Backpack and Champals

This is our journey around the world ...I hope you enjoy our blog whilst we make footprints around the globe Jsr
  • Day44

    First steps in Bolivia

    February 14, 2017 in Bolivia ⋅ ☀️ 84 °F

    Copacabana and isla del sol

    Copacabana...sounds exotic doesn't it...this was far from where we were dropped off drowsy 💤 from the bus journey. Whilst we lugged our bags trying to find our next move (I sound like I'm playing snakes and ladders - which times this is what it feels like a foreign land where we don't speak much of the language)

    We approached by a lady (speaking English) selling boat tickets to Isle del Sol. We purchased 4 tickets (one way) from her without shopping around. (We were drowsy, tired and didn't have the stamina to tackle the language) a good sell for her!

    She told us the boat leaves at 13:30hrs. Bolivia is 1hr ahead of Peru - so that left us just 45 mins to find and get to the port.

    Again - we trudged our bags to the port through the chaotic market streets (I say trudged because it began to rain heavily) I wasn't liking Copacabana at the moment and was hoping for Isla del sol (Island of the sun ☀️) to live up to its glorified name.

    Hannah and I sat on a small sized boat whilst the boys went out to buy food and get cash 💰
    There are no atms on Isla del Sol so be sure to withdraw cash from Copacabana #BoliviaTravelTip

    We waited on the bus with a group of hippies and were wondering what we getting ourselves into

    We hadn't eaten since yesterday evening so we were extremely grateful for a chap boarding our boat to sell vegetarian/vegan burgers - it was delicious!

    At times like this - we feel gods grace - thank you for our daily bread 🍞- and vegetarian food which is always limited here in South America

    The boat eventually sailed off towards the sunshine! 🌞 (duration of journey 1hr and abit)

    Upon arriving on the island (south) we were greeted by two gentlemen on the pier to ask for tax. (Keep hold of this ticket #BoliviaTravelTip.

    This is mandatory for the up keep of the island. We were told that you don't need to book any hostels (especially in low season) hostel/guesthouse owners come looking for tourists/backpackers

    This was the case for us also - we (girls) sat with our bags whilst the boys scoped out a guesthouse- it's quite a steep difficult climb (particularly difficult with body-sized backpacks) - we decided to settle for this small family run guesthouse upon the recommendation of 'Frank' a French traveller who checked in earlier that day.

    The guest house was nice - private rooms and bathroom but one of them didn't have a sink/basin and the other room didn't have hot water for the shower.

    The guest houses were situated on a cliff side and around a small area of grass owned by the owners (who also relaxed outside on the tree/stone stumped tables and chairs)

    We showered up (cold showers typical of the island) and went for a walk at around 6pm

    There was a chill in the air which was felt a lot more by the eerie quietness of the island

    Where is everyone we thought?

    It was still quite a steep climb - we decided to stop for dinner (pizza and pasta and chips) in a small family run restaurant.

    We felt quite guilty asking for food since the lady was cooking all by herself and took ages.

    By the time we ate, it was complete dark outside. We needed to make our way back down the rustic steps and paving stones (thank god we packed our headlights!)

    The next day we planned to walk up this way so that we can walk on the north island (3hrs there 3hrs back)

    We took the early morning sun to wash our clothes (basic basin style wash with a tap/brush and soap) Indian village style, have breakfast courtesy of the family costing us $15 sole per person) then set off our way to the north of the island.

    This was a long walk with a mixture of both warm and cool climates

    We walked through the barren lands, rocks and dry fields passing villages, important ruins, peaks and checkstops (again paying a small fee - keep hold of this ticket and the tax ticket you paid when you arrived on to the island!) #BoliviaTravelTip

    It was a long walk by the views were lovely.

    Upon arriving at the north of the island we realised why the South Island was so quiet. The beach was littered with many tents ⛺️ propped up by backpackers
    There seemed to be more 'life' on this side of the island compared to the south where we were staying - but I imagine it would get more rowdy in the evenings

    We spent some time here before we commenced our 3hr journey back before nightfall

    Again this was a long tiresome walk back (around the other side this time) but we made it back in time for dinner (pizza again) and straight to sleep 😴

    The next day we chilled out a little before catching our boat back to Copacabana at (what we thought was 1pm) it transpires that there is no boat at 1pm! It's 8am and 3pm! We were stuck! (Do you recall the snakes and ladders game I referred to earlier) we were puzzled as to what to do ... we couldn't wait till 3pm as we need to get to Lapaz (bus yet to be booked)

    We couldn't do this before hand because internet is scarce on the island - hostels/guesthouses quite often advertise free wifi but the internet runs off a mobile phone which gets switched off or inaccessible most of the time.

    Luckily - we managed to find a group of French travellers (who were in the same position as us) who decided to hire a private boat for a higher fee.

    It worked out being only a little bit more but convenient for us.

    We happily sat on the small yacht-shaped boat 🚣🏻 thankful for being at the port at the right time

    Though again, we hadn't eaten or have any food for our journey - we had a lot to cram in before finding and boarding a bus to Lapaz!

    We managed to book a bus to Lapaz (blindly booking the last tickets on the bus) leaving us 45 mins to find food and a loo break

    We were overcome by numberous hurdles (no ladders just snakes! 🐍 ) we struggled to find food and toilets! Leaving us on a countdown of minutes. We ended up (reluctantly) opting for (as a last resort) crisps, water and a avocado 🥑 and tomato sandwich which had already been claimed by a fly (sat in the locked refrigerator) we could only hope and pray that the fly had clean feet! 😖

    We quickly dashed for the loo and then the bus 🚍- to our 'luck' it was the last two seats in the corner right at the back (ooof! I looked at Dipesh) this is going to a bumpy ride!
    I felt more for the pregnant girl who as sat a seat away from me - it was a bumpy uncomfortable ride for me - I can't imagine what she must have felt.

    We were sat on a bus with locals (plus a couple of dogs) part way through the journey they all stepped the bus - be known to the four of us, we were to cross lake Titicaca by a barge-type equipment.

    We sat quietly and eagerly whilst the coach bobbed along across the lake. We were eventually joined by our fellow passengers

    Four hours later...we were dropped off (in the middle of nowhere) in Lapaz (world most dangerous city) with no accommodation booked 😧

    Apparently the bus doesn't (or decided not to) drop us off to the bus terminal - again no one tells us this until we are the last ones left on the bus wondering what is going to happen next

    We managed to locate a hostel and hoped that they would take the four of us in this late in the evening.

    We nervously hailed a taxi with our big backpacks asking him to take us to

    I felt safe once within the doors of hostel Bacaboo
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  • Day27

    Worlds Most Dangerous City, Lapaz

    January 28, 2017 in Bolivia ⋅ ⛅ 55 °F

    La Paz

    Lapaz has a reputation of being one of the worlds most dangerous cities

    We were making a swift-as-possible stop here - but didn't want to leave without knowing a little more about this pumping city

    We decided to go on the walking tour - we looked out for guides with red tshirts - the back of their tshirts quoted 'I survived the worlds most dangerous city walking tour'' glup! 😳

    Usually these walking tours are free - but the Bolivian government is if the view that no tourist activity should be free - and so a fixed fee (though it was totally worth it!) is required on top of tips

    First we were told about the worlds most craziest prison (the entrance to which were only a few meters away 😳) I'm not going to say much about this prison 'San Pedro Prison' as my version won't do it justice (pun-intended) there is a book made about this prison called 'marching powder' also due to be made into a film by Brad Pitt

    We were then told about 'Choletas' the Bolivian traditionally dressed women (Bowler hat 🎩, two long plaits on either side, a whooshing long skirt)

    The bowler hat is actually from England (thanks to Charlie Chaplin) the hats made were two small for the gents heads (Bolivian are known to have potato shaped heads) and so the big order of bowler hats were palmed off as a fashion accessory for Bolivian women (it still did not fit their but simply rests on top of their heads

    The whooshing skirt is to accentuate the child-bearing hips whilst lower calf of 'Cholettas' being reserved those worthy

    Apparently, there is quite a skill involved when woo'ing a 'Choleta' using hand mirrors to dazzle to chasing them through the fields

    But you don't want to cross the wrong side of a 'Choleta'. Some are known to be competing in the 'Choleta wrestling 🤼 match' which you can attend (two times per week)

    We were given a history of Bolivian politics... this is definitely one to read up on.

    The 'witches market' is also another area we visited - this is mostly a tourist attraction with streets lined with tourist merchandise but also items simpler to those that we came across in Arrequipa (skeleton of baby llama) potions and powders of alsorts.

    Again, there was a lot of importance on Pachamama (Mother Earth)

    The tour also included a visit to the market stall where we tried this delicious mashed potato balled with cheese filling and fried - Hmmm!

    This was it for our tour in Lapaz... it was a crazy busy city but given its reputation - we didn't want to hang out there for too long

    Next stop - overnight bus to, Uyani, Bolivia 🇧🇴
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  • Day23

    Bolivian Border crossing

    January 24, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 82 °F

    Having spent over two weeks in Peru (longer than we had planned to) we became quite attached to beautiful Peru 🇵🇪
    It swiftly became our home - we didn't want to leave.

    As with life you must continue to move on...our next stop will be Bolivia 🇧🇴
    There are several routes to Bolivia from Peru (name routes) we opted for the Copabana route (via coach) some of our fellow coach passengers were going to Lapaz

    Our first border crossing. We were handed papers to fill out in the coach - so keep a pen with you before boarding the bus #BoliviaTravelTip. The driver spoke very little English so we constantly perched over the seats like meerkats trying to figure out what we all are to do.

    People stepped off the coach to a conveniently located photocopier shop to get a copy of their passport - no one told us this. Obviously one had to pay to use this copier. There is also a small toilet at the back (free to use)

    It transpired that given that we arrived into Lima by air - we didn't need to get a copy of the passport - if we stepped into Lima by other means (I.e coach) a passport copy will be required #BoliviaTravelTip

    The border crossing was quite straight forward (even though I felt a little nervous)

    1. The Peruvian and Bolivian immigration posts are pretty close to each other
    2. The bus dropped the passengers off on the Peruvian side and meets us on the Bolivian side (a few meters away)
    3. We get an 'exit stamp' - this is very important from the Peruvian side
    4. We then walk to the Bolivian side - and get the paper we completed stamped - don't lose this paper (you'll need it when exiting the country #BoliviaTravelTip) and also get a stamp in our passport

    That's pretty much it! We then shuffle back on the bus 🚌

    All of this takes some time because the two post stations are quite small with several tourists to 'process' but we were quickly on our way once these 'procedure' was completed

    Make sure you don't lose any of the documents returned to you #BoliviaTravelTip
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  • Day19

    Cusco, peru

    January 20, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    18th - 20th Jan

    Cusco was once the capital of Peru (prior to Lima) why? Because it was the central point of both religion and politics in the Inca age

    We arrived into cusco in the early hours of the morning at 7am half dazed after our bus ride we weren't able to check in to our hostel La'Bom until noon so we wandered about town to begin our research on either the Inca trail or salkantay trek

    We sat in the square to have biscuits and snacks whilst watching a Peruvian band play in the main plaza. We went on a free walking tour of cusco where we learnt a great deal about the city.

    For example the Inca stone infrastructure made to be earthquake-proof (disjointed and jigsaw like) the windows and doors are also at a slant. This is fascinating Inca architecture and also the cusco mini Christ redeemer.
    The walking tour ended with a Pisco sour (perus most famous drink) we sipped upon our pisco sours whilst chatting to a lovely Colombian couple. The male reminded us of Rakesh Nayee.

    We were pretty exhausted so we had dinner at Prasado (iskon restaurant - where we saw a picture of our hanumanji, shiv) and went back to our hostel

    So the thing about hostels is .... you have to have a go with the flow type approach

    Sharing a dorm room with randoms is one thing the other is trying to fall asleep when Mr-I-Have-Guitar decides to strum some tunes when you are just about to fall asleep.

    An eye mask and ear plugs are a must!

    The next morning we had breakfast (pancakes and Jam and a bread roll) whilst listening to bob Marley - buffalo solider.

    We continued our research for the treks, visited San Catalina market, had some Granadilla (delicious juicy passion fruit that you check open like an egg) and chilled in the plaza. We were amazed to see the number of young children selling tourist merchandise in the plaza till very late at night

    Whilst sitting in the plaza a young girl came over to sell llama keyrings
    She wouldn't accept no for an answer so I purchased my first blue Llama off her - every day thereafter without a doubt I would bump into her once again - I discovered (with the assistance of my Spanish phrasebook) her name was Kana, 10 years of age

    We met Tom and Hannah in the plaza and did some more research into treks - after much deliberation we decided to go with Salkantay/Machu Picchu reservations

    We also book our tickets to the sacred valley to visit chinchenaro, ...
    Got pizza and chips then went back to the hostel

    I was so relieved to have booked our trek to Machu Picchu - finally!
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  • Day16

    Arequipa, Peru Part 2

    January 17, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    Arequipa part 2
    We woke the next day with dazzling sunshine. Breakfast was on the terrace (which up until now was just a large paddling pool)

    Upon ascending the twirly steps the sky was marvellously blue (yes! no rain finally! Arequipa is not grey all the time!).

    It wasn't until we turned around did we see the magnificent view. There, towering behind us were the two volcanoes Chanchi and El Misti sat beside each other like brother and sister. It was such an incredible sight (again pictures will not do it justice).

    For all our time in Arequipa, the thick curtain of clouds was hiding this beautiful sight. We were all in awe!

    We were treated to breakfast on the sunny but chilly terrace (scrambled eggs with crusty bread and banana toffee crepe - for Dipesh obviously)

    We then set of on a 2.5hr free walking tour of the city of Arequipa. Our guide, Beatrice #freewalkingtour

    She told us about the history of Arequipa and the Spanish invasion and more about the Condor

    Here are some facts:
    a Condor is monogamous - it only has one partner in its life time
    The Condor does not kill - it eats animals that are already dead
    The Condor is almost on the verge of being extinction due to people thinking that they were hunters (they are not) once this was known - the people put a stop to hunting this bird
    The Condor only has one offspring in its lifetime
    If the female Condor dies...the male Condor will not be able to live without her - he therefore commits suicide (therefore he is symbolic of loyalty). On the other hand, if a male Condor dies first - and there is no offspring - the female will find another mate
    The Condor lives up to the grand age of 70 years
    The Andean condor has the largest wing area of any bird. Size relative to a 6-ft

    I found a new fondness for this bird but couldn't help feel some sadness at the current state of this bird. We both felt so lucky to see this bird so close and magnificently glide over the Andean mountains

    Beatrice also told us about 'Sarita' and 'Juanita' (aka inca ice maiden) who are exhibited the Museo Santuarios. Both of these young girls were killed as an offering to the Inca gods sometime between 1450 and 1480 when she was approximately 11–15 years old.

    Beatrice also told us that the Peruvians still have some ancient ceremonies practiced today. (For illustrative purposes Beatrice took us to the market)
    For instance, they use a skeleton of a baby lamb for good luck. Beatrice introduced us to Keko (luck in fortune) similar to the golden cat with the paw in Chinese culture.

    Beatrice introduced us to various fruits my favourite was the passion fruit and a fruit that looks like a dried cucumber but like fluffy cotton balls inside (it tasted like sweet cotton wool that dissolved in our mouth)

    There was another strange looking looked like an ugly potato/cactus. It was knobby and crooked and smelt liked 6-day old sweaty socks 🤢Beatrice told us that this was used for medicinal purposes for good health (mixed in shakes)

    We were also told that frogs 🐸 are used in health shakes too 😷

    The tour concluded with a Pisco sour shot (Pisco, egg white, lemon and a dash of cinnamon) and fermented corn drink for the non-alcoholics.

    It was after noon by the time we had finished so we joined our new dorm buddies (Julia and Manuel from Germany) for a vegetarian 3 course meal at Omphalos restaurant (so delicious!)

    This took us to our time to board our bus to cusco (10 hour long over night bus ride)
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  • Day15

    Arequipa, Peru Part 1

    January 16, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 55 °F

    Arequipa part 1 also known as the city behind the mountains. Volcanoes actually - The two volcanoes are Misti (still active) and Chachani.

    We arrived in the early hours of the morning on our oltursa bus (from ica) and stepped foot in our first shared dormitory with 8 other people at M B backpackers.

    As the hostel guy opened the door for us we were hit by a mixed odour of sweat and alcohol.

    The dorm room was still in darkness since our to-be dorm buddies were still lazily waking from their sleep.

    I remember looking at Dipesh and thinking - what the heck have we done!?

    We quietly stepped in and took a moment to collect our thoughts...did we really leave our home comforts in Lancashire for this?! Are we actually staying here for two nights?!

    It was fairly chilly and drizzly (typical prestionion weather!) This was quite different to the warm weather that welcomed us in Lima and Ica.

    Having freshened up (quietly) we stepped into the city of Arequipa with crispy sunburnt faces from our previous stop.

    We explored the city and figured out our bearings (places to eat, supermarket etc) we had an early night (eye mask and ear plugs are essential in shared dorms!) since we had a super super early start the next morning

    We were picked up at 3am for a day tour at the Canon del Colca (4 hour journey)

    'What's the dealio with the Colca Canons' I asked Dipesh.
    Dipesh fished the information out from his encyclopaedia-type brain and explained that the Colca Canyons is the worlds second deepest canyon. (11,488 feet deep)
    (The first being Yarlung Zangbo, Tibet, China. 19,715 feet deep)

    We stopped at a small hillside town called Chivay that has embraced tourism without losing its unkempt high country identity

    The streets were lined with ladies dressed in traditional Peruvian clothing. Colourful hats, printed and sequinned dresses with a bright coloured Peruvian cloth tied on their backs with various merchandise to sell to the flock of tourists.

    The local people are descendants of two conflicts tribes. The Cabanas and Collagua. Historically, these two tribes used to distinguish themselves by performing cranial deformations. But nowadays, the two tribes wear different coloured hats to denote their ancestry.

    We stopped at Chivay for breakfast. It was yummy. Peruvian bread with butter and jam accompanied with a warm porridge-like quinoa drink and papaya juice. We were also handed coco leaves to assist with any high altitude symptoms.

    Nothing combats the effects of altitude sickness quite as effectively as coco leaves 🍃 which is illegal in outside of Peru, Bolivia and some parts of Argentina.

    It tastes like green tea. You simply chew on the leaves and keep a bundle gathered in your cheek - just like the locals

    We stopped at a few other villages of a similar nature. The sky was heavy with mist/low cloud so we couldn't see much of the landscape unfortunately.

    I also got the opportunity to hold a baby llama (part of the camel family) - they are so cute and fluffy! I want to bring a baby llama back home 😊

    The mist/low cloud refused to budge even when we reached 'Cruz del Condor' which is at a high altitude and is also marked with the cross of Christ. This spot is a popular tourist spot due to it being the residence of a large family of the Andean Condor (Peru's national bird). It's also at a high altitude. I was beginning to feel the effects of high altitude (pressure on the chest and shortness of breath)

    We were disappointed to have not been able to have any Condor sightings. Apparently they are more likely to be seen between June - September.

    We didn't realise the importance of this bird until we reached the canons. Both Dipesh and I were smug to have seen a Condor up close at the zoo in Ica.

    Our minibus driver drove through the meandering Andean roads and tunnels so skilfully

    We reached a higher altitude point called 'Paso de Patopampa' which is the highest point on the road between Arequipa and Chivay.
    'Paso de Patopampa'... sounds like a beautiful water fountain courtyard surrounded by pretty flowers doesn't it? fact that was far from what it was like; cold, grey, wet and thick with mist. In fact it was one of the most lifeless places I have been too. I felt like Frodo when he forced to cross Mordor.

    The only colour and brightness we saw were the handful of Peruvian ladies sat selling merchandise (including an assortment of warm llama based clothing) to the shivering tourists. I felt so sad for those ladies sat in the grey/murky cold and wished they would just go home and sit in front of the fire with warm slippers and a cup of hot coco.

    Paso de Patopampa being 4910m above sea level left me and my lungs gasping for air. We couldn't see much (again because of the stubborn mist/clouds)

    I just wanted to get back into the minibus but Dipesh insisted we have a walk around.

    My lungs and I just wanted to get away from here. Dipesh tried to persuade me to stay out by purchasing some coco candies from one of the ladies - this apparently is suppose to help with altitude sickness- it did nothing but cover my teeth with sugar and gave me a small sugar burst.

    Before getting back on to the bus, we noticed several stones stacked up upon each other - in fact there where hundreds and hundreds of them. We saw them earlier on in the journey but just assumed it was a game played by local kids or a past time for tourists/hikers.

    But who would sit here at Paso de Patopampa and make hundreds and hundreds of these small stone stacks? We asked our tour guide (Marco - seems to be a very popular name!) what this was.

    He explained that it is a ritual undertaken by the local Peruvian people to please Mother Earth and the mountain for protection and to keep them happy. Marco pointed in a north westerly direction and said 'that's volcano Chanchi and that (pointing north easterly) is volcano Misti - which is still active'

    Hence why those sacrifices were made. Both Dipesh and I felt admiration and some familiarity with the Peruvians. Their connection with nature and surrender to Mother Earth (Dharti Maata) was something that we could relate to.

    We boarded the minibus and descended to a lower level. The mist began to clear (or we just moved below it) revealing the most beautiful landscape (snow capped mountains).

    The snow capped El Misti was now in sight and so was the depths of the cannon. We pulled over at a view point to have a refreshing glass of cactus juice for 3 soles (tastes like kiwi) and also saw several cages with guinea pigs (apparently it's a Peruvian delicacy!)

    Whilst sipping on our glasses of cactus juice we saw a Condor fly high above us! It's was high in the sky but we could see its incredibly large wing span. Dipesh explained (planet Earth reference) that the Condor doesn't use much energy in flying - in fact it hops on to the geo thermal winds that surround the mountain sides. The Condor simply glides on these waves.

    We hopped back into our minibus and began our return journey to the city of Arequipa. The road was mostly a straight road leading straight towards El Misti.
    It was an incredible sight. We took a gazillions snaps but none will do justice to the sights we saw!

    Once arriving into the city of Arequipa, we stopped by a supermarket and bought pasta and tomato sauce with a pre-filled tray of spring onions and peppers. This will do for dinner I suppose #simplemeals #bareminimum #noOliSoWaterWillDo
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  • Day12

    Ica, Huacachina Peru

    January 13, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 66 °F

    After a 6hr journey (Peru bus) we arrived in Ica at noon half dazed.

    The main attraction in Ica is Huacachina - an oasis in the middle of the desert 🌵 where you can also book a hostel.

    However, Dipesh managed to find a lovely family run hotel 'Hotel Olanta' just on the outskirts of Ica (only 6mins by taxi for 7 soles) which was a lot cheaper and nicer than the pricey hostels at the oasis.

    I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone staying in ica/Huacachina.

    The hotel owner, Louis was extremely helpful and welcomed his guests individually. I don't know about you - but these days hotels lack that personal service - Louis definitely went that extra mile to make his guests feel welcome.

    The hotel is conveniently located in a safe complex with a mall within 5 mins walk and the main bus stations within 15-20mins walk .

    Having washed out our sleepy eyes and tired faces, we got a taxi to Huacachina for three things i) visit the desert and oasis ii) take a ride on the sandbuggies iii) sandboarding (kowabunga!)

    We booked our sand buggy/board experience directly at the oasis - There are several tour sellers there desperate for your money so you have some haggling leverage.

    We paid 35 soles for 2 hrs per person but I reckon you can haggle the price down to 25 sole p/p depending on the season

    The sandbuggy was an amazing adrenaline pumping ride through the soft sandunes.
    Which was followed by sandboarding - again this was super cool and very fast down some of the steepest dunes.

    It was amazing experience to be in the presence of the mounting sand dunes ...a vastness yet eerie stillness.

    Before coming back to the hotel we had a quick bite to eat (papa jones pizza) in the mall which was yet another challenge having to ask for vegetarian pizza amongst the selection of meaty pizzas

    The next day we walked to the museum in Ica and attempted to find a vegetarian restaurant recommended to us by Louis (but it was closed)

    The Museo Regional Maria Reiche de Ica was really interesting (again walking distance from our hotel) displaying the history of geo ...and a smaller version of the mysterious Nazca Lines (one of the greatest mysteries of South America)

    The Nazca lines are a series of animal figures and geometric shapes imprinted on a vast desert. It appears that these gigantic sophisticated motifs are executed in a single continuous line. How or why the Nazca lines were created is still a mystery. This lines can only be seen from flying above the Palpa desert. We skipped this mostly because of £££$$ but also because of some reviews stating that the flights are risky.

    The museum also exhibited a mummy as well as several other ancient ritualistic artefacts.

    We visited a small zoo (walking distance from hotel) which housed all the usual suspects but also a Llama and a Condor which were HUGE!

    Ica is also famous for its production of Pisco (The national Peruvian drink) and wineries.

    We visited two wineries again recommended to us by Louis.

    Tacama (machinery processed sophisticated winery) It was interesting to see the mass production of wine using maahoosive steel machinery.

    There was a quick tour for 10 soles where we saw both old and new tools used at the winery.

    Unfortunately, the earthquake of 2007 damaged parts of the factory.

    The tour ended with a tasting session of the wines and my first Pisco.

    El Catador Bodega Turistica (handprocessed traditional methods)

    We were close to not visiting this winery because we were running out of time but also I'm not a big fan of wine - but wanted to see how wine is made

    El Catador Bodega Turistica was definitely worth the visit. Our English speaking guide 'Marco' walked us around the winery. He showed us the traditional methods used in the past (no machinery) such clay pots, deep wells to assist the distilleration process typical Peruvian style, the tour ended with wine tasting. We learnt a great deal about wine and more importantly Pisco. Marco also taught us how to drink neat Pisco (swirl a sip of Pisco in your mouth for 5 secs, inhale through your nose, hold your the breath in your stomach, swallow the Pisco, exhale through your nose) so as not to get you drunk.

    I never knew of such a technique of drinking! Or the level of attention and perfection that goes into wine making.

    It was absolutely fascinating!

    We then grabbed our bags from the hotel and headed to the oltursa bus station in readiness for our 12hr overnight coach to Arequipa.
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  • Day10

    Lima, Peru

    January 11, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 75 °F

    Primero 'First' stop - Lima

    Our flight
    The idea of getting an early flight 6am in our case, was great as we'd reach Lima early evening however in principle, getting up a 2am leads up to a very exhausting day ahead. First flight of our grand voyage was an hour to Paris. Never in a million years did we imagine waiting in Paris for a flight to Lima.

    On the flight we felt mixed emotions of being selfish leaving our loved ones behind whilst we travelled. These emotions are something that we will have to deal with but those emotions are there because we are extremely grateful for our parents, family and friends for the well wishes and opportunity they have given us.

    Touchdown in to Peru- where Paddington Bear came from

    We were welcomed into Lima by 'Carlos' our taxi driver.

    The first thing we saw was a rusty mountain looming in the background.

    'Welcome to Peru!' said Carlos.

    The air was thick but the temperature was pleasant. It was approximately 1700hrs - we managed to catch the sunset whilst we weaved through the Peruvian rush hour traffic which was surprisingly calm (no horns beeping, no road rage).

    We felt a million miles from home but I couldn't help but feel a sense of felt like we were driving through the streets of Bilimore (a village in India).
    The residential streets lined colourful houses (blues, pinks, peaches and greens) separated by dusty narrow roads.

    We attempted to converse with Carlos in broken English. We spoke about football, cars about his children. Dipesh pulled out the Spanish phrasebook and attempted to quick-learn Spanish from/with Carlos.

    With our sparse Spanish speaking skills - we were extremely thankful to be escorted directly to our hostel (which was not signposted) since we were considering taking public transport 😖

    We arrived at our first hostel, Casa Hualpa (Elias Aguirre).Having off loaded our bags we set off into the main streets of Miraflores to find a supermarket for water but ended up purchasing a couple of bottles from one of the pharmacies that frequented the streets.

    Our first meal consisted of Thepla, Debrah (made by mum) accompanied by a mineral water.

    The next day we were up early to explore our surroundings. It was sunny but could see a big cloud of mist slowly rolling into the main city - it was amazing to see half of the city covered with a thick blanket of fog (due to Lima being a coastal city).

    We headed down to pebbled beach where we sat and watched learner surfers.

    The city of Lima is nestled in between steep hills hopefully protecting the main city from floods and tsunamis.
    We passed several sign posts for Tsunami 🌊Evacuation emergency routes.

    We then walked through LarcoMar (plush shopping complex) and had lunch (again theplas and debrah) in Parque Central and Parque Kennedy.

    Our walk continued to 'Huaca Pucllana' which is a Maranda adobe ancient pyramid built in AD500.

    Having never been to Egypt, this was my first encounter with any pyramid. It was mahoosive!

    Our day ended back at the hostel with our first simple cooked meal - noodles + a pepper #MadeByUs Where we met Hannah (Telford,U.K.) and Tom (Hull,U.K.) who (in contrast to us) had just arrived from New Zealand and were ending their world tour in South America before heading home. They'd been on the road for a year and half with the intention of only being 8 months (just like us).

    Day 2 we headed out of the Miraflores (main tourist area) to the presidential residence via metro (which is a bus/tram transport service) from Ricardo Palma to Jiron de la Union. You need to use a swipe card like an oyster which you buy at the office and each journey was 2.5 sol pp.

    This was beautiful. The presidents home (Buckingham Palace type building) is on a square lined by yellow buildings and a gothic cathedral.

    We arrived at 12 noon - just in time for the changing of the guards. This was amazing!

    We then visited the Monasterio de San Francisco which is a old monastery famous for its ancient library dating back to the Spanish conquest and underground catacombs which is the site of approximately 70,000 burials. We were surprised to see the open bone-filled crypts in the dark depths of the monastery. Entrance 10 sol pp with English tour included.

    Above however the corridors and rooms where decorated with beautiful paintings, tiles and architecture with a mixture of Spanish, Arab and Moorish influences.

    After a simmering day in the courtyard, we were delighted to cool off with a Lucama ice cream
    Lucama is a Peruvian fruit which tastes a little bit like chikko (Indian fruit).

    The day ended with a hostel-cooked gourmet meal tomato pasta & salad accompanied by orange juice. Supermarket called Vivando on corner of Bolognesi across the road from Scotiabank. It was like a Waitrose.

    Day 3 - we left Lima at 7am by bus 🚌 to Ica (4 - 5hrs). Booked online using The website is in English and lists all the options of all the buses. Although Cruz de Sur is highly recommended for 4-12 hour journeys Perubus and Oltursa are pretty good.
    We have boarded the PERUBUS with the locals. Our lack of speaking or understanding Spanish really plagues us...looking at our blank faces ...we and PERUBUS staff resort to the universal language of body language... thumbs up! 👍🏽

    Next stop - Ica, Peru
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