Peru Adventures – Iquitos

Peru Adventures – Iquitos

The last chapter of our Peru Adventures. It was an amazing experience altogether! I’m so glad I did it, I have so many stories from it! I hope you enjoy this final chapter and entry on my trip to Peru!

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After our Amazon adventure, we spent our last few days in Peru mostly relaxing at the hostel. We stayed at Golondrinas Hostel, which was lovely, as it had a pool. As we were winding down and getting ready to come back home, we didn’t do as much the three days we were there. We visited the Plaza de Armas as we always do, and took a look around the local neighbourhood.

We did visit Pilpintuwasi, which is a nature and wildlife conservation park. Entry tickets were only 10 soles ($4 NZD) for students. Getting to the park itself was a bit trickier. You have to take a boat there, and arriving at the dock, you will be bombarded with many people offring to take you there. Sarah and I pushed our way through and went with an English speaking gentleman who took us over in a little boat. He was under the impression that I was a local taking Sarah around. He was surprised when I said I was also from New Zealand. We made it to the park in no time and went off to explore.

We saw lots of animals again. Toucans, parrots, butterflies…Orcilla, Sloths, capuchin and uakari monkeys, and more. These were all rescue animals and being looked after by mostly volunteers. We really enjoyed having a look at the butterfly farm too.

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All in all, this month long adventure was an amazing experience. I saw and did so much that I would never have done if I didn’t join Sarah on this trip. The pictures and videos I took are all safely stored so I can peruse them as much as I want. Relieving them through this blog again has been a blast! We did stop by Tahiti for a few days on the way back, but I’ll save that for another day 😉

Angela.

Peru Adventures – Amazon Rainforest

Peru Adventures – Amazon Rainforest

So, we’ve nearly come to the end of me reliving the best parts of my Peru trip I took with Sarah a few summers back! I hope you’ve been enjoying these, as reading them all over again has been quite special for me 🙂

Iquitos was our last stop in this month long Peru Trip. We arrived at the airport and were immediately picked up to go to our lodge in the Rainforest. We spent five days in the Amazon Rainforest, getting amazing catered meals, going out on tour everyday, seeing an amazing range of animals and sights, and constantly battling mosquitos.

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We took a boat ride down the river for around 3 hours before arriving at Muyuna Lodge. We went with the Majestic River package, which was for five days. Once we arrived, we quickly got settled in. The lodge was beautiful. Just sitting in our room, it was nice to sit and listen to all the new noises around us. Then we went out on our first of many boat rides. We saw sloths, vultures, birds, monkeys. At one point our guide, Edson, was explaining about catfish, then just pulled one out of the water for us to have a closer look.

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We went back to the lodge for dinner ,then we were off again to have a look at some nocturnal animals. We went by and had a look at some young caiman. Again, Edson gently scooped one up so we could have a closer look. It was very relaxed as we had a good look at it. The food at the lodge is amazing, it’s all catered, and there’s a wide selection.

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On our second day, we went for a walk into the rainforest. We saw monkeys, snakes, insects.

We also heard this crazy noise, we thought it was some ferocious animal, turned out to be a howler monkey. I didn’t get a video of the sound they made, but here’s a video I found on youtube. They’re small, but so loud.

So afterwards we had lunch then went piranha fishing. I managed to catch only one teeny one, I have no fishing skills. It was still exciting when I felt the reel wriggle though.

After dinner, we went for a stroll nearby. This time we saw frogs, another snake, and a tarantula. The last one was a bit of a shock. Edson pointed in a direction and said there was a tarantula. I couldn’t see it and kept looking around then realized it was sitting on a tree branch near my face. My freaked out reaction amused the rest of the group.

The third day was meant to be a longer hike, a few hours worth, but me, Sarah and the Canadian couple with us on the tour pulled out after 45 minutes. The mosquitos are very intense in the forest. We were covered from head to toe and douses in strong insect repellant and we still got stung. Also whenever you moved you were just covered in a cloud of mosquitos, they know when someone warm-blooded is around. So instead, we visited a nearby village, which was nice.

We had our boat ride after dinner again. This time we found some glass frogs. They’re very small, and the unique thing about them is you can see some of their insides. Their abdominal skin is translucent, so by shining our lights on them, you could see their internal organs. It was so weird and fascinating. I held it on a leaf and looked at it for ages, luckily it didn’t seem too mind and was happy for me to stare.  Sorry for the blurry picture, but in our excitement we didn’t check the quality of them until once we were back in the lodge.

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The fourth day woke us up with pouring rain. When it cleared, we rode to another part of the river. We saw pink dolphins! I didn’t get a good picture of them as they were too fast, but they’re a light pinkish colour. We were offered a chance to go swimming in the river, but I declined as I’m not a confident enough swimmer, but Sarah dove in.

After lunch we took a canoe ride. Sarah, Edson and I didn’t really have a destination in mind, we just let the river take us  downstream and chatted a little. At one point the rain came back, but as it was warm rain we didn’t mind. We just kept rowing and chatting. Then five minutes later, the rain just stopped and it became sunny again. We also got to get clsoe to a baby sloth who was hanging out on a lower branch. We opted to relax in our lodge after dinner and to start packing as our time in the rainforest was coming to an end.

We took one last boat ride around the next morning. Then we said good bye to everyone and took the three hour long ride back to Iquitos.

Muyuna Lodge was a fantastic stay. Edson was an amazing guide, the food at the lodge was amazing and the staff were so friendly. They made our Amazon Rainforest experience amazing. If you’re planning a trip to the Amazon, go with Muyuna Lodge, they’ll take great care of you.

Next up and final stop on our Peru Travels, Iquitos.

Angela.

Peru Adventures – Ica (and Huacachina)

Peru Adventures – Ica (and Huacachina)

Ica threw us into the desert part of Peru. It was also my introduction to how I don’t cope well in 30 degrees heat. I get very cranky and I’m constantly aware of how sweaty I feel. That may also have been related to me being sick during this leg of the trip. But we soldiered on, determined to soak in as much as we can, including spending a night in Huacachina, a neat little oasis just next to Ica.

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After an uncomfortable bus ride from Cusco to Ica, where I was still feeling sick from the final days of the trek, we arrived in Ica. The hostel we stayed at was Ica Wasi Hospedaje. We had a great stay here. The owners were lovely and chatty, and helped me explain my cough related sickness at the pharmacy. A few days on meds and I was back to normal. I was so grateful.

I will now again talk (complain) about how hot it was. It was humid all the time, sleeping was hard. Even with no blankets and minimal layers, it’s still too hot. Purifying tap water meant drinking clean, warm water. What I’m trying to say is, I like warm weather, not hot weather.

We took mototaxis everywhere in Ica. Boy are they fun/scary. But walking around in the heat was just too much for us. We went to the regional museum of Ica, where they had a mini version of the Nazca Lines out back which was neat, as we weren’t able to see the real ones.

Later on, we checked out local shops and cafes. It was also recommended to us to try a Pisco Sour, a well known-Peruvian cocktail. Again, I don’t really drink, I have never really liked the taste of alcohol. It looked really nice, but I could only drink half, and I didn’t think much of it. I’m sure someone else would have loved it.

Huacachina was a blast. The hostel we stayed at was Banana’s Adventure. I got the same vibe from the hostel we stayed at in Cusco. It was very social, youth-oriented and as a bonus, had great food. We also walked around the whole town and had a blast.

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We went for a dune buggy ride along the nearby sand dunes. It was a lot of fun, and we even got to try sandboarding down the dunes. We went through Nazca Flights as they offered touring around Ica. The price was 65 soles ($28 NZD), but it didn’t include the entry fee of 3.5 soles. It’s definitely worth it for a run afternoon of zooming around the sand dunes.

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Can you see how much I was sweating in the above photo? We just couldn’t escape the heat.

That evening (when it was cooler and we felt much more social), we hung out in the hostel talking with some other travellers.

Next stop, Paracas.

Angela.

Peru Adventures – Salkantay Trek

Peru Adventures – Salkantay Trek

For  today’s Peru Adventures post, I wanted to share one of the highlights. Our five day trek leading up to Machu Picchu!

The Inca trail is the best known track to hike up to Machu Picchu. It’s extremely popular, and books out very fast. For our trek up, we decided to choose the road less travelled. We went with the Salkantay Route. We booked a five day tour with Salkantay Trekking, as they came highly recommended. It was certainly one of hardest and most rewarding treks I’ve ever done.

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Sarah, me, Julie, Ally, Ash, Brent, Rebecca, Andrew, and Charlie

Day 1 started with us getting picked up in the van at 5.30am. We met the rest of our group. Ash, Ally, Rebecca, Andrew and Charlie were from Australia. Brent, Holly and Julie were from USA. Then Sarah and me from New Zealand. Our guide was Hector, it was a good group. We drove for a few hours, stopping off in Mollepata (2900m above sea level) for a rest stop and optional breakfast. Then we kept driving up to Challabamba (3550m) where we started our trek. By now it was 9.30, and we were all ready to start. We only needed our day packs from here, as the staff had mules to assist us in carrying the larger packs and tents. It was a slow slope up, and we all enjoyed the view of the valleys and streams. This part of the hike took around three hours, and it was nice. We walked and talked and got to know each other. We also made sure that everyone had altitude sickness pills with them, as after going through that in Arequipa, I didn’t want to go through it again. Not fun. A few hours later, we arrived at Soraypampa (3850m), had lunch and rested.

We were given the option to walk up to Lake Humantay (4270m) after lunch. A round trip takes just under 3 hours. It was a very steep uphill climb. We all had to stop a couple of times to catch our breath. My legs were starting to ache after already walking a few hours this morning. But we all made it, and the lake was beautiful. The clouds were starting to come in, but that made everything look more mystical. The photo below I credit to Sarah. She has a good eye 😀

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It rained quite hard that night, but lying down inside the tent, it was quite comforting and I slept very well. We walked for just under 6 hours, and covered a distance of 12km.

Day 2 is said to be the hardest day. It’s also the day where you hit the highest peak. Salkantay Pass, at an impressive 4630m above sea level. We had an early start and started heading up. It took around three hours to climb from the rocky valley to get to the peak. It wasn’t too bad at first, like the first day, it was just a gentle slope. Then it kept getting steeper, and it looked like it would never end. This part was excruciating for me. Sarah and I stopped many many times, as did many in our group. My legs were not happy with me, and I was leaning all my weight into the walking poles, willing myself to just keep going and dragging my body up the terrain. I focused on my breathing and focused every part of my mind and soul on just continuing up. Eventually, we reached the top, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that much relief in my life.

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So much relief on my face.

The walk down the mountain wasn’t bad, but it started raining for real. So now we were wet and tired. 2 hours of walking later, we reached our lunch spot, rested, then continued on our walk. This time we were walking through the top part of the Amazon Forest, where the weather became so hot that we had to lose all the layers we’d put on during the ascent. This part of the hike took around 3 hours, and we were just surrounded by lush greenery. The rain had also made parts of the walk incredibly muddy though, I sank all the way to my knee in one part when I wasn’t paying attention where I was going. Sarah and Hector had to grab my arms and help yank me out. Good times.

We reached our campsite in the evening at Chaullay (2850m), there was a shower there which I was grateful for. We had a nice dinner, chatted lots about the day’s hike, and relaxed. We walked for around 8 hours, and covered a distance of 22km.

Day 3 was a shorter walk. I was feeling the effects of the previous day’s walk so I’m glad the walk was basically on flat ground. We hiked through the jungle for around five hours. Since this was an easier walk than yesterday, we were all able to walk and talk and take our time. I did start to develop a bit of a cough however, I figured it was after effects of putting my body through that workout the day before.

We ended up in Santa Teresa (1650m), and went to the Hot Springs. My legs felt much better after that. My whole body was more relaxed than it had been in days. I felt refreshed and ready to take on the last day of hiking before reaching our destination!

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Photo credit to Guide Trip. I forgot to take my own photos there, cause I was too busy relaxing!

We walked for five hours, convering a distance of 15 km.

Day Four had the least amount of hiking. It was all pretty much flat terrain again. I was very thankful for this, as my cough wasn’t getting any better. My legs were no longer sore thanks to the hot springs though. We walked along tracks for the whole way to Aguas Calientes pretty much.

Then once we were we reached Aguas Calientes that afternoon, we were off to our respective hostels. We met up for dinner that night, and confirmed the plans to meet up the next morning to catch the bus up to Machu Picchu. We walked 15km this day again.

Day 5 started off with a bit of a hitch. A giant boulder blocked the path, so buses weren’t able to take us to the entrance. So instead, we had to take the stairs. It took us an extra hour than originally planned, but we finally got to Machu Picchu! We took one final group photo and had a short tour with Hector. Then we said bye and split off in groups to explore it on our own. I’m going to devote tomorrow’s post to just our time in Machu Picchu. It deserves a post all on it’s own.

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Brent, Holly, Hector, Ash, Andrew, Charlie, Rebecca, Julie, Sarah, and me

Tomorrow, I’m going to share (again) all the pictures we took up at Machu Picchu!

Angela.

Peru Adventures – Arequipa

Peru Adventures – Arequipa

Let’s revisit some places we (Sarah and I) visited during those Peru Adventures I keep talking about.

Let’s head back to the end of December back in 2013…

Arequipa is 2380m above sea level. Coming from Wellington, where almost the whole city is sea level, this was a big difference. It’s also surrounded by three volcanoes, which were easy to spot from the roof of the hostel. I really liked the style of the buildings in this city. In this city, we visited the Monastery of Saint Catherine and Colca Canyon. Prepare for a lot of pictures.

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We stayed at El Albergue Espanol, a hostel very close to the centre of town. The owners were very lovely, we were able to communicate through our limited Spanish, and their limited English, together we figured out that we wanted a local map. The hostel was very cute, and also has a roof that you can go up to and hang out.

The Plaza de Armas (Town Square) was beautiful, it’s like a park, surrounded by local shops and a beautiful Cathedral. Since our hostel was centrally located, we were able to walk a few minutes to get to it.

After exploring the shops (and me buying a stuffed alpaca who is name Pedro), we decided to check out the Monastery. Also, our high school was named after Saint Catherine funnily enough.

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Meet Pedro

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Entry to the Monastery was 35 soles ($15 NZD). I loved the colours in the Monastery. It was beautiful and huge.

We also had a little fun at the fact that Sarah had to keep ducking to get through the doorways, and I just kept on walking. In fact, with my short stature and skin colour, people kept thinking I was a local and speaking rapid Spanish to me, then backing away at my look of confusion and panic. Sarah, with her blue eyes, and very tall build got lots of stares. We also got accosted a lot by vendors everywhere we go. We knew this would happen, and were pretty good with avoiding them and shaking them off. We did stop by two ladies who were dressed up in traditional attire to pet the baby alpacas they had.

We booked with a local tour agency to go see Colca Canyon the next morning. I don’t remember how much it was, but it wasn’t too bad. We had to get picked up at 3am though, so we had little sleep. I also felt very sick, nauseous and realized I had barely eaten the past two days because I didn’t feel hungry. Turns out, I should be taking my altitude sickness pills. Once those kicked in, I felt good again. I did feel tingles in my arms and legs, but apparently that’s a normal side effect.

Colca Canyon is beautiful. The trip to get there was fun,  our guide was fluent in both Spanish and English and was a wealth of information. It was a long van ride, but worth it. The Canyon is one of the deepest in the world. It looked like it never ended. I couldn’t stop looking around, and trying to squint and see everything. We saw a few condors, but I wasn’t quick enough to take a decent photo of one.

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Feeling on top of the world

It was nice to get back and crash at our hostel that night considering the early wake up call. Then we had to get up at 5 to catch our next flight out to Cusco at 7. Booking earlier flights is cheaper, but man does it wear on you after a while. Jet lag is reeeal.

Arequipa was such a diverse city. It was also very high up. Remember your altitude sickness pills guys, cause it sucks if you don’t.

Angela.

 

Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest

Iquitos was our last stop in this month long Peru Trip. We arrived at the airport and were immediately picked up to go to our lodge in the Rainforest. We spent five days in the Amazon Rainforest, getting amazing catered meals, going out on tour everyday, seeing an amazing range of animals and sights, and constantly battling mosquitos. Being there everyday felt magical, like we had taken an Elixir (see what I did there), and been transported to another world.

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Peru Adventures – Part 9. Amazon Rainforest

Continue reading “Amazon Rainforest”