A Travellerspoint blog

Living higher than most Swiss summits

La Paz / Huayna Potosi / Uyuni

La Paz is a nice city that kind of reminds me of Quitos but I liked it more. There is big party folks at the hostels, I made the trip to Huayana Potost but I did not have time for the death road / most dangerous road in the world – but this is anyway more a myth - and there would be so much more to do and see in Bolivia for which I unfortunately did not have nor take the rime for.
Then my first X-Mas away from home… It was ok, thanks to Skype I saw and heard Urnäsch and my family, we had a nice tree in the hostel, and the party wasn’t bad either…

Huayna Potosi – my first 6’000er…
This nice Australian couple – Tani & Matt – who I met on the Island tour in Puno brought up the idea to “hike” up Hauyna Potosi on a three day trip. Well why not that could be an adventure and moreover I was keen to try ice climbing which was part of the trip.
So on the first day we drove two hours to the refuge on 4’700 meters. In the afternoon we went for practicing walking with the crampons and ice climbing on the glacier about 30 minutes away. Already there we cheated death when we almost got killed by a giant falling rock. We were lucky enough that it just stopped about one meter in front of us… The guides backpack got smashed, though. The ice climbing, however, was really good fun!
On the second day we walked uphill with our big backpacks for about two hours. The rest of the day was just killing time by playing cards, getting tired, and going to bed around 6pm…
…because the third day started at the first minute. We got up at midnight, got dressed, had a little breakfast, and started walking uphill through the night at 0:45. Over crevasses, 2-3 difficult climbing passages and countless steps over snow and ice I made it in less than five hours which is quite good but I started too fast and was dead tired but proud of myself in the end. It was a tough physical and mental test for all of us (except the guides – mine had been more than 800 times on the top but he did not count anymore).
Just the weather god left my side for once. It was snowing almost all the time and on the summit was just white out. (People a day before and after us had a spectacular view which we were not allowed to enjoy.)
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(Google-pictures)

The salt flats of Uyuni or ‘Salar de Uyuni’ are the biggest salt flats in the world and another natural spectacle that I could witness. Not only the dried salt lake but also impressive lava stone formation, colored lagoons, and geysers. But I think the pictures will speak for themselves. At daytime it was very hot in the desert on high altitude and at night freezing cold.
I was on a three day trip and exited Bolivia in the end (already again) for San Pedro de Atacama where I directly took a bus and headed to Andres in Viña del Mar for New Year’s Eve… (I was a bit unlucky on the way with yearend traffic but in the end lucky I made it on the 30th after a 26 hours bus ride!)

On the 3rd January we will both fly to Buenos Aires where I’m hopefully going to meet #1 aka Marco…

And again I’m far behind with uploading my pictures… it’s not my fault that the internet in Bolivia sucks… but I’m catching up these days in Viña where the internet is fantastic!

I wish you all a good start into 2011 – according to the Inca calendar the second last year ever – make the best out of it! And I hope all your dreams may come true…

Posted by Perch 14:49 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Following the Inca’s traces…

Cuzco (2), Machu Piccu, Puno/Lake Titicaca

Cuzco is a lot of fun – at least at night. During the day there is not so much around except experience the small alleyways and taste the atmosphere of the holy Inca city.

For time reasons and since I have not booked anything ahead I made the trip to Machu Piccu in two days with the bus and train. (Moreover trekking in Patagonia seems more tempting than the famous touristy Inca Trail.)
And indeed it is a very special place and definitely worth the trip to the mysterious Inca city that the Conquistadores did not find (& destroy) and thus is so well preserved.
It is just impressive to walk around the place (and up Waynapiccu) and see all this stonework and well preserved ruins of Inca culture. I hope I can give you (those who have not been yet) an idea with my photos of the scene (and my unshaved face ;) but hey! It’s easy for me and the ‘chicas’ like it here and I like them…).
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Puno is kind of a boring city but considering all the activities and fiestas I have seen by coincidence full of life. The trip to the floating islands and to ‘Taquile’ – a real island –on Lake Titicaca was nice. Again very impressive landscape and a good day trip.

Well that’s it then in Peru …for now! It is an amazing country, much more than one would expect, and I was more than positively surprised! I could have spent a lot more time here. Thank you PERU!

Tomorrow I am going to Bolivia. However I am still between a rock and a hard place – or rather rocks and hard places – of how to arrange the next two weeks. I have lots of ideas and opportunites but also time pressure caused by the year end festivities… But well that’s my problem and I’ll let you know the outcome…

Miscellaneous

  • Since I have no Maestro Card anymore since Quito I have to get my cash with a Credit Card – for insane fees. Did you know that for cash withdrawals you get only 40% of your actual limit, not on a monthly limit by the way, but till your bill is paid? Well I know now after having a liquid problem for a few days…
  • On the losing front I’m not doing so badly lately. I haven’t lost anything besides leaving my grey pullover in a night club. Considering that they cost only 10 bucks and that I can’t wash them with normal laundry service it’s not too bad getting a new one from time to time ;)
  • Ohh yeah and I found out why there are so many unfinished houses in Peru (and probably also Ecuador ect.). Because when they finish building a house they have to pay a tax. So much again to: “People react to incentives!”
  • The weather is not that great anymore. Rain almost every day but luckily just for about an hour… No big issue, though.

…numerous photos will follow…

Posted by Perch 19:59 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

On my own but still rocking the continent

Pisco/Paracas, Huacachina/Ica, Arequipa, Cuzco (1)

In Pisco is not much to do, it’s just a dangerous town that is still in the process of rebuilding after the earthquake in 2007. Though, they have a good volunteer organization there that I almost joined but then decided not to because of time issues (and maybe some other excuses). Maybe I’ll find a time good project in Chili or Argentina that I can join for 2 weeks or so…
Pisco, however, is very close to Paracas which has beautiful nature. I made this day trip first with a speed boat out to ‘Islas Ballestas’ full of birds and sea lions. Afterwards to the national reserve with scenic landscape and a street made or rather evolved out of salt.

Huacachina and Ica are rather boring, at least for travelers and at that time of the year. However, the reason why I went there was that I wanted to try Sandboarding which is definitely not as much fun as Snowboarding but I am very happy I gave it a shot and the sand dunes are just beautiful and another new experience for me.

Arequipa was a great experience – especially in terms of travelling alone now. Not because of the great rock climbing that we all enjoyed very much. Not because of the beautiful two day trip I did to the (probably) deepest canyon in the world (Colka Canyion). But because of ‘The Point’ hostel I stayed at. There were so many nice people and goooood fun. I can say now I have arrived now with traveling by my own. It might have been even more fun with ‘mi corazón’ but I had a great time, met new friends (2-3 of whom I might meet again on this trip), and it was hard to say good bye and leaving for Cuzco. But right now I want to move on a bit faster and not ‘lose’ more time (which already feels like running out considering all the things that are still to be done) just taking it easy – that’s postponed to Argentina or maybe Chili, who knows…
Anyway I am leaving Arequipa with a lot of confidence that the remaining three month (spot on the day) will be a lot of fun.
And I have just heard the best of Cuzco and wanted to make it there for the whole weekend… Which will be followed by the obligatory trip to the famous Machu Pichu.

Well, next stations will be Puno (Lake Titikaka), La Paz, and then I don’t really know…
(Bolivia, Chili, Argentina, and Brazil)
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”

PS: Many fotos to be uploaded… Hope I can get this done in the next few days…
Cheers

Posted by Perch 12:16 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

Up’s and down’s in Ecuador and Peru

Quito (2), Galapagos, Cotapaxi, Baños, Lima (1), Iquitos, Lima (2)

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

Well well, the adventure South America started with a lot of bad luck. On the first night out in Quito I was robbed, some cards and the iPhone are gone, my camera is not working anymore, some Swedish guy broke my Leatherman, and I lost numerous items since i am here...
But I’m fine – that’s what’s counting.

And all this was followed by an absolute highlight: The Galapagos Islands! Just spectacular! The pictures we took speak for themselves... Only that my underwater camera was not working anymore has been annoying. I could have made such great pictures of Whitetip Reef Sharks or a spectacular video of numerous Sea Lions playing around us while snorkeling.
The diving was fantastic. In our four dives we saw a hunting Sea Lion, Turtles, numerous Sting Rays, a Galapagos Shark, and much more. Only the Hammerhead Sharks we missed somehow. And the daytrip to Isabella was beautiful nature and animals.
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After returning to Quito – which is one of the dirtiest cities I have ever been to - we went back to the Secret Garden Hostel and booked two nights in the Cotopaxi National Park - also a great but quiet hostel in the middle of nowhere but scenic landscape. Cotopaxi is the highest mountain (/volcano) in Ecuador. We went up till the glacier and the day after we went on a four hour hike to the summit of the Pasochoa (another volcano near the hostel). From the hostel on 3’500 meters we walked up to the peak on 4’306 meters which was very hard because of that altitude but we had a beautiful and clear day and it was totally worth it.

Baños is a very nice place, however, very touristy. We had a great time there, chilling, rafting (for the first time), two Swedish girls that where a lot of fun in the four bed dorm, but - sorry girls - the absolute highlight there was the Swiss Bistro! Where we had: "Puuresalat, Chalbsbradwurscht mit Zwibelsauce, Cordonbleue, Fondue und natuerli Zuerigschnätzlets mit Roesti!" It was just a blast to have some traditional Swiss food after 4 month away from home.

Then we went on a three day bus journey to Lima where the famous “Juanito Corayon” and I spent our final days together on this travel. Strange to say good bye to a travelling companion who I was on the road with for four month!
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
But yeah, well it was clear even before the trip that we are and will be good friends and that the travelling would work out perfectly and it did – we were a great team. Thank you mate!! (Miss you)

Lima is probably the loudest city I have ever been to but it was great. Ricardo made it great for me. He is a friend of my friends that is living for 10 year in Lima now and who I met here. What a great guy and connection! Without him I left Lima within a few days but I ended up spending more than two weeks here and had a super time. Moreover I had a good insight into the life of Peruvians. Thank you so much Ric
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Also I made a trip to Iquitos (the largest city in the world that cannot be reached on a road – only by plane or boat) and into the Amazonas that was just beautiful and a great experience. But see the videos (now online, unfortunately there is not so much to see on YouTube quality, but at least you get the audio of the jungle) and pictures for yourself.
(Humid and 35° - Sorry Switzerland, I just cannot even imagine 0° and snow right now)

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Today I am going to leave Lima for Pisco, Huacachina, Arequipa, and then Cusco…
…and I haven’t lost anything for a while :) hope that stays that way.

Posted by Perch 06:47 Archived in Peru Comments (6)

Picking up the Latin Groove

Tamarindo (2), Monteverde, Quito (Ecuador)

First of all big up and congratulations to my STARS and the unbelievable team effort! Down but not out! The promotion is deserved for sure.
Well done boys!!!
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We had a fantastic time in Costa Rica with wild home-/pool-parties, lots of surfing, and fun in the lessons. 'Juanito' and I also went for two dives where we saw Whitetip Reef Sharks, Spotted Eagle Rays, a huge 4.5meter Manta Ray, a Guitar Shark, an Electric Ray, two Moraines, and some little fish. Again we were very lucky with the weather, it usually could rain all of October, however, the weather was perfect, few rain and the sun was not burning as it would during high season.
The best thing was, however, the other students at our scenic school - WAYRA. It was just a great group of people we could spend our time with. Too many Swiss but that was to expect and what ever it felt like vacation with good friends. What a shame we had not more time since we were so well connected - it was kind of hard to leave. Good memories. But you should leave at the peak time... Right?
Hope to see all you guys back at home - counting the gringos in!

The Ticos are great as well - especially the one who has been living in Zurich for five years, is fluent in Swissgerman, an FCZ supporter (Locos), and knows just everyone around Tamarindo.
Everything is relaxed but full of energy and people seem to be happy - Pura Vida!

Monteverde was a lot of fun with the Zip Lining, scenic jungle landscape on the hike, and moreover the two of us were lucky enough to enjoy that weekend with four great and handsome ladies.
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Surfing was great fun since I really brought it to the next level and to smaller boards. But there is still a long way to go and a lot to learn...

Same with Spanish... But I think I learned a lot in these two weeks and just need to keep learning. I don't have much of a choice anyway;). But I really start to like this language and it's just a great feeling every time I succeed with my Spanish.

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Quito, a truly different world! From the beach with 30 degrees and more to a big town on almost 3000 meters altitude, dry and dirty air, around 10-15 degrees, and different kind of people.
In the mornings I'm enjoying a delicious and healthy breakfast on the hostel's rooftop with a beautiful view over the city of Quito. Afterwards we went to discover the town.

Everything is still great (except my camera might have been not that waterproof after all and I lost the key for my padlock but the locksmith across the street made me a new one for 70 cents) and we are already looking forward to the Galapagos Islands...

South America we have arrived! Let the adventures begin!!

(More pictures comming soon)

Posted by Perch 17:29 Comments (0)

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