Richard Watts

Janner gone Westerer!
Living in: Plymouth, United Kingdom
  • Day232

    Sucre

    December 12, 2018 in Bolivia ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    The actual capital of Bolivia, know as the white city. It’s a really nice, chilled out colonial town. The hostel I stayed in had lots of Spanish classes going on and had a good vibe about it. I met some cool people here and by the second day, pretty much everyone was talking to each other.
    Sucre itself has a market and all the normal stuff, but feel really laid back for a capital city. I’d say it’s a little similar to Antigua in Guatemala.
    Whilst here I went on a bit of an odd walking tour, which included going into some public buildings, getting on roofs and me with my feet in the desk of the Bolivian high court! A very strange little tour! Unfortunately whilst here, I finally made the decision to get some antibiotics for the worms, so I was unable to drink, but I did get to the cinema to watch Bohemian Rhapsody, a 6/10 at best, but the first cinema I’d been to in 7 months.
    Not much more went on here, but I’m glad I went as it’s very different from the rest of Bolivia. Time to get on the road towards the salt! Next stop, Potosi...
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  • Day225

    Cochabamba

    December 5, 2018 in Bolivia ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    I came her with Geoff as I wanted to see somewhere different in Bolivia and this place sure was a contrast to La Paz. Lots of places seem really European and Spanish, but this city really could have been. It’s quite modern and seems like it has quite a bit of money.
    I got quite ill here from a parasite, but we still had a good look around
    The big highlight of this place is the market. It’s the largest in South America, and it was huge!!! It was basically all the markets I’ve been to combined in 3 massive city blocks.
    Other things included the biggest Christ statue in the world and pretty much every colectivo van on the planet.
    There was also a protest, the day we had planned to do a hike, which included the whole country going on strike till 6pm. It was really strange with no cars on the street and roads barricaded. We joined in, naturally.
    The reason was about an upcoming vote on the 21st of Feb to weather the president can run for an illegal 5th term, after his currently illegal 4th term. It’s all really bad and corrupt, so I hope they sort it out! I felt well enough to jump on a night bus to Surce the next day.
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  • Day222

    Death Road

    December 2, 2018 in Bolivia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    I’d made my way to La Paz so that I could meet up with Jerry and B, as Jerry wanted to do the Death Road with someone and so did I, so it worked out perfect in the end.
    No one really uses the death road anymore, apart from many groups on mountain bikes, and the odd local car using it to get home.
    The day started off quite relaxed with a later pick up from the hostel, then up to the highest point outside of la Paz for a snack and to get our kit on. There were about 6 different tour groups at the lake doing the same thing. We had a big group of 14, and a big spread of people. It was going to take us all a lot shot of Adrenalin to wake up, but it was a good group.
    Bikes all sorted and kit on, pads and full face helmets all round, we bunched up to give the standard ceremony to Pacha Mana, with a 96% spirt alcohol, and then we were off!
    The first section was to be a 20km stretch of tarmac road down to the start of the gravel road. This was good and it gave everyone a chance to get used to the bikes. The breaks in the UK are switched sides compared to the rest of the world, so making sure you know which one is the back break is a little important! It took us a little while to bomb down the road with stops n stuff, but it was good fun avoiding pot holes when going as fast as the tyres and wind allowed us.
    Tarmac over and time to start the main event! The ting on my mind was the drops at the side of the road, but being more confident on wheels than my feet in these situations, made it a doddle. The main road is basically just a fire road that you find in any hilly place, so I capfuls have been in Wales, but it was great seeing the scenery and getting the history. The day was more of a sight seeing tour for me rather than an extreme day of riding, but the weather was spot on and the views were awesome. At the lake, we were well over 4000masl and the end of the road was a good 2000m lower. It was a bit cold at the top, with all of us I long pants and jackets, but by our lunch stop I was just down to shorts and a base layer, it was warm!
    On the way down, there were many stops for photos at the famous corners, and the many tales of deaths too. Quite a few people have died on bikes here, so we were constantly reminded of the Japanese girl trying to take a selfie ☠️
    The day finished at a house with beer where the bikes were washed off, then on to this weird holiday park for a swim and a buffet dinner. Me and Jerry got more beers in for the 3 hour journey back to La Paz, a proper good day I think! 👍🏽
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  • Day219

    La Paz

    November 29, 2018 in Bolivia ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    On the drive in, and after a not so great experience in Copacabana, I was unsure weather I’d like la Paz. I wanted to in theory, but first impressions were not good. Generally speaking, when I feel like this on arrival in a place, I’ll end up really liking it; and I did! It’s a proper marmite city and it really splits opinion.
    Meeting up with Jerry and B was great, legends, i will keep in touch with hear two for sure! Whilst hey were there, northern Anna turn up too, so it was nice having a crew again.
    Things we did... B is an interior designer and had heard about the Cholets, which are buildings done in a crazy Art Deco/Neo Japanese style with influence taken from Inca patterns. So one day we went out and found lots of these building up in El Alto, which is the City above La Paz. We managed to get in to one building that was turned into a furniture shop. It looked like the inside of an old ship, but painted all psychedelic, very cool! The others we saw we from one of the many cable cars that link the whole of La Paz and El Alto. It’s the largest system of its type in the world and it’s getting bigger.
    A night out for us, was going to watch the Cholitas Wrestling. Basically WWE wrestling, but with women dressed in tradition outfits. Loads of gringos there, but loads of locals really getting into it. Throwing fruit peels, drinks, rubbish, really good fun! It was so low budget that there was a guy filming the whole thing from the side of the ring on a cool iPhone. I thought he was part of the act, but no, he never got involved.
    On Sunday, on the traditional side, there’s a market that covers 40 city blocks where they close the road and sell literally everything you could ever want to buy!
    We did a walking tour which started at the famous San Pedro prison where the inmates have to pay for their accommodation. The families move in and they have to find themselves a job. Apparently it’s an old military building and was converted to take 400 inmates and there’s 8000 people living inside. There’s a football pitch, sponsored by Coke, free WiFi, from the hotel next door, and there used to be tours where anyone could go in. It’s illegal now, but does still happen. There also used to be a notorious drug lab too! They would make the stuff, put it in babies nappies and then throw them out of the roof in to the plaza outside. Bonkers!
    The walking tour also takes you through the witches market, where you can buy Llama foetus to put in the foundations of you new house, or get yourself some black or white magic to get yourself ahead in life!
    Lots of other history about the battles that went on in la Paz
    We also ate a few avocado sandwiches from the local indoor market. Possibly what have me some sort of bacterial infection, but very tasty.
    Good times in this city, I’ll be back I’m sure!
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  • Day217

    Puno, a quick stop

    November 27, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Puno, well, not much going on here at all. I thought it would be a good stop to see the lake for a night, but it’s a pretty standard town and would be a lot busier in high season. You an see from all the moured boats that it was dead! Great bus journey here from Arequipa though, amazing sunsets and great views of the back of Chachani!Read more

  • Day214

    Chachani

    November 24, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    I ended up on the top of this 6025m volcano, because of a walking tour. There were 5 of us who were waiting to check into a hostel from a night bus, and we all decided to go check out Arequipa together. On the tour, the slightly crazy guide, laid down the challenge, I looked at Jaques, we both looked at Harriet and Laura, just under a week later we were sat in a 4x4 heading up to the start of the trek. The guide had said that it was one of the most accessible peaks about 6000m in the world, and if he could do it, anyone could! Well, not everyone it seems...
    There were 6 of us who went in the end, the guys I arrived with, Anna, who Id met in Colombia and a friend of a friend called Herman.
    The day before the hike, we went and got kitted out, bought some snacks and mainly worried each other about what might be in stall for us. The next morning, we were picked up, went to the office to get our kit, and set off.
    The first part of the drive would take us out of town to the base of the volcano, then we started climbing. The danger with this trek for us all as the night we’d have to spend at base camp at 5200m. Getting there was also a bit demanding on some as we found out. The 4x4 ride takes you from Arequipa at around 2300m, all the way up 5000m, which is a lot of gain and as it turned out, too much for Laura. We figured out after the hike that she had quite bad altitude sickness from this steep climb.
    The arrived at the car park at 5000m and the headed out across a boulder field towards base camp. This was to take about 2 hours as we were carrying our packs, water and supplies. On arrival to base camp we dropped our things and had a chill. We’d be eating about 6pm, then sleeping as we’d be up at 12:30am for breakfast.
    The view was amazing and the height was a bit of a struggle already, not to mention the Inca toilet, but we had a little fox as company, he obviously knew where he could get a snack!
    We headed to bed and it was cold already, even before sunset. I did wonder why we had been given so much clothing, but it clearly was needed come the breakfast!
    I woke up after some sleep, banging headache and not really feeling the Tal’s ahead. A bit of food, two cups of coca tea and some paracetamol and we were off. Laura, bless her, made it 20m from camp and turned around, she was not in a good place and now having been to the top, it was a good job she did!
    The climb up was relatively easy. Switchbacks upon switchbacks going up a slightly compacted scree field. It was like walking on loose gravel. It was pitch black and everyone had head torches. The aim would be to get to the top for sunrise, that would depend on our speed.
    I had some I’ll fitting over trousers which were being quite restrictive, so I hung at the back until we stopped and I could sort them out.
    Fast forward 4 hours, and things were getting tough! We were up around 5700m and the pace at the back had slowed. Other members of the group, randoms, were struggling, and few others had forged ahead. Myself, Jaques, Herman and Harriet were going alright. I had caught everyone up once the sun had started to show around 5am. It was still really cold! I was wearing two thermal tops, two fleeces and a ski jacket. Over trousers, hat, neck warmer and snowboard gloves. I did not really get hot in that lot!
    Another two hours later we had reached 6000m! Just as we did, Herman walked past me, sat down and threw up all over the path. He was soooo pale and had blue lips, but still kept going. The altitude was getting us!! I was taking roughly 10 small steps and stopping to catch my breath, so the going was slow! Looking back down the switchbacks, I could see Anna flat out on the path maybe 50m below is and really didn’t think she was going to make it. It’s a proper mental struggle even getting up in the night to start walking, so we all new her pain. The four of us kept going at the top, not much more to go, but Herman was really feeling it.
    That last battle for me was getting to the plateau before the summit. There was a ridge walk, which I hate, so I went around the back with a guide, which was evidently more dangerous, but no sheer views of the steep face on the other side. I was almost there! Jaques and Harriet had waited for me on the plateau, so we could get to the summit together. We dropped out backs a continued up the small hill to the top. We’d made it!
    The views were awesome, and even though we were late for sunrise, the light was unreal,it gave a real sense of being up in a different part of he atmosphere. There was only 5/6 of us at the top, so it really felt special. I had a piece of quartz in my pocket from Salkantay, so I found a suitable cairn and balanced it on to. It was quite emotional as it was such a big effort to get there, but so worth it!
    We hung around for about 25mins on the top, checking out the scenery and enjoying the view. I found it easy to be up there, no trouble breathing. Herman finally appeared just as we started to head down, so we left him to it.
    Luckily, the way down off most volcanos is a lot easier. It’s normally covered in scree somewhere and you can almost run down. Over 6 hours of hard work getting up and less than an hour to get down. You can really feel the temperature difference as you descend and layers had to come off. The base camp was in sight the whole way back, so it was just getting bigger and the thought of a rest in the warm was good. I made it back soon after Jaques and we chilled and checked on Laura, she was still bad, but not too long to go before we headed back. We saw Anna heading back down the scree, she had made it to the top, so fair play to her for pushing on!
    Once everyone was back down, all made it to the top, we packed up camp and headed back towards the pick up point. We had all gone on about food, so a McDonald’s was on the cards when we got back to town.
    On he way down, Laura became more chatty and the colour came back in her face, so it was obvious that she’s not great at altitude. Back in town, she was back to normal, which was great and also a real life demonstration of altitude sickness.
    McDonald’s in our bellies and back to the hostel, everyone really happy. What a great couple of days and not something that a lot of people get to do! Win!
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  • Day211

    Colca Canyon

    November 21, 2018 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    One of the things to in his part of the world. Trekking into the second deepest canyon in the world. I booked this tour with some people I met that morning from the night bus, it turned out to be a good bunch!
    We sent out form the hostel about 3am, which seemed to be the what went on with all the tours here and the earliest I’ve been up to go somewhere! At about 7am, we stopped for a rubbish breakfast and then got back in the van to a spot where you could see Condors. We saw one, waaay off in the distance, the birds were not flying our way.
    Back in the van and on to the next stop, which would be he start of the trek. We would hike 1km vertical down into the canyon switchbacks for days! It was cool, had a good giggle and enjoyed the scenery.
    Once at the bottom, we walked for another 15 minutes to lunch and a beer! It was a good spot and had plenty of chill time. We were all pretty tired, but only form the early start. After lunch, there was another few hours walking till we got to the ‘Oasis’ where we’d spend the night. The thought of a swim in a pool and a shower was all we needed to chip on!
    Swim done, beers and quite a few cocktails later, we didn’t care that we’d have to be up at 4:30am to start the hike up. 1km of vertical to get out of the canyon, without breakfast! We were told that it would take 3 hours, we busted it out on 2! The benefits of a fast group, and most people had been to Salkantay the week before.
    They lads, there were 4 of us who shared a room and got on the cocktails, formed a band called ‘Suicide Condors’ after the male birds who kill themselves when the females die. First single, “No woman, no fly” solid!
    Once out of he canyon, we went for a slightly better breakfast and then we were taken to see some llamas and a tourist spot. Our guide was a bit rubbish, but we entertained ourselves. After lunch, the Condors broke loose form the steered buffer, we were taken to look out spot at 5000m, which was nice, but we all just wanted to get back as we were heading out got someone’s birthday.
    I rolled in at 6am after finding some locals in the club with a bottle of bourbon at about 3am. My Spanish was on fire! The next two days were a struggle! 😆🍻
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  • Day205

    Rainbow Mointain

    November 15, 2018 in Peru ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    Rainbow mountain is another one of the must do hikes. I went after the Salkantay trek, so the 5200masl height wasn’t an issue. I thought it would be more impressive that it was, but it’s all about the photographs i guess!
    It was a 5am start and we were taken for breakfast first. I didn’t really speak to anyone as I was not in the mood being so early, but I did say to an older, know it all type of German bloke to warn him he was about to put coffee on his pancakes. He looked at me in a very dismissive manor and said “coffee” as he screwed his face up. I then watched him try the pancakes, stand up and walk off to swap them. Most amusing for others at the table.
    When we got to the car park, we headed off. I was a lot quicker than the rest and wanted to head into the next valley. Our guide was quite against this, even though it was supposed to be a better place to see. He eventually caved and I went off into the Red Valley by myself. 40 minutes later I had lost the path, but luckily so had a Spanish girl who had followed me. We figured out a plan and eventually made it back to the road, where we had to wait for about half an hour to get picked up. I realised we’d gone too far in to the valley, but it was awesome! No harm done.
    On the way back, we stopped for food an I spoke to a couple on the trip. The guy was from the UK and his wife was Peruvian, nice little chat and she bought me an Inca Kola!
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