A Travellerspoint blog

Puno y el Lago Titicaca

sunny 25 °C
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Puno is worth visiting just for its huge market, you can walk on it for hours without passing the same stall. Next to vegetables, fruits and actually all you can think of, it also has very cheap woven hats and finger puppets. You can buy meat and even fish that is just lying there, without any ice, nothing. It is well woth taking a walk on the market, if you want to buy cheap souvenirs, this is the place to be and there is a lot of people walking around in traditional, very colourful clothes. But the main reason why the pedestrian street in the centre of Puno is crowded with tourists is because of the Lago Titicaca, the highest navigavable (is that an English word?) lake in the world, on the border of Perú and Bolivia. (Krickske, m´n kaart begint mooi vol te geraken, het hoogste punt van Panamá, de grootste steen ter wereld, het hoogst bevaarbare meer ter wereld, de diepste canyon en binnenkort de hoogste hoofdstad, knip, knip, knip, knip, knip)

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Early in the morning, we took the boat out to the Islas Flotantes, floating islands made of reed. It was worth seeing, very bequtiful, but again, it was such a touristy thing!

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After a little trip in a reed boat to another isla flotante, the boat took us to Amantani, a big island on the lake, with 4,000 people living on it. We were served lunch in a family, where we would spend the night, too, together with Ziggy and his girlfriend from Leipzig. Then, we walked up to the summit of the island, 200 meters higher than the lake, probably the first time I ever got over 4,000 meter on foot! The sunset was nice but it got very cold the moment the sun was gone. In the evening, we had to put on some traditional clothes and go for some traditional dance and contrary to my expectations it was actually quite fun. Our hostes´s daughter, Virginia, was not getting tired and every time the band started a new song, she was there again to invite us to dance. By the way, if you take the tour to the islands on the lake, make sure you do not get a guide called Zack, he is very annoying, wants to be in the centre of attention all the time and he has got very bad English.

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Next day we went to Taquile, a nice island half an hour from Amantani, and walked up to the top again. We had a good lunch, trucha con arroz, of course, with a gorgeous view on the Lago Titicaca. All the time, the sky was chrystal clear and the sun was doing its best to a degree that the four English women and a German bloke on our boat got burned heavily.

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Then, four hours back to Puno where we had a quarter chicken with chips, lettuce and tomatoes for 5 soles (1.25 euros), very tasty and no tourists there, loads of locals though. El rancho is the name. Night bus to Cusco, with a semi-cama and loads of space for the legs and still we did not sleep well.

Hasta pronto!

Posted by Gitan Jean 13:56 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Arequipa y el Cañon del Colca

sunny 23 °C
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Arequipa was definetely the nicest city we had seen in Peru that far. For people travelling to South-Peru, I suggest you do the tour in the direction we did, that is from Lima, Pisco, Nasca, Arequipa, Puno and the Lago Titicaca, Cusco, Lima. Not only do cities become more beautiful that way, but you always go up in altitude as well, which makes that you get used to the altitude easier. For people doing the Camina Inca to Machu Picchu this is really important as you get to about 4,200 meters above sea level doing it, Puno is at about 3,800 meters.

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Arequipa, yes, Arequipa is a nice city with a beautiful Plaza de Armas, good restaurants and a nice bario a bit outside the centre, Yarahuana. The Sanata Catalina Monastery is worth a visit very much.

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If you go to Arequipa, go to a hostel called el Cansado del Fondador. It is a brilliant hostel on Jérusalen, just in front of La casa de mi abuela,which is in all travel guides. The hostel has beautiful spacious rooms with gorgeous wooden floors and with private bathroom and television. The building is very beautiful, too, and when it will be completely renovated, in about two years, it will be gorgeous with a cool terrace overlooking Arequipa on the third floor. People going to Arequipa, go there! It is twenty dollars for a double room, breakfast included and it is well worth it. Say hi to Marie-Louse from Thomas and me!

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From Arequipa, you can travel to the Colca Cañon, the deepest canyon in the world! The Gran Cañon is only about 1,000 meters deep whereas the Colca Cañon is well over 3,000 at its deepest!

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The trip from Arequipa to the canyon is long and the road is very bad and dusty, but it is well worth it. After about 4 hours you arrive in Chivay and after that, it is another 1.5 or 2 h of bussing. After the tiring trip, we first had a lovely lunch in a traditional restaurant and then started walking down into the canyon. It is so beautiful in there! We could see the oasis with micro-climate where we would walk the next day from above, it was gorgeous.

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Our guide, Patricia, was lovely and a good cook too. First day was only a few hours of walking, and always down, so we arrived early and thus had time to play cards with our fellow travellers, Fleure and Chris, two Aussies and Felix and Cas, two Britons on their honneymoon. The second day, a two-hour walk took us to the oasis, where we had all afternoon to relax in the sun and swim in the natural springs, it was lovely.

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Thomas and I went for some more walking and saw a male and female condor circling above the canyon, it was a spectacular sight! The 3d day, we got up around 4 am to start the though walk back up, 1,100 meters up in the moonlight.

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By the time the sun got up, we had a gorgeous view of the canyon again. We had breakfast and then took the bus to el Mirador del Condor where there were busloads of tourists waiting to catch a glimps of the mighty birds. Unfortunately, we only saw two very far away, so it was not really worth it. Overall, the Colca Cañon was amazing, people travelling to Arequipa should not miss it. Take out three days to do it though, do not take the one- or two-day trips as you will be on the bus most of the time and you will hardly get any hiking.

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Take care all of you

Peace out

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Posted by Gitan Jean 15:25 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Nasca

sunny 24 °C
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Nasca as a city is not very interesting. Again, there is the Plaza de Armas to have a look at, but that is about it. Nasca is very known, though, for its lines. There are about three hundred figures drawn in the sand of the Nasca desert, amongst them a figure of a monkey, a spider, a humming bird, a dog, hands etc.
Up to today, it is still not very clear how the Incas could have drawn the figures with such an accuracy, some of the figures are over fifty meters long. Of course, some people came up with alien theories as well. The lines are in danger because locos sometimes drive over them with motorbikes to get in contact with creatures from outer space. Another threat is the pollution. Nowadays, you can get up to five years in prison for destroying them! Another thing, the Panamerican motorway runs right through one of the figures.

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Anyway, the lines are best viewed from the air, well actually, they can only be seen from the air, except for two or three which can be seen from a mirador. This fact convinced some people that the incas could fly in the air some way, for example using hot air balloons. After about three hours of waiting, we finally got into the air for a 35 minute tour high above the lines. The pilote always flew over the figures from the right as well from the left, so all people in the six passenger-plane could watch the lines. Only one of the passengers was throwing up all the time.

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Before all that, we had already been to el Cementerio de Chauchillas which is set in a dramatic desert landscape surrounded by mountains. It has some graves where you can watch bones, hair and ceramics.

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Now a bit more about Pervian cuisine. The food here is quite good and not expensive at all. One of our favourites are the Chifas, Chinese restaurants where you can get a menu consisting of a noodle soup and a massive plate of nazi goreng with chips and vegetables for three to five soles, which is about 0,70 to 1,30 euros! You can order a Chicha to go with it. Chicha is a drink made of black mais, it is also called mais beer although it contains no alcohol. Other restaurants usually offer menus for about 10 soles (about 2,70 euros) including a vegetable or pasta soup or salad and than an alpaca steak with rice or a trucha a la plancha (trout) or a spaghetti. If you are lucky, you get a soft drink to go with it. A good choice is the Inca Cola, a very yellow drink that tastes a bit like chewing gum. Beers are quite okay, there are a lot of brands, like Cuzqueña, Arequipeña etc. but I prefer the Cristal beer

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Puno is said to be the chicken city, but we have not had chicken so far, a lot of trucha though, which is always tasty. Tonight might be the night we are going to have chicken for the first time at El Rancho in Puno, 5 soles (1,30 euros) for a quarter chicken con arroz, papas fritas y verduras!
A tip for people travelling to Peru: do not order a la carte cause it is much more expensive than a menu. The plates you can order a la carte seem to be designed for tourists only!
We only still have to try the guinea pigs and the ceviche!

Take care, polare, que les vayan bien!

Posted by Gitan Jean 20:03 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Pisco, Las Islas Ballestas, Paracas

sunny 25 °C
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As we drove through the moon landscapes between Lima and Pisco, the weather was getting better and better. Pisco is nothing special, a little city with, of course, a Plaza de armas, the centre of every Peruvian city or village. A few hours after we arrived at our hotel, a Joker-group, a Belgian tour operator, arrived there, too, we keep meeting them everywhere.

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Pisco is the ideal city to go on a day excursion to the Islas Ballestas and the Reserve Nacional de Paracas. The Islas Ballestas lay 20 minutes of the coast of Paracas, by boat. They are known for their population of birds. When people first found out about the use of bird poo as a fertaliser, the islands became a popular place. There was a thirty meter layer covering the islands when they first started digging the bird poo. When you visit the islands, you know why, there is an incredible population of all sorts of birds and it is good to wear a rain jacket and hat when approaching the islands. There were see wolfs and dolphins there, too, it was a spectacular sight!

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Next part of the tour was the Reserve Nacional de Paracas. First, a museum, which was not very interesting. Then off to a mirador where you could see 4 flamingos standing in the water, but you could not approach them, they were just little dots, so it was not really interesting either, although the desert landscape you have to cross to get there was quite cool. Next thing on the tour was brilliant, La Catedral, which is a set of rocks, yep, cathedral-shaped, you can watch from an impressive cliff at the coast. The landscape is just halucinating, this is where Planet of the apes was filmed, and the ocean is impresive throwing its beautiful waves against the rock formationd again and again, amazing!

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Posted by Gitan Jean 19:38 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Lima

overcast 18 °C
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Arriving in Lima was quite a shock. I actually had to get my pullover out of my rucksack as nights can be quite chilly here, especially if you compare it to Panama! It was a pitty I did not have the time to visit Colombia and Ecuador, everyone I met that had been to Colombia told me how wonderful it is. But it is a good reason to come back to Latin America. And at least I have good travel company with Thomas, a mate who flew over from Belgium and who is now joining me for three weeks in Peru.
Most Peruvian people are very nice but they tend to always try to cheat in some way. When you book a tour there is always something that is not included or something you have to pay for separately, they always try to charge you more at hotels than the price agreed upon arrival etc. And I am quite sure they apply different prices for tourists, but I really cannot blame them for that. Overall, the people are very friendly and helpful and there are a lot of pretty women.
Lima is a huge and dirty city, a lot of traffic, noise and pollution, it seems to be the story of every Latin American capital. Well, in a city with 12 million inhabitants, what do you expect? Of course, you have to see it. The plaza de armas with its cathedral and palace, changing of the guards at noon, are nice. There are some beautiful parks, museums and squares but after walking around for a few hours, you feel like you have seen it. I would recommend half a day or maximum one day in Lima, cause there are so many nicer places in Peru, just ask the Arequipeñas (Arequipa is the 2nd city in Peru), they will agree with you!

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We stayed in a gorgeous hotel in Miraflores, the snobbish hence touristic area of Lima. Very nice building and a cool garden with an empty swimming pool in it. It was the most expensive hotel so far, 12.5 dollars a person a night in a dormitory! Miraflores is nice, it is at the ocean and has some very good waves, I saw a lot of surfers on the way from the airport, but I read the water is very polluted. It is an expensive area as well, you pay at least double the price for something to eat and it has a lot of tourists.

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Posted by Gitan Jean 19:11 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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