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Archive for April, 2011

28th April
2011
written by Hazel

We had a little time before our tour to the jungle, so we decided to check out the Sacred Valley and some more Inca ruins.  This valley is about 45 minutes from Cusco and has a bunch of little towns near to some cool archeological sites.  We settled on going to the town of Pisac since it is on the closer end of the valley and is known for its market.

We thought we’d catch the bus over, but after a lot of confusion and uncertainty about where we were going decided to get a taxi instead.  Finding a cab was easy (and not as expensive as you might think!) and we had an uneventful journey over the mountains to get to the valley.  As soon as we got our first view of the valley I knew we had made the right decision.  I also could tell why it is called the Sacred Valley.  Very steep mountains rise up on both sides and the whole scene is lush, green, and spectacular!

We spent the our afternoon at Pisac’s famous market (another wedding quilt fabric post coming soon!) and had some tasty coffee and dinner.  The next morning we were up bright and early to take a look around the ruins.  We grabbed a cab and headed up the mountain.  Turns out that these ruins are HUGE.  We had no idea how big they were going to be.  After walking for 2 hours we still had not seen everything.  The terracing systems were especially impressive and were absolutely enormous.  There were also fortified areas, running fountains, a tunnel through the rock and spectacular views.  It was right at the top of the hill and some of the paths were winding along the very edge of the cliff.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.  You can see why we were glad we had the chance to see this!

Impressive Inca Walls

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23rd April
2011
written by Justin

The bus to Cusco was a pretty smooth ride. Well, except that the kph monitor was malfunctioning and beeped periodcally throughout the night. At least Hazel got to sleep!

Cusco Cathedral

Cusco Cathedral

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22nd April
2011
written by Hazel

Cocawell

From Arequipa we decided to take a two day tour to the Colca Valley to see Colca Canyon.  This canyon is one of the deepest in the world, so we thought it was worth a look.  We went with a cheap tour that we booked through our hostel and while there was nothing really wrong with it, we weren’t thrilled.  The biggest problem was that every time the bus stopped it was for people to try to sell us stuff.  Since we weren’t interested in buying anything this left us with big gaps of time in a place we weren’t really interested in with nothing to do but try to avoid buying things!  Not ideal.

They were 45 minutes late picking us up and then the first stop was at a shop to buy coca products.  Turns out that to get to this valley you have to cross a VERY high pass and they strongly recommended that we buy and consume coca products to help with the altitude.  Justin tried “Cocawell” a soda, but we both prefered the coca candies or the coca tea to the soda.  For those of you at home, coca products come from the same plant as cocaine, but don’t have any kind of effect like the drug and aren’t processed at all.  Seems to help with the altitude and the tea is everywhere here.

The area around the pass was a preserve area and was very scenic!  Volcanos, vicuñas, llamas, alpacas, lakes and birds! (more…)

20th April
2011
written by Hazel

Once again I find myself trying to catch up with the blog.  We’re more than making up for taking it easy at the end of our time in Chile by racing around Peru like crazy.  We’ve had pretty much zero internet access, so I’ll at least make a start at getting caught up.

We flew from Santiago to Lima and had a nice smooth flight.  Honestly, we were a bit more apprehensive about Peru than the countries we have already been to since we have heard more stories about muggings, dangerous bus rides, etc.  So far though, it has been really great!  We had the hostel we were staying at send a good taxi to pick us up from the airport and were fairly glad we did since the airport is not in the best part of town.

The hostel we stayed at, Link Hostel, was great – helpful with recommendations, advice, booking help, pretty much everything.  It is in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima which is a nice area with lots of restaurants and cafes and handicraft stores.  It’s also close to the beach.

Miraflores Area

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13th April
2011
written by Hazel

We just finished another 22 hour bus ride, so I thought I’d post this.  I wrote it a little while ago, but wanted to get it up to document our planning process and how the trip will go!

 

When we started to plan our trip we looked at all kinds of options for getting ourselves around the world.  From our reseach it seemed to us that most people doing this type of trip do one of two major options.

Option 1:  Buy your flights as you go.  This provides a lot of flexibility since nothing or at least not everything is booked up front.  You also can shop for cheap flights as you go and try to save money that way.

Option 2:  Buy a Round the World ticket from one of the major airline alliances.  This has the advantage of the price being set upfront, you have dates and flights set before you leave home, and there’s usually at least some measure of flexibility built in, although you may have to pay to change some things on the fly.

We went with option 2.  After checking around we decided to buy our ticket here: Oneworld Alliance.  We liked their planner and found that we could get the kind of trip we wanted this way.  Even if you aren’t setting off around the world it’s fun to play with their planner and see all the places you can go!!!  Oneworld Planner

Our Itinerary:

Sorry this is a little small, please click to enlarge.  I had a terrible time getting this table to work here – guess it’s about time I learned some HTML.
We will end up going to six of the seven continents!  The order might not seem completely intuitive, but this is how we could get the most direct flights, which means we could go to more places.  It leaves a lot of freedom in how we travel once we arrive in each location.  We could have planned the flights to get us to more tourist locations, but our general strategy was to fly into large cities and then work from there.  Hence all the long bus rides so far!
If anyone out there has any suggestions about our future destinations we’re always interested in recommendations and advice!
11th April
2011
written by Justin

For our second day out at San Pedro de Atacama, we decided to visit a very famous couple of valleys near the town. Our tour was run again by CosmoAndino Expeditions, who ran our tour of the altiplano, and whose guides and equipment we found to be really nice. We were lucky to meet a couple who had been on the last tour we took, and had a great time chatting with them and enjoying the scenery! Their talk of packing much of Chile into a 10 day trip really made us appreciate the luxury we have by taking our year vacation – time to relax.

Our first destination was ‘Piedra del Coyote’, a place with a really dramatic view over a valley, and with a precarious rock outcropping whose image frequently graces postcards and tour books:

On A Cliff


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9th April
2011
written by Hazel

Today we set off on a 11 hour tour of the area south of San Pedro de Atacama. We went with CosmoAndino Expeditions because we heard they had a good reputation. There are so many tours available in this town, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to pick, but we can definitely recommend these guys.

This post is going to have a lot of photos because it was an incredibly scenic day! And there are more in the gallery! Lots more!!!

They picked us up from our hostel at 7 am and after a bit of a drive around town to pick up the other passengers we set off for the Laguna de Chaxa (Chaxa Lake). The lake is in a reserve area and is part of the Salar de Atacama – the third largest salt flat in the world. Our guide, Alex, was full of information and we learned a lot about the birds, minerals, and mining in the area. But the best part was that it was chock full of flamingos and the morning light was awesome on the water!

Flamingo!

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8th April
2011
written by Hazel

Since we’re about to set off on a 24 hour bus trip from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama, a town in one of they driest places on earth, I thought I’d schedule a post about one of our ongoing projects.  My mother is a quilter and quilting teacher and author and she is awesome at what she does.  Check it out!

Since Justin and I were married recently she has offered to make us a wedding quilt and so of course we wanted to find a way to make it unique.  We had the bright idea to buy fabrics in each of the countries we visit and send them back to her, so that at the end of the trip she will have fabrics from all different parts of the world to work into a quilt.  Then when we look at it we will be reminded of our travels, our wedding, and my talented mom!  Pretty sweet.

We had an easy time in New Zealand.  There was a specialty quilting fabric shop in Christchurch and all we had to do was pick patterns we liked and that seemed the most “New Zealandish” to us.  We picked ferns, prints that reminded us of Maori designs, and some green and browns.

New Zealand Fabrics

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