Monday, 29 June 2009

Peru to Bolivia

Right, I think a bit of an update is in order, especially given that we are not even in the same country anymore. Arguably a little negligent that.

To bring you up to date, we crossed the border from Peru to Bolivia yesterday, Dan hiding his cold symptoms for risk of being quarantined on the grounds of swine flu.

That brings an end to our time on Peru. After the Inca Trail we spent a couple of days in Cusco, before flying down to Puno. Once in Puno we spent two days on Lake Titicaca, staying the night with a family on one of the Islands. Protests on the roads then halted our progress for a couple of days. See Dan’s blog ( for a painfully accurate accountant of our activities during these slow days. .

Luckily Peruvian’s can’t be bothered to protest on Saturdays and so we finally made it onto our bus from Puno to La Paz. 9 hours, 3 buses, 1 ferry and a taxi later and we arrived in La Paz. The city is 3,800m above sea level (Mount Snowdon is only 1,085m) and is flanked on mountains on all sides. Its not the prettiest place in the world, but I can see a glacier from my window and you can’t say that very often.


As I write, we have just got back from a night out at a local wrestling match. Highlights of this outing included:

- A woman coming round at half time with face masks for “swine flu”. Key point here being that we had already been in the place, which was basically a converted school hall, for an hour and a half.

- The final bout, which was between a 30 year old woman and a bloke dressed as Spiderman, ended with said woman dousing Spiderman in petrol and setting him on fire. South American health and safety at its best.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Inca Trail

For the past 4 days myself, Dan and 9 other travellers traversed the Inca trail. This consisted of 4 days of hiking through the Andes, before arriving at Machu Picchu for sunrise on the final day.

Our group consisted of me, Dan, 4 other Brits (Hello James, Rachel, Robyn and Amy) 3 Canadians and 2 Aussies. Accompanying us were a support team of 21 (!) locals, comprised of guides, cooks and porters.

The porters were a force of nature, virtually running half the trail with 25kg packs containing all our tents, food etc. We would get up to hike in the morning, leaving the porters behind to dismantle the campsite. By the time we arrived at the next campsite, the porters had taken down the old campsite, ran past us on the trail and put up the new campsite. They even had time to clap us into camp on our arrival. Truly impressive.

The hike itself is one of contrasts. During the day it was as hot as 30 degrees and we trekked in shorts, t-shirts and litres of sunscreen. However at night temperatures dropped sharply, falling to – 6 degrees on the second night. Really quite nippy that.

Another major hurdle was altitude. I assume trekking up a mountain is not a piece of cake at the best of times, however at our highest point we were over 4,200m above sea level (in old money this is over 14,000 ft – to put this is context I did a skydive last year from 12,000 ft). At this height the air is pretty thin and catching your breath can be difficult. Luckily we turned out to be a (fairly) fit bunch and everyone made it without too many issues.

The final day began with us being woken at 4am to start the trek to Machu Picchu. After 3 days trekking there was a certain lack of enthusiasm for the early start. However, come 7am you reach the Sungate, see the sunrise over Machu Picchu and come to the conclusion it was well worth it. Quite a humbling sight.


Luxury – Luxury is a western toilet. Going to the loo at 2am, into a hole, in a shed, halfway up a mountain, when its – 6 degrees, is simply not a pleasant experience.

Bedtime – Due to a combination of cold, dark and early starts, bedtime on the Inca Trail is 7pm. Think I was probably 5 years old the last time I went to bed that early.

Stupidity – Do not run on the Inca Trail in a juvenile attempt to beat your friends to the campsite. This will result in you nearly falling off a very large mountain.

Thursday, 11 June 2009


That’s it for our time in Rio. We ticked off all the standard tourist sights – Sugar Loaf mountain (left), Christ the Redeemer, the Favellas etc – as well as putting in some beach time. We also made a trip to the Maracana Stadium to watch a match on Sunday night. Our adopted team won thanks to a late goal against the run of play - it was just like watching Leicester.

A week felt like the right amount of time in Rio and I’m ready for something new. That said it might be the last time we see beach weather until Fiji and I suspect I’ll miss Copacabana when it’s zero degrees in the Andes. As such, and with regret, the shorts have been relegated to the bottom of the backpack.

Next stop is Lima (Peru) for a couple of days before we head off up the Inca Trail.


Small world – 6 days in and we have already met five Deloitte employees (important to note that this is by chance) and a bloke who was in the same pub as me on Christmas eve.

Miracles – in spite of spending a week on and off Copacabana beach, Dan remains sunburn free. No idea how he’s managed that, the man would burn in a fridge.

Negotiation – Do not negotiate with shoe shiners. This may result in them asking you if “you want trouble”. Needless to say we did not.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


As we are travelling through Peru and Bolivia, we needed to get ourselves some anti-Malaria tablets. I went along to see the nurse, had a nice chat about the various options and then plumped for the ones she recommended. According to the nurse these were “quite expensive” but had the least side effects. Sound investment, surely.

A quick trip to the chemist later and I was the proud owner of 60 tablets, albeit having paid £160 for the privilege. This seemed quite steep but nonetheless preferable to Malaria.

I then had a very interesting chat with Dan about his prescription. Dan had also obtained 60 tablets, but with one critical difference – his had cost him seven quid.

The question is then; has Dan been sold imitation Malaria tablets? Or have I been mugged, even before setting foot in South America.

Time will tell…