. I was very glad when we got back to the fresh air, especially as our guide had just told us how many people die every year just as we were asked to step over a 60ft deep hole and climb down a wet ladder!!

Ready for the descent into the mines

Ready for the descent into the mines

Miners at work

Miners at work

Josh coming down the 3 huge ladders into<br />the depths

Josh coming down the 3 huge ladders into
the depths

Men working in the mine

Men working in the mine

60ft whole down the mine!

60ft whole down the mine!

Me looking terrified

Me looking terrified

Theo (the devil) - worshipped by the miners for safety and minerals

Theo (the devil) - worshipped by the miners for safety and minerals

Refining factories

Refining factories

After we came out we drove above the mines to where the factories were refining the minerals and blew up some dinamite!!
View of Potosi from near the mine

View of Potosi from near the mine

Josh holding dinamite

Josh holding dinamite

Exploding dinamite!

Exploding dinamite!

.....Then the 3.30pm bus to Sucre....

Posted by BlondSuzie 13:28 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Salta, Argentina

sunny 30 °C

I arrived on the bus with 2 friends from Mendoza, Jessica and Tom and went to find Josh at his hostel. Unfortunately Jessica and Tom both had plans to meet friends from home so we all said goodbye and hoped to meet again later in Bolivia.
Josh was staying in a little hostel called JJH with a friend Tony and a Canadian family he had met in Cordoba. We hung out with the Canadian family, who consisted of a mum and dad and 3 children all under 9 who were travelling and home schooling for 4 months in South America. We all went together to the mirador (lookout) on a cable car, where we could see the whole of the city. It's quite strange that almost all the cities we have been in have had miradors of some kind, usually on a hill or if not on the roof of a church - it's a great thing and we have visited nearlly all of them. The family were lovely and the children were confident and funny, it was lovely to hang out with them.

Cable car to the Mirador

Cable car to the Mirador

Waterfalls at the Mirador

Waterfalls at the Mirador

Josh playing in the waterfalls at the Mirador

Josh playing in the waterfalls at the Mirador

Josh, Tony and the 3 Canadian children at the Mirador (lookout) over the city

Josh, Tony and the 3 Canadian children at the Mirador (lookout) over the city

We then explored Salta seeing the beautiful buildings around the plaza and the food market.
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The next day me and Josh went out with 2 Israeli guys we met in the hostel (Yoni and Idan) to a local club, but were bombarded with Reggaeton, typical Argentinian music with only ONE beat in every song. It amusingly drove Rob mad when we were with him and had a similar effect on Josh in the clubs so we didn't stay too long.

We did a bit of breaking and entering the next day into a local swimming pool, ok, a slight exaggeration, basically the pool was officially closed but not locked and it was so hot so we took ourselves for a quick swim, being read to use 'no entiendo' at any moment if were caught, lol.

I spent the next day on the phone to Halifax bank trying to sort out new cards after they were stolen - very annoying and i think i heard the whole of the 'on hold' album of cheesey music! For our last day in Salta the next day we went horse riding with the local Gauchos (ranch workers), it was a fun ride and we were with 15 other people who formed a really nice crowd for a BBQ and the ride after.

Horses

Horses

Huge cactuses at the Ranch

Huge cactuses at the Ranch

Cute dogs at the Ranch

Cute dogs at the Ranch

Horse riding in Salta

Horse riding in Salta

The Gauchos!

The Gauchos!

At 12.45am the next night we caught the bus to La Quiaca to cross the border into Bolivia.

Posted by BlondSuzie 13:23 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Tupiza and the Salares Tour to Uyuni

AMAZING!

sunny 32 °C

We caught the bus over night to the border of Argentina and Bolivia and walked across the border as the sun was rising. It took a couple of hours to queue and get through the crossing. As we crossed we immediately saw the difference between Bolivia and Argentina, it was amazing how quickly everything changed. It seemed a lot poorer and the women were in traditional Bolivian dress that we had never seen before. They wear big thick velvet or silky skirts, waistcoats and blouses, they all carry their things (as well as their young children!) in brightly coloured blankets on their back tied over their front. The most unusual thing about this traditional costume though (which Josh still is shocked at whenever he sees it) is that they wear bowler hats that are too small so they just balance on their heads!!

Crossing the border on foot

Crossing the border on foot

Bolivian women in traditional dress with child

Bolivian women in traditional dress with child

There was a train available to get to Tupiza so as we hadn't been on a train once in our trip we decided to take it, plus it was supposed to be a lot more comfortable than the bumpy bus. So we waited in the little town of Villazón which really had nothing in it for non-locals, at the train station there were some rumours that there was a problem with the train but there was no conductor or anyone in the ticket office, so we all waited for them to return and I went to ask what the problem was. He told me that the bus was going to be at least 7 hours late but to my astonishment he wasn't announcing this and was still selling tickets without telling anyone this!! This was our first experience of holding back the truth or just plain lying that seems to heppen a lot in Bolivia. It has happened so many times to us now that it seems to be part of their culture. Like Brasil and Argentina, if they are not sure about something you have asked they never tell you, they just make a wild guess! But in Bolivia it just goes one step further and they just lie to your face; about the price of something, how long a journey takes, if something contains meat or not or anything you can imagine asking really!
Anyway, so we got a refund and caught the very bumpy bus to Tupiza, 3 hours away.

Tupiza was a sweet little town/village altho had been taken over with crappy comercial Italian restaurants for tourists, who served bad Italian food at high prices - very strange. We went to Tupiza Tours; a tour company we had heard good things about, to book our tour of the Salt Flats to Uyuni and to see if we could do some horse riding in the 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' region. We paid for a rather expensive tour but got horse riding at a discount and had been advised by many people that the price you paid for this particular tour really did represent how good the food, vehicles and guide etc were. We later found out this was very good advice as our tour was AMAZING and we heard a lot of other people telling stories of disappointment and lots of problems along the way.

We opted for the 5 hour ride through the canyons and headed off a couple of hours later. We laughed as were handed our protective hats, which were actually cowboy hats to protect from the sun not from falling off, lol. The ride was wonderful. The horses were responsive, the scenery was breath taking and there was just me, Josh, our guide and another girl, Dand, whom we had met that morning - oh and the foal of the horse i was riding who came along for the ride! Josh showed himself to be a true natural on a horse, galloping through the canyons with me whilst the guide stayed back with Dana. To finish the ride me and Josh cantered all the way back to the town along the old railway lines and stumbled back to the hostel achey and tired but very happy.

Me and my steed

Me and my steed

Josh galloping into the distance - what a natural!

Josh galloping into the distance - what a natural!

My horse and its foal that came with us on the hack

My horse and its foal that came with us on the hack

Our guide on his steed!

Our guide on his steed!

Canyons and cliffs

Canyons and cliffs

More canyons

More canyons

Horses and canyons

Horses and canyons

More views

More views

Views

Views

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The next morning we arrived at Tupiza Tours office at 9am and set off on the mountain roads out of Tupiza to start our 4 day tour of the Lakes and Salt Flats (Salares).

DAY 1:
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IMG_0610.jpg (Baby llamas where we had lunch!)

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This photo of sunset in the desert was taken whilst we were waiting in the rather cold desert for a lift in the other jeep to the place we would slepp for the night, because or jeep broke down. All day we had to keep stopping to fill the radiator water up and then finally the gear box broke!!OOPS! We did have to wait 2 hours in the desert but we amused ourselves by watching Ricky Gervais on another girls laptop and then another jeep was driven to us over night so when we woke up we were ready to go along with the other half of our group in the other car.

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Trying to mend the broken jeep

Trying to mend the broken jeep

DAY 2:
Salt lakes

Salt lakes

Desert and mountains!

Desert and mountains!

Reflection in lake

Reflection in lake

In the thermals!

In the thermals!

Salt lake

Salt lake

Josh at 4600m!

Josh at 4600m!

Geisers - be careful some people have fallen in!

Geisers - be careful some people have fallen in!

Our humble abode

Our humble abode

DAY 3:
Laguna Colorado and hot springs

Laguna Colorado and hot springs

Laguna Colorado

Laguna Colorado

Laguna Colorado - beautiful!

Laguna Colorado - beautiful!

Me and J at Laguna Colorado

Me and J at Laguna Colorado

The Tupiza Tours Crew

The Tupiza Tours Crew

Vucuñas

Vucuñas

Volcano reflection in the lake - Josh took this!

Volcano reflection in the lake - Josh took this!

Grey flamingo??

Grey flamingo??

Flamingos in the salt lakes

Flamingos in the salt lakes

Active volcano we lunched near!

Active volcano we lunched near!

Desert poochie!

Desert poochie!

DAY 4: Sunrise on the biggest salare in the world and Inauassi Island (or Isla del Pescado)
We woke up at 5.30am to see the sun rise over the salar - it was well worth the early wake up!
Reflection before sunrise on the wet salt flat

Reflection before sunrise on the wet salt flat

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Playing about at sunrise

Playing about at sunrise

Jump!

Jump!

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We had breakfast by Inkauassi; an island in the middle of the Salar de Uyuni where people used to sleep when trying to cross the salar on foot!
View from Inkauassi

View from Inkauassi

Josh on the island

Josh on the island

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Inkauassi (Isla del Pescado)

Inkauassi (Isla del Pescado)

10m cactus!!! 1000yrs old!

10m cactus!!! 1000yrs old!

Emu

Emu

Time for some fun on the salar:
Pyramid!

Pyramid!

Looking cool

Looking cool

':)' title='' />

The crew being silly in the biggest salt flat in the world! - You have no idea how much this hurt our hands <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15'

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Salt hotel!

Salt hotel!

Mining the salt

Mining the salt

We arrived in Uyuni on day 4 in the afternoon and had fun for 4 hours trying to get money out of a very temperamental ATM to pay for the tour! We stayed the night in Uyni, even though it was as Rob had described; a tin pot town with nothing to do, but we hung out with Dan, Safo, Marie, Nico and Saj who had been the other half of our group in the other car and ate some delicious mexican food :) Then headed to Potosí the next morning on the bus to catch up with Yoni and Idan there (2 guys we had met in Salta).

Posted by BlondSuzie 12:22 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Mendoza with Josh

Spanish school, falling down drains, earthquakes and muggings!

sunny 34 °C

The day after we arrived we headed straight to the wine region of Maipu on the bus for a tour of the bodegas (wineries) aon bicycles. It was great fun cycling around the vineyards on a stretch of road 9km long and popping in to some of the bodegas for tours and tasting. Our favourite was a small family run bodega called Carinae, where a sweet girl gave us a tour and explanation about how all the different wines were made and then let us taste some. I know nothing about wine and it usually all tastes the same to me, but I cactually liked this stuff and could clearly taste the difference between the 3 that we tried - Mum and Stephen, you should be proud of me, haha!
The mixture of sun, cycling and wine menat that the cycle back was rater more fun then the way there, but we got there safely and got given even more wine to try when we returned our bikes to the hire place!

La Rural

La Rural

La Rural Bodega (winery)

La Rural Bodega (winery)

Huge vats of wine!

Huge vats of wine!

Vineyards

Vineyards

Our tour guide at Carinae Bodega

Our tour guide at Carinae Bodega

Carinae wine - yummy

Carinae wine - yummy

Josh trying the grapes

Josh trying the grapes

Looking cool with the bikes (me especially)!

Looking cool with the bikes (me especially)!

More Bodegas in the Maipu region

More Bodegas in the Maipu region

The next night, (so within 2 days of arriving in Mendoza) I managed to ensure a stay of 4 weeks by falling down a 4ft concrete drain outside Caríllo Boliche (nightclub)! So I waited on crutches to see a Traumatologist after the weekend and the very handsome doctor took one look at my ankle and put me in a cast for 3 weeks telling me to come back every week to see how it was healing - luckily it wasn't broken though!

Normal boney foot

Normal boney foot

Fat foot (and this is after the swelling had gone down - too many pies clearly!)

Fat foot (and this is after the swelling had gone down - too many pies clearly!)

Normal foot   fat foot

Normal foot + fat foot

Leg in metal boot

Leg in metal boot

Josh and I started Spanish School that day too, it felt great to be finally learning the language proeperly and learning all the rules of grammar that we had been unsure about. I managed to hobble out to a bar on crutches with Ashley and Alastair, an American girl and South African guy we had met at Spanish School that week. We met at a live music and wine event on the roof of the government buildings. It was beautiful to see over all of the city and we didn't have to queue; we had just arrived and got in the queue of about 30 people and a man came over and immediately took us to the front and up the lift because I was on crutches! I had no idea what was going on and when we eventually realised that he wasn't taking us up a different way, but just pushing to the front, all we could do was apologise to everyone else who was waiting!!
We experienced again the lateness that Argentinians go out - the nightclub didn't even get started until 2am, so that ensured a night out until 7am and with a 8.30am start at Spanish School it nearlly killed us!

I did a second and a third week of Spanish lessons, but Josh got ill and then decided to go and check out Cordoba whilst I continued with Spanish School. The last weekend I was there was an eventful one. There was a wine harvest festival starting the next week so they gott started with a huge wine tasting open air even along one of the main streets, Belgrano. We had to pay only 25 pesos (about 4 pounds) to taste 6 glasses of wine - it was great and I really started getting into the wine tasting. None of us knew what to try and there were hundreds to choose from so we asked around and ended up trying some really good ones, and some not so good ones - my favourite being Trapiche's Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend from 2007 - yum (and this is me saying yum to red wine so it must be good, or similar to Ribena, one of the 2!) I unfortunately had to give some of mine away though as I had been really ill the night before and didn't want to get ill again!

The next day we had an asado at Spanish School and then at night we celebrated Steve's birthday at the new Underground Boliche. I had the cast off my leg, which actually made dancing more difficult as I had nothing to protect it from girls heels and no restriction to how crazy i could dance, lol. At 3.30am that night the earthquake hit, the funny thing was, we were all dancing away and Alastair fell over, and we just laughed at him thinking he was too drunk, but it turns out that was the time of the earthquake - crazy! I felt the aftershock the next night though, I was so scared and all acdvice about getting into doorways went out of my head and I just lay there on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed and waited for it to stop - stupid girl!!

Asado (BBQ) at Spanish School

Asado (BBQ) at Spanish School

The last eventful thing was being mugged in an internet cafe and spending hours in a Spanish police station :( Not a good ending to my saty in Mendoza. But luckily Steve, Tom and Alastair, whom I had made friends with at Spanish School, lent me money and took me bowling and to play pool to cheer me up. Then on my last night there we went to an Italian Fayre in Plaza Italia and ate take away pizza whilst listening to Italian Opera - it was lovely and I felt like I was at a concert at home.

The main saquare - Plaza Independencia and the fountains

The main saquare - Plaza Independencia and the fountains

Gates to the HUGE park

Gates to the HUGE park

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Walking around the lake

Walking around the lake

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The bathrooms of a bar!

The bathrooms of a bar!

Nice huh?!

Nice huh?!

Tom, Alastair and me

Tom, Alastair and me

Ladies and Leika the dog from hostel in Mendoza

Ladies and Leika the dog from hostel in Mendoza

I said goodbye to Steve and Alastair who are staying in Mendoza for a while, and got the bus with Tom and Jessica (a Swedish girl from my hostel), to Salta to meet Josh.

Posted by BlondSuzie 12:34 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdes

Sea Lions, Elephant Seals and PENGUINS!!

sunny 25 °C

The bus to Puerto Madryn was overnight, we arruved in the morning and headed straight to a hostel they recommended at the bus station. It was new and turned out to be one of those where it seems cheap but then they make you pay for all the extras such as towels, breakfast etc. It would do though, we were only staying a couple of days to go to the peninsula nearby.
We hired a VW Gol for the following day with me and Rob as allocated drivers, and off we sped! It was great to be driving, although they seem to have put the gears and the hand brake on the wrong side of the car - silly Argies! I did scare everyone when I first got in by asking if the pedals were in the same order, LOL, they all quickly put their seat belts on - it's a genuine and quite important question, why wouldn't the pedals have changed as well as everything else??! We drove the 400KM round trip stopping along the way on the beaches to see the Elephant Seal, Sea Lion and Penguin colonies. It was amazing to see so many in their natural environment and it all seemed to be conserved and protected well so that noone could get onto the beaches and disturb anything. The penguins were so close to where we stopped, it was amazing seeing them with their young preening each other, fighting, nesting and just generally going about their lives - this beats any zoo by miles!

Elephant Seal beach

Elephant Seal beach

Elephant seals

Elephant seals

Elephant seal

Elephant seal

Elephant seals beach2

Elephant seals beach2

Penguin!

Penguin!

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Penguins kissing

Penguins kissing

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Penguin info

Penguin info

Baby penguin

Baby penguin

Sea Lions

Sea Lions

Sea Lion beach

Sea Lion beach

Sea Lions

Sea Lions

More Sea Lions

More Sea Lions

Male and female sea lions

Male and female sea lions

Armadillo - crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside

Armadillo - crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside

We drove back content with a days wildlife watching and called the man to come and pick up the car. We had gone for the cheapest company (not my choice!!) and when he came to pick the car up he was alone with the car for a while before he let us know he was there, and mysteriously when we came out, the window wipers had been stolen! The car was parked in front of the hostel in front of the living room window but somehow someone came along and stole them, but did not touch any of the other cars around!! So we had to pay extra, which brought the price of the car rental up to more than the other companies!

Puerto Madryn

Puerto Madryn

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Anyway, we didn't stick around in Puerto Madryn and the next day we brought bus tickets for that night; Josh and I to Mendoza; Rob to Buenos Aires; and Steve was staying to do some diving. It was sad to be saying goodbye to Rob for what will probably be quite a long time!

Posted by BlondSuzie 11:59 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Back to Bariloche for the glaciers!

Glaciers and snow capped mountains

sunny 28 °C

When we arrived in Bariloche and found we couldn't go that day went straight away to book for the bus the next morning - then hung out in Bariloche for the day:

IMG_0261.jpg Laguna Nahuel Huappi from our hostel

IMG_0266.jpg Chilling in Bariloche's park

IMG_0269.jpg Church in Bariloche

IMG_0270.jpg Josh and Rob playing with the canons!

The bus took us on a 2.5hour journey to Pampa Linda, a little gathering of refugios and hotels at the bottom of Mount Tronador, a 3200m snow capped peak. We had decided to go for the hard option and rather than just see the glaciers from below on a short day walk we opted to walk up to the refugio about half way up the mountain, where 2 of the glaciers were right next to and either side of the refugio. The walk was lovely, apart from the huge horseflies they are swarmed with here. There were parts of the walk with small inclines and other with difficult inclines, so it was nice and varied. We were glad to finally get there, take off our shoes and packs and watch the glaciers from the rocks outside the refugio, hoping to see some of the ice fall off. The noise is like thunder and is where Monte Tronador, literally Thunder Mountain, gets its name. We unfortunately didn't see any fall from the 2 glaciers that were in view from the refugio, but frequently heard it from another glacier, which was falling lots at the time.

IMG_0325.jpg Pampa Linda, at the bottom of the mountain

IMG_0272.jpg Pampa Linda

IMG_0273.jpg View of Mount Tronador

IMG_0284.jpg Josh and Rob walking up

IMG_0279.jpg [i]Mount Tronador

IMG_0291.jpg Looking out over the Pampa Linda Valley

IMG_0281.jpg View of the Pampa Linda valley from Mount Tronador

IMG_0289.jpg The 3 of us near the glaciers

IMG_0292.jpg Me and one of the glaciers

IMG_0294.jpg Josh and Rob hiking the snowy slopes

IMG_0299.jpg The Refugio on Mount Tronador

IMG_0298.jpg View of one of the glaciers from the refugio

IMG_0319.jpg One of the glaciers near the refugio

Josh and Rob cooked our winning spaghetti meal again, but were disappointed that we had to eat it with conventional cutlery as we had no plastic bottles to make their eating invention - i'll let them fill everyone in on that one, lol! We sat up watching the stars then headed for the room of matresses, which was to be our bed along with maybe 50 other people who had decided to stay at the refugio rather than hire a tent. They just lay mattresses all over the floor of the upstairs room and allocated 7 people 4 mattresses between them - needless to say it wasn't a cold night in that room!

IMG_0302.jpg Mount Tronador - nearly sunset

270_IMG_0305.jpg Sunset on Mount Tronador

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IMG_0313.jpg Walking down

IMG_0327.jpg View of the Black Glacier from Pampa Linda

We walked back down with Steve and Andrew, 2 guys we had met up the mountain and all went out together that night when we got back to Bariloche. The 5 of us, plus 2 girls Erina and Chelsea that the boys knew, went round some bars and then went to Dusk, a club in Bariloche. We danced the night away and didn't get back til 6.30am. I don't know where the time went, but the next day we were all rather achey and tired from 2 days of walking and dancing!
We knew we wanted to move on from Bariloche ASAP, so we decided that we couldn't miss the wildlfie on the coast seeing as we had come down this far south, so booked the bus to Peninsula Valdes for the next evening.

Posted by BlondSuzie 11:40 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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