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Posts Tagged ‘Mountain’

11th September
2011
written by Justin
Table Mountain

Table Mountain. Photo courtesy of Maggie Ball

We didn’t spend too long in Pretoria – in fact the same day we flew over to Cape Town. We were picked up by a local quilter – Maggie was going to teach there – and taken straight to our hostel. After a relatively quiet night, the next day was a beautiful one so we went straight up to Table Mountain. Since the weather is so fickle on top of the mountain – including the ubiquitous cloud the locals call the “tablecloth” – we knew that we’d have to book it if we wanted the best experience possible.

View from Table Mountain

View from Table Mountain

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8th May
2011
written by Justin

Because Hazel wasn’t feeling well during our hiking around Machu Picchu, I went up the mountain nearby myself. This was a really amazing hike – not only do you get great aerial views of Machu Picchu, but you also see tons of flora just not found elsewhere on the site.  I’ll leave the talking up to the following pictures.  I have tons of others in the Best and Rest albums as well!

Orchids found low on Montaña Machu Picchu

Orchids found low on Montaña Machu Picchu

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1st May
2011
written by Justin

Hazel and I just got back from our trip to the rainforest! We had a blast, and that will be explained in another post, but we also saw and photographed TONS of wildlife! In this post I’ll introduce you to most of the species we saw by name and picture!

We couldn’t have done this without the great help of our guide Carlos, who was working for Amazon Trails Peru our tour operator. He did a really spectacular job!

Even though this post has a TON of pictures, there are many more on SmugMug. Check out our BEST photos, and the REST of them!

Reptiles and Amphibians

I saw each of these on my second night walk in the jungle, except the last two which we found during a daytime walk:

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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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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…)

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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13th March
2011
written by Justin

Camp

Check out Part 1 here!

Having awakened in camp fully rested, we had a nice breakfast of (you guessed it) oatmeal. However, we had a stroke of genius – prepare it using some of the apple flavored drink powder that’s left over from our water bottles! It was surprisingly good , given that we were just throwing apple sugar on top. Being equipped with our apple juices, we set off for the magnificent Valle Frances, the middle leg of the “W”. This is a day hike of about 3 hours each way, up from the valley floor to a mirador in the center of a circle of mountains.

10th March
2011
written by Justin

You might think that a two-day horse expedition was enough. We might have been ambitious to think otherwise, but in fact we began our next adventure on the same day that we had our second horse ride. We decided to trek in the Torres del Paine national park, a very famous place in Chile with some spectacular alpine and glacial scenery. However, one does not simply hike for a few hours in Torres del Paine! The park itself is a 2-hour drive from the nearest town (Puerto Natales) and is too large and varied to see even a fraction in a few hours. So we decided to do a 5 day trek instead!

El Mapa

El Mapa - The "W"

Before we departed for horseback riding, we made some preparations. Our backpacks are a perfect size for us, but our stuff is more appropriate for sleeping in hostels than for camping. We rented some of the equipment that we needed at “The Erratic Rock”, a hostel run by some Canadian ex-pats that runs an informational talk (in English) and rental shop.

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7th March
2011
written by Justin

Throughout our trip, Hazel and I have been planning a few bigger trips to mix in with our more everyday low-cost hiking and hosteling adventures.  We’ve been keeping an eye out for a horseback ride that sounded exceptional, as Hazel in particular has wanted to get back on a horse again ever since her accident over two years ago.  Well, it took almost 3 months, but we finally found one in Criollo Expeditions.  They advertise a number of different trips on their website, but one in particular struck our fancy: an overnight trek at the fabulous Parque Nacional Torres del Paine.

The company turned out to be a family operation.  We called hoping to come to their office to talk about our possible riding options, and were surprised to be invited to the home of Magan and Boris Radich outside Puerto Natales where we got to see one of their herds and chat about riding.  We decided to depart in two days (Monday the 28th) and raced home to prepare for the other impending adventure – the 5 days of hiking in Torres del Paine known as the “W”.  I’ll talk about that in another post!

Monday morning arrived and Boris pulled up (right to our fabulous hostel “The Singing Lamb“) in his 4×4 truck with our box lunches and a happy greeting.  It was really wonderful that Boris drove us to the park, since he was able to point out the owls, eagles, foxes, guanacos (Patagonian llamas), ñandu (Patagonian ostriches, also known as Rhea), and caracaras that we saw.  This was just on the trip to the park!  We couldn’t believe how much we saw, besides the normal sheep and horses you might expect in a wide open landscape like the one that leads to the mountains.  Boris was raised in nearby mountains at a remote ranch and he knew all sorts of information relating to the history, flora and fauna, and geography of the entire region.

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