Tuesday, March 29, 2011


We had a great time in Lima. We got to spend quite a bit of time with our friend, even though she has been really busy lately with her business. We also got to meet and spend time with her family, which was very nice.

After Lima we spent one day in Nazca, to see the lines. Our original idea was to fly over them, but after the perfect storm of complications we ended up taking a land tour. It was nice - we got to see quite a bit of the area, even if we didn´t get to see all of the figures. We also went to a necropolis which was a bit eerie. It was in the middle of nowhere, no guards, and a bunch of graves and bones scattered around. It didn´t help that we were the only people there.

The figure of the tree

Palpa figures

The graves are in a wide open space

Looking into the graves

That night, we took the overnight bus to Cusco. From Cusco we arranged a two-day trip to tour the Sacred Valley and go to Machu Picchu. On the first day we saw the ruins of Pisaq, which were incredible. Then we went to Ollantaytambo to see the ruins there and catch the train to Aguas Calientes (the city from which you are able to reach Machu Picchu). Our day at Machu Picchu was nice, though a bit rainy. We walked up and around the side of the mountain to the Incan bridge, which was both terrifying and awe-inspiring.


View from Pisaq

View of the valley from Ollantaytambo ruins

The Inca Bridge

A cloudy view from Machu Picchu

Now we are back in Cusco, where it has been rainy for the past day and a half. Tonight we take a bus to Puno, a city on Lake Titicaca and our last stop in Peru before we cross the border into Bolivia.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

End of Ecuador, on to Lima!

After Baños we were off to Riobamba. Upon arriving we noted it was a very nice town. However, to our dismay, we quickly learned that the train doesn't currently run as the tracks are under repair and have been for a few months. So we had to do a bit of an adjustment, and we headed for the small town of Alausí where we could once again try to get on the train to Nariz del Diablo.

As it turns out, Alausí is a beautiful little town. It's as though it has been forgotten by time, but you're never quite sure from what era. It's surrounded by beautiful green mountains, and we've had perfect weather, so it was really a nice surprise.

View down one of the streets; at the end of the road is the patron saint, San Pedro,
that watches over the city

On Sunday afternoon we went on the train ride. Although you can no longer ride on the top of the train, the views from the windows were amazing enough. Though it was a bit expensive for our budget, it was definitely worth it (even though the second half of the ride was backwards due to the inability of the train to turn around).

View from the train

We then went to the colonial city of Cuenca. It has beautiful architecture, but we were getting anxious to get to Peru, so after one day we took a bus to Loja, where we took an overnight bus across the border. The next morning we found another overnight bus to Lima, where we arrived this morning.

Some of the architecture in Cuenca

We plan on spending about four or five days here with a friend from camp, then we´re off to the south of Peru.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Otavalo and Baños

When we got back from the Galapagos, we intended to go into the Amazon for a few days. However, we returned at the exact same time as Carnaval, so all of the tour agencies were closed.

Instead, we decided to move on to our next stop, a small town called Otavalo. Otavalo is known for its enormous Saturday market, but since it was in the middle of the week and it was Carnaval, almost everything was closed.

The market

We then moved on to Baños, a small town about three hours south of Quito, known for its thermal baths. Most of the time in Baños was spent relaxing, and the second night we took a "Chiva" (a sort of mini-bus with no doors) up one of the nearby mountains to see a view of the city. It was quite scary, but definitely an interesting experience.

The waterfall

Our Chiva

Today we´re off to Riobamba, a little more than an hour to the south. On Sunday we hope to take the train to the Devil´s Nose, which is supposed to have amazing views of all of the surrounding volcanoes and mountains.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ecuador and the Galapagos

So far my trip has been a success - I made it to Monterrey and spent a few days there with my friend, and we both made it to Ecuador with no problems.

Although we flew into Quito, our first real stop in Ecuador was the Galapagos Islands. We were lucky enough to find a last-minute discount on a really nice boat, so within 48 hours of arriving we were on an airplane again.

Our tour lasted for eight days. The boat was quite nice, but more than anything we were with a really great group of people, including the crew.

The whole tour is still a bit of a blur. We would wake up in the morning, go on a hike, get back on the boat, eat lunch while sailing to a different location, then go on another island tour/go snorkelling. I ended up snorkelling at least once a day, and swam with a bunch of tortoises and rays. I was also lucky enough to be the only person to swim with sharks, and it happened on two different days. The first time I saw a white-tipped reef shark that was about four feet long, and the second was a huge hammerhead that was about nine feet long.

On the islands we saw just about every kind of animal - sea lions, seals, iguanas, tortoises, and a huge variety of birds and fish. I had a little too much sun, but in the end it was worth it.

Now I'm back in Quito, but only for one more night. Today we went to the Mitad del Mundo, or the Center of the World. It's the equator line and monument just north of the city. Tomorrow we're spending a few more hours in the city, then we're off to the city of Otavalo, which is a few hours north. It's famous for its markets, so I'm planning on doing most of my shopping there.